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)

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