Interview with Charlie Drummond

During the end of March, Charlie Drummond, a local Vancouver artist, came into our coworking space to hang some of his paintings. Much of his work features the use of multiple mediums serving as a personal lexicon, which is used to collate and denote the experience of a person and artist who frequently experiences episodes of depression. We had a brief chat with him to discuss some of these paintings as well as his inspirations and goals.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.

My name is Charlie Drummond. I am a Vancouver based emerging multi-disciplinary artist — early career — with a focus on painting and drawing. Although I took two years of art classes, my painting practice is self-taught.

What’s your background?

Like many artists, I spent a lot of time drawing growing up. Single parent household, so I had to entertain myself the best way I could. I didn’t decide that I wanted to be an artist until I was 29, which is when I enrolled in the Fine Arts program at Langara College.

Favorite food and song?

Aha, food — Southern food! Fried Chicken, Shrimp and Grits, Collard Greens, Carolina-style barbecue. Drinks — some nice sweet tea, a bit of bourbon maybe. Although I don’t drink so much anymore. As for music, I’ve been listening to rap music since about 1989 and still love it. Kendrick Lamar’s “I” is a huge motivator for me, as well as Rolling Stones’ “You Got The Silver.”

How about favorite or most inspirational place?

Anywhere where I can see the ocean is pretty great. Although once, I stumbled off the path at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Japan. I left the path and wandered through a bamboo grove for about a mile. I was by myself and I found this crumbling little shrine or memorial. Being June, it was so quiet and peaceful, no rain, and I stayed there for hours. It was the most peaceful I’ve ever felt in my life aside from staring at the ocean.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

Ahh, sorry if this answer is too personal, but I’ll be real about it. I live with Major Depressive Disorder — I have for a while now, too long. It was only recently that I became motivated enough to begin to address that aspect of my psychological health. Asking for help has been the hardest thing to do. It also takes a lot of work and self-monitoring to make sure that you are always on the right path. It’s not to say that I don’t have “off” days anymore. I do, but I now have the tools, skills, and self-compassion to work through them.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

This can be difficult to explain as sometimes I am merely synthesizing my experience and hopefully the experiences of others. Some of my pieces are nudes — my contribution to the art-historical tradition of what perhaps is seen as a portrayal of beauty and grace. This is not to subject the female body to the male gaze or reinforce a position of privilege, rather, I suppose it comes from a curiosity of the “other”.

With other works, I try to compile the sensation of memory and influence, which are fluid and elusive especially for those with a depressive condition. I also like the idea of art being irreverent — nothing is off limits. (Although, I don’t care much for art that is denigrating specifically.)

Do you have a dream project?

I’d love to tackle a mural. It’s totally more than I feel like I could handle, but I think it would be a lot of fun!