So we’re going to start with the difficult question: sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why!

The word at work here is “Ambiguity.”
If there’s one aspect of my creative process that extends into everything I produce, it’s a purposeful attempt towards conveying visual ambiguity. A type of imagery that wriggles and twists, offering multiple branches for the viewer to grasp, cling to or swing from multiple interpretations. Visual ambiguity makes for a good game of hide-and-seek in that it enables imagery to flee from the butterfly net of verbal signification and juke the viewer’s attempt to pin the work down as a specimen of descriptive language. Like a log hosting a family of insects, the spaces I depict nurture fictional forms of organic life that appear to shimmer, squelch, and squirm about the picture plane. I imagine peering into these spaces and lifting the log to find grubby plump forms popping up here and there, poking in and out of view, and curiously but cautiously peeping back. Their fervent scuttle and skittish nature complicate acts of interpretation as they resist being classified in terms of this or that, preferring instead to identify as both.

Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?

Rather I was always a child, even as an artist.
Despite pursuing a career in art and earning a master’s degree in the field, it’s still feels like I’m “coloring” with an arsenal of “magic markers” at my side, immersed in the sweaty act of “making pictures” with my tongue sticking out (a crucial measure of concentration). There’s something flatulent about referring to myself as an artist—it feels forced and smells like an elevator pitch. A less automated and more honest descent into the work might be to take the stairs of storytelling—a narrative pathway leading directly to the work. A good introduction might be “I step into the studio prepared to spelunk through pits of pigment and snorkel through pools of paint—it’s dark, uncertain, and there’s a lot of brown and blue. My paintbrush acts like a shovel and a flashlight, and I use it to dig my way in and out of a painting…” Albeit it’s a rough draft raincoat recitation, but it beats taking shelter under the “I’m an artist and I make paintings” umbrella statement.

What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?

I’m currently navigating a body of work through oil and acrylic paint. Paint as a medium between myself and my subject is messy, but forgiving. While drawing remains central to the way I work and think visually, I find dry media to be a scratchy abrasive process and inks to be utterly unforgiving—they seem to demand dexterity and carefully planned compositions. To paint is to slather a slime and to ooze a goo. I started using paint because I was previously afraid of it. I’m still somewhat fearful but it’s a good relationship—paint is so unpredictable that it keeps me on my toes, like a cat that you can’t cue on command but will randomly jump into your lap purring when you least expect it.

Is there any particular experience, person, place or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.

In the past, I’ve had recurrent dreams concerning a sort of thumbnail-shaped figurine that would morph into similar forms such as a lima bean or a coat button. Despite grasping for words I found that no single description could really capture the form fully. That perplexing experience played a role in shaping my approach to making work about ambiguity and shapeshifting signifiers. It inspired me to recreate and share the experience of this image, and lately, I’ve been looking into animation as another potential strategy for conveying it.

What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?

It’s utterly awkward. I mean, I’m purposefully making work that resists interpretation and hesitates to yield instant content. It takes effort from the viewer to activate the work with creative language—there are gems but you have to dig for them. My favorite response is when a viewer will look at the work for a while and then come to me with a handful of descriptors that they’ve gathered from the image, and ask me to make sense of them like pieces to a puzzle. Acts of puzzling and feelings of uncertainty, mystery, wonder are what I hope for folks to grapple with when they view my work.

What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?

I’m really not in any position to give advice, (lol) of any kind, but I can share what I’ve witnessed work for some of the successful artists I’ve encountered. Seeking out other creatives with similar interests and applying for grants and events collectively appears to be an approach worth considering. I’ve seen folks put together shows as a team that would be very challenging to do individually. Artists that operate as a collective can rely on each other to help build and sustain momentum with the public. Having a supportive team with a shared vision to pool resources and problem solves together goes a long way. There’s not really a clear path for how to be successful as an artist—it’s bushwhacking at best—so why travel alone when you can share the journey with others?

Instagram: @devincogger

Location: Bryan, Texas