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Featured Artist: Wyatt Lindberg

". . . I just really love painting - painting and drawing. So yeah, it was a really tough year but to have that ability to express myself creatively and say things that I can’t put into words, it saved me, I suppose, it really helped me in a lot a lot of ways."


I am very excited to introduce Wyatt (he/him) to all of you today! Wyatt is a super talented artist and we had a great conversation about how he balances being a parent and skater on top of making incredible art. Enjoy!


Wyatt Lindberg

DECADENT: Wyatt! It’s so great to meet you!

WYATT: Nice to meet you! This is cool!


D: I’m very excited to talk to you. Also, love the Totoro pillow in the background.


W: We’re big fans. We’ve got a Totoro skateboard I’ve been meaning to hang up too.


D: I just want to start off by thanking you for making the time to do this! Can we talk about your background in art?


W: Sure. So, I suppose my freshman or sophomore year of high school, I was introduced to my high school art teacher, Ms. Stein. . . Yeah, sophomore year was when it really started. For whatever reason, it was a class where the grades were mixed and my friend Isaiah was in that class.


He and I would just hang out in the supply closet and not do what the class was doing and for some reason, I drew these two really weird creature things, extremely ambitiously. . . I was just like, “I’m painting them really giant - I’m just doing it.”


I’m pretty sure we were supposed to be doing a still life of apples.


And that’s kinda how it started. So I’m just really grateful [to that teacher] for giving me creative freedom and seeing something in me at a really young age before I even knew what the hell art was.

Just hiding in the art closet, doing my thing.





D: So, I know you said that things like pop culture and cartoons are really inspiring for you. Do you feel like that’s something you’ve been consuming since forever - and has that shaped your imagination?


W: Totally! Totally! I know in my subconscious that that’s always brought to the forefront. Whether it be cartoons, or moments of pop culture. . .


I grew up as a Beatles fan from a very young age. When I was fifteen, I was like, “John Lennon does art! And it’s like these weird little purple guys and they’re so cool and if that’s what his art is then I can make art. Anyone can make art!”




D: I love that! So I want to ask what being an artist looks like for you currently. I know you said that,


"I lost everything in 2020. Art saved me."

Which is an incredibly powerful statement about art. What does that mean for you?


W: I guess 2020 just sucked for everybody, but on top of that, I separated from Lennon’s mom and that was really, really tough. . . and then she actually physically took everything from me, so we were sleeping on the floor. Like, we had nothing nothing - no TVs in the house, like we literally lost everything.


So I had to rebuild and that was really, really hard.


And then I worked on this piece [see picture below]


So that’s what I worked on right after all that went down. It was a deeply personal piece for me just because of everything I was going through and that was when I really started to just rebuild and start over. I started going to therapy and that was really cool and helpful and special. At the beginning of the relationship with Lennon’s mom I did a lot of art but then I guess I just started to fall out of it because I had other things going on, so it was kind of cool to start over and do art and have people respond to art and have more will-power and, I guess, free time to just paint.


Because that was my first love: I just really love painting - painting and drawing. So yeah, it was a really tough year but to have that ability to express myself creatively and say things that I can’t put into words, it saved me, I suppose, it really helped me in a lot a lot of ways.




D: So when you begin a painting, do you feel like you approach it with inspiration or feelings you want to untangle...what do you bring from your personal life to a work of art?


W: I think it’s a little bit of both because I think my art can sometimes be deeply personal but it can also be kinda funny, like, “Oh this sorta relates back to a skateboard graphic in my favorite Scooby-Doo episode”. But sometimes it will be like, “Yeah, I literally lost everything and want to blow my brains out and here’s all this crazy symbolism of mental health and what’s going through my head.”


Yeah, I think for the most part it’s always been spewing my emotions into the world. I don’t really like when [art] is super realistic. I think, at the end of the day, anybody can learn to do that, like anybody can learn to make a realistic tree, but not everybody can make art that is so deeply personal that it’s distinctly theirs.

D: Speaking of your own personal experiences that play into your artwork: you're a skater! I want to talk about how skateboarding and art intersect in your life.


W: Yeah, so first of all, I would say that skateboarding is an art or a way of life.


Like some people might just say it’s a sport or an activity, but I think that’s bullshit. If you do it for the right reasons, in my opinion, it’s something you can’t live without, it’s just your way of expressing yourself - there are no rules, no right or wrong way, there’s no coaches, no time limit...you don’t go to skateboard practice. There’s no standard rubric for who’s better than the other. Like, you might love my skating and hate my brother’s, or vice versa.





D: So my impression is that skaters always have a sort of community, like a group of people that they regularly skate with.


W: I work at Damage skateboard shop, so for me personally, I know like everybody in the community and I kind of skate with everybody. But I also have a very tight-knit group of my people and those are the people that I like to skate with and choose to skate with. If I make a video, it’s those friends of mine, they’re like my core group of my beloved friends.


But I think that the beauty of skateboarding, as a whole, is that I could come down to your hood and find a skater and the next thing you know, I’m skating around the Cities and know the best food in town and I have a place to stay.


It’s like, once you have a skateboard, you’re a part of the club - you’re in.





D: Amazing. I do feel like skaters tend to be very cool, accepting people. So how does art play into that for you?


W: I guess, first and foremost, for me personally, as somebody who makes art, and who’s of course, heavily involved in skateboarding, it’s the coolest thing ever that my artwork is on skateboards that are for sale.


I’ll go to the skatepark and see something that I made where some kid is learning [to skateboard]. For me, to blend the two worlds is insane. It’s a dream come true and no one can take that away from me.

It would definitely be cool to get to work with larger brands. I did do something with Vans, I just got a one off, something for me - but there’s a potential that something bigger could happen. I have a pair of shoes with my artwork that they made. It was just one pair for me, but hopefully it could become something that other people could buy.





When it comes to the art on the skateboards: it’s so cool that, you know, people can come to the shop and say, “Which one’s better?” I’ll just say, “Well whichever one you think looks cool, pick the one that looks coolest, pick the one that speaks to you.” That’s just cool and special.


But then, from the standpoint of those very iconic graphics that historically have significance in the skateboard realm, it’s just really special that we have those iconic graphics that are so symbolic in our culture that are key to what we do or that [represent] a key era.


Santa Cruz just did this drop of skateboards of Natas Kaupas, he’s one of the pioneers of modern day street skateboarding, and he has this famous black panther graphic. And so when they sold it, it came in these bags so you wouldn’t know which one you were getting and there were all these iterations of it - so one of them had gold foil, one of them was prismatic. All these crazy renditions and people were just waiting in line to get them.


So it’s just part of the culture: art and skateboarding just go hand in hand. Your appearance and how you look and style [yourself]. It’s just like the way that we can do the same trick and look so different. How you dress and carry yourself - style is everything in skateboarding and it’s so cool to make yourself stand out.

D: Do you think that communities like this exist anywhere else in the arts? Because as I’m listening to you talk about the skateboarding community, I’m realizing I’ve never been around an art community that is that close-knit. So why is that possible in skater culture?


W: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have a good answer… One of my favorite skaters, Alex Olson, does a lot of fashion. He was talking about how he would do fashion stuff and how everybody is so catty and at each other’s throats...


I think with skating you watch someone skate for a few minutes and just say, “Oh, they get it, they know what they’re doing. They’re part of this, they’re one of us.”


You can’t really be a poser in skating, you just have to go out and do it. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to be out there in the streets, falling down, scraping your knees, crying. You’re one of us, you’re part of the gang.

And I think with skating it’s also easier to gather and do it, it’s kind of hard to get together and go, “Yo, let’s all paint together.” And even if you do that, it has to be with your close friends...like, I don’t want to paint with some rando, but I’ll skate with one.



Check out a dope skating video by Wyatt here.



D: A guess this sense of community is also like a local thing and that can be so hard to find, even in a city.


W: Skateboarding is also such a cool icebreaker. Like, you can just be like, “Yo we’ve both got skateboards!” “What board do you have?” It’s kinda hard to just be at an art museum like, “Yo, I like your Doc Martens…” Like, that might be kinda creepy.





D: So I want to talk about parenting and being an artist, if you’re cool with talking about that. Do you make art with them? And how do you find the time to make art??


W: Oh yeah. I totally make art with them. My daughter Lucy, she just turned seven and she’s definitely the more creative one, like she’ll come up with her own drawings and paintings. So yeah, she’s all about it. Lennon, I don’t know. He’s kinda young to be a part of it and I don’t know if he has the drive. I definitely don’t push them: like, it’s cool if they want to do [art] but for me - my dad wanted me to play hockey so bad and I hated it.


So with that lesson, I’m just gonna let my kids do whatever. I’m not going to say, “I like art so you have to do art,” or, “I skateboard, you have to skateboard.”





For me to find time, honestly it’s hard, it’s really hard. I have an extremely busy schedule and with all the things I balance, it’s amazing that I do what I do, to be completely honest. Usually it’s just a late night or early morning [thing] either after the kids go to sleep or before they wake up. Like I can be painting backgrounds while they’re there or they can help me paint it. Or, if I can get them to work on something else, I do something or touch up pieces. But I can’t go crazy. Or a night when I don’t have them, when they’re with their moms, I can do something.


But I’m always trying to skate, make skate videos, hang out with my friends. . . cuz I’m still really young, so I want to do young people things!





D: That’s impressive, good for you. So you are in Duluth, MN, right? Did you grow up there?


W: Yeah, born and raised here.


D: What’s the art scene like there?


W: I’m lucky to be where I’m from. In a way, it’s like a hidden gem where, if you’re a part of these little scenes and communities, you know how rad it is. It’s big enough where you have all the amenities you need and I guess culture, so to speak.


And by culture, you know, I mean like, a Target, right?


D: At least there is beautiful nature there.


W: Right, yeah, you can be in the city and then you can be in the lake. You can be on a hiking trail and then you can go downtown for dinner. I think it’s the perfect size.


And it’s a cool blend where it almost feels like it’s behind the times: it’s so blue-collar and industrial but then there is that crop of younger people that are focused on changing what it means to live in a city like this.


D: Do you think that’s helping to fuel an arts scene there? Or is the arts scene already present??


W: There’s definitely a pretty cool little arts scene. The funny thing is that I don’t even really consider myself to be in that circle.


I have friends who have a gallery and they’ll do art shows where sometimes it’s like, at this art show all the canvases are actually skateboards and all the money raised will go to build a skatepark and film skating videos there.


I feel like in Duluth, there is a weird blend of the OG artists who will just do like, birchbark paintings and trees and moose and stuff - some of it is really cool and special, and obviously good art - but then there is the younger generation that is a little more modern or contemporary.


There’s a cool punk scene [here]. A lot of my friends are in punk bands and that’s sick.






D: Cool! Who would’ve thought?! Are you a musician yourself?


W: No, I love music but I’m not musical in the slightest. I so wish - I’m like, “God, I would’ve been so good if I could sing!”






D: At least you have friends who do that. So, I want to know more about how you seek out inspiration. When you’re out and about, what do you look for? How do you collect inspiration?


W: Not that I just let it happen - I’m very aware of my surroundings and of what inspires me and what I’m interested in, I know right away whether I like something or don’t like something, or if it has relevance and will stay in my memory bank (mind you, I am always shooting photos of random stuff - taking photos, saving posts on Instagram, circling something in a book to use as a reference in a painting) - but I’m kind of all over the place.


I think for me, I do kind of geek out on pop culture, but there are so many things like, “Oh this guy was a pro football player in the 70s and he’s epic so I’ll incorporate him into my thing.” Or, “This is a cult classic movie that I love, so I have to somehow throw that in there.” Or like, “This album cover...I don’t know a single song on it, but it was cool, so I’m going to use that to frame this painting, just because of how it looks aesthetically.”





D: That’s awesome. I think a lot of artists feel that way: you know what speaks to you. So, for my last question, I want to know what your next big project is going to be or what you’re really excited about that you’re working on right now and what your future holds more generally.


W: I have a couple commissioned pieces that I’m working on, so that’s exciting: just a couple canvases. The cool thing about it is that everyone just lets me go wild and do whatever I want. Nobody has ever really given me directions. That’s pretty rad - to just do it, “Oh you just want whatever I make and you’re stoked? Sick, thanks!” So that’s cool.


And now that I’m stoked on painting again, I have been kind of neglecting my iPad, and I have to get back into that and make some graphics for the shop that I work at.





D: Do you prefer painting?


W: Yeah, for sure. I also like to write poems and I like to take photos, but I don’t think people see me like that, or at least I’m just an amateur in those realms. But when it comes to painting, not that I am this great painter, but I’ve done many many paintings and I’ve had shows and sold paintings. I’m not out here selling photos or making poetry books.


D: Not yet…


W: Maybe that’s next.


Thank you so much, Wyatt!!


You can follow Wyatt on Instagram here.


xoxo

Tasha



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