Travis Trapp, born and raised in the Valley, is one of three artists being featured at this year’s Galax Z Fair. He studied art at University of Texas at Brownsville and is currently working on an Master of Fine Arts at the University of Texas Pan American. Trapp uses a variety of styles and mediums to create fascinating works of art inspired by everything from the people around him to washing the dishes.
Do you feel that your environment (growing up in the valley) stifled your art or helped it grow?
-Oh who knows. Sometimes I feel both ways about it. I’ve never really felt stifled in any way, I’ve always been able to work the way; I’ve wanted to work. I suppose if I grew up in a larger city I would’ve been exposed to more ideas, but in the end it’s irrelevant. I am who I am, and I produce what I produce partly because of where I grew up.
When did you begin drawing and painting?
-I’m pretty sure I’ve always been drawing. My father practiced architecture so I always had access to materials. I didn’t start painting until high school and not seriously until college. I’ve actually never really gotten the hang of painting. Its expensive too, that’s another reason I’ve stuck by drawing as my medium of choice.
Why did you start?
-I think most kids enjoy drawing to some degree, I’ve always had a pretty overactive imagination so I just kept going with it. I was surrounded by a lot of creative friends as well, so we were always working on something. I remember we created our own comic company (RAD comics) in grade school which was pretty awesome. Thats when I developed my talent for rendering vomit.
You use several different mediums, which is your preferred medium?
-Pen and ink pretty clean so I guess I prefer that. I’ve recently been getting back into prismacolor and acrylic though.
Digital art has become very popular, why do you choose to stick with a more traditional art form?
-There are a number of reasons. The main one is that I’m terrible with technology and don’t know how to use any of the programs. In the past I was never a big fan of art created digitally, so I avoided computers as a means to create work. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what I was missing out on. Many of my favorite artists use computers frequently to assist with their stuff so I’ve sort of jumped on board as well. I use computers a lot in the planning stages and I’m learning what I can so I can incorporate more of it in the future.
Who and what inspires your artwork?
-Movies, music, sci-fi, comics, video games, people, cooking, doing the dishes, I’m inspired by everything. Nothing is out of bounds, I’m always creating images in my head. I try to have three or four sketchbooks around me at all times so I can jot stuff down. I don’t really have a favorite artist, I try to look at everyone. As a kid I was really into Giger and Escher. Now its Jean Giraud and James Jean. I try to look at new art everyday.
Do you have any rituals when creating art?
-Not really, unless you count listening to music. Music is pretty much required for any activity I’m involved in.
What is the longest you have spent working on one piece?
-I worked on something a few years back that was made using 16 sheets of bristol board. Each piece was designed as a stand-alone work that could be combined into one large drawing (basically a big doodle). I worked on that one on and off for about a year and it still isn’t really finished.
Do you have a “day job”?
-Yes I have two at the moment. I teach art over in Pharr part-time and I’m a research assistant for PACE over at Pan-Am.
Do you sell your work?
-Yea I sell stuff to friends most of the time. It’s hard to sell though because the work isn’t really “living room” friendly. I’m not about to start drawing pictures featuring obvious pop culture references or religious themes so the monetary value of my work will probably continue to elude me.
Is there anything that you won’t sell?
-As long as I have a photo or digital copy for my portfolio I can part with anything. I would rather someone have something of mine than the stuff cluttering up my room. Besides, I can always make more.
What is your personal favorite piece?
-I don’t really think I have one. I usually get more out of the process of creating them than I do from a finished piece. Looking at it this way I could name any of the more work intensive ones as satisfying.
How do you feel when people interpret your artwork?
-I’m interested. It’s meant to be open to interpretation. I’m actually trying to develop that aspect further. Ideally each work is a visual puzzle with no real solution. I want the viewer to create their own answers.
What do you hope that your art says to people?
-In the end I just hope it’s interesting to them or at the very least fun to look at. Since I created the work I’m sure most of them say something about me, my interests, desires, etc. so people can read into it that way, but I prefer that people find their own meaning to the work.
Do you have any advice for other artists?
-Produce work, that’s how you get better. Don’t try to be perfect because you wont be and don’t do it for the money because there probably wont be any. In the end you just have to love doing it and hope that one day someone will notice.
More of Trapp’s work can be seen at his “Modern Condition” exhibit in STC’s Starr County Campus Library Art Gallery until April 26.