Interview with Eric Cagley

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
My name is Eric Cagley and I am from Clinton, Iowa.  I currently live and work in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I received my BFA in 2011 from the University of Iowa and my MFA in 2014 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Recently, my paintings have been small in scale and constructed using stretched, cut canvas (often dyed), and thick sheets of acrylic paint. 

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Many things inspire me: 1980s action movies, advertisements, sports, stand-up comedians, anything by Kurt Vonnegut, and music.  I draw a lot of inspiration from playing golf and my experience of working on a maintenance crew at the local golf course as a teenager.  Having to be precise and often working/mowing on a grid has carried over to my art.  As a child, I distinctly remember two books: the first being a book of Star Wars concept art and the second; which I still own, was a book called Modern Air Combat.  Both books were filled with the most amazing illustrations and as a child I would try to copy them to the best of my ability.  Recently, I have been interested in the visual aesthetics of handmade Asafo flags from Western Africa. More importantly, my friends and my parents are essential to my art making.  I have very talented friends who are also artists and they are my main audience.  I make paintings for people like them, if they are interested in what I am making, I know that I am doing something right.  My parents are and have been so supportive of everything that I have wanted to do so when I am feeling down or if the thought of quitting ever pops into my head, I just think about how hard they worked for my brothers and I and it puts my lame insecurities into perspective.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My work relies heavily on stenciling and hardedge mark making.  Masking tape, gel medium, xacto blades, and a ruler are essential tools in my studio.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
The obstacles I face in my studio practice are no different than any other artist.  I am my own worst enemy and the biggest--gangliest--obstacle in my practice.  There are days when I question whether the work I make is good enough.  On days like that I just have to suck it up and keep working… keep grinding. 

I forgot where I heard this, but a boxer (I don’t recall his name) said that before he can really get into a match, he has to get hit, get hurt… rough studio days are like a punch to the gut. 

I think it is important to have interests outside of the studio.  Personally, I enjoy playing basketball and listening to records.  Spending time with my friends and participating in their hobbies is nice way to take a break from the stresses of our studio practices.