Artomatic Takes Flight: David Hagen

David Hagen from Artomatic 2009

David Hagen from Artomatic 2009

I ran across David Hagen’s art at Artomatic 2009.  It made me smile. It made me think,  “My husband will love this.”  It made me bring my husband to David’s exhibit to verify that, yes, in fact, he did love it.  David’s art is whimsical and, while being stalked by a giant robot might not be joyful, the idea and execution of it surely is.

As it turns out, 2009 was David’s first Artomatic.  He says, “I didn’t know what to expect when I first signed up in 2009, but was intrigued by the site being situated next to Nationals Park and a subway stop in the building’s basement.  You couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

He also exhibited in the first Aromatic in Frederick, Md in the fall of 2011.  David notes that this Artomatic was “much smaller in size, but just as large in heart.”  He exhibited again in the second Crystal City Artomatic in 2012 (from which this interview material comes), and is currently showing work in Artomatic Takes Flight at Reagan National Airport.

David says that he loves making people smile with his artwork, and that he keeps ideas in several small sketchbooks.  “I put the ideas on canvas to tell the joke basically.  It’s sort of a visual language and I love playing with bold, bright colors and clean black lines.  Artomatic is a super opportunity to get my artwork out of my studio and in front of my adoring public.  With all the talented artists participating and fantastic art in every nook and cranny, I wanted to pick the best art that I have produced and hopefully be recognized as a peer.”

David Hagen, from Artomatic 2012

David Hagen, from Artomatic 2012

Tell us a bit about your materials and techniques.

My paintings really came about with the invention of the acrylic paint pen.  Sharpie makes a paint pen in several widths that puts out a thick black acrylic line.  After transferring a sketch in pencil onto a blank canvas, I lay in the clear black outlines and then paint in the bright color with brushes (sometimes three to four coats to get a smooth consistent, solid block of color).  Then I go over the black lines again with brush or paint pen.  After the painting dries for a couple of days, I spray on a coat or two of protective varnish which gives it a little additional pop!

What is the role of the artist in society?

Art has a tremendous role in shaping and developing a culture and defining a civilization…Is that too deep?

What is the place of your work in society?

Court jester?  No, really, I enjoy bringing people together for a laugh.  There was a lounge across from my artwork at the last Artomatic (2009) and I really enjoyed sitting there and observing people reacting to my artwork.  I got great satisfaction from my stakeouts watching young and old, hipsters and nerds coming together in smiles.

Time Traveling Selfie by David Hagen, showing at Artomatic Takes Flight

Time Traveling Selfie by David Hagen, showing at Artomatic Takes Flight

What do you do when/if you hit a slump?

Daydream while sitting in traffic.  I can usually jump start creativity by reading books and trashy magazines.

Who are your favorite artists and what inspiration do you draw from them?

My all-time favorite artist/cartoonist was Herge, who drew the Tintin adventures.  He was the father of the “ligne clare” or clear line – strong uniform lines, little cross-hatching, bold colors, equal attention to every element.  The biggest compliment that was written in my Aromatic guest book was that my artwork reminded the person of Herge’s.  Another cartoonist, Bud Blake, is also a hero of mine.  He drew the comic strip Tiger and would get the most expression and movement out of the least amount of line.  I think more was left to the imagination and the viewer could put themselves into the scene.  I like to blend these elements.

You can see more of David’s work at his website:

Interested in doing an interview for the Artomatic blog?  Contact Tammy Vitale