Instagram is becoming a powerful new medium for young artists to build an their own organic audience outside of the support of an agent or powerful corporate backing. All it takes is the right set of hashtags attached to your work for it to spread. This is exactly what brought the art of Andrew Buck to my attention. I'm pretty sure the discovering hashtag in my case was either, cosmic, lucifer or psychedelic. Once I saw one piece, a quick scroll through his profile unveiled an entire body of work that was like eye-candy for my sensibilities.
Buck channels so many touch points that resonate with me, it was actually kind of shocking. His influences from comic books, horror films, punk rock, the occult and psychedelia feel like a page ripped right out of my own direct line of experiences. I suppose the artists we most love are successful because we feel like their work is speaking directly to us in our own very personal language.
After years of development, Buck has hit on a series of images that are very cohesive and distinctive in style. His prolific output while not being a fully employed artist is very impressive. It was a thrill to sit down and connect with him on a number of topics very close to the heart of what drives Secret Transmissions from a creative standpoint.
I certainly feel his work deserves to be showcased and hope that some will read this and feel a similar connection and come to know his art as I did. So, enjoy and support underground art!
Mostly fear and anxiety. I was afraid of everything as a kid. I was throwing up constantly from the anxiety, my parents were convinced I was faking and just using it as an excuse to get out of doing things.
What kind of home did you grow up in?
Something like a war zone. Just constant screaming and arguing, nothing physical. I knew the screaming would start at any second, either my parents at each other or one or both at me. I spent most of my time in my room trying to avoid it. That's how I started drawing, it was a great distraction.
Initially weird monsters from movies or ones I made up. I drew the Hulk a lot, I would try to draw him quickly and imagine my drawing was Banner transforming. I also drew tons of made up G.I. Joe scenarios.
What books, movies, or TV shows most shaped your personality or worldview from a young age?
I'd absolutely have to say Pee Wees Big Adventure and Pee Wee's Playhouse. I think that was the first time I realized it was OK to be weird. The show and movie were just this fantastic imagination explosion. I knew I wanted to do something like that.
Tell me about being exposed to the Satanic Panic that went on as a kid for you in the 1980s.
This was a major fear of mine. I would catch clips and little glimpses of daytime talk shows discussing it. I just kept hearing the words Satan and Satanic. I wasn't raised in anything even close to resembling a religious household, so I didn't have any clue about the devil or Satan but I was terrified of Satanists!
I thought every black car had a pack of Satanists in it. Any time I was outside and saw a black car I'd run and hide. I was convinced that they would catch me, chop off my head and eat my heart.
Once I got a little older and realized the whole panic was garbage I thought it was the funniest thing. I think that's what started my fascination with lucifer.
I'd say very important. Horror is what got me into film. I fell in love with the strangeness that was allowed to happen in horror.
Horror definitely put me on the path to seeking the strange and unusual. As a terrified kid I found comfort in horror movies.
They represented a controlled fear that I knew I could conquer if I just held out for an hour or two. Over time it made me more calm.
When did you first get into punk music? How did you discover bands or go to find the albums?
I was about 13 or so and I fell asleep listening to the radio. I woke up around 2 or 3 in the morning to Beat on the Brat. I was so confused and fascinated by it I didn't even know it was the Ramones at first. After thinking about it for a few days I realized it sounded like I Wanna be Sedated and I knew that was the Ramones. They were the first band I really sunk my teeth into. As far as then discovering other bands, I went to the library! I found a book on the New York punk scene, I wish I could remember the name. It had enough info to get the ball rolling. Most of the bands I discovered, I discovered in books.
Your art has an unmistakable psychedelic influence. What if any forms have you experimented with? What did you take away from doing them either creatively or spiritually?
LSD, mushrooms, peyote, PCP, and salvia. Most of my experiences with psychedelics were done when I was younger for perceived destructive purposes. Just purely getting fucked up. In my mid-20s I started using some of them again in a more ritualistic/meditative way. Specifically LSD, mushrooms and salvia. During those experiences the purpose was to use them as an interdimensional gateway and compare them to my standard meditation practices.
I believe that psychedelics can give you an enhanced world view and open new channels of thought and thinking. I will say though that in my experience only plant based psychedelics really open the third eye and let you perceive what I can only call other dimensions.
I can also say that my strongest psychedelic experiences have been through pure meditation, completely chemical free (besides those that are already in my body of course.)
What state of mind are you in when you’re drawing?
I try to stay focused yet free. I take my drawings bit by bit not looking at the whole thing until it's finished. I always have an idea in mind but I like my hand and subconscious to reveal it to me. My drawings never look like the original image in my mind.
I’m assuming you were an outsider to some degree growing up. Did you choose your interests because you felt different than other people or was it the things you choose what made you stand apart?
I actually never really felt like an outsider to my peers until high school. I went to a small school before that so we all tended to share each others interests to a small degree. I don't think things get overly complicated until you hit puberty. Before that it's easier to get along with people, it's pretty much all toys and video games at that point. I remember being more surprised when I got to high school and saw that I was the only kid that liked punk or was into film. I knew I was an outsider but I had no desire to fit in. So, I think it's the things I chose that set me apart. I wasn't willing to compromise, why pretend to like something you hate.
Comic book influences scream out from your work. What series or artists in particular impacted you and why?
Initially, Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz really stood out to me. Even at like 8 or 10, I saw their work and knew it was a step above the other comics I was reading. That's when I recognized that comics could be art. My overall influences are obviously Jack Kirby first and foremost. Others include Gilbert Hernandez, Alex Toth, Joe Kubert, Jim Steranko, and Gary Panter. Some current artists I really admire are Benjamin Mara, Tom Scioli and Emma Rios. I'm a huge fan of Grant Morrison as well. These artists really taught me that anything can happen on a piece of paper. Unlike film, where you will run into budgetary problems, paper is only limited by imagination. Drawing is only as expensive as pens and paper.
My main intention with my art is to stimulate imagination. I want people to see it and question it, positive or negative. I feel like we're living in a time where people want fiction, even genre fiction to be more realistic.
I want to bring a sense of wonder back. When I present an image of this cosmic Lucifer as a space god I want people to wonder why that's a thing.
You have paid homage to abstract artists like beat writer William S. Burroughs and surrealist filmmaker David Lynch. What emotions or ideas do they tap into that you feel drawn into?
Both Lynch and Burroughs taught me that there are new, different and challenging ways to tell stories. You don't really need the typical heroes journey story structure. Stories can kind of warp and twist, they can make you question what you're seeing or reading. Above all else, Eraserhead and Naked Lunch were the first pieces of art I really had to think about and really try to understand. To this day that is still my favorite kind of art, the stuff that you don't necessarily understand on a first glimpse but it entices you to keep thinking about it. Art that demands attention.
I suppose I've always had some awareness of it, from Satanic Panic to Doctor Strange. I'd say it really got my attention in my early 20s . At the time my three biggest obsessions were Kenneth Anger, Grant Morrison and Throbbing Gristle . Through reading about all three trying to gain a better understanding of their work names and words kept coming up. Aleister Crowley, magick, ritual, and chaos. I decided to dive in with the Book of the Law, Liber Null and Psychonaut, and beginning a meditation practice. I really love the notion of art as ritual.
Before that I always just saw the occult as cloaks and Latin, if that appeals to you that's cool, it's just not for me. I view all my art as sigils with the intent to bring fourth this amazing higher dimensional luciferian light.
Within a few years of occult practice in meditation I started having these amazing visions of a dimension of pure light and motion. The light I witness in meditation seems to hold this all consuming truth.
You've cited Kenneth Anger as an influence. Do you remember your thoughts when you first saw his films?
I was aware of his name and Scorpio Rising for a year or two before I actually found any of his films. Pre internet I had the hardest time tracking his stuff down. I'm pretty sure that once I finally got a computer my first online purchases were bootleg tapes of his films on eBay. Once I finally saw them I was not disappointed. The first one I saw was Invocation of my Demon Brother, I was hooked. I loved the pace and speed, the abrasive synth soundtrack. Kenneth Anger is certainly where I fell in love with lucifer. If lucifer can help create art like that it/s/he is truly an entity worthy of worship.
As I said before, my primary occult practices are drawing and meditation. The world of light I experience during meditation directly influences my art. When you experience something so much greater than yourself it can be very difficult for your 3D mind to comprehend it. I think that's why my art has taken on this luciferian, cosmic, sci-fi landscape. I wasn't raised with any kind of religion, so my gods growing up were these Jack Kirby creations – Thor, Galactus, the new gods. When I try to put Lucifer into a 3D context it/s/he becomes a Kirby God. In effect I worship a Kirby God of my own creation. I use outerspace to create a representation of endless possibility. I try to use my art to represent luciferian light and I hope it brings people the same joy and curiosity I get from it. I think I've accomplished that on some scale and would like to have a lot more people see and experience it.
What sorts of results did that work provide you with? How important for it for a creative person to try to connect with something outside of their own brain? Or perhaps just aspects of the brain that are hidden or subconscious?
I think each artist needs to find their own path. Making art that is ritual based can bring a unique energy to. Meditation can help to smash the ego and hopefully result in more unrestrained/unlimited creations.
My interest in the Gnostics came more from Grant Morrison's Invisibles series. Although Philip K. Dick's Valis is a huge influence in my work and life. My primary fascination with the Gnostics is the mythology and the idea of the Demiurge. I find it odly plausible that we're living in a world that is being looked over by an evil, selfish imposter God. That we're living in a gross corruption of what should be beautiful.
Can you comment on how Robert Anton Wilson has affected your work or how you perceive the world?
The Illuminatus! Trilogy had a pretty strong effect on me. If a book could drive a person crazy I think that would be it. The reality of that book just constantly calls into question your preconceived notions. I found myself really believing things that are probably pure fiction. I'd like to be able to create that kind of atmosphere in the mind of others. I'd love it if my cosmic lucifer took on a life of its own.
|Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's Illuminatus! Trillogy|
Definitely extra-dimensional experiences, mostly through meditation. I've seen and had contact with what Buddhists might call meditational deities, figures in the light with some knowledge to give. Some are encouraging and others are challenging. While I believe the experience to be real, I think the humanoid shapes are most likely just my brains way of making sense of what the third eye perceives. Why would a higher dimensional entity need a body? I firmly believe meditation or the use of psychedelics open the gateway to other very real dimensions/realities.
What are your thoughts on interdimensional entities and alien life?
Lately I've started to wonder if extraterrestrials aren't really extra-dimensionals. I've had experiences with meditation and psychedelics that feel the way alien abduction is described. Is it possible that alien abductees aren't having some kind of spontaneous psychedelic experience? While I'm positive there is other life in the universe I've never heard any convincing evidence that they've visited us. I'd love to believe it, but the evidence just comes up short for me.
I enjoy listening to them but I find most conspiracy theories have a very right-wing agenda. As someone whose politics skew extremely left I find unrestrained/unrestricted wealth and capitalism far more frightening that the possibility the 9/11 was an inside job. I don't doubt that governments and/or people in power hide and suppress things from us. I just don't think they need to be particularly elaborate about it.
What do comics represent to you now, being in your 30s? How is your relationship with comics different than say when you were a teenager?
I'd say the only real difference is a stronger appreciation for the medium and a greater admiration for the stories comics can tell. A comic can literally be anything you want it to be . It's a very pure artform at its best.
In an artistic way very much so. I'm a self taught artist with an affection for challenging rules and proper technique. I think art should be challenging and break down walls for people, it should be unrestrained. I don't believe that others should tell you how to create, it needs to come from inside.
If there is one reality from comics, a movie or book that you could live in, what would it be?
It's a very simple answer, Jack Kirby's 2001 series from Marvel. It's Kirby running wild with the concept of the monolith. Plus who wouldn't want to live in the retro future of 2001?
Is it easier being a nerd or weird these days than when we were kids ? Comic and nerd culture is certainly far more mainstream and acceptable in this century than in the previous. Why do you think that is?
As a fan of comic books I'd actually disagree that comic culture is more mainstream. I think superheroes are more mainstream but only in television and film. Even comic conventions are more about actors, celebrities and costumes than comics or their creators.
It's very disappointing to see the most unimaginative watered down versions of comic characters become the standard. This mind set has even infected the comics themselves, especially at Marvel. The mainstream comics agenda seems to be to make characters movie or TV ready.
To create stories that can be filmed. I just don't see the point. I buy comics every week and I don't really see the movies creating comic readers. Maybe the Walking Dead is the exception to that. The general public definitely still views comics as a fringe thing.
It seems that in general the reading aspect of nerd culture has been completely ignored. People really hate reading, it's mankind saddest trait. Movies, TV, video games aren't even all that nerdy anymore, they're just mainstream. I think reading is where the real nerds live, we have interest in some of the mainstream aspects of geek culture but the real outsiders are the readers.
Andrew Buck (Photo: Jeff Wolfe)
Aside from being at a job, where are you most likely to be found?
In my apartment hunched over a sketchbook or reading.
I wrote a terrible Daredevil script I sent to marvel when I was about 22. It was this weird American Psycho parody starring Bullseye. It was bad. I'm currently working on my writing skills, I'd like to make comics, but I'd prefer to be a one man band.
What is the ultimate project you’d like to complete?
Right now it's the cosmic Lucifer mythology. I'll get there one day. Probably sooner rather than later.
- Follow Andrew's work on Instagram