This month’s Apex Magazine cover artist is Chase Henson, an independent fantasy artist living in Provo, Utah. Henson balances mythology with science fiction in unique ways, and shared with us his insight about what it means to create art.
APEX MAGAZINE: Many of your pieces are based on mythology, and in particular Hindu deities, such as your interpretations of Kali. When you are creating a religious or mythological piece, how do you balance your personal vision versus an accepted or traditional interpretation? What kind of discussions have come about based on these types of pieces?
CHASE HENSON: First off, I’m very grateful and honored to have my art grace the cover of Apex Magazine. A huge thank you to the people of Apex, and for the well-thought-out and interesting interview questions!
Whenever I start a painting that’s based on Hindu mythology, I always start with the general description of the god or goddess that I’ve chosen. From there, I try to relate my personal life experiences and my emotions attached to that god or goddess. For example, with the goddess of wealth and fortune: what is my experience with wealth and fortune (or lack thereof)? Then through use of the fundamentals of art, I try to illustrate that story in the most creative way possible. I usually try to avoid looking at the traditional styles of the Hindu art, but I try to be as respectful as possible while trying to stay true to my tastes and personal vision.
The kinds of discussions that come about from these paintings are generally about where I get my inspiration from and what my connection to the painting is. Which, amazingly, always leads into very open and honest conversations about art, religion, and personal expression. That’s often with total strangers, who quickly become friends.
AM: Being part of the band Mome Wrath seems like it would give you a great opportunity to explore many different sides of creativity. Does music influence your art work, and/or vice versa? Do the types of comments you get from fans of your music differ from fans of your artwork?
CH: I’ve always seen music as an art form and another medium for creative expression. Like painting and drawing, you have to understand the technical aspects of the medium, to express your idea in the most effective and creative way possible. Practicing and exploring other forms of art makes you approach the creative process in a new and different way every time. An exercise in creativity strengthens and influences all forms of creative expression.
The comments that I generally get are essentially the same. Some good, some … not so good, haha! They only differ in the details.
AM: Your cover art for this month’s issue combines mystical fantasy and science fiction, and could be interpreted in many different ways. Have you found interpretations that you didn’t expect, either with this piece or others? In a piece like this, what do you hope people come away with, visually or otherwise?
CH: Whenever I create a piece of art, I put so much emotion and effort into every single painting. When someone shares their story or a memory, with me, that the painting reminds them of, it’s an amazing feeling. Having a stranger open up to you in person can be very touching, and inspires me to keep working.
I only hope that when people see my art, they feel the emotions and see the effort I put into it, and are in turn inspired to create.
AM: Your galleries have a mix of digital work and traditional media, and it seems like your style doesn’t change much between the two. Your great process video about your piece “Temple of Ice” shows a traditional media style in a digital environment. Are there advantages to digital versus traditional media? When you are starting a piece, what is the typical rationale between using one or the other?
CH: Digital painting, like any medium, has its advantages and disadvantages. Digital is typically faster, has no drying time and things can be changed on the fly. Things I keep in consideration when choosing what medium I’ll be working in are: deadlines, how much detail I want to put into it, intended market, and what I’m in the mood for (which changes way too often, haha!).
I could talk about this all day, but in the end, without a solid understanding of the fundamentals of art, the painting will fall flat. Every time.
AM: One of your Instagram posts has a short video where you are adding a final varnish or sealant to one of your paintings. Having done that many times myself, there’s a certain quiet nervousness when I’m doing anything “final” to a painting. Do you have any similar concerns with final steps like these, something like a brushstroke picking up color or leaving a hair behind? When you are adding this final step, how does that feel emotionally or productively?
CH: I used to get very nervous about adding a final to anything! I’ve ruined so many paintings, smearing color all over it by not giving it enough time to dry completely. I prefer to learn the hard way … ugh. Now, whenever I get to that stage, I’m already wanting to move on, so adding the varnish is a huge relief and very satisfying!
AM: Thank you, Chase, for great insight into your creative process. Follow @art_of_chase on Instagram and visit https://www.artofchasehenson.com to see more of his work.