past month unfortunately saw the departure of one of the state's
finest and most respected artists. Cein Watson has been an
intricate and influential part of our art scene, not to mention a
favorite fixture of the Captain Captain Studios for years now. His
detailed and often eye-catching designs can be found all over the
city, whether they be a simple illustration off in the corner of the
frame, or a fully drawn out kidney in every detail as if ripped from
a medical journal. His works and style had become a unique
perspective that few came close to capturing and many couldn't get
--- As of last week, Watson relocated himself and all of his works to the state of Vermont, for reasons both artistic and personal. Before he went east I got a chance to do a departing interview with the man about his career and works over the years, along with pictures of his works for you to check out from his farewell show at Captain Captain two weeks ago.
Gavin: Hey Cein! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Cein: I'm half ugly and should never be taken seriously.
Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some of your early inspirations?
Cein: Art's as hard as you make it. I never got bored with it. And if I did it'd be my own fault.
Gavin: Originally you got a scholarship for the Maine College of Art. What was the school like for you while you were there?
Cein: If I were charitable I'd say it was character building. I worked hard and drank harder.
Gavin: Eventually you transferred to the University of Utah and earned degrees in Art and Art Studies. What made you choose the U and how was that program for you?
Cein: I chose the U because one year of private art school costs the same as seven years at the U. The U painting program wouldn't have me. I didn't fit into their 17th century figure structure program. They told me I should be a lawyer. I gravitated to the printmaking program. The printmaking program is craft oriented with a more liberal conceptual platform. I was also drawn to the Art History department. Art History can give an artist context. Currently the department is a powerhouse of accomplished young professors that anyone could learn a great deal from.
Gavin: Aside from the art degrees you have one in Philosophy as well. What made you pursue that area of study?
Cein: Many of the pieces are thought experiments as to what a philosophic text might look like mapped out, illustrated, or expressed. I saw art as another way to reify ideas. I figured pursuing a degree in Philosophy would inform the work and help me sound like less of an ass when I talked about it. Still working on the latter.
Gavin: How did the inspiration come about for your particular illustrations, specifically the bodily organs?
Cein: The invented organs where a confessional project that I'd worked on years ago. I started mining the idea again as a tongue and check miss reading of Bodies without Organs... organs without bodies.
Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new piece, from idea to the final look?
Cein: I lay out a syntax for the process based on a loose reading of a text. From there it's a free for all.
Gavin: Do you usually have a set idea of what it will look like or is your work more impulsive?
Cein: I have an idea of what I want it to look like. I'm wrong a lot.
Gavin: What was it like for you when you started taking your works around for exhibitions?
Cein: It's been positive overall. Rejection always hurts, especially for an arrogant prick.
Gavin: How did you eventually end up moving into Captain Captain Studios, and how is that environment for you as an artist?
Cein: Almost all the Captain Captain artists were in the original Poor Yorick studios on 7th South. When Poor Yorick moved we moved into Captain Captain. It has been the most positive environment I've ever worked in. I've never been surrounded by such hard working talented people. When the bar's raised so high you've got to work hard to keep up.
Gavin: Further on a lot of your works began to encompass greater detail and fine additions to each piece. What motivated you to do so much detail on everything?
Cein: I figured the detail helped show intention.
Gavin: You also branched into screenprinting with you works and taken them into a more colorful format. How did the idea come about to mix that in with your style?
Cein: I set out a new set of rules that prescribed to new ideas. A different prescription for a different problem.
Gavin: As of when this interview will go up, you will have moved to Vermont. What brought on that decision, and why Vermont?
Cein: A Thoreau wet dream... less overhead and more self reliance.
Gavin: When you move there, what exactly will you be doing and working on?
Cein: I'll be building a tree house and working on more sculptural projects.
Gavin: Reflecting back on it, how do you view your time here n Utah, not just as a member of the art community but as a whole?
Cein: The rest of the world doesn't know how great Utah can be.
Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Cein: Good: Utah artists are exceptional craftsmen. I've seen work made in SLC that's as good as anywhere. The artists are hard working and the community is supportive. Bad: Most of the artists that make a living in Utah don't sell work in Utah. I won't say that Utahans are cheap, but maybe they're so DIY that art isn't even on their radar.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Cein: SLC is an island. Maybe even its own country. The art community needs more connections to the outside world.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the galleries we have in town and how they cater to both artists and the community?
Cein: Everyone works hard to make it work. That's some PC gold right there!
Gavin: Speaking of which, what's your take on Gallery Stroll and how its doing today?
Cein: It depends. If you frame up Gallery Stroll as social event... It's great. It's a free night out on the town. If you frame it up as a cultural event then it's more hit and miss.
Gavin: And finally, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Cein: Just my new website, and the Captain Captain blog.