Simon Haiduk is an artist out of Canada that is using his work to forward several different communities. Inspired by numerous mediums, he has used this influence to segue his talents into other outlets.
Like many other artists in this fascinating genre, Simon has done a commendable job at replicating the energies that one may find themselves coming into contact while under the tutelage of spiritual or psychedelic sacraments. With a reverence for nature and the beings that dwell within it, Simon has consistently used this as a source of inspiration and empowerment, allowing him to produce magnificent portraits and tapestries.
It doesn’t end at visual art for him either as he is also an accomplished musician, playing several different instruments and releasing projects on his website.
I was able to get to know him a bit better and find out about what triggers him to create, what he does for fun, and what has led him here.
Prox: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, how were you influenced by this location, and why did you decide to pursue Art?
Simon: I was born and grew up in one of my favourite places on Earth, a sweet little mountain town called Kimberley, in the southeast of B.C. Canada. It sits on the edge of the Purcell Mountains looking out at the Rocky Mountain range and was certainly a big influence for my life and art. The vast terrain of mountains, forests, valleys, rivers, and lakes were the stomping grounds where I formed deep bonds with nature through various outdoor activities. Kimberley is a small community of many kind people, and somewhere that I always look forward to returning to, as though there’s a feeling of it being one large extended family. I didn’t move away until I was 22.
As long as I can remember I’ve made art, mostly drawing growing up, mixed with some water colour paints here and there, though I didn’t really explore acrylic or oils until I was 17. I can’t say I was really dedicated to practicing learning skills so much as simply enjoying the exploration and learning by copying art from comic books and cartoons. My current art path really started in 2004 when I had a series of deep entheogenic experiences which provided visions for what is now a continually unfolding exploration of those mystical realms. It felt impossible for me not to dive deep into the infinite waters of visionary expression and share the beauty with others, as well as for my own understanding of it.
Prox: Who were some artists and individuals that you admired growing up? Were there any non-graphic or visual artists (such as film directors, writers, musicians, etc) that you aspired to be like?
Simon: It’s a funny question, about things from “growing up”… I’m still growing! But anyway, when I hear the term “growing up” I think of it as child and teenager (way back then), so in that regard; as a teen I really enjoyed a lot of comic book and illustrative art like Todd McFarlane, Frank Frazetta, Brian Froud, H.R. Giger, Manga styles like the comic series Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura, and movies like Akira, and Ghost In The Shell. I was also fascinated with concept art from movies like Star Wars, and other sci-fi films. Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, and Sam Raimi stand out as movie directors that I remember having an influence on how I might direct a film.
As for music, as a teenager I was really into punk, metal, ska, and alternative genres. Les Claypool from Pimus was a big influence for how I ended up playing bass guitar for years. Tool, has also been a long time primary musical inspiration. Now, my musical tastes are all over the map. Music genres are so intermixed now, which I really enjoy the exploration of.
Prox: Could you describe your process for us? What do you usually do before starting a piece? Does the initial planning period differ depending on if you’re creating landscapes versus the more mandalic pieces?
Simon: Often my landscape pieces have come from a vision, then I aim to re-create it in some way. I can have a sketch of it, and sometimes I gather photos as reference for landscapes or animals. I really enjoy meditating with my pieces, staring at them, watching them animate in my mind's eye then deciding which aspects to adapt as the final still image. Another reason why I want to animate all my paintings. Sometimes I’ll work on a piece, then not again until a few years later if I get stuck on it.
The mandalic pieces are more of a "just dive in" and see what happens kinda thing, not really a vision. In any case, I reference feeling and visions that I’ve gathered from meditation and entheogenic experiences. I can often decide when something is done based on how it makes me feel, which is usually heart and third eye opening.
Prox: What were some of the reasons you decided to produce music as well? Do you have a background in music or was it a kind of natural progression for you?
Simon: I’ve been making music for almost as long as I’ve been making visual art. They are completely interwoven into my expression. My paintings have many musical features translated into them visually. I picked up guitar around age 11, then bass guitar, then drums, then cello, and then making music on the computer with a midi keyboard. I made two solo albums back in 2002-2004, recording layers of live guitar, drums, and bass on one of the first digital 8x8 track machines that recorded onto zip disk. That was just before I got deep into visionary art. Those albums aren’t on my website, whereas two of my newer computer based albums are.
Music often seems to have more of a flow to me than visual art. I don’t sketch ideas for paintings as often as I might “sketch” or freestyle on a musical instrument. For example, I’d rather be playing music live than live painting. I don’t have much classical training with music, and really enjoy the freedom of jamming with friends, something that comes and goes in the moment with no attachment. Those can often be the most freeing of creative experiences for me.
I’ve made two music videos with my visual art, both to music by Anilah. I plan to animate many more of my paintings and since I’m creating them, they’re always animating in my imagination to the music I’m listening to. Perhaps someday, I’ll have them as animated backdrops while I’m playing with a band as a full circle combo.
Prox: How has your relationship with nature shaped your art? Do you think that the energies found in nature imbue the artist with a special creative drive?
Simon: Yes! Nature is probably my greatest muse. It inspires so much of what I do in every aspect of life. Some artists are more reverent to nature specifically, though I think the energies in nature imbue all of us with a creative drive because without it, we wouldn’t exist; Something that humanity in general tends to forget or take for granted. Personally, I love being still, listening to the creatures, the elements, and the wisdom of trees to inspire and reconnect. Many of my daily interactions with objects are of smooth and synthetic surfaces if I’m in the studio or around the house, so walking barefoot and running the palms of my hands on the many textures of wilderness are another amazing connection point.
Prox: Please talk about your experience with entheogens. What are some insights and lessons that you’ve gained from going “up there”? How have they impacted your life?
Simon: I’d say a primary insight from there is that everything seems very intensely interconnected within a main source of love and light. The framework of this apparent universe. While also often having these experiences contrasted by visions of the most disgusting realms of what I’d call purgatory, full of suffering. Thus being as kind, grateful, and compassionate while seeing other beings as part of my own cosmic reflection is certainly a recurring insight. Not such a psychedelic concept, but it becomes so much more multi-sensory and multidimensionally apparent in those spaces. That’s really general, but then every journey has often been very personal, so getting into all those insights would seem a bit out of context with a short answer. The insights are often so appropriate for my life path at the time, often interweaving with dreams from the past days or even years of synchronicity.
I often have the feeling of non-physicality, and that space and time are more earthly concepts which don’t apply while deep within that liminal framework. I was once shown an aspect of my being that was sleeping in another realm, being watched over by benevolent light beings, while I was here having a human experience. The contrast of death and life seem to be a passing illusion within the more physical realms. Really all these experiences have impacted my life in what I think are a positive contribution to my creativity and how I interact with other sentient beings to make this life as loving and co-creative as possible. These themes are recurring in the visionary art genre which is part of the momentum for me. We share these concepts from our experiences and it helps to bring that into this physical world for us to all learn and expand from, while also sharing with others who haven’t done any psychedelics. It’s always amazing when a piece of visionary art clearly showing metaphysical energies moves someone to deep emotion but they’re not sure why, or don’t have an entheogenic experience to relate it to.
Prox: What are some of your favorite pieces from your collections of works? Which would you say are the most powerful and/or personal?
Simon: Often my favourite is whatever is the newest because it’s carrying the thread of inspiration. Certainly though, there are some that I feel are more accurate expressions of visions. My second visionary painting called “My Awakening” which was done with acrylics on canvas, has such deep meaning for me since it reflects the moment of the title in my life. It was the first time I transfigured out of my body into the universal mind lattice and connected to ancestors and the heart centered path of visionary art. I suppose the painting previous to it “Astral Projection” has almost equal power since it acted as a portal to the next painting, and truly at that time I hadn’t seen what I now know as “visionary art”, it was only after doing it that someone showed me some art by Alex Grey.
For my newer pieces, “Spirit Bear” was one that I started, put aside, picked up three years later, then as a happy accident, became a foundation for me to bring more animals and their auras into my landscapes. This theme is my current focus. One of my more recent paintings “OvO”, which is a collaboration with David Heskin (and commissioned by the band Yaima for their newest album of that same title) is high up in my favourites; for it’s final appearance, then also being able to collaborate with a favourite painter and friend, as well as a favourite band.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Simon: Haha, there are many! As a shout out to the visionary art genre; Andy Thomas, Andrew Jones, A. Andrew Gonzalez, Alex Grey, Dennis Konstantin, David Heskin, Autumn Skye Morrison, Totemical, Luke Brown, Amanda Sage, Roman Villagrana, Jonathan Solter, Mugwort, Mars One, Justin Slattum, Randal Roberts, Mark Henson, Fabian Jiminez, Martina Hoffmann, Cameron Gray, Guy Aitchison, Geo Atherton, Peter Westermann, Eric Howard, Brian Scott Hampton…to name a few of them anyway… Amazingly, I’ve had the pleasure of representing most of these artists over the past 10 years at festival galleries that I curate.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Simon: Other things I enjoy besides painting are playing music with friends, snowboarding, mountain biking, mountain hiking, vegetable gardening, permaculture, archery, laying in a mossy patch and looking up at the trees and clouds, being dorky, silly, or stupid with friends or for that matter with complete strangers also… and then some…
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Simon: I find that paintings often seem to have an adolescent phase where they look like crap, not always, but often. I think this is where people frequently give up. Being experimental with each piece and not having a strong expectation can yield amazingly fun and new results. Even if you’re playing with learned techniques, there’s always a way to push the boundaries, if you so desire. So, just keep on painting, spiral out, and keep going! Aspirations are often a moving target, so relax and enjoy the moment of each creation as much as you can while it’s happening. As for digital painting, I feel like it’s offered me much more freedom with explorative creativity compared to classical mediums. Though you don't need to get the most high-tech gear to get started, there are so many less expensive alternatives for beginners. Follow your heart, cliché but true, your heart is smart!
Prox: Information on new projects or business endeavors?
Simon: I’m zorking* on a series of animal paintings, which I intend to have animated, either by myself or collaboratively. These will be displayed on general digital displays in galleries, homes/public venues, projections for music concerts, or perhaps entered into the emerging VR realms. I’m also working on some new instrumental music. (*Zork: work that you enjoy doing)
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Simon: A big thanks to everyone that has supported my art and music over the years, especially my amazing parents! Thanks to you Prox for this platform.
Also, a wise child once told me, “when you fart and a little shit comes out, it’s called a shart” .
You can learn more about Simon and purchase his work, here.
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