Interview with L.A. artist Alex Houlton

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Los Angeles-based Artist Alex Houlton uses a combination of woodworking and Photoshop to create art that blends the synthetic with the natural. We talked about woodworking, Photoshop, and why humans tend to take themselves a bit too seriously.

Here’s what he had to say:

Alex Houlton working in his studio. (Photo by Cat Doss)
Alex Houlton working in his studio.
(Photo by Cat Doss)

Cat Doss: What made you decide to start doing art?

Alex Houlton: I guess technically I have always been doing art. It just had not declared myself an artist. I was just creating artistic things within projects that had utilitarian purpose. One day, I thought to create without the spark of a utilitarian need.

CD: A lot of your pieces are made from wood. Is there a particular reason this tends to be your material of choice?

A Wooden Flag (Photo by Cat Doss)
A Wooden Flag
(Photo by Cat Doss)

AH: I use wood because it has been the material I have used for the majority of my life, and I know it very well. I am familiar with how it works structurally and texturally in different situations. It also makes my work very durable, which is a quality that I would like to keep in all of the things I create.

CD: What inspired your series of animal heads Photoshopped into old timey photos?

The Last Elephant and Giraffe Couple (Photo by Cat Doss)
The Last Elephant and Giraffe Couple
(Photo by Cat Doss)

AH: In my digital work, I like to challenge myself to make outlandish things that feel very real. Getting animals to fill human figures and have those real-feeling proportions is very difficult, but when I get it right, it’s fascinating how natural it looks.

CD: So all the old-timey photographs you use are public domain?

AH: Yes, all of the original photos I use are featured in the public domain libraries online.

CD: Who are some of your artistic influences?

AH: Ansel Adams and Dr. Seuss

CD: What made you decide to do your California series?

From the Downtown L.A. (DTLA) Art Walk (Photo by Cat Doss)
From the Downtown L.A. (DTLA) Art Walk
(Photo by Cat Doss)

AH: The CA series is born out of pushing my talents in woodworking. Everything I make is handmade. So I really had to test my skills with that series. Most people just assume that it’s laser cut (which is impossible because it’s 3/4 in. thick wood).

CD: What do you use to cut the wood?

AH: I use a powered handheld jigsaw.

Ostrich (Photo by Cat Doss)
(Photo by Cat Doss)

CD: What are you trying to say with your work?

AH: I think we take ourselves a bit too seriously. If you look at us as humans, we are animals too, so us wearing clothes must look just as ridiculous to animals as we think it looks on them.

I want to make people laugh and be happy when they look at my work. I also want them to keep discovering things as they look closer.

CD: So, what’s next for you and your art?

Bear (Photo by Cat Doss)
(Photo by Cat Doss)

AH: I have been planning to get into sculpture of sorts, using wood as the medium. I want to create some extra large-scale animals in their natural form.

CD: Is there anything else you would like to add?

AH: Happy Valentine’s Day!

CD: Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!