Doug Fraser at Winchester Galleries, May 29, 2019. Interview by Anahita Ranjbar
- Would you please tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. After high school I left and went to study Visual Communications at the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary. Following that I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York for my master’s degree. Immediately after graduation, I started working freelance as a professional illustrator. My work was for magazines, newspapers and advertising. I feel very fortunate to have been able to pursue a career of drawing & painting. My childhood was in a very pragmatic household. My father was a civil engineer. He initially did not support my decision of choosing the visual arts as an occupation. Ironically, he influenced me in ways that I can still feel today. After thirty years as an illustrator I wanted to explore my painting process for myself.
- Would you tell us about the concepts of your work?
My concepts arise from both an inquiry into the subjects around me as well as my process. The process of filtering my subject matter to the painted surface is my concept. The flatten of the three dimensional to two dimensional is where my interest lies. The surface of a drawing or painting is like an “event horizon”. Process and subject are captured on that thin skin.
- Who are your biggest influences? And where do you find your inspiration?
At this point I had have so many influences. I would say there is no one big influence. I recall about twenty-five years ago, I was inspired by the painting approach of the artist, Euan Uglow. Whose paintings I saw in an arts magazine. His approach was inspiring to me. There seemed to be an appreciation for process in his work. Of course, there are decades of my love of graphics, design and fine art as well.
- How have you developed your career?
I guess having the opportunity to have those formative years as an illustrator allowed me to really work on my skill and craft. I did start to feel frustration as an illustrator in the end. It led me to want to move on past illustration to try and explore my own personal process. I suppose the structure of being an illustrator helped, but the desire for more artistic autonomy had me letting go of one to reach the other.
- How does your work relate to the current social, political, or environmental issues?
I would say the social aspect of my work is regional, in that it’s an acknowledgement of the community I live in, my locale. Paying respect to the possibility that the importance of things can sometimes start at the community level and radiate outward from there. My work does celebrate community within this region of Canada. Sometimes I think maybe through addressing local subject matter, a healthier perspective can arise. Global thinking or applications are not necessarily applicable to every community. We sometimes look outwards for acknowledgements from others, whether through travel or comparison. I am advocating for being more reflective about what we have.
- Where do you see your artwork in the Canadian/global framework?
I would be very flattered if my work was recognized on a broader level. But I still feel that my source of inspiration is here, in Western Canada. If others can see value in it that so be it. Frankly, I don’t want to chase something that does not interest me.
- How do you price your work?
That is a tough one! I think traditionally artists as being the worst evaluators of their own work. Because there is so much personal passion, sacrificing, and effort that goes into every work. Ironically, we tend to undervalue our work quite a bit. It’s another type of skill to not undervalue the financial aspect of my work. It’s with the help of trusted contacts that support me in setting my prices. They bring an objective view. Sometimes you need to stand back and look at it from a different perspective.
- Where do you see the future of your art? What are your goals?
My work has always been inspired by craft and control. I am trying to relinquish some of the more oppressive qualities and be more open. Being more open, I see a chance to lay bare my own process. By being more present and receptive to possibilities in the final piece. Where before I was more dogmatic. I think a surface that is more open and more encompassing of the humanity that is the origin of any hand-made object.
In the end, I feel lucky to say that I still find inspiration to grow & explore my interests. The activity of drawing and the process of painting are what keeps me going. It has been decades that I’ve been thinking of my process and the evolution of my work. The challenge of creating my work has been both personally & artistically fulfilling.