Bill Carman was born in South Korea, Seoul to be exact. American father, South Korean Mother, lived in the Bay Area and at some point came to Boise.
His works are mostly strange, in a good way. They look like what a Neil Gaman book reads like. Or if The Director Tim Burton took up painting, that would be Bill Carman. You’ll find unique round spectacles throughout, kinda steam punk-ish. Lots of octopuses, and everything looks like it may have been Alice in Wonderland inspired.
He teaches at Boise State and sounds like he works tirelessly in his studio, committed and prolific.
And here’s what Bill has to say…
When you look at contemporary imagery particularly as it relates to pop surrealism there are symbols that have popped up regularly and seemingly repeated ad-nauseum. But some of those symbols are important to me and had been a part of my work long before the west coast movement became ubiquitous. I’ll save the bunny stories for another time but cephalopods hold a particularly warm place in my psyche.
I was probably a pre or early teen when our family went on an outing to Moss Landing, a beach in California. Our outings most often included fishing as an integral component. I remember the water being more a calm bay than surf on a beach on that particular day. We fished and caught nothing except maybe a small perch here and there. The moment came when I felt my line stop. I reeled and then it moved. Whatever I had was heavier than a perch. I was excited as I knew I had caught the big one. It was a rare moment when I surpassed my dad fishing. As I continued to reel, my excitement overshadowed the fact that the fish, though heavy, didn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight. When I finally landed my prize it was to laughter from my dad, mom, and brother. My heart sunk when I realized it was a large tin can. World’s best fisherman might have been a sarcastic remark I heard among others. But at my darkest moment the can moved and something seemed to unfold and pour out of it. That dark moment became a great triumph when we all realized that we would be having fresh octopus for dinner. What my mother could do with any cephalopod, octopus being my favorite, makes my mouth water to this day just thinking about it.
The point of this story is that there were very few if any ‘ah-hah’ moments. I have become what I am though an accumulation of a lot of moments both memorable and not.
So strange. So good.