If you have ever been to the Amy’s Ice Cream on South Congress in Austin, you’ve already seen the work of our new artist collaborator Edd Patton. A native Austinite and longtime commercial and editorial illustration freelance artist, Edd designed their logo and some of his characters are painted on the side of the building. Edd says, “my style was a sort of 50’s – 60’s character-driven style reminiscent of 50’s advertising illustration and animation like the Jetsons.”
Edd’s newest pen and ink artworks document an imaginary world of whimsical and bizarre beasties doing both the odd and the ordinary. “The ideas come from me stretching my mind creatively to form visual associations that don’t necessarily come readily. I try to undo years of habits and recapture that untethered approach to ideas that children have,” he says. In this collection of prints and tee’s you’ll find (among other things) a thorn-headed watering can, flying fish, and a lumpy fish-face guy riding a tricycle in trival boots, complete with hanging dice on the handlebars. Edd’s quirky details, playful subject matter and mad drawing skills have us hoping for more!
In the meantime, enjoy this Q & A and get to know more about Austin, TX artist Edd Patton.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in east and northwest Austin (Delwood and Allandale/Crestview), but lived next to the ocean in San Francisco from '97-'01 before moving back here. Went to McCallum HS, and my son graduated there last year. Graduated UT-Austin.
I know you've been in Austin for a long time... how have you seen it change? What are the positives you've seen? Or do you feel like it's been negative?
It’s changed completely, most of which I view positively (except for the traffic). The food is WAY better now even than it was in 2001 when I moved back from San Francisco. The city has lost some of the things that made it genuinely interesting but has gained a lot as well. Affordability is something that is really altering the character of the city. There is less diversity, especially economically. This seems to me to diminish the humaneness of the place. Still, change is unavoidable and I notice that many of the younger people here have a strong sense of activism for fairness and inclusivity. I am not someone who laments “old Austin”. The past is the past, and life goes on.
What do you do for a living?
I currently design web interfaces for a major state agency. For 25 years I was a freelance illustrator, until I transitioned into motion graphics and UX design in an international ad agency in San Francisco.
What do you do for fun?
I love to do transformative landscape work like moving rock, trees, gravel and dirt for xeriscaping my property. It's fully xeric, with zero carpet grass. My backyard is a meadow of shade-tolerant native grasses, with native trees and cacti. I also love to cook, and host small dinner parties. In San Francisco, I learned to do Lindy-Hop (the original swing dance) and would dance 4-5 times a week for about four years. I plan on getting back into it when lessons resume post-pandemic.
How are you surviving the pandemic?
As well as anyone. I am employed and able to work from home at both jobs. Sure miss my kid, he turned 18 and moved to Michigan with his mother. He will go to college in Illinois in fall 2021.
Do you have a self care practice that keeps you grounded?
I meditate daily, as well as walk 5-6 miles each day and do strength training 5 days a week. Taking time to cook a good meal is a form of self-care for me.
What keeps you motivated?
Learning new things keeps me motivated, no matter what it is. Drawing. I teach a class at ACC that I enjoy. Got into it in 1992 to give back what my old Illustration instructor from UT (Larry McEntire) gave us, he selflessly mentored us outside of class so we could have careers as illustrators. It motivates me to help others achieve their dreams.
Where do you want your art to take you? Where does art fit into your life outside of work?
These days art is something I do for purely my own enjoyment. There is no endgame, just to flex those creative muscles as well as I can. It's therapeutic, plus it's just who I am.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career as a graphic artist?
Focused hard work trumps talent every time.
If you retired today and had the means to do whatever what you wanted - what would that be?
I'd travel a lot. Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, Portugal, more of France, Hungary, China.
What is your favorite artwork you've done?
Probably the things I've been drawing the last two years. Since the illustration business died permanently, I have been making art again just for myself. That's what I most like.
And your preferred medium?
Pen and ink. I bought some Sennelier shellac-based inks in Paris, and they are unlike any other inks I have used.
Lighting Round! What's your favorite...
Restaurant in Austin? Thats a tough one, but I would say Asia Cafe.
Thing to do? Hanging with friends on my back patio.
Place you've been (so far)? Paris and Giverny (Monet's country estate and garden where the lily pond is).
Food? Smoked pork ribs and really good coffee.
Artist? That's hard to say. Maybe Joan Miro. Can't really say why, I just find his dreamlike elements and compositions compelling and whimsical.
Holiday? I don't really care all that much for holidays. if I am off work, that's a good day no matter what the reason. Any time I get to see my son who lives in Michigan now, that's the best day ever.
Thank you for indulging my questions, Edd. And for sharing your art with us!