We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrick Ethen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Patrick, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The foundation of my art practice was built over the years by relentlessly throwing myself into situations I had no business being in, getting knocked around, improvising, and figuring it out… or not. Those early projects were so rough, but the thing about failure is that it reveals a path forward. It was terrifying- it continues to be terrifying- but the process has formed me into who I am today.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work focuses specifically on light and the production of visual affect. Recently I’ve been calling myself a Light Artist, as it gives people a little something to chew on. The reality is that my work exists in some fuzzy intersection between art, architecture, design and engineering. I enjoy doing projects that push the boundaries of the disciplines, as light is applicable to all of them.

It wasn’t easy- it still isn’t easy. The learning curve has been insane. But it’s getting better all the time, and it tickles me to now get hired for something I pursued as a passion for years. I’m realizing now that the struggle is what made my practice, the journey itself, with all its ups and downs, roads laden with potholes and loose screws. It’s important to surround yourself with a community of good people. Success comes from filtering good ideas from a sea of bad ones, and the best ones can often come from sources you might never expect. Take the time to believe in yourself as equally as you might doubt yourself. Strive to be a light for others.

With love <3 Detroit, MI.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hands down, come to Detroit in the last weekend of May, during the world-renowned Movement electronic music festival. For Detroiters it’s a city-wide holiday that marks the start of summer. Everyone drops everything and parties for 3-4 days straight, hanging with friends, biking around with melty faces and dilated pupils. It’s a big party, and here’s our itinerary:

We are friends.
We are eating Supinos Pizza.
We are laying in the sun at Belle Isle while I acid-juggle a soccer ball.
We’re going to see Theo Parrish play his Thursday night afterparty at the Artist Village.
We are setting up immersive light installations for Texture, our afterparty on Saturday night.
We are desperately trying to hydrate.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have two quick shoutouts to give- the first is to my dad, a salesperson and “definitely-not-an-artist”, who for some inexplicable reason every year would take two weeks off work to plan and install 35,000 Christmas lights on our house. In a pre-internet era, I used the 6′ glowing star on the peak of our house as a way finding strategy to orient myself around town.

The second shoutout is to my professor and former employer, Vivian Lee, who was the first to say: “Pat… you’re an artist.” Until that moment, sometime in my early 20’s, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, and it’s funny because it’s such a relatively insignificant thing to say… but it cleared the way for my mind to start to accept this new path in my life, which at the time seemed totally impossible and Actually Crazy. Sometimes you just need a little push.

Website: www.patrickethen.com

Instagram: @patrickethen

Image Credits
Tony Katai, Carrie Pitzer

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