Sage Willows is making a name for himself in both art and fashion, despite being just 19 years old. The LA-based artist has recently been creating a series of “fluid camo” works, where he lets his intuition guide him to make color selections and painterly choices. Willows sees his practice as a spiritual journey that contends with the onslaught of technology, aiming to work against it.
Tell us about yourself. What is your background and when did you begin an art practice?
I have had an ongoing interest and practice in different forms of art for as long as I can remember. I look around the world and everything registers as “art” in my mind. I would go as far as describing the simple act of breathing as art. In that case, I began to “practice art” since I first came out of the womb. Essentially, I am art.
How do you see fine art and fashion intersecting?
In my opinion, fashion is another form of self-expression. It’s a way for me to portray what I am about without speaking and a way for me to express how I feel day to day. My work changes drastically depending on what I wear because at the end of the day, what I wear is how I feel. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still hate the word “fashion.”
What are your paintings about? What themes are you exploring?
My fluid camo paintings exist so that the future generations can look back at the works and remember a time in history when the human soul was untethered. I want to emphasize the important of preserving the human soul. We have entered the digital age where technology has become one with humanity. Interlaced. Our lives revolve around technological vices and necessities.
For heaven’s sake, you and I are all cyborgs! How long do you think you can last without technology? A few hours? Days? Surely not weeks.
I feel an immense emotional and spiritual movement when I see my works because I see the imperfections of the human touch. The beauty is actually in that imperfection. It gives the work a soul.
Color seems to play an integral role in your work. How do you choose which palette you will use for a specific work?
Colors play a very important role in my works. Often times I find myself referencing nature when I paint. You can see many of the works are inspired by trees, cherry blossoms, flower bushes, etc. At the end of the day, it’s important to make “bad art” (which I don’t believe in) when you reference nature.
Other times, I let my spirit take over when I paint and make color selections. It is a beautiful experience to ride the wave and see the outcome of the paintings. Some works make you tear up. I fucking love colors.
What is your process for making a work?
The process of my work? I just grab a paintbrush and start painting. Painting fluid camos have become a form of meditation for me. The repetitive motion of painting “spots” calms my spirit.
Sometimes I finish a work and impulsively start painting a new painting on top of it. It all depends on how I’m feeling that exact moment. At the end of the journey, you can see the layers and the drastically different colors of painting peaking out on the edges of the canvas.
What’s next for you?
I am 19 years old. I still have my whole life ahead of me.
I have many ideas for sculptures and paintings that will add onto my ongoing narrative in the distant future. I am here to create for the long term. I see the world drastically changing in the future and I want my work to be a landmark for reminiscing a “simpler time”. Almost like relics. (Trust me, the digital age has only just begun.)
Most of the popular art I see at the moment bores me. They are dangerous works that could easily replicated by robots. There’s something so special about the imperfect human touch that the perfection-striving technologies will never be able to replicate. I hope and know that my work will move people emotionally and spiritually to a humbling space of reflection.
I see the world in fluid camo and soon you will too.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
My friend Cassius Hirst does super cool work on sneakers. He’s another one to keep your eyes on.