Global Talent Art Prize
2nd Winner

Interview: Ernest Strauhal


Strauhal Ernest Untitled 1, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5"x11", 2022

Untitled 1, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5″x11″, 2022. Ernest Strauhal

Can you recall the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist? What made you interested in arts?

I knew I wanted to be an artist after dropping out of design school. I remember seeing students older and more experienced than me breaking into tears during design critiques over some little shapes in Adobe Illustrator. This happened enough times to the point where I began to ask myself, “Do I really want to be losing my mind over some meaningless brand package for some corporation?” The possibility of being in control of my own aesthetic instead of some client really made me really interested in art.

Tell us about your artistic process and the way you brainstorm ideas? What do you usually start with when creating? How do ideas become artworks?

 I’m mainly inspired by looking out my window and letting my mind run freely. A lot of my ideas come from looking out the windows on the train too. Ideas manifest themselves into artworks through a balance of concentration and dissociation and that balance informs the aesthetic of my sound and video works. I am also inspired by stream of consciousness writing. I am a fan of really long sentences and I think of my sound and video work as sonic and visual run-on sentences.

Strauhal Ernest Untitled 2, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5"x11", 2022

Untitled 2, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5″x11″, 2022. Strauhal Ernest.      

Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?

During my first semester at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was lucky to have an artist named Alberto Aguilar as my advisor. We had around a dozen one-on-one meetings where we would discuss the current nature of my art, possible directions for my art to go in, and experiences from my life that may have informed my artworks. This method of one-on-one advising was very new to me and it legitimized the work that was stuck in my mind. Without him, it may have taken me more time to become more confident in my practice.

How has your style changed over the years? If yes, could you explain why?

In the past, my style was more maximalistic with too much text, too many bright colors, too many fonts, too many pictures, etc. Those decisions were probably aided by the fact that I grew up using a computer and learned every possible feature just because I had too much time on my hands as a kid. Nowadays, I try to exercise restraint in using elements such as color, text, and image.

Untitled 3, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5″x11″, 2022. Strauhal Ernest

Your artistic practice is very extensive and includes sound, printmedia, and installation. What kind of message do you wish to convey in your art?

My practice may be extensive and includes a range of mediums, but I have taken a different approach to being interdisciplinary recently which has been more fruitful. Rather than being interdisciplinary for the sake of being interdisciplinary, I have been more focused on my personal ethics and principles first rather than be burdened from the start with medium or material. The message that I wish to convey in my art is to create a reprieve from the overstimulation of having grown up with unrestricted access to the internet, and showing how one can process with information excess in an aesthetic manner.

Tell us more about what project you are currently working on?

I just finished working on a music video for Nick Stanifer and I will be releasing some music at the end of January. It’ll be in the form of a 75 minute album and will be released on tape and CD through Stargazing at Blank Skies, a New York based record label. I also have another album lined up for a release in mid-February as well.

Strauhal Ernest Untitled 4, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5"x11", 2022

Untitled 4, Pen and ink on vellum, 8.5″x11″, 2022. Strauhal Ernest 

What will be your next project? 

I’m not sure what my next project might be. I’m more interested in providing bodily experiences of my video and sound work for people. Bigger screens, bigger speakers, taller ceilings… It feels a bit claustrophobic experiencing everything through a laptop screen. Honestly, I’m going to devote more of my energy in 2023 to find venues to display my art.

What is your dream project?

My dream project? Probably something really substantial like Parsifal or River of Fundament. Like, a “dream project” shouldn’t be something like a cute one hour film or album. If I’m going to embark on a “dream project,” I want it to be (at least) six hours long and take a significant portion of my life to create. I also want to be in total control of the space that it would be shown in. Wagner literally built the Bayreuth Festspielhaus specifically for *his* work to be played in.

Untitled 5, Pen and ink on paper, 8.5″x11″, 2022. Strauhal Ernest 

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?

For me, the ideal state of mind being creative requires as little distraction as possible. For me, I like to put my phone on airplane mode for hours at a time, just tapping into a creative flow of creating as much art as possible. I don’t worry about what other people will think or even what I think, I just let everything out. Eventually, I grow tired and I’ll take a walk in a park to ease out of that flow state. When I return to my studio, I edit and curate the work that I’ve finished.

What is art for?

To me, one of the main roles of art is to be a mirror to society. Whether an artwork chooses to criticize society or act as a biography of the artist is a variation of that role, but without photography, writing, and visual art reflecting what is happening today, we can’t know what people were thinking and feeling in the past.

Thanks for the opportunity to interview you as the 2nd Prize Winner of the Global Talent Art Prize (2nd edition). Are there any final thoughts, in particular for the ones who would like to follow your way?

Just apply to everything, don’t hold back.

Make art! Get the feedback you deserve!