Creative process of Derrick Hickman

A moment of reflection. We are always curious about the creative process of artists. How did they get to this point? We want to dive into the mind of the creators. The result: ‘Creative Process’, a column featuring artists who offer us an insight into their creative process. In this episode, we talk with Derrick Hickmann.

Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Expertise:  Commercial muralist for about twelve years after college. Produces large scale works (12″ x 12″ are about as intimate in scale as he can do)
Inspired by: Jasper Johns, Basquiat, Rosenquist, and even Joseph Cornell, whose work full of pop culture iconography seemed relevant to Derrick as a young adult.
Unique fact: Often uses the imagery of ACME cartoon products in his paintings. They are winks at his habit of repeating failed behaviours.
Future dream:  Has three incredibly creative and artistic daughters. Hopes that as they grow older, they foster this part of their lives


SHC: Can you describe your art in one sentence?

Derrick: My work is an attempt to visually represent the childhood feelings of isolation and insecurity, in relationship to the societal comparison.


SHC: Has your workflow changed over time?

Derrick: Initially, my work involved a lot of planning. Sketch work, colour studies, and layouts. I’m learning to trust the process of not having a plan. Not beginning a painting with the vision of a final product. Fighting the muscle memory of working as a commercial artist.


SHC: How can we see this when we compare your past and current work?

Derrick: I was so in a hurry to find my style. As a result, paintings could become formulaic and repetitive. My intent often got lost in the presentation, and viewers walked away, seeing the work as decorative or nostalgic. Newer work is still evolving, but I am finding myself excited by simplifying the work and being less opaque in my message.


SHC: Does that mean you have improved?

Derrick: I like the idea of evolved better than improved.


SHC: Name one specific event that has changed you as an artist

Derrick: The death of my mother. My work revolves around difficulties of childhood and the environment I lived in. I felt an obligation in my early work to protect family members from any transparency that might be seen as hurtful or judgmental. As painful as the loss of a deeply loved parent is, it did push me to have a more open dialogue with siblings. This, of course, gets reflected in work.

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