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I’m Using Automatism To Guide Me – Michael Grills Art Skip to main content


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I’m Using Automatism To Guide Me

By May 11, 2022May 13th, 2022No Comments
The Elephants by Salvador Dali

I fell in love with Surrealism the first time I saw a Dali Painting on a T-shirt while walking down the street in Kensington in 1994. I was 16. As soon as I saw the shirt, I knew I had to purchase it.

I based all of my art studies on comic books and fantasy art until that time, so it makes sense that I would be attracted to what Dali was doing.

But, what he was doing was taking it to an entirely different level. He was doing art that didn’t seem to make any sense, yet the symbols and combinations of objects were making it more profound and worth exploring.

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus | Salvador Dali
The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus | Salvador Dali

Before art school, my response to this was to create surrealistic art based on my surroundings: toys, comic books, and computers. I didn’t realize that I was essentially working through Pop Surrealism. Oh, how I wish that I had a teacher point me towards those lowbrow artists of the ’70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Todd Schorr - Five O'Clock Shadows in Disney-Dali Land, 1996
Todd Schorr – Five O’Clock Shadows in Disney-Dali Land, 1996

Who knows what I would have done with myself. I had no idea that Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism existed, and I don’t think they did either. Once I discovered this movement, I felt that I had missed out on the most exciting art movement in existence, putting off what I wanted to explore to pursue the world of video game development, illustration and design.

Luckily there is a lot of overlap between pop culture, lowbrow, surrealism and modern design. So much in fact, that Pop Art is becoming the de facto art for collectors who want to buy things they immediately recognize

My current focus is on the Automatism inherent in Surrealism. I allow my subconscious to tell me what to paint. Sometimes I ask myself, “What is it asking for?” and wait for the answer.

I’m allowing inspiration to guide me. It serves a purpose by being opposed to my illustration work, a problem-solving practice.

I have no interest in solving any problem in this work, and I only wish to express what’s been lingering in my mind for so long.

The difference is that I’m interested in the emotional side of the subconscious, and I want to use my lessons from illustration and graphic design to simplify the compositions.

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