Artist Profile

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Austin Wetzel 2023

Austin Wetzel is an illustrator, graphic designer, researcher, and community leader. He is a senior majoring in Digital Technology and Culture (DTC) at Washington State University. Austin works for WSU as a Peer Recovery Coach for the Cougs for Recovery program within the Health Services Department, an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for DTC, and a Research Assistant for the Human Development program. His work revolves around community, equity, and healing. He will be graduating this December, 2023. Austin is one of the founders and editors of MAY / BE, a WSU student and alums zine that implements pluriversal design through a collaborative methodology to highlight diverse perspectives in the WSU design community. Themes for this publication center around place and identity. He is the Events Coordinator for Digital Media Club at WSU. Austin is a community gardener at Koppel Farm.

Artist Statement:
My artworks featured at the Palouse Arts Council’s 18th Annual Artwalk explore impermanence, connection, love, and growth themes. For me, the art of creation is a spiritual practice that allows me to act as a conduit and medium for what the materials need to express. I am in dialogue with the mediums over time. The conversation starts with a splash of watercolor on the page. I do this to multiple pages simultaneously, then allow it to dry. Once the pages are dry, I place the works in front of my business partner, Barry (a three-year-old black cat), for him to select which piece to work on next. With the next piece chosen, I visualize what the paper and watercolor are trying to express. I dedicate time and attention to the page with motif constraints of flowers and masks to guide the discussion. This process sometimes takes the longest time, and sometimes it is the quickest, but it is only complete once it is felt. Once I have seen the message, I make outlines using pen and ink to define the shapes. I use Staedtler watercolor markers on a plastic sheet to blend many colors simultaneously. The color is then transferred to the page using a Tombow blending pen. I apply this combined color to the flowers. Once the concentrated colors are on the page, I go over them with a wet brush. The humanoid figures and masks typically follow the same color combinations of watercolor markers applied to a plastic sheet and transferred with a wet brush to provide consistency throughout the pieces. The headless figures with masks are meant to depict universality and the persona being defined by what one does rather than what one looks like. Flowers within the figures convey spirit or an inner connectedness with all that surrounds the figure.