By Nick Parks
If you visited the Art Center on the FCC campus last February you may have taken a moment or two to check out the obscure paintings that hung from its walls. A frog running with a sword, a somewhat disgruntled Picasso, a skeleton playing with a paddle ball. Each of these were only a piece of the colorful menagerie that sat on display; each a piece from the mind of Goodloe Byron.
Byron’s pieces had garnered quite a bit of attention over the weeks at FCC, most of which was favorable and came with comments of praise and adoration. Sarah Schoepp, a student here at FCC, told me she felt the art was “like Dr. Suess meets Tim Burton” explaining that it felt like a fusion between Tim Burton’s twisted and gaunt imagery and Dr. Seuss’ colorful and simplistic art. Sydney Faulkner, another student, said that it looked “ inspired by the art seen on Flying Dog’s bottles.” Praise came from many people, some even inquiring about who the artist was, if he had any social media, and promptly following Byron on Tumblr where he has more than 170 pages of his art work.
It was at this point that it felt as if people need to get to know Byron a bit better, who was he and why had we never heard of him? His art was gorgeous, yet it seemed as if he had just popped up out of thin air one day.
Although he was preparing for a trip to Dublin and suffering from a small cold, Byron was willing to answer some questions for The Commuter, here is what he had to say.
Note: Responses have been edited for grammar and clarity
How did you get into art, or when did you consider it a serious profession?
I don’t think of art as being a serious profession. If you’re not getting something else out of it, it’s not really worth the time. But the way I got into art properly, is though my work illustrating book covers. I mean I’ve done book illustrations for a while but as for painting I started painting with Artomatic here in Frederick, the had me paint a mural.
How does painting differ from illustrating?
It’s like picking up an entirely different instrument, comparing painting to illustrating. You see with illustration you take a very slow step forward whereas painting you just kinda do it I guess.
How did you get into watercolor?
Watercolor really isn’t my particular style, but I do do water colors every morning. It’s hard to put into words but watercolor is simple, it’s a style where what you see is what you get, you’re not expecting the mona lisa. There is just something about the simplicity of it that drew me in.
How long does it take you to do your paintings, big or little?
Depends on the day, some days I work for 2 hours and get nothing done while others I sit there and knock stuff out real quickly. A lot of it is really confidence, being confident in what you’re doing really helps you do it.
How would you describe your own art style?
I dunno, I think when artists try to describe their own art they kind of lose that… discovery. I don’t really describe my art I just do it.
From where do you get your inspiration? Do pictures like Black Magic Woman and Picasso come from somewhere deeper?
The secret to the watercolors in there, a lot of them were done the week of the show, I didn’t realize how big it was gonna be, so at that point I was just painting whatever came to mind. Which is really good to me, cause nothing is as conducive to thought as a deadline.
I really try to paint my mood, you know I might wind up painting… you know what’s kicking around in my mind. If you’re in a dark mood… you’re like… why not draw a jabberwocky goblin beast thing. I typically create things of a literary nature cause I have a lot of background in that, I know my moods, and they tend to refer to literary and cultural things.
Speaking of Picasso, who would you consider to be your artistic inspirations? Or do you consider yourself a bit of an independent style?
Oh man, I would have hard time listing all of them, Wikipaintings is my homepage at work. You know you check the page everyday and it’s hard not to find something that blows your mind. But if I had to pick it would probably be Ralph Steadman, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele.
Explain your process for me. How do you go abouts your painting?
Most of the time the stuff I paint is very rewarding. I don’t know what it’s gonna be, I don’t know if it’s gonna be a hot air balloon or a mollusc. So I get to enjoy the adventure of finding out what it is.
Tell me a bit about your musical and written pieces.
Well as far as my music goes I was just playing in baltimore, you know some low key stuff. It was kinda a sideshow act to my literary career that became my main act… or something like that. As for my writing there are 4 books: one of them is called the Abstract. After I wrote that and saved a bunch of money and printed 10,000 copies and just started putting them in coffee shops and handing them out at book fairs. I did that with the other three as well and, uh… even though the books are all pretty different, each seems to have done well.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people in college, maybe people who lack confidence in the things they do?
Now that is something, I guess I’d say if your gonna do something prepare to just buck up and fail so much that you just stop caring about the failure. You can’t hope to succeed if you tell yourself you have already failed.