Is beauty innate? Is art in the eye of the beholder? Tucson artist Wil Taylor addresses all of this and more. By Kaleigh Shufeldt. Cover photo by Tom Willett.
Early bird or night owl? “I’m a nine to five kind of person. I don’t wake up too early and I don’t go to bed really late. I work so long that I’m kind of in that groove. I enjoy early morning and then early evening because of the temperature, the cars aren’t so loud yet, its nice, more relaxed.”
Favorite accessory? “Mechanical pencils. Love mechanical pencils. I have always liked them, ever since I can remember. They are so precise. I learned in the 80s, before computers, how to draw. I took every drafting class at my university. I guess I’m an old school master drafter, I do things by hand. Anything to do with drafting, drafting tables, templates, rulers – I love that stuff. You can do so much with them, you can make so many things. You can do anything with them.”
Favorite faux pas? “I have a masters in art education from the U of A and I retired from teaching art in Tucson Unified School District. I decided that I wanted to go back to get a print making degree and when I enrolled in the program, one of the things they asked me was if I made ‘pretty art.’ Apparently I did, my art must have been pretty. I’ve heard that term ‘pretty art’ not just one time, like it was some personal anomaly, but many times from different professors. I was a little bit perplexed by the whole pretty art thing. What does that mean?”
Who is your dream customer? “I meet them all the time. I’ve sold a lot of art over the years. Somebody who can see what the message is in my art or see me through my art or see themselves. Somebody that can see what it is, what it’s about past a surface level, getting into spiritual things or dreams.”
If I weren’t an artist I would be a… “Forest ranger. I’ve worked for the forest service. I grew up in wilderness in the northern mountain of Washington. Nature lover, that’s kind of me. Something where there’s a lot of peace.
“Or I’d be a gardener. I plant bird attractable plants and trees. Datura is my favorite plant. They bloom at night. It’s got all these buds on it and they attract sphinx moths and hawks moths that fly like hummingbirds. It is so beautiful and it smells amazing.
“I’m really interested in taking scientific illustration right now and kind of evolving it into more of a graphic representation. Drawing plants and animals, the parts and the pieces or scenes involving their behavior. It’s a whole genre of art that I think is definitely understated. It has its own circles.”
If I could change one thing I would… “I would love for people to start to see art as an instrument of beauty; that would be good for everybody – for the world, for communities. When it comes to music, violins are the instrument of beauty or guitars. It’s easy to see where the boundaries are or what it’s for, with art it’s a little more difficult. I don’t really agree that art is necessarily in the eye of the beholder. While it’s partially true, it is not the truth. I don’t know anybody that hates flowers or thinks they’re ugly. Beauty is innate, it has truth in it. Everybody has the capacity to make things beautiful. It’s interesting that all the other disciplines in art, whether it’s dance or music or movie making, they have certain kinds of guidelines or boundaries that you have to meet to be successful. With visual art people think anybody can do it. I think you have to have some kind of talent or skill at it.”
* Wil was recently nominated for a 2014 Lumies Arts & Business Award. To find out more, or for a ticket to this year’s awards ceremony on Friday June 6th, visit www.TucsonPimaArtsCouncil.org or call 520.624.0595 x10