Q&A with Dawn Aquarius

Back to 70s with psych illustrator and dj from LA

1. What images keep you company in the space where you work?
I actually work from my bed- I guess you’d call my bedroom my studio, since I’ve never been able to work while sitting at a formal chair and table. I’m surrounded by 70s unicorn stained glass, art nouveau prints, and candles. It’s a nice little fantasy world to create in. I’m also constantly watching movies and cartoons while I draw- anything from early Dada experimental films to 70s Giallo horror to Hanna Barbara shows.

2. What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
I remember my mind being blown over a Victor Moscoso piece I saw at a modern art museum show when I was in high school. It sort of opened the doors wide to the world of psychedelia for me, and also attracted me to 60s underground comics, since Moscoso did a lot of work for Zap Comix at that time as well.
3. How do you choose the subjects for your works?
I’m not sure if I choose them at all! Often I’m inspired by something I’ve seen in a movie, or by a line in a song that got caught in my mind, or a 60s bizarre phrase on a button, or a fragment of a dream… It’s all fairly abstract. I think a lot of it is bubbling in my head all the time and I’m not sure where something comes from until I feel the need to draw it.

4. Your favorite place in the world:
There’s a cosmic mountain above Woodstock, NY, and a field across from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that all the locals call Magic Meadow. It truly is magic- all dewy and misty like a dream with butterflies floating on the breeze. I also love my home. I’m a bit of a hermit, and I love being home with my cats, my records, my love, coffee, sunlight filtering through the windows…
5. Your first work:
You’d have to ask my mom about that! I’ve been drawing obsessively since I was a toddler, and have been creating constantly since. The first serious piece I can really recall was called Serpent Attack- a pop art acid-drenched painting of a snake eating a rat that I made at age 16. I think I sold it for $5- the cost of the canvas, because I thought it was funny to have a small art show and price everything less than the materials to make it. I was into the idea of art as something impermanent and disposable. I actually still feel that way about art.

6. What’s your favorite material?
I use fairly cheap materials for the most part- a pack of plain printer paper, flair pens and fat tip sharpies from the drugstore. I also like fancy Micron pens, but I tend to break the tips of the smaller ones. I occasionally still paint- always acrylic.
7. Who are your biggest influencers?
It’s a combination of visual artists, musicians, and film directors, but these are the visual arts folks- Marijke Koger/The Fool, Tadanori Yokoo, David Palladini, John Luke Eastman, Heinz Edelmann, Aquirax Uno, Peter Max… and so many more, I could go on and on.

8. Your favorite cartoon character:
I have a thing for 1940s-60s Casper cartoons. I relate to him on a lot of levels, actually. He wants to love the whole world, but doesn’t feel like he’s accepted by his peers because he’s too idealistic. I admit to having no love for CGI Casper though.

9. How long does it take to move from an idea to artwork?
It’s generally pretty instantly- I’ll sketch something out as soon as I have the idea and my clipboard, and from there it takes me a few hours or so till it’s finished. Commissions take me a lot longer because I need to confirm and discuss ideas with my clients, but my own work has a super quick turnaround.

10. Would like to meet:
Lou Reed, Kim Fowley… lots of dead musicians for the most part!
11. Your morning routine:
I tend to miss the mornings by a little bit. My schedule is a little weird since I’m freelance and prefer to work at night. It depends, but I usually wake up in the early afternoon (never with an alarm), I make coffee, open the curtains, feed the cats, put on a record and make some kind of vegan tofu scramble-like thing for my boyfriend and I, then eventually get to replying to emails about commissions and orders. I do like to keep my days routine-free because I’m easily bored by repetition.

12. What do you need in order to get started on started on some artwork?
Materials, a clear head, records playing, coffee, but mostly inspiration!