I’ve known Travis for a few years now, but I never really grasped how creative he is until I spent a week snowboarding with him in Chile. Now, I know that he is creative- after all I’ve seen the video parts and support the snowboard company he founded. Every time I turned around he was fiddling with something, whether it be stacking random objects or cutting out figures for a collage. Even when our crew packed it in for the night, we could hear the banging and crashing in the living room of all-night art projects.
After we had passed an art store in Santiago he said, “You know, I’d like to paint something at some point”. That is something a lot of people might say, but not many actually do it. One hour later we were back to the store, where Travis bought paper, ink and a pen. He proceeded to draw portraits of all of us in the hotel lobby. I wish I had a fleck of the creativity that this guy has.
You seem like you are always making something?
I love to draw and lately, and in the past day I [have been] loving to draw with an iron or metal brush. [The brush] is put on the end of calligraphy pen shaft. The iron is a flat, thick and wide piece of metal. I mix ink and water together and put it on paper.
How did you get into making art and understanding negative space?
I was taught by a woman and a couple good men about kick ass art. An amazing woman, Phyllis Schafer, taught me damn near everything I know about art, along with my Mom and a couple others. The point of this whole gig is value… that is what I focus on. Value is how you use ink. Ink is the substance, and I don’t know if it imitates darkness, but with water you can change the amount of imitation. I had three plastic bottles from the gentleman at the bar, who cut them in half with his knife. He filled them with Santiago water and then I put different amounts of ink in each. And then I went straight fucking ink. I had four values on these drawings.
A portrait of Colleen on her computer by Travis Parker
That sounds simple enough.
The thing is, I’ve been taught, so maybe my language sounds funky- but the idea is to put down an imitation of shadow and light on paper. Oh my god, the paper. I got Fabriano paper from a shop called Color Animal in Santiago. An amazing bit of fucking Fabriano paper. I fucking love Fabriano paper. It’s above us right now in the overhead compartment. We’re flying right now and I have paper up there that is fucking perfect.
How do you take something seen in three dimensions and put it flat on paper in two dimensions?
We live in a three dimensional world with our eyes, conscience, and the way we put one foot in front of the other. The idea is that the way you see the world in two dimensions is not hard, but you have to think of a clock and how the hands move flat at 180 degrees. Left or right. When you look out at the world our minds want to add more depth and angles and if you want to put that on paper it doesn’t work. What you have to do is trust your eyes. You transfer what is in your head in three dimensions to a piece of paper in two dimensions. When you’re throwing that shit down you have a set of rules, and I love rules. You abide by those rules. You stick to those rules and eventually you come up with something that imitates something beautiful.
Always creating, Travis builds a well-balanced scale sculpture while the rest of the crew relaxes.
You do love rules. Is there something that inspires you to make things?
I am inspired. A store inspired me this time. It carried product and drew me in to buy something and create something. One of the only reasons I actually made those drawings was the fact that we passed that art store. It was spontaneous. There was an idea and it’s always something like that – an idea. They bought amazing products to sell from the people who made these amazing products, including the paper I bought. The Fabriano paper that I bought is so beautiful. I want to hit that shit with more ink and go at it some more, because I know it will turn out fun and amazing because there is so much opportunity on that paper.
If you could give one tip to someone trying to make art for the first time, what would it be?
One thing? Take a class from Phyllis Schafer.