Art Interview: 10 Questions With Artist William Fahey

31 Mar

William Fahey’s paintings can be considered borderline surrealism mixed with a twist of science fiction. He paints impossible things with an earth bound naturalism. This is no surprise as Fahey influences stem from imagery of Symbolists, surreal artworks and science fiction cover art.

Symbolism, was prominent in the  late nineteenth-century style of French, Russian and Belgian origin in the arts, with Edgar Allen Poe’s work being a strong influence for many images. The symbolist painters used mythological and dream imagery in their work.

In Fahey’s paintings one can can see these three strong concepts of influence define his work. We recently had the opportunity to interview William and pick his brain to find out what makes him tick.

Ant in the Amber

Where were you born?/Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in New York City but now call Seattle my home.

Who is your favorite science fiction artist?/ and Why?
I only know the names of a couple, like Michael Whelan and Ian Miller. I’ve always loved the genre, though, like the stories themselves, because they entice my imagination. I’m happier when I’m thinking  *could* be than about things as they are.

Who is your favorite surrealist artist?
I had a significant early encounter with the work of Salvador Dali while on psychedelics that rather set me on my way.

What is your favorite science fiction novel?
Too many to mention. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny was an early one. I even named a painting after it. More recently, Spook Country by William Gibson, Moving Mars by Greg Bear, The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

Which is your favorite piece you have created? and Why?
My favorite piece is usually the one that I’m working on at the moment. In the recent past, it would have to be “Spring” with the green Mayan guy bursting forth from the magnolia blossom, because I got to paint one of my favorite sensory experiences, as well as a big idea – the immanence of the gods in nature.


If you could spend the day with anyone – living or deceased whom would you choose and what would hope to gain from the experience?
Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, both of them. I’d have them over for tea and it would turn into a late-night party when we found that we had so much to talk about. I wouldn’t be digging for more ideas from them. We can find out almost as much as we would care to about those. Rather, I’d be looking to gain some insight into the complexities of the whole person from whom those ideas emerged. Like Neil Gaiman said in regard to meeting admired authors, “People are so much bigger on the inside, after all.

Serpent-Crowned Bacchus

How do you prepare yourself for a day of painting? Rituals?
There’s a useful bit of advice that I got from Robert Genn, the British Columbian artist, which is to leave something unfinished so that it will draw you back into the work the next day.

Anubis Plays the Blues

What is your favorite word?
Farcouth. It’s Old Lower Franconian, a kissing cousin to Old English, and it means “outrageous.”

Have you shown your work at any galleries?
Yes, I’ve been in group and solo shows in and around the Seattle area, but I’m not represented by a gallery.

Bull and Three Egrets

About influences: External ideas and styles happily meeting and flowing among one’s internal impulses, intuitions and preferences. It’s amazing how complicated it all can be.

As I now comprehend it, what I bring to the process are big ideas, far-seeing-ness, unexpected perspectives, shaky wobbly boundaries, a certain concreteness, a tendency to jump from the micro- to the macroscopic, and a love of beauty. Never forget the beauty.

And the art that comes out is surprisingly like me – optimistic and poetic.


You can find more of William Fahey’s paintings on his website

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