Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greatness: Alex Hamrick

Alex Hamrick is a recent graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and is currently at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In addition to attending schools with really long names, he's a collage artist who sat down for some hard-hitting questions from WeShotJr for this week's edition of Greatness.

Richardson Heights: Red Sox or Rangers?

Alex Hamrick: Baseball's never really been my sport, but I do have a small bit of sway on the matter. I generally have at least one of my windows up when I'm at home, and my room faces an inner "courtyard" (for lack of a better word) that is exceedingly good at amplifying noise. I live two or three blocks from Fenway Park, and when there's a game on there are generally helicopters flying about, probably getting aerial shots or something. I don't know really why they fly around, but they do, and the courtyard outside my window amplifies that awful noise that helicopters apparently make, and it drives me up the wall. So I'd have to say Rangers, if only for that slight detail. Which isn't so slight. It's incredibly aggravating.

RH: Kurt Schwitters or Raoul Hausmann?

AH: I've been told by more teachers than I can remember to look up Kurt Schwitters in relationship to my collage work. Until a few minutes ago when I googled him, I'd never really seen much of him. I'd never even heard of Hausmann. After a quick breeze through a few pages of image search results, I have to say that Schwitters knocks the hell out of Hausmann, who had maybe one piece that I liked. On a somewhat related note, when it comes to knowing about art history and artists, it isn't too hard to make me look like a fool. This is my sixth year in art school and anyone that's taken a single art history course and paid attention knows more than me about what's happened and is happening now.

RH: Would you kindly describe the three most significant events in your life in the last 24 hours?

  1. Finishing drawings to photograph for the public relations department at school. We have a sale every year to raise funds for scholarships, and I was contacted about my work possibly being used for publications and advertising for the sale. Problem was, I didn't really have much new work to submit. I was told that it would be fine if the images I submitted were not images that would be in the sale, but that didn't seem right to me. Why would I want old work published if it wasn't going to be in the sale? If someone saw an image of mine and thought "hey, yeah, that's pretty nice, I'd like to buy that", they wouldn't be able to. Because it wouldn't be there. That's just silly. That being said, I had to produce some new work in about a two week time span. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I had a mini meltdown and became frustrated, bored and generally uninterested in pretty much every way I could think of pertaining to drawing. This caused some problems, but I managed to dig into something new this past week and pump a few things out just in time to meet the deadline. I didn't get very good photographs of the drawings though, so they probably won't even use them. Oh well.

  2. Two of my friends called me up Thursdsay and asked if I wanted to play drums with them in a band the following day (yesterday). I've been playing drums for about five years now, but don't have the luxury of having a kit in Boston. Adapting has not been easy. When at home in Dallas, I play my drums every day, and I mean every day. Letting go of that was really hard for me to do, and it frustrates me daily (I've taken to tapping relentlessly and beatboxing). Going over to Scott's and beating the crap out of his kind neighbors set was absolutely amazing, and the whole band aspect was really positive too. Droning, spazzed out distorted loops, guitars, vocals and drums. Yes and yes.

  3. Making sure I called one of my best friends on her birthday. Missing a birthday is a pretty horrible feeling, especially when it's a close friend. I have an awful memory for birthdays so that was an accomplishment for me.

RH: You have won an all-expenses-paid 5-day trip to fabulous Aruba! You must select an artist, a writer, and a musician from anywhere in history to go with you. Who would you choose?

AH: Well, shit! That sounds nice. Where is Aruba anyways? I have this thing where I feel that meeting well known people in the creative spotlight would be really terrifying and uncomfortable. I'm not sure I'd want to spend 5 days in Aruba with some total stranger (much less three!) that intimidates the hell out of me. Besides, if they're already well known, they could probably pay for their own damn trip to Aruba. With that I'll present two scenarios, one where I take three well known people that would make me horribly uncomfortable, and one where I take three people that still qualify in those categories that I already know and respect.

Scenario 1
Artist: Nina Katchadourian
Writer: E.E. Cummings or Ayn Rand, but probably Cummings
Musician: Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo

Scenario 2
Artist: Will Schneider-White or Mike Lay
Writer: Blair Patterson
Musician: Adrian Haynes

RH: Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts is arguably one of DISD's finest assets. You are a recent graduate. What was your experience like there?

AH: My experience at Booker T. was about as brilliant as I believe a high school experience can be. The entire student body is full of creative people, with smaller concentrations of really dedicated talents that actually decide to go on to school for the arts. Being around those kids was absolutely the best part of the whole deal, because they were a constant motivator (whether by positive or negative example) to push myself further and explore different ways to produce work. Not being in dance, music or theater, I can't really say anything about the people who taught in those departments, but the staff of the Visual Arts department were all good for me in their own way as well, especially the first two or three years. They really kicked my ass and squeezed all the work out of me that they could. I think going to Booker T. made it a lot easier to adapt to college, both in the nature of the curriculum and also the openness of the staff. We had a really strong academic department, too. There were/are some great teachers at that school, and they all helped give me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and my own practices.

RH: Can you describe your art studio environment? During what time of year do you work best?

AH: My school is very small. The amount of undergraduate students is about the same as the total number of students at B.T.W. Having such a small school is great because it creates a close-knit community that is very comfortable and supportive. It allows you to form tight bonds with students and staff alike. SMFA is a very creative, open environment. We don't have a foundation year and we don't have majors, so you essentially build your own curriculum in the sense that you just take whatever classes interest you. The building is open from six or seven in the morning to midnight every day of the week, and if you want to do an overnight all you need is a signed form from any teacher. Every square inch of the place encourages kids to make things.

I'm not sure what time of year is best for me art wise, but I can say that in the past two years, summer has been the worst time. When I get into a serious art groove, I work and work and work and by the end of the school year I'm totally burned out. It takes me a few months to cool off and reset. On a day to day basis though, night time is definitely where it's at. Last night / this morning I was up until five working on my website.

RH: As an artist, what was the first inspiring event or other influence that made you realize (more or less): "I should try that... I could be an artist."

AH: I never went to public school as a kid. I started off in Montessori school, then went to George Bannerman Dealey, then to K.B. Polk for the TAG program, and then to W.B. Travis, which was a fully formed TAG school (TAG standing for Talented and Gifted, whatever that means). When it came time to figure out where to go to high school, there were a few options for me. One option was to go to S.E.M., one was to attend the TAG Magnet, one was my local high school Bryan Adams, and the last was Booker T. I thought to myself, "hmm, I've been in heavy academics for four years. That wasn't much fun. Bryan Adams is a horrible horrible place. I like art I guess." My parents enrolled me in a class at Lakewood Arts (which is now Studio Arts) that was created specifically to build a portfolio for application to Booker T., and to generally prepare students for the audition process. Everyone that took the class got in, myself included. Somewhere over the summer after my first year at B.T.W. I realized that I loved whatever the hell it was that I was doing, and that was kind of it for me. I've been a lost cause ever since. I guess that's not really a specific event so to speak, but I'm not sure there really was one. I think it was just the process of learning something about myself that I didn't know.

For some of Mr. Hamrick's work, check out his stuff at Deviant Art and at his web site (a work in progress). He's also working on some artwork for a future Tame... Tame and Quiet album (see the cover here). Image courtesy of Alex Hamrick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

god damnit..... another one of these stupid art interviews.

this was your big announcement?

get back on track! this blog is getting even more lame.

i'm embarrassed that i even go to it anymore.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nah. i like interviews. it lets me know how to be cool. obvs i'm not doing anything cool or interesting. i went to art school, sure. but i never BELIEVED in art. just fucking. that's all i ever got from art school. fucking cute, insecure art students. and herpes.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous richardson heights said...

12:36 - I see SR's got something big in the queue waiting to be published.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

Yes, this regular feature is obviously NOT our big announcement. You'll know it when it comes, and sorry for the delay...

3:35 PM  
Anonymous sharkbump said...

who is this???? will someone please for the love of god shut this site down. blog fail. another pointless post. and ps. no one cares about your announcements.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"groundbreaking in the world of collage"

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eat a bag of dicks jealous janet.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous rage against the pachinko machine said...

Trying selling that pile of trash for anything more than the price of a fuckin' Happy Meal.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

god his art fucking sucks

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sharkbump, you are very relevant.

"who is this????"

your ignorance matters.

"will someone please for the love of god shut this site down."

Many have tried. Many have failed.

"blog fail"

reader fail.

"another pointless post. and ps. no one cares about your announcements."

you care enough to write. you are a fool, and the whole world knows it. this site is really entertaining. idiots like you are what make it entertaining. keep it up.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beyond obvious. good gawd................................

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

making love out of nothing at all. bitches.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous urn said...

Alex is great. Thanks for writing about him. Fine artist. Fine Person. Looking forward to future album artwork. Schwitters. Definitely Schwitters.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous sharkbump said...

i see you needed to break that down line by line in order to figure it out. we are all amazed at your deductive skillz.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I needed to break it down for you. To show you what an idiot you are. Everyone else already knows.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous sharkbumper said...

"sharkbump, you are very relevant"

thank you!

"your ignorance matters"

your posts also matter.

"many have tried. many have failed"

this site is a failure waiting to happen. it's just a matter of time.

"reader fail."

you are pretty good at comebacks, my son.

"...keep it up"

will do, dawg

4:32 PM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

its cool shark, i think all the attention you give us is actually kinda cute.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Derek said...

People are so masochistic these days. All anyone wants is someone to slam their dick in the dirt.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bet you cant make a clever come back in the form of a collage.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous sharkbump said...

stonedranger, you are a faggot. thank you for your time.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so why does his work suck?

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sharkbump, this site has been around for almost three years. a failure waiting to happen? how long before we know it's a failure? keep waiting...

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if this kids work were music/band who would it be? rupaul?

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Thanks so much for all of your support everyone! I'm going to go try and figure out just exactly why I'm such an awful fucking artist (and person) and see if I can't whittle myself down to an acceptable social standard! Oh, and maybe try to score a happy meal. Do you think I'd be able to afford one if I sold all the work I've made from the past three years? Probably not, huh?. Damn. Anyone willing to loan me a buck?

5:36 PM  
Anonymous mofreak! said...

This thread is greatness.

Keep up the good work everyone!

6:23 PM  
Anonymous haha said...

finally this site has found a way to reach the coveted Deviant@Rt demographic.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Freak on a leash said...

he was born with copper spork in his ass

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Bea said...

To all:
I realize that everyone has a right to their opinion, regardless of its accuracy or falsehood. In terms of opinion and taste in the world of art, it is difficult to reprimand a person for his views, as in my own experience there is a great deal of incredibly famous art I find extremely unappealing. But art is about self expression, and whether or not you like it, it is a representation of someone's voice. If you do not find an artist's work particularly appealing, it is an opinion you are entitled to. But if every time you tried to speak someone put a piece of duck tape on your mouth, how would you feel? The next time you decide to comment on another person's artwork, you might try saying something constructive. Comparing artwork to a meal at macdonald's or saying that it "fucking sucks" is a malicious way to put someone down. I understand that often tearing someone else apart is evidence that you, yourself are unhappy but don't take it out on another's form of self-expression. If you actually looked at his artwork and had any taste at all, you would see that it is incredibly innovative. He is a great artist with a wonderful sense for color and composition. Most of his materials are found object and are filled with an incredible amount of passion and attention to detail. For those of you who painfully disregarded this man's art and the statement he was trying to make, shame on you. It is hard enough to follow your own passions without having people who are ignorant and bitter tear them down. Next time you decide to comment on a person's work, say something that leads to improvement, not self destruction.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im not sure its innovative in wider sense. Maybe innovative in his own exploration. It is interesting and nice to look at. It is attractive and very attuned to basic design foundations. He does have a good eye without a doubt. But to say its innovative is missing it. I mean found objects has a long history. When there is work that you most people can say "I don't think I've seen anything like it" than by chance it might be innovative in a wider context (not personal). But since it has very demanding associations with Schwitters and looks like someone studing Schwitters than its hard to say that. In the end it seems his work is tied the the heir preistess of found object collage or combines ... robert rauschenberg. Although I will admit that there might be some subtle device of expression in there that only Alex can do that is actually pretty innovative and I'm not tuned to see it yet having just briefly viewed is work on that site. Its good work and I applaud him for getting his voice out. I wish continued success with whatever he endeavors. Don't sweat the cats on here giving him a hard time. This is just the way the blog works. They do this to everyone. It wouldnt be weshot jr without it. Don't take this blog too seriously that you spend your time worrying about what someone is saying and what they say. If they can't say it to your face than they chickin shit.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude, i think this kid is awesome for doing what he does and if people have a problem with that they should not take it out on a creative youngster. really, don't we want this world to become a better, more awesome place? encouraging the artistic youth is one large step in that direction. why do people have a fucking problem with that? i mean, there is a thing called constructive criticism, and that does not consist of making fun of this kid's art. that doesn't really do anyone any good. if you want to criticize, write a fucking article about it. do something constructive.

we shot jr is here for a reason - they have valid opinions on music and art. If you want to put down this kid's art, start your own fucking blog. You'll be the only one reading it, and you might get some comments from other cynical, negative losers.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


So people come out of the wood work to defend someone on this site when he is a kid and is doing visual art. okay... noted.

Everyone knows this blog is a free for all. If you don't understand that then the jokes on you.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cynical, negative losers?

on wsjr? do you think??

amen, 9:05.............................................

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey bea: why don't you go vote or something, fag.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous stew said...

Hey guys,

I found a link to this interview over on deviantart.com and I gotta say I'm digging this stuff.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous mainstay said...


12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clean up your mouths people!

alex deserves some nice words.

let's see some of YOUR work, eh?

9:30 AM  
Anonymous gladly said...

here's one of my pieces that only took me a couple minutes.


I bet alex couldn't do that if he spent a year working in his parents basement.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous mainstay said...

that's pretty good gladly. i envy your skills.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous collector said...

i'm sure there are plenty of artists around here who can show their work – its not a substitute or valid argument for or against alex's, and shouldn't be part of the discourse. i hope this publicity (from we shot jr for better or worse) doesn't discourage him from pushing himself and continuing. these pieces seem to blur the line between design and art, well designed and obviously thoughtfully crafted, but not making any significant statement that i can discern.

the failed interview didn't help, it didn't ask anything about the work itself or substitute as any sort of CV for the artist (which I can't seem to find anywhere) but instead focused on baseball and vacations. seriously. most of these interviews act on the premise that we know the featured person personally and are more interested in what they do on weekend rather than what they're being featured for: their artistic work. it's getting tired. are you just inviting this sort of unfounded criticism and divisiveness from trolls or are you incompetent? 8:42 claims the editors at weshotjr have valid views on art, but all i got from this interview was 'here's a kid, he makes art, and doesn't watch baseball. he is going to play drums in a band. oh here's the links to the art, let the shitthrowing begin.' why bother having this half-assed feature in the first place if it's just going to cause problems?

that said, alex you've got a nice sense of design, and i really like several of your pieces on your website. forgive me for not suffering deviantart.com. i'm looking forward to seeing a cohesive body of work developed with a vision that comes with age, experience, and time honing your already promising craft. i'll keep my eyes open for you.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

Hey Collector,

Your last paragraph pretty much sums up the "point" of these interviews... to introduce people to something new, or tell them more about something or someone they already like.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous collector said...

yeah but i got that from the tag link at the end, not from the feature itself. i guess if the point of the article was to get me to skip what he said and click the link at the end, then it was successful and i stand corrected.

look, i'm not trying to argue that this site should turn into some high-art revue. i'm asking for what i ask of most of the arts in this town, a little less style, a little more substance.

but again, thanks for that link to alex that i wouldn't have had otherwise. beggars can't be choosers.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous collector said...

yeah but i got that from the tag link at the end, not from the feature itself. i guess if the point of the article was to get me to skip what he said and click the link at the end, then it was successful and i stand corrected.

look, i'm not trying to argue that this site should turn into some high-art revue. i'm asking for what i ask of most of the arts in this town, a little less style, a little more substance.

but again, thanks for that link to alex that i wouldn't have had otherwise. beggars can't be choosers.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you mean by "substance"?

11:13 AM  
Anonymous kitkat said...

"yeah but i got that from the tag link at the end, not from the feature itself. i guess if the point of the article was to get me to skip what he said and click the link at the end, then it was successful and i stand corrected."


11:14 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...


I appreciate your comments, an no, the negative comments certainly do not offend me, nor will they discourage me. I don't think they're really meant to, it isn't offensive. I can certainly forgive you for not suffering deviant. I'm looking forward to growing with age and experience as well, though somehow doubt I will ever be at the point where I recognize that this has occurred.
On that note, I think it would maybe help people to understand my position on the majority of my work after a minimum of two weeks. That feeling is one of general loathing, or disgust, or dissatisfaction with what I've been producing. There aren't a lot of things that I make that stand the test of time, and I'm probably a lot more critical of myself than anyone else has ever been. I don't think that most of my work is any good, and am always frustrated with myself and my own limitations.
And back to your commentary, by substance, do you mean a conceptual approach to creating work? Art that is centered by and produced as a means to a specific idea meant to be made obvious to a general audience?
If so, we have a bit of a difference of opinion of just what substance can and can not be. My first goal with my art is to create something visually interesting or pleasing to myself. I want to have fun, to keep myself interested in something. Quite simply, I love to make art. I'm a maker. If I wasn't making work, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Creating keeps me centered, focused, and sane. For me, that's plenty of substance. The fact is that I love to make art because it gives me purpose. That my purpose is to explore my own boundaries and creativity, to learn things about myself that I didn't know and would have never discovered otherwise. That this knowledge and these experiences shape how I interact with the world around me and mold my everyday existence and perception of what is real in my life. That without this investigation there would be no discoveries and I would be vacant and empty and drifting, looking for something unnamed and undefinable.
Does any of this come across in my work? I don't think so. I don't intend it to, because that does not matter to my own stake in what I do. Beggars can't be choosers, sure. But if you are not satisfied with what you see around you, change how you see, or move somewhere else that will provide you with a better environment to draw from. There's no reason to allow yourself to be a beggar if you are attached so strongly to the world of art, there is simply too much to be seen.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous richardson heights said...

Collector et al: your constructive criticism about the series is definitely being taken into consideration. The whole thing kind of started off as a joke, and I'm trying to figure out how exactly to do this stylistically.

The interviews mostly need to be done by email for several reasons, so that's kind of limiting as far as actual interaction with the interviewee goes. Thus, it can take a turn for the goofy and arbitrary depending on how drunk I am. ...admittedly not the best way to go about journalism.

By the way, I'd never met Alex before doing this interview. I just saw him in the list of Brooke Berman's emerging North Texas artists and thought I'd check him out.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

those pyscho shrooms sucked by the way.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By far the most talented guy to graduate in his class at arts, his stuff is mind-blowingly good. Kind of a tool though (but I guess that just comes with the territory...)

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here dude, collect some cock...

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why don't you cry about it?

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:05 and 9:18, this blog wasn't always infested with your kind, just for the record. You ignorant sluts.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We SHOULD be encouraging young ones to keep creating. Has every thirty-something college dropout who reads this blog become so disillusioned that they have to put down some kid that never did a fucking thing to instigate such bullshit? You guys are all losers. Go do something with yourselves. Like jack off on your own faces.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been to this site before. but today. i'm glad i did. if only to read the phrase "here dude, collect some cock". Everyone who talks seriously about art is a fag and everyone who puts down people for making stuff and not asking for anything in return is a dick. Art sucks. So what. Playing baseball is fucking useless but no one gives people a hard time for doing that. Nor do they expect a babeball player to write a fucking book about why they decided to throw a curveball in the 7th inning. Its not about who is better or new or important. Just go to the game with a friend eat a hotdog and have a good time.

ps... "experimental music" has sounded the same for the last 20 years. Maybe the innovation is not writing some gay bullshit about why you made a pick square. or some big dumb political statement or giant building size installation. Maybe the new "innovation" is about sitting down and making the best stuff you can. To try and make the "actual work" good, not the paragraph next to it on the wall. What a novel concept that is.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh.. yeah, it kinda always was, 4:58, go back and check the record. bitch.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous mofreak! said...

"Collect some cock" and "jack your face off" has been added to my memory bank.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous redrocks said...

gee, what a bunch of pluses and minuses on this scribed ditty...it's always good to listen to different perspectives...reminds me of Obama/McCain b.s. without seeing the talking heads...by the way, his parents don't have a basement...and he doesn't march to any drummer but his own...

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:33, i remember a time, long ago in late 2006 and early 2007 when poeople on here were supportive. you're the fucking bitch.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous redrocks said...

Thanks for the kind remark...not sure what planet you're on...probably begins with the word sewage...or perhaps it begins with stoooopid...by the way, I'm verrrry supportive of the artist, his work is quite good...have a great weekend :)p.s. it's spelled people

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


nice try, redrocks...

i'll be keeping an eye on you, buddy.........................


floppers w/crayons and w/out opinions..

10:50 AM  
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6:40 PM  

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