Briefly describe the work you do.
I make obsessively finished drawings depicting familiar spaces charged with a sense of dark presence, or other instances where planes of existence clash: the future sending messages to the past, memory intruding upon the present, or the subconscious bleeding into consciousness. These drawings have been described as having a “clairvoyant” quality. I work in various media, always in a manner that is simple and direct.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in the suburbs during the 1980s, and I continue to draw from the kind of mytho-folkloric themes found in much of the pop culture of the times, such as Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. I currently live in the upper-midwestern United States, and the expansive landscape with bleak winters often shows up in my drawings. I also had day jobs for years that revolved around light construction and house painting, and this has caused me to pay undue attention to mundane architectural details.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio practice largely adheres to the traditional model, only because I have kids, I don’t get large chunks of time to work. My studio is in my basement, and this is essential because I can pop in for an hour here or there when the opportunity arises. Once I am there, I am basically alone in a room, hunched over a drafting table drawing, and listening to podcasts.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I have learned that I need to pay serious attention to ergonomics in my studio. Before I had adequate light and properly arranged workspace, it really began to take a toll on me physically. It never occurred to me when I was in school that I could hurt myself while drawing.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I work whenever I can, but when I have the choice I work when I am at my best, which is in the morning and late evening. When the world around me has quieted down, there are fewer distractions.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I tend to work in discrete series, often connected through media, scale, or subject. I keep going until it gets played out. Over the last five years I have worked in different series, but the atmosphere of the work stays largely unchanged. I am also beginning to stray from working in such strict series. It can be limiting at times.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I am fortunate to have had many excellent teachers, and they have all left their mark on me. There have also been some that have presented a model of what to avoid. My Dad was not an artist, but I often think of how he accomplished various projects around the house. He never had good tools or much time, but he would chip away at stuff on the weekends, and it would eventually get done. That has proven to be a valuable example.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Probably something crafty, especially if I could work outside and meet interesting people. I could always go back to house painting.
Scott Espeseth was born in 1975 in the sprawling suburb of Bowie, MD, in the Washington D. C. metropolitan area. Always prone to drawing, he studied art at West Virginia University, where he earned a BFA in 1997. He was later lured to Madison, WI to study printmaking at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked with storied print artists such as Frances Myers and Warrington Colescott, and where he remains to this day. His work has since evolved to focus mainly on drawing, usually with commonplace media such as graphite pencils and ballpoint pen. His drawings have been described as “clairvoyant,” often depicting familiar spaces charged with a sense of dark presence, or other instances where planes of existence clash: the future sending messages to the past, memory intruding upon the present, or the subconscious bleeding into consciousness. Scott has had exhibitions extensively in the Midwest as well as nationally, and is represented by Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee and Schema Projects in Brooklyn, NY. He has been on the faculty of Beloit College in Beloit, WI since 2002.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.