Visual artist Cameron Gray (operating out of Melbourne, Australia) is using his skills in several different mediums to create spiritually tinged, hyper-realistic canvases that showcase the divinity of the highly coveted psychotropic landscape. Although careful not to proselytize, his work does a masterful job of telling stories of ascension and oneness, while giving the experiencer the space to project his or her own meaning onto his works.
Cameron’s craftsmanship has earned him several opportunities to collaborate with musicians, companies, and other talented individuals and like his some of contemporaries, his work has become a mainstay in the modern spiritual and New Age movements; And it’s quite easy to understand why.
Here, Cameron talks about his journey as an artist, his preferred tools and methods for gaining inspiration and insight, and hints at some of his upcoming projects.
Prox: How did you get involved with Art? Did you start off in Digital Art or in a different medium?
Cameron: I began around 16 years ago creating desktop wallpapers for my computer in my spare time using various 3D design software. I was enjoying the ability to create and explore new worlds in a 3D environment but at the time I never imagined that it would lead to what I do now as a full time living. I was around 17 years old at the time, I used to take my designs to school on a floppy disk and set them as the wallpapers on the schools computers which a lot of the teachers didn’t appreciate, but one teacher saw them and saw a lot of potential in my work and invited me to join his computer imaging class.
He nurtured what I was creating and encouraged me to keep exploring all the different directions I was experimenting in. I was also studying photography at the time. At one point my photography teacher and my computer imaging teacher began talking about my work and they offered to create my own curriculum based on a blending of photography, art, 3D and computer imaging.
That was really the beginning of my journey, where two of my teachers saw the potential in the work I was creating on my own and they gave me the ability to fully explore what they could see I was becoming passionate about. It wasn’t until a school trip to the local art gallery when I completely fell in love with art and decided that this is what I want to pursue in my life. I remember the moment so vividly.
My photography teacher took us to an exhibition of digital art, something that in the early 2000’s was still very new to witness in an art gallery and misunderstood in the art world at the time. I was completely struck by the works of artists such as Steve Danzig, David Ho, and Alessandro Bavari. Their works paralyzed me in my spot as I fell in love with the medium. I took out my journal and began taking detailed notes of the pieces, trying to capture and understand the reaction that was taking place in my mind.
I spent the next two days skipping school and spent that time in the art gallery, analyzing the artwork and trying to understand it. It was an incredible, magical feeling and moment in my life and the very first time I felt like I actually have a meaning and purpose in life. The next year I enrolled at the Academy of the Arts and began my university study and art education, exploring everything from life drawing, sculpture, photography, painting, digital art, animation, film studies etc. I wanted to explore everything, and that curiosity to explore is what formed the art I create today, which is a mixture of many of the mediums I built my foundation upon.
Prox: How would you describe the elements and sentiments of your work to the uninitiated? What do you think catches the eye of someone who views your pieces for the first time?
Cameron: I make a habit not to explain or describe my art too much when people first view it. I’ve had a philosophy for many years that I much prefer to hear peoples thoughts and response to the art before I explain the story behind it. I enjoy hearing other peoples thoughts on the art, what they see and feel in the work, and the story they build around it. To me, art should be accessible to everyone, and allowing people the ability to explore a piece without preconception lets their mind explore the art in ways that I often didn’t see it, and that’s very exciting for me. Of course once they describe what they see to me I’m always happy to tell them my story behind the work, but I really enjoy the dialogue from viewers telling me their story.
Prox: Your work along with others like Alex Grey and Android Jones (to name a few) has become synonymous with many spiritual movements around the globe. How does it feel to be so entrenched in these communities?
Cameron: It’s a beautiful movement to be involved with, I’ve met some of the most influential people in my life through the visionary movements and am still humbled by how so many people from within the movement reach out to me and want to connect. The close friendships I’ve formed spans from major record labels, film studios, hollywood actors, visionary authors, scientists, artists, musicians, CEO’s and everyone in-between. I’ve never known a single movement that brings so many people together from around the world quite like this one. It’s something that I’ve never gotten used to and still pinch myself each time I find myself connecting with such progressive and fundamental people.
Prox: What are some of the tools that you use to explore and depict these realms? Have you ever experimented with psychedelics or any other mind altering practices (sensory deprivation, meditation, etc)?
Cameron: With most people in my field, I’ve experimented with psychedelics and consciousness expansion through a range of methods and substances but I don’t depend on them as a creative tool. My experiences with psychedelics are always for the purposes of self-fulfillment, healing, love and true engagement with the universe. My art did take a monumental leap after my first experience with psychedelics but what they taught me about myself and being able to experience and appreciate the true beauty of life have been the most profound lessons for me. Psychedelics are something that needs to be respected and they’ll respect you.
I was relatively late to fully appreciate meditation but it serves an important role in my daily life. I tried meditation without much success for a number of years until I had a guided meditation session with an amazing teacher above an old bookstore in the town I used to live in. My first meditation session with him went for nearly 2 hours and I came out of the session feeling completely transformed, in a very similar way to my first psychedelics experience. I remember during the meditation after around the first hour I could feel the separation between my physical and non-physical body, I could feel and understand every heartbeat as the blood flowed through my organs, I could separate my thoughts and look at things from multiple angles with clarity and patience, I had a true sense of forgiveness to myself and to others, and I remember when the 2 hours was up and I opened my eyes, seeing how bright, clear and radiant everything was around me. Colours had become rich and vibrant, I could pick up on sounds more clearly, and I was able to truly empathize with people and things around me without any preconception. As if information was flowing through the filter of my senses much more freely, openly and pleasantly. It was a truly incredible experience and it really jump started my understanding of meditation and how to actually meditate with purpose and insight.
Nowadays my meditations are usually 30-45 minutes each, but I also find myself in a state of meditation through various activities or moments in life. Sitting in a park, listening to birds, having my morning coffee outside, going for a walk, listening to music, cooking food, brewing tea and working on my art, all bring various states of meditation which I’m now much more able to identify with and understand, appreciate and enjoy.
Prox: Does any of your personal beliefs or experiences play a role in manifesting kind of imagery?
Cameron: I guess in a way they do, I think art brings out certain parts of a person and who they are at their core level, and the experiences they’ve had in life often come through. My art is very autobiographical and when people look through the 16 years of work and journals it tells quite a lot about me and where I’ve come from in my life and who I am today. I feel my art understands me and each time I complete a piece I feel a sense of knowing the scene in the art, like it’s somewhere I’ve been, that it was the piece I was meant to create at that time and the creative process is just a way to uncover those thoughts.
As far as beliefs go, I’m not really one to preach in life at all, whether it be political, social or religious, and so I don’t preach in my art. My work is at its best when I’m free to follow my own creative compass as opposed to trying to preach a political or religious agenda. I see too much already in regards to art, movies and music that tries to be political for political’s sake and it’s something that always pushes me away from the experience of the art itself.
I’ve always felt the most powerful way you can teach a person is to teach them about themselves first, about the core of their being, to show them the true beauty that’s inside them, which unites all of us together. True and unconditional love is the most powerful message you can teach a person before anything else and is a much more powerful way to teach someone effectively than to preach about how “the government sucks”. Teach people how to empower themselves from within their true self, at their core level of being, and the rest will always follow.
Prox: How do you typically get inspired? What are some things that usually get you motivated to begin a new piece?
Cameron: A new piece can come from anywhere, the usual times/places for me are when I’m falling asleep, listening to music or reading. I have journals everywhere always ready to take quick notes or make sketches of an idea.
Colours, sounds, numbers and words are big triggers for me. I can read a page of numbers or keywords and it will paint images and feelings in my mind and then the concept for a piece comes through that way.
My workflow for a new piece is usually to write pages of keywords in my journal, numbers for colours, tones or feelings, and then listen to music or sounds, tribal drumming, meditation sounds etc which seems to enhance the process. This gets my senses sparking and my mind active and in a creative space. I keep reading over the keywords, adding more or taking some out and certain feelings and imagery starts coming through, then I’ll put down some really loose sketches, followed by more notes, keywords etc, and keep repeating the process until the base of the piece is formed. Then I’ll begin creating the actual piece itself.
Prox: You are a multi-faceted artist working in several different visual mediums. How have you managed to successfully hone such a variety of skills?
Cameron: That probably comes from when I was a student. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life when I was younger so I experimented with everything that interested me, not just in art but in life as well. I’m pretty curious by nature and have a need to learn and try to understand things around me. When I was studying at the Academy of the Arts my lecturers encouraged my exploratory side and were always interested in how I would bring various mediums together. I’m rather obsessive when it comes to anything that’s on my mind so if I’m learning a new skill or a new medium I just want to solve it like a puzzle, and put all my focus on learning it and understanding it.
If I look at something and I can’t understand it or don’t know how to do something, I feel an overwhelming urge to learn it and understand how it works and sometimes it consumes my mind until I’ve understood it.
Prox: As part of your skill set, you have had the opportunity to work with many different companies and artists. What are your favorite kinds of collaborations?
Cameron: My most and least favourite collaboration is probably with bands. I love working with a band that understands my art and understands how I work, bands that have a strong vision and an openness for creative freedom. When the music, lyrics and art tie in really well and the band lets me work openly and creatively, free to explore my ideas then it’s a wonderful experience and I get my most popular pieces done that way.
It’s also my least favourite because you can often have so many people wanting to put in their 2 cents into the art and get stifled creatively, the hours are really long with the bigger projects and you have to take away a significant amount of time from other projects to be able to give them the attention they need.
The bigger projects are usually my favourite though, the ones where the band and I end up going on a creative journey together for a year or two and come out with great stories to tell. The really good projects always end up with some great friendships and stories. A lot of the bands I work with become like family.
Prox: What is your favorite piece from your entire catalogue so far? What is the significance of this particular work?
Cameron: I’m not sure that I can pick a favourite. “Hope For The Sound Awakening”, “Transcension”, “Gratitude For The Earth and Sky”, and “Awake Could Be So Beautiful” have a very special place in my heart.
“Awake Could Be So Beautiful” was actually created after my first life changing psychedelic experience where I was completely dissolved and reborn into the world over a 10-15 hour session. I felt like an entirely new person born into the world that day, and I could talk about that experience for hours and still not find the words to fully express how much I learned in that moment.
Prox: Who are some new artists that you’ve found yourself enjoying in recently?
Cameron: Not really ‘new’ artists but I really love the works of Simon Haiduk, Isaac Mills, Jamie Koala, Josephine Wall, Justin Totemical, Jake Kobrin & Olivia Curry. There’s just too many for me to name them all, they are all really wonderful souls.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Cameron: I love growing plants and vegetables, and gardening in general. I love watching the process of a plant growing, I can’t explain it. I have an immense gratitude for plant life and I find it absolutely fascinating.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists and entrepreneurs?
Cameron: It’s cliche, but listen to your heart and follow it. It secretly knows the way.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and endeavors?
Cameron: I’m exhibiting at the Astral Harvest Music & Arts Festival in Alberta, Canada from June 30 - July 3rd 2016. And we’re also working with various clothing company collaborations and a couple of exciting new things that I can’t talk about at the moment but will be hinting at on my website, Instagram, Facebook etc.
Also have a few album projects finishing up at the moment, so there’s a few of those coming out really soon. One of which consists of over 20 new pieces created over the past 12 months. I’ll be posting all the info and art for those on my website and social media pages.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Cameron: Thanks for having me Xx
You can learn more about Cameron and purchase his art, here.
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