The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Wendelin Wohlgemuth: Wendelin Wohlgemuth, Delivery Driver, Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I also paint sometimes.
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
WW: Music occupied a large portion of my time and energy before I started painting. I still play drums in a couple of projects, but I generally view my interest in playing music as completely separate and unrelated to my painting. Music in general is important to me, but I listen much more than I play these days. For me, music (especially instrumental, ambient, and classical genres) and painting are similar in that the quality of a piece of music doesn’t depend on any intended literal meaning or narrative by its maker. It justifies its existence as its own form of communication/language. Good painting functions similarly to me. Lately I can’t stop listening to John Luther Adams and Indian. More aggressive music gives me thicker skin and helps me destroy anything that I start feeling attached to.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
WW: I work a full time job in a warehouse and as a delivery driver. I paint only in the spare hours of the week, which isn’t much. If I didn’t get obsessed with paintings and figuring out how to complete them, it would be hard to find time to generate work.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
WW: I’m not sure that I ever feel ‘creative.’ There are simply moments of desperation where I feel determined to participate in something that I don’t find transparently futile/frivolous/meaningless. On the face of it, painting seems like the most futile thing a person could possibly do. But once I actually engage the process of painting, nothing feels more purposeful. I get completely obsessed with figuring out how to make something look correct/right/true.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
WW: To simply not stop. And to never settle for something that “works.” I hope to never lose the ability to hate ninety percent of what I make, and to always feel compelled to destroy and start over. Also, I hope to never know exactly what the hell I’m doing. I don’t want to understand what painting is. It’s still this completely mysterious thing to me.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
WW: I’m currently working on a year-long collaborative project called Death of a Coworker (@death_of_a_coworker on Instagram) involving 13 other painters. We are working in pairs each month and trading portraits of one another. I am honored to be part of this, as some of the painters involved have long been huge inspirations to me. Aside from that, I just had my first solo exhibition. It’s currently up at Linda Hodges Gallery here in Seattle. This show represents a lot of the aesthetic vocabulary that I’ve been developing over the last few years, but I already feel disinterested in most of it. That is a good thing. Now I feel like I have somewhat of a jumping-off point to figure out where I want to take things.
TCU: What scares you?
WW: Loss, thoughts, uncertainty, human nature, the fact that I’m going to die one day. Sharks.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
WW: The acceptance of failure, or at least an appreciation for it.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
WW: Thanks for including me in this.
If you want to learn more about Wendelin and see more of his incredible paintings, head over to cargocollective.com/wendelinwohlgemuth.