We had the good fortune of connecting with Walter Askin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Walter, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I am always trying to bring fresh visions into being. It was never a process of creating a business to make an income. It was about keeping the mind alive and involved in the adventures of this world. It is a privilege, a joy, a delight, and quite often a dire necessity to be able to give ideas tangible form – to create images that liberate the imaginative life and transform our thought patterns, our state of being. To be an artist is to engage in the wonderfully fulfilling, dangerous and intensely social act of creating perceptions and propositions. Ultimately in the arts you’re not swimming for your own life, but for the lives of others. If the stories told, the experiences manufactured, the ideas given tangible form are sufficiently compelling, they become the ones on which others construct their lives. We live our lives in various states of mind- most of which are more fantasy than fact, more illusion than reality. Because we live in a condition of illusion, art becomes important through its ability to invoke states of mind, and can change the illusions on which decisions are based. It means, in part, that we are no longer trapped by reality. Reality is not something that is ingested. It is built, manufactured, created. The same applies to a self, a being, an individual. Both reality and being are created and art is a major potential vehicle for their creation. There is an indescribable joy in creating images. The human species is an indefatigable creator of stories, myths, values, beliefs, theories, morals, laws and religions. We never step entirely out of a socially created reality, nor shut down the story-making parts of our mind, nor should we. Continually re-examining beliefs becomes the most important task of all the skills needed for survival of our time. The primary purpose is to expand my imaginative life, and hopefully, through my work, the imaginative lives of others. Art is not defined by boundaries, but by the extent and transformative energy of its illusions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What can we do today that has any kind of meaning and value? We can search for a means to escape from conventions, from ordinariness, and from the limitations of everyday existence. We can help create the emergent fiction that is the world we live in. We can regenerate the key myths and archetypes so that life doesn’t seem worth living unless one is on the side of the liberating and transformative. We can learn to play again – to not know what we are looking for, to break through the ice of habit, to know what it means to be truly alive and to experience the specialness of even the most ordinary things. We can find the god within, inspiration, magic, once again be visionaries, bring peace. The real joy is in making a better, more calm, more serene, more alive, more playful, more energized, more focused, more directed, more life-filled existence for the time were here.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Norton Simon Museum
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The great creations do not emerge in a vacuum, but from traditions. None of us are alone in this enterprise. We all build on the bones of others – for me, Klee, Giacometti, Morandi, Piero della Francesca, Rajput painting, Hokusai, Dogan sculpture, Vermeer, etc. etc. etc.
artworks copyright Walter Askin