Spoke Art recently sat down with Oakland based artist Cannon Dill to discuss his upcoming solo show "In My Own Time" - opening December 5th!


Can you give us a hint of what’s to come with this new solo show at Spoke Art?

- Lots of detailed illustrations, a few paintings and a chance of rain.

What themes or concepts have you been playing with, and could you tell us about the title “In My Own Time”?

- The theme is loosely around the idea of taking the time to soak in your surroundings, recognizing space. We all know prices of housing are increasing dramatically in the bay area, so it was hard to not make work about that situation. Also the gap between San Francisco and Oakland is sort of blurring together, you have a lot of construction and development happening in both cities. This body of work is a vague conversation about that. The title “In My Own Time” is the title of a Karen Dalton album, someone who I can relate to lyrically. Being inspired by her, and the title of the album and taking it and using it in a more literal context like (this is my work, and this is what I’m doing in my own time) but at the same time it’s also saying that I still have time to grow as an artist. 

Your last solo show was back in 2013, what has influenced you as an artist in the past couple years?

- Id say my influences are the same, just a bit more focused. I was really pressured into making a certain type of work that people were generally drawn to, and that sort of drove me insane. It was taking two steps forward to realize that I needed to take two steps back.


Your work frequently features an anthropomorphic wolf-headed creature, how or where was this developed? Is it a self portrait in a way, or more of a mascot?

- The wolf creature is just how I perceive humans to be. It’s myself at times, my best friend, and that random person I had bumped into that day. Its the exaggerated emotion that might be lingering in the back for awhile, brought out in full effect… snickering and smoking. 

Could you give us some insight into some of the iconography and symbols that appear in your work? Such as key-holes, arrows, and smoke.

- It’s all sort of literal symbology… A smoking mailbox might represent me not mailing a package in time, or the keyhole being an important decision, “should I open that door”? everything I draw is something Im dealing with. The bricks play an important role in this show. First let me say that painting bricks is insanely time consuming - so with that they represent time and patience. You’re building higher and reaching the top when you realize that they might not be stacked perfectly or drawn straight, its a human characteristic…we are not perfect even when we take the time to perfect something.

How does your environment play into your work? Do you find that Oakland inspires your work directly or in-directly?

- Oakland inspires me because of all the creative people i’m surrounded by. I can talk about the things I love to do rather then hear about the basics. You have kids out here from all backgrounds that are motivated and eager to learn, who are down with Oakland without stepping on anybody’s toes. Good Mother Gallery formed and brought a few spectrums of art together. It’s really nice to see a mixture of styles and people all admiring the same thing, talking about the same issues, and figuring it out together.

Athen B, another gallery in Oakland, raised the bar for public art. Im constantly witnessing these amazing achievements happening that I might not think are important in the moment, but in reality… this is the sh** we will look back on and wish we were doing it all over again. These next few years are important.

What is the most exciting mural project you have worked on recently?

- The one on 18th and telegraph behind Make Westing in Oakland. The exciting part was getting it done and learning through the process. It kicked my ass. Though being a “Muralist” is not something I want to be.

You’ve been creating more sculptural, installation-based pieces as of late. What do you enjoy about creating a more physical three-dimensional object?

- Not only is it exciting to see the finished product like “Oh sh** it’s alive”! but the process of constructing something that is more comprehendible and more advanced in a way is refreshing. I can draw blind folded, its what I’ve always done since high school, but taking it off paper can just have a more satisfying outcome. Id like to continue to explore the sculptural realm.

Architecture has slowly found its way more and more into your work. What is it like dealing with more geometric forms in comparison to your figurative work?

- You know, its a challenge. Geometric forms is such a scary thing for me, it seems so un-natural. That is what makes it so exciting, just another fear I’m needing to conquer to keep moving forward. And its just nice to change things up a bit.

 What helps you get into the zone in the studio? What music are you listening to currently?

- Usually I have a few big canvases laid up so I can just throw paint around, smoke cigs, and feel like Phillip Guston for a quick second before breaking the spell and scrapping them immediately after. When it comes down to music… Ah well I listen to everything, from punk to jazz and everything in-between. I work long hours in the studio so Im constantly going through albums and finding what is hitting me the hardest. It’s an emotional stimulant for my art…that, coffee, and browsing junk stores. 

What’s next after "In My Own Time?" Any cool future projects in the works?

- Solo show at Athen B Gallery October 2016.


Check out more photos from our studio visit on our Flickr page

Photos by Jessica Ross

Interview by Jess Suttner