MUSE: According to William Puckett

An Interview with the Artist William Puckett

By William Ritchey

William Puckett at Smelly Cat Coffee

Let's just start off with a little introduction as to who this man is. You most likely wouldn't be able to point him out in a crowd, but his art would undoubtedly grab your attention. William Puckett is a mellow, thoughtful artist that lives in, and on, the thriving creativity scene throughout the North Davidson neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is featured below circa 2010, working on one of the most well-known murals in all of Charlotte. Yes, the dude in the beanie is the man behind the brush, and the man behind most of the sweet murals you see when walking around North Davidson. 

Puckett at work  
Puckett grew up in Charlotte. He went to NC State out of high school and was a wrestler for their athletic program. He transferred schools a couple of times because he "enjoyed partying a little more than studying." He ended up not getting his Bachelors of Art when he was younger because he decided he did not need it. He figured he would be working construction or waiting tables, but he was fine with that and left school to pursue art on his own time. However, Puckett did not stay in his hometown upon leaving college; he has lived in California, New York, and was a runway model for sometime in Paris and Milan. 

He moved back to Charlotte just ten years ago, ready to pursue his art. "Public art was something that was of interest to me. I don't dislike galleries, but they've always been somewhat intimidating to me... With the public art, people who walk past often won't go into galleries or museums but they get to see art and I think that's really powerful. It's sort of a more democratic way of thinking about art... The presentation, the space that it's in, and the way it can change a space are all very powerful things." 

After learning more about Will's general life, I started to talk to him about his bodies of work and inspirations to get a more in-depth analysis of how his creative side works. 

So, what are his inspirations? 

"It's no one thing. What I read, what I study, and what I'm trying to say... This may not be an answer you like, but I'll quote Chuck Close and say inspiration is amateurism and real artists do work and create everyday to create your own inspiration, which I like 'cause it makes it feel like you have more control over it... It sounds kind of negative but I don't mean it that way...Influence is something I'm very interested in right now."

Being a visual artist myself and watching my own work evolve over time from graffiti and abstract characters to more meaningful realism, I was interested to see if and how Puckett's work had evolved over time. 

"I was always somewhat troubled by rendering the human form accurately and I wanted to be able to do that. Being able to achieve that was a huge accomplishment for me. It was very important even though I don't work that way at all now. It evolved from trying to render the world around me accurately as a young artist to taking it down to a somewhat more expressive quality. Although now, well, the work that I will be moving into in the future is related to data visualization--taking information and turning it into something creative."

How do commissions behave? 

"Depends on the client, or the grant. For example, talking with the business owner of the Neighborhood Theater, (Puckett's current project) [the owner of the Neighborhood Theater] wanted to create something of a landmark in the community that could be representative of the community but not limited to that. I did 20 or 30 compositions to come up with an idea that he liked...This bull shape has taken form up there and it is indicative of images that have been used throughout the entirety of human history, from the cave paintings to Picasso. All these major artists have used this image of power. It is not so much that the bull is representative of change, but it's sort of change is the bull moving through and we're all just sort of smaller animals that are caught up in it."  

Neighborhood Theater Mural in progress

Last, but certainly not least, I asked Puckett "What is your best advice for young artists?"

He replied: "Just do it. Nike had it right man. Just do it." 

I think what Puckett is saying by this is continue to create, Youthlings. Continue to hone your craft because eventually you'll find your niche. Through the evolution of the mind and hand you'll get to a place where your style stops pulling from the outside world for inspiration, and flows from inside without effort.

Keep creating. The world can always be made more beautiful, but it's up to you. Till next time, Youthlings. 

(For a live feed of William Puckett's current project at The Neighborhood Theater, visit williampuckett.com)


MUSE: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

by William Ritchey

This expression has been marinating in my mind now for about five minutes and within those five minutes the way I perceive it has changed immensely. I feel that most people interpret this saying to mean that pictures are more descriptive than words, more real perhaps, but there's a few ways to look at it.

I present to you my messy thought process on the saying:

A thousand words can form an image, what the image feels, what the air around the image feels like. Words can create more depth than some art when used in a meaningful way. But if you put no thought into your words, a simple doodle might overpower a haphazard sentence.   

I also like to think the "thousand words" refers to how many different ways we can see art--the ways people choose to absorb it, critique it, hate it, or let it impact them in a way they didn't think possible. So, in some cases, a picture is worth billions of words.

You could also give an artist a single word, any word at all, and ask them to represent it in one thousand different ways. They would do so, using only imagery. Maybe a word is worth a thousand pictures.

Okay so that's essentially what my brain was thinking. But what if we forget all that and go big-picture on the whole idea of worth in regards to words and pictures? If you think about it, you cannot relate the two whatsoever. They are both priceless and they are both different ways of freeing minds. We as people in the creative community decide how much our art or writing will be worth. We decide the messages behind it, the effort we put in, and the emotion. So in the end, I've come to think that saying sucks. The way to go about life is to focus on the deeper meaning of something, not how many dollars, words, or opinions it's worthy of. Keep that in mind, and go create something awesome, youthlings.