I met Terry Pierson a couple of years ago when he showed up in the front row of a Creative Writing class I was teaching at Southwestern Illionis College on the Belleville campus. Strangely and serendipitously enough, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen him though.
“Hey, I know you,” I said after taking attendance. ” You are the painter guy from the Joan Baez concert. . . sitting one seat over in the next row. I remember because you had paint on your jacket and a sketchpad. You were also the dark figure following on the sidewalk just past the Metrolink station.”
In the course of that conversation, we agreed that the concert had been a memorable one, each recalling the moment in the encore after hearing one of our fellow concertgoers shout, “Take it to the full moon, Joanie!”
And take it to the moon she did.
With “Diamonds and Rust.”
That song has always been a transcendent one for me . . .sort of ethereal and spiritual in its rawness and longing. And sort of a nice Rosetta touchstone for getting into the topic of Terry’s art, which can also be described using those words. You could also add a few more though starting with “otherworldly,” “celestial,”” nebular,” “cosmic”, “universal,” and “expressionistic.”
What follows this story of intros and discoveries of shared experience is my standard list of questions for the artist interview blog, accompanied by Terry’s insightful and eloquent responses.
1. Introduce yourself…
Tell me about your background. What events led up to your life in an art-making?
I wouldn’t credit anything in particular as what drove me to make art. I was always creatively inclined asa kid-writing, drawing, imagining and playing games. Painting kind of just started one day when I was about 15.
2. How do you get your hands and feet wet and dirty? What media / material & process do you like best, and why?
“I’ve almost exclusively worked with acrylic paint. I’ve used oil but I just like acrylic more. I find it more malleable and accessible. And since it is less accepted in the art world think it carries a certain distinction.”
I’ve always worked on canvas but lately I’ve played around with a few other things-wood, glass…pretty much anything I can
find. Around the time I first started exhibiting I painted on clothes-jackets, bags, jeans, shirts…I would be covered in paint head to toe anytime you saw me. But for now , canvas remains my preferred medium. Whenever I get a picture in my head, a vision of a painting, it’s always on canvas. So it’s just the most natural for me.”
3. You know, Hemingway wrote a whole book around his experiences trying to feed himself in Paris as a starving artist. ..Do tell about your experiences. How and what DO you feed yourself?
“I feed myself hand to mouth, sometimes using a utensil such as a fork or spoon. I love fresh fruit-especially raspberries and
blackberries. I’m big on craft beer and red wine. I think the art of the culinary world is best represented in deserts. I like pecan or pumpkin pie best. All said I’m a working college student who eats too much fast food.”
4. Now that you have some food in your stomach, tell me a bit about your process. Do you have a ritual to get things started? Comfort stuff. ..listening material?
I always listen to music-everything from Kanye West to Bob Dylan. A lot of the time while I listen to music I have the TV on or am at my computer. I like to have constant stimulation. I’ve been watching movies recently while working-mainly old horror
5. What inspires you most?
“Life is inspiration. I think art, at its purest, is a reaction. I don’t know how anyone could not make art. We take so much in all the time, especially in this country, that I think one has to let something back out.
But immediately and specifically monster movies, cartoons, and economic inequality.”
6. How have you evolved in your process? What learning experiences have had the biggest impact?”
“The most significant thing for me has been learning to trust myself. It’s easy to spout off independent sentiments but to really not let other’s opinions and expectations influence you is tough.”
7. “If you could do dinner with any creative person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would
you go to dinner?”
“I think it would have to be Kurt Cobain. And we’d probably go to one of our excellent local breweries. Schlafly is always a safe bet.”
8. What would you order and what questions would you ask?
“Billy Goat chips are always a must.”
9. “Now that you have made your marks, pass the torch. ..what advice do you have for emerging artists?”
“Create the art you want to see in the world. Your goal should always only be to make work you are personally proud of. There is no wrong way. ”
10. For your burgeoning fan club! Please tell us where we can find you online.
“My official webpage will be coming soon. Until then I’m on Facebook:
11. Thanks for such an insightful and entertaining interview, Terry! I really enjoyed learning more about your creative process.
(Author’s note: A couple of these images are actually digital illustrations mislabled as “acrylic on canvas.” Am having a dickens of time trying to edit these captions for some reason. My apologies to Terry.)