PLAYFULLY COMPLEX: Q&A WITH LOGAN WILDER
WRITTEN BY ANDREA WELTZER
ART DESIGN BY LOGAN WILDER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALEIGH SCHWEIKER
STYLING BY ANDREA WETLZER
APRIL 13, 2021
In Mid-January, before the hecticness of a new semester could sink in, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Logan Wilder in between his intersession courses. A Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) senior at MassArt, the New Hampshire native has amassed an impressive portfolio and following over the past couple years, both on his personal (@im.wilder) and professional (@WILDERVISUALS) instagram accounts. From talking about how he views art to his favorite exhibit, with the inbetween of how his once super collaborative courses have changed post-COVID, Logan shared some of the things that make him tick.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.*
A: How have you developed as an artist?
LW: My highschool didn’t really have art classes. We had painting and drawing 101 kind of things, basically introduction courses, so I wasn’t really planning on doing anything related to art school. I liked graphic design, and we had a thing where we made not very good looking product design -- like fake cereal boxes -- just to show people how to use Photoshop. I had this club for kids where we would stay after school and all just do graphic design tutorials and digital photography. I guess I just started to slowly move in that direction at the end of senior year. I was applying to schools, [and] I think MassArt was the only art school I applied to, which is funny, cause, that’s where I went.
I was just going to go to a university and do “communication design,” or I guess a more corporate kind of take. I’m glad I decided to do this. I realized through art school and the program I’m in, that I’m good at other things too. It allowed me to prove to myself that I can do other things and not be pigeonholed with my talents. I think that’s the best choice as far as where it sent my art, because I would have never picked up an old TV and done video feedback or glitch art if I had gone to another school. I think having more resources to get your hands on and experiment with definitely helped me shape the artist that I wanted to be, rather than what made more sense at the time in high school.
A: Who and what influences you?
LW: Throughout all of high school, I would do a lot of video, photo, and animation stuff in my room, not related to class, so I knew I could do a lot of the stuff, but I’d never really thought I would do it as a career. As far as influences go, most of them kind of stayed true through high school and college.
I was really into pop art in high school. I loved Andy Warhol, though I didn’t agree with everything he did. Keith Haring and Basquiat are also some of my favorites. I think that whole era -- New York 80’s kind of thing -- just really excited me. Everything got less boring in the art world. It was a lot more exciting, as far as colors go, and I really like that part of it.
As far as now, I don’t really love a lot of contemporary artists. I don’t know why that is. I feel it’s hard as an artist: you get jealous sometimes, which can make you betray people, because you wish that was you. A lot of people I don’t really like are probably some of the best artists.
I feel jealousy is a big part of art school in general. Being next to the MFA definitely helps because you can -- the first three years I was there -- just walk across the street when you’re bored and be inspired by so many great people.
I feel in general, history is what we’re all learning from, like other people’s work, and it becomes somehow adaptations of what they used to do. I feel that’s what being influenced is in general -- that’s why people, why artists, go to museums: because they kind of want to rip off other people’s work. But, I feel it’s all in good fun. I feel that’s kind of lining up, just taking historical pieces of art and adapting it into your modern take on it -- it’s one of the most interesting things of being in an art school structure.
A: Is that why you went to art school?
LW: I think the only opinion that matters is your own, as far as that goes. Someone could have told the greatest artist to not be an artist, but they’re still the greatest artist. It depends on the work you do and not the work someone thinks you can’t do. I mean, my program in general, is very self-directed. The professors are there mainly for guidance.
A: What has been inspiring you recently?
LW: I feel I get inspired on YouTube and TikTok the most. As far as a creative outlet, especially when I’m learning new programs, it’s so easy to just look up tutorials and go off of what they’re doing. I taught myself like 3 or 4 different digital art and 3D modeling programs this year just by doing free YouTube tutorials.
I definitely feel my ability to be influenced has changed this year. When we were all in the same space, it was a very collaborative kind of meeting hall of students. Without that collaborative nature to the classes, it’s just been harder to get things going. Online school has just been tough. I’ve kind of been riding it out at this point, cause I’m graduating. Obviously I want the best for everyone, and I want to participate, but at the same time, I’m trying to focus on what I do and how I can improve it myself. I’m not relying on other kids because I feel overall morale has gone down, which is sad, but it’s just the way it is right now, I guess.
A: You seem to enjoy using a color palette that could be similar to 80’s Pop Art. Do you work with color more intuitively or do you incorporate aspects of color theory into your work?
LW: I’d say both. A lot of the color stuff that you can see in my Instagram -- what I do with the collages, the backgrounds, and the colors I wear on my body -- comes from walking. I take pictures of things, like buildings or random moments, like a cone by a yellow sign in front of a blue building.
On my computer, I have a color picker so I can get each color’s exact hexadecimal code and then just go off that. I also have a bunch of color palettes saved on my computer if I’m stuck, just a bunch of three-panel tri-tone kinds of things. Obviously, I go on Pinterest, just scrolling and taking different colors from that. I always thought I dressed so funny, even in middle school and high school. I always liked to have color on my body. I think the way I dressed reflects the way I design too.
A: What are you still finding yourself passionate doing?
LW: I feel now more than ever, my art is inspired by people in general. I get more creative with less distraction, and so the lack of interaction has also been better for me. But then again, with social media, there’s been more distraction. It’s definitely been weird not talking to people I used to talk to everyday, but it’s also given me more time to just do my own work. Like I said earlier, not a lot of kids in my major are working together anymore, so work has gone from collaborative to more of a solo kind of thing, which is good and bad. Everything after I graduate will basically be collaborative: working with a stylist, photographer, and videographer. Since I’m building my portfolio in school, I’ve been kind of riding the wave of working on my own stuff and getting by in my major.
As far as passions, I really like audio-visual in general, like speaker systems. I was in a stagecraft class this past semester, and I did sound design and acoustics.We did live-streamed events, lit a stage, and I’m definitely passionate about anything that’s computer generative or just hands on and electric, like TV, video, audio.
A: Are you enjoying the Boston art scene, or do you want to try something different after college?
LW: I don’t agree with there being an art scene. I feel like “art scenes” kind of died within the last ten years. With social media and everything, everywhere’s become an art scene in my opinion. Even in New York, everyone kind of does the same content creation. It got drowned out: it’s not as secret anymore. It’s the same with San Francisco: it’s now corporations that have bigger design firms.
Especially in the U.S., it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where I want to go. I think it all depends on what I end up doing and where I apply. I’m not going to think too much about the location. But then again, it depends on what is available for me and the post-pandemic job offerings. Depending on what your job is, I feel working online is going to be more prominent, so maybe I could just live wherever.
But I’m not going to say I don’t like Boston. Boston’s great. The reason I liked it so much, especially freshman year, was because I moved from a smaller town, so it wasn’t too hectic for me. I feel if I went to New York City, it would have taken a lot longer to adapt to
that kind of lifestyle. I don’t hang out with kids from my school, and I like that separation of friendship and art.
This is a university kind-of city. Just the fact that there’s so many kids my age walking around made it easier to transition, because I realized I was not alone. And I met some of my best friends from various schools at house shows -- picking out some of the coolest people and bringing them to one space. I feel like that definitely helped me meet more people. Thank you, Boston.
A: Could you ever see your art not including social media, and if you can’t, why?
LW: If all social media just died one day, I could probably make it out. But, I think it’s much appreciated as far as my business itself -- doing freelance work. Posting something new -- cover art or different people I’ve taken photos of -- is how you get DM requests. Especially people at Berklee, whose managers reach out to me and try to set up photoshoots or cover art permission. It’s all free advertising, so why not? You’re basically building your own aesthetic into these archival art pictures.
My personal instagram is just a fun way to represent myself, but my art page @WILDERVISUALS is where I have more of what I’ve done for music clients, model agencies, and businesses. It’s definitely helpful, but I don’t know if I rely on it, especially this year. I’ve been trying to do my own work and see where it comes from instead of waiting for more work. I have a website too, and you can contact me there. It’s funny: you get one or two requests a year from your website, but thirty-five on Instagram -- and I pay for a website. Doesn’t make sense.
A: You’ve said before as advice to up-and-coming artists to post on social media without thinking twice. What do you see as an artist’s responsibility?
LW: I think I was talking more about when you’re first starting out, being able to understand yourself and your art, so as to make as much, post as much, and gather the insight of feedback from people. I was not really talking about posting whatever you want -- “free America.” I’m talking about not being afraid of criticism at first, especially on an online platform. So many people are just out to get you, so I think handling critique and being able to understand your own art through how people react to it online is helpful.
When I first started out with an “art Instagram,” it was important to not be afraid of posting more than I would on my personal account, especially two years ago when people used to be afraid of posting too much. The only reason I don’t post much is because what I post on my Instagram takes a lot of time -- creating 6 slide collages -- and I don’t have that much time all the time.
A: You seem very interested in the human subject and form. Is that something that you do consciously or has it been something that you’ve been drawn towards?
LW: I’m a better photographer than I think I am, so I do a lot of portrait photography. I don’t really like taking pictures of walking around in Boston, of buildings and stuff. I think there’s some kind of a draw towards being able to detect identity in portraiture and people. Especially when I did painting in the first year of school, I’d do portraits of people rather than of a cityscape or a tree.
A: You have had quite an impressive array of exposure and interviews for your age, like being named most stylish in The Bostonian two years ago. What would you say has been most consequential in getting that exposure, or has it felt more organic? Why do you think you got this exposure? Were you working on trying to build your brand, or happy accident and somebody found you?
LW: I didn’t ask or even think that I was the most stylish. It was just a DM from some 40-year-old woman who runs a fashion blog, or is in that area of the Boston Globe. It was funny -- the shoot for it was three days after she was like: ‘Hey, are you busy next week to come and do this?’ I don’t even think they told me what it was for. It was so random. It was nothing I asked for, nothing I was striving for. But hey, if people like it, then they like it.
All exposure, to an extent, is good exposure. It’s funny -- you think it would be a bigger deal, but they literally message like teenagers on DMs. Like, ‘Hey, I’m so-and-so, can we talk to you?’ It’s funny how laid back that kind of thing is. I definitely think Instagram plays a big part in that kind of scouting. Even bigger businesses have people on their social media team somehow discovering new artists. It’s pretty cool, because I don’t really have a huge following on Instagram, compared to some people, and they don’t really care about that.
A: How do you define art?
LW: I don’t know. I feel like no matter what I say here it can be literally anything, but that’s cheesy. It really is whatever you interpret it to be, whatever you want. Then again, even stuff that you don’t want to be art is still art, so I don’t know how to say that. Everything?
A: Would you say you’re trying not to pigeonhole “art”?
LW: What is in a frame in a museum is derived from, most of the time, things in nature -- Monet would paint things in nature. So, what was the art? Was it the first thing they saw or the thing they adapted onto paper? I don’t know. Everything in some way could be. When exactly does it become art? Does it have to be hanging on a wall? The walls of a museum can’t really contain it all.
I feel it’s also the way you approach things. I feel even urban structure is just as much art as other things. I think the most prominent era of that kind of art that I’m talking about is the Fluxus movement -- like Marcel Duchamp signing his name on a flipped urinal. Any man-made thing, like that urinal, is technically art.