Conversation with Chicago Artist: Sick Fisher

I had the opportunity to speak to artist, Sick Fisher. If you’ve spent time in West town or Logan Square, you’ll see his delightful work on the facades of buildings. I had the opportunity to interview him by phone.

I asked, “How would you describe the work that you do?” Sick Fisher explained that he’s doing a lot of painting. In the past, he worked in other mediums like music or film but somewhere in college, he fell into painting and just kept with it. Paintings turned into murals. In addition to his paintings/murals, he also started doing art drops of recycled items. He’d drop on item he’d painted and leave it for someone to find. He found that those art drops were something he really enjoyed; it was something for himself only. In contrast, murals were for other people.

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He started doing public works when he found a Craigslist ad for a patent office in Logan Square. That’s how it all started. It became one thing, and then another. A friend would open a store and need a mural. Other friends worked in restaurants or bars that needed art on the walls. And it picked up speed. He explained that it was like interning for yourself. Eventually, you get settled into the craft: “My progression as a muralist came from taking as many opportunities I could. Those came from the people around me.” He also noted that murals are a seasonal endeavour but each season gets busier and busier. “I’m picking up speed to continue doing what I really like, which is public work throughout the year, maybe even outside of Chicago.”

I was curious how he decided what to paint when he worked on a wall or a bus. Sick Fisher said, I would describe ‘the environment as the physical things, the items themselves, the actual environment; [it’s also] the feeling in the air, the news, anything that grabs hold of me that makes sense.” He gave the example of a moving truck. He’d contemplate where it was parked, who drove it, what the truck was used for. Originally, he was going to cover it in painted bricks but then a neighbor walked by and asked if it was going to be a turtle. It turns out that the owner of the truck had the nickname of “Turtle.” This changed the plan. “The brick pattern and turtle aren’t that different. The environment literally dictated what I did on the truck.”

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When asked about why public art was important to him, Sick Fisher explained that he really enjoyed public art because of the way the art is viewed. Galleries and other art spaces are important but you have to go in with a mindset to look at art. Public art is integrated in our daily lives. You see the surroundings to the piece. You see the painting being made and even redone. There’s just a different feeling to public art. He noted that exposure was important to his early career. The Internet really facilitates that; people can post onto Instagram (myself included!).

I asked if there was a particular moment that sticks out when he does his work. He told me that he feels “warm and fuzzy” about Bric-a-Brac Records and Collectibles. They have a strong partnership and root for one another. They have given him his largest wall to date and allow him to redo it each year.

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We talked a little bit about his art drops. He said that an art drop was when he would find an object, paint it, and then leave it for someone to find. I asked about one art drop called “Eyes in a Box.” He explained that it was a response to the upsetting election. He wasn’t one for taking to the streets and figured that he could participate with his skill set. “Eyes in the Box” was made from meditation balls; it meant to be a depiction of close mindedness, almost like blinders. People weren’t aware of what was happening outside of their sphere. However, he doesn’t like to explain his work; he likes to keep it open ended so people can interpret it.

Thanks to Sick Fisher for taking the time to talk with me. You can find his work all over Logan Square and Humboldt Park. He’ll be repainting the facade of Bric-a-Brac in October so check that out!

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