An Interview with Larry Carlson
by Rebecca Underhill
Larry Carlson is a New York based artist who’s surreal and psychedelic creations inspire and mesmerize. He has had his work shown in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, France, India and Germany and has had his movies screened around the world. A favorite of mine, ‘The Legend of Sasquatch Mountain’ was shown at The Wayward Gallery in London in 2013 http://larrycarlson.com/flashmovies_sasquatch.htm .This interview will also feature in a book on contemporary psychedelia which will be published later this year.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you decided to become an artist?
I was drawn to making art at such a young age I don’t even remember ever not being an artist. I couldn’t not be an artist if I tried, it’s just who I am.
What does the term ‘psychedelic’ mean to you?
For me it’s the dictionary def. – psyche + Greek dêl ( os ) visible, manifest, evident + -ic. or “the manifest of the psyche”. Not the adjective most people use to describe a very broad range of music art and culture.
Do you believe that psychedelia can still exist as a movement, or it is something that only truly belonged in the sixties?
Psychedelia is beyond any one time period, especially the sixties. The sixties psychedelia thing was a manufactured event by the mass media. I think psychedelia is not something from the past, but the future. Because the great frontier of the future is in the untamed dimensions of our own minds, a way to get there is with a strong will, guidance from within and the conscious use of psychedelics.
In your opinion, can psychedelia still exist without the use of mind altering drugs?
Yes. You can make “psychedelic art” without taking drugs. For some people psychedelic drugs can be tools, but the vast majority of people who use them are not using them as tools. Only a few actually use it with the intention to express an inner world of the mind. Many visit the other side but only a handful are able to bring back something that makes sense and adds value to life. These few are the visionaries.
Speaking in general terms, would you agree that a lot of your work has a trippy quality to it?
Most definitely yes. Beautiful yet jarring, welcoming yet otherworldly, my work is the essence of trippy.
What inspires your practice?
The daily focus is to make the greatest art ever. By working, exploring and experimenting with my art as often as I can, I developed the skill to express the mystical experience and the ability to process bigger amounts of information from these other hyper realities that I explore. Every act of making art for me is a sharing with the universal forces as it manifests on the psychical plane as a form of artwork. By thinking continually of my personality as being a vehicle for the universal forces, I become the “doorway” of this cosmic process.
When making work, what do you hope to achieve?
Making the impossible come to life is a craft that I have dedicated my life to mastering. Creating something that has never existed before. What you see in my art is my own personal spiritual quest; a quest to find the courage to look into the great unknown. Making art for me is a way of actively engaging the universal forces.
What materials and format do you favour when making work?
For my handmade art I prefer to use found materials instead of paint, though I do paint on my collage artwork sometimes. Self-publishing online has been the spark that has keep my artistic fire going. The instant connection from people around the world has given me alto of inspiration to make so much work. Who I am as an artist today was shaped by my years of publishing online and getting so much amazing feedback. Now with the rise of the social networks I can connect and expose my work to many new people. My artwork is a result of free distribution and connecting directly with fans.
In artistic terms, what movement (if any) do you feel defines this era?
I would say no, there is no one “movement” in this era. This time period in art is sort of like a mirror that has been smashed into thousand different shards.
I really love The Legend of Sasquatch Mountain. Can you tell me what inspired you to make it?
I’m very interested in the real life Sasquatch phenomena, and yeah I have had real experiences with these creatures. It may sound crazy, but that craziness is what inspired a piece like “The Legend of Sasquatch Mountain” that it’s infused with a crazy, other worldly prophetic energy.
What is next for Larry Carlson?
Right now I am putting on a mind blowing live visual show and I have lots of new digital artwork and collage artwork in the development.