Surf Shacks 072

David Wien
Portland, OR

Matt Titone

I’ve never been able to put how I feel about art into words. The curators and critics are better suited for that task. Like most folks out there, I like what I like, and I dislike what doesn’t do it for me — some art just speaks to me visually, and that is what I love about it. David Wien’s art gets me in ways I cannot describe. His style is so beautifully simple, yet so layered and full of colorful emotion. It’s both primitive and modern, familiar yet unique, and never too serious. A rare artist who has comfortably made the transition from two to three dimensional work, he gracefully meanders between different mediums in each piece. Last fall, I was lucky enough to catch up with David in his Portland home and studio in Northeast Portland (which he shares with a couple of other creative roomies) and get a firsthand glimpse into his creative process.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Dave, I’m an artist — funny as that sounds to say. I like surfing and skateboarding, etc.

Where are you from originally? How long have you lived here in Portland and what drew you to the area in the first place?

I’m from Vermont originally. I’ve lived in Portland on and off for almost ten years. The only draw to Portland originally was that I knew a few people here, which was more than anywhere else out west, so I came and checked it out and fell for it back in 2005.

How did you first get into woodwork and bringing your unique two dimensional style into three dimensional sculptures?

I was in a “wood themed” art show several years ago. I figured, why not try carving the stuff? I got a couple tools and fell in love with the process. Now I am more and more obsessed with making sculpture — it feels good to my brain. I like the physical nature of the work and I just like the ‘presence’ of a three-dimensional sculpture.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

What are your main sources of creative inspiration?

In general, surfing is by far my greatest source of happiness. Sometimes this translates into creative inspiration, not always. Actually, I think the greatest sources of creative inspiration for me are any and all emotions strongly felt. Sometimes guilt, anguish and misery can fuel creativity, sometimes it’s a more manic feeling of happiness or glee. As far as visual inspiration, I’ve been finding myself as of late most drawn to ancient and prehistoric artwork from around the world.

What have been some of the biggest challenges for you as an artist?

Aside from the prerequisite self-doubt and harsh self-critic that I think is in everyone, my challenges have been about not being good/interested in the business side of being an artist, and not having enough time in the studio because I work so damn slow.

On the flip side, what have been your greatest joys and successes so far?

The greatest joy is when I can surprise myself by making something that impresses me. Or feels like something that always existed and I just sort of released it, as opposed to made it up. Also, I can’t say that I enjoy being in art exhibitions, but the feeling of installing a room full of new work before labels or prices are involved, before anyone else sees everything is pretty magical.

Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone
Matt Titone

Every time I visit Portland, I am always inspired by the various creative personalities around the city and the various creative outlets and design aesthetics that “keep Portland weird.” Tell us more about the art community in town.

It’s true, there are so many creative amazing people in this town. It felt that way from the moment I got here in 2005. In those days, everyone was an artist, musician, filmmaker, or something creative. It was cheap to live here, so the scene was sort of thriving — and I think it created a vortex that attracted more creative people. I don’t think any of these people who I have in mind are making a conscious effort to “keep Portland weird,” but they’re still just doing their thing and haven’t left. The flip side is that it’s gotten way more expensive to be here, and creative spaces have been replaced by condos and tech firms. I don’t have much else to say about the art community of Portland because I don’t exactly feel I am a member.

What are your favorite parts about Portland and the area in which you live?

I live in the Cully neighborhood and I like it. It’s a pretty diverse neighborhood, which is rare in Portland. It’s fairly quiet and there’s not as much construction as other areas.

What’s it like being a surfer in Portland?

It can be pretty torturous. It is possible that I spend more time driving than actually surfing. I would prefer to be surfing every day. That said, we get some really great waves in Oregon — it gets frickin crowded at the popular spots, but there are usually some cool people in the water.

What got you into surfing in the first place?

I got into surfing when I moved to the Lost Coast in Northern California. I’d never lived near the beach before and there wasn’t a lot of pavement to skate. So I gave it a try! Not an easy place to learn, but it stuck for me.

Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, or sage advice?

Nah, I don’t have anything to teach anyone. I’d welcome all three.

(Check out David’s art on his website or Instagram.)

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Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio, constantly seeks left hand point breaks, and tries very hard to avoid crowds & traffic.

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