Student Artist Profile: Charlie Wiggins

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Charlie Wiggins, a sophomore changing his major from film to animation and illustration, takes great pride in his artwork. —Photo courtesy of Julia Wiggins

Charlie Wiggins, a sophomore changing his major from film to animation and illustration, discusses his artwork and lessons he has learned while expressing his creativity.

Q: What’s your latest project?

A: This past summer, my brother Andy and I wrote and recorded some psych-pop songs, and we independently released an EP as Fish Eyes! So that’s pretty exciting to us.

Q: What forms of art do you participate in?

A: I mostly draw cartoons and make graphic design. I’ve also made a short film, and make electronic music when I can.

Q: How would you define yourself as an artist?

A: I guess I’d define myself as a designer, more than anything. In any medium, I find myself most interested in the aesthetics of how things look and sound, the minutiae of things like texture, color-temperature, & composition. That’s kind of a through-line throughout everything I like to make, a focus on representational details.

Q: What is the best part of being a multi-dimensional artist?

A: What’s really cool to me is finding similarities within things like music, film, and drawing. I’m synesthetic, so my brain is always making connections between colors, words, sounds, and textures. It’s kind of riveting to create a beat, or doodle a character and undoubtedly feel a connection between a specific drum rhythm and a line contour. It’s almost like translating a phrase into another language; sometimes I feel like a certain aesthetic quality is universal, like the meaning of a word, and the difficulty is in translating it from one medium into another. I’m biased here, but I think it makes my creative process better, having synesthesia.

Q: What prompted you to start drawing?

A: I’ve been drawing since I was very young. I guess watching movies and cartoons all the time inspired me to wanna make up characters and goofy worlds. Drawing as a means to bring things into the world isn’t all that complicated. Even if you suck at drawing, your ideas can still be crazy and huge.

Q: What influenced you to start making music?

A: My influence came more from my family and surroundings. All my brothers play instruments, so we grew up always playing together. My parents also showed us a lot of cool bands and artists that they loved, which had a huge impact.

Q: When you did you start making films?

A: Similarly, making home-movies was a goofy, Saturday-afternoon project I would do with my brothers growing up. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I got to make a serious short film.

Q: What have you learned through being a filmmaker?

A: While I don’t mean for this be to condescending to anyone I’ve worked with, I’ve learned about myself that I tend to work better on creative projects as an individual, rather than in teams. However, I think it’s a good idea to have friends/confidants around in a general sense while working creatively, as I’m someone that often needs emotional support and validation of my good ideas. Brainstorming with other people is cool, and we did that a lot in Film.

Q: What have you learned through being a musician?

A: Like anything else, you shouldn’t fret too much about questions of originality or legitimacy if you’re an amateur musician. Every artist, consciously or not, makes things that are solely unique because of their unique blend of influences and inspirations. Worry less about what you’ll be compared to, your conscious affectations, and more about what you genuinely like to play or design. Good stuff will come from that.

Q: How has Montclair State University fostered you as an artist?

A: Living at school has given me ample headspace to think and draw, which is cool. I’ve also had some really fantastic professors that motivate me.

Q: What is your biggest motivation?

A: Simple as it may sound, existing art and artists really motivate me to contribute to the worlds of music and cartooning. New albums and cartoons and movies motivate me by giving me standards to shoot for!

Q: Who are your biggest supporters?

A: My parents and my three brothers, for sure.

Q: Describe a piece that you were particularly proud of.

A: This summer I came up with a method by accident for making what I’d dub as ‘abstract psychedelic art’. I kind of start with more or less arbitrary photos taken on my iPhone, and I wallpaper the same picture together hundreds of times until they take on the form of colorful, psychedelic patterns. I recently took a photo of a red paint stain on concrete, here on campus, and I was able to mutate it into an image that looks like a saccharine river made of cotton candy or something. It’s really fun to take stupid pictures and make them into otherworldly vistas.

Q: Do you feel your art has helped you grow as a person?

A: For sure. It’s a good outlet for expression and often one for mental health concerns. Q: What is one of your goals as an artist? A: A goal of mine is to have my name associated with something that people like. Whether it be music or film or art or graffiti, I don’t really care. It’d be nice to have folks appreciate my work and to see that tangibly.

Q: Where do you see yourself post-graduation?

A: I’d really like to work in some capacity as an artist or graphic designer.

This is the EP cover that Charlie’s band “Fish Eyes” put out. It is what he calls “abstract psychedelic art.”  — Photo courtesy of Charlie Wiggins
Another piece of Charlie’s artwork includes his friend Alex Valdes, a contributing writer for the Montclarion. —Photo courtesy of Charlie Wiggins

For more information on Charlie’s work, please visit the following websites:

https://fisheyes.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.instagram.com/charlesart/

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