Questions courtesy of the lovely tygeressdenacht:
1) What do you feel is the single greatest accomplishment in your life?
Quitting my safe, profitable, secure engineering job to be a full-time artist.
Yes, the job was driving me insane. Yes, I knew I needed to do it to remain true to myself, my religion, everything I believed in. But it also meant throwing away material security, throwing my life into a state of upheaval that still hasn't ended, and at heart doing something that most of the world would consider reckless and irresponsible. It scared the fuck out of me to do it, but I did - and not a shred of me regrets it.
2) Who most influenced you in your life and why?
Oddly enough I have a lot of trouble thinking of any single person here. I could be trite and say my parents - which certainly would not be without a strong element of truth - but it feels to me more that their greatest gift was giving me the freedom to be myself, rather than influencing who I turned out to be.
Another strong candidate would actually be kaote, as the person who is primarily responsible for my becoming a Thelemite. If I hadn't found that religion, I doubt I would have even realized the need for the greatest accomplishment I made above, let alone done it, or created any of the art that I now view as my greatest work.
Many people have influenced me, given me ideas, support, and something to hang on to as I flailed around trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. But to say any of them were a great influence on me and my life just doesn't feel right. None of them have changed who I fundamentally am.
3) How did you begin to follow Thelema?
Hmm - a possible double interpretation of the question here. How did I begin to *follow* Thelema, or how did I begin to call myself a Thelemite? As is the case with many of us, I believed in and followed the philosophy long before I read the Book of the Law, or saw it as anything other than a bunch of poetic but drug-addled gibberish.
Let's see. When I was nine, I decided that for Christianity to be a consistent belief system, it mandated certain beliefs which I would not hold, and became an atheist. (My parents at the time were still devout Christians, so telling them this was quite difficult for me - but they took it very well, and, well, look at them now! ;) That was certainly a Thelemic act.
In college I realized during my sophomore year that continuing in my studies as a designer meant sacrificing large parts of my artistic vision, and in many case my ethics, I changed to a more concrete field (cognitive science). That, also, I would consider a Thelemic act.
A couple of years after that, I moved in with this weirdo kaote, with whom I would have long philosophical discussions and enthusiastic boobie wars. I forget where or when I first read the Book of the Law, but it was Lissa who drilled into my head that it was possible for a philosophy to not only have, but *require* individual interpretation. And then there was this other weirdo lordandrei, who I didn't know well or see all that often, but whenever he was around he had a way of talking about Thelema that riveted me, and fleshed out the reality of the range of meanings it can have for different people while remaining fundamentally true to itself.
4) What is your favorite book and why?
Yay, an easy one! Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein. As to why, that's a little harder. The things that draw me in to any great story are these: a rich, detailed, interesting world; characters with depth who change over the course of the story; and characters and/or events that emotionally resonate with me and things I have experienced. LOTR has all these in abundance, along with a cadence and flow of language that is unlike any other author I have read.
My mother started reading LOTR to me when I was eight or nine, I think, but she didn't even get through Fellowship before I grabbed them from her and started reading myself because it was faster ;). Since then I have read it at least a dozen times, and each time it draws me in I find new depth within the story.
As with any book, movie, food, or color that one loves beyond reason, at some level the attraction is impossible to explain. Many of my closest friends have tried to read LOTR and been bored or stumped by it, which I find as unfathomable as they do my love for it. It does probably help that I read insanely fast, so the pages of description that bore other people are over for me far sooner ;)
5) What is the greatest influence on your art?
Oooh, another tricky one. This has changed throughout the years. Pagan and mythological imagery has been dominating it for some time, as has the female form. As with influences in my life, It's difficult to point to any single thing that has changed the nature of my art or the expression of it.
As I type that, though, I can point to a few artists who have either majorly impacted how I see the world artistically, or shown me a way to express that (hard to say which). Vincent van Gogh gave me color, and the expression of extreme emotion while remaining representational. Edward Weston gave me the natural form as abstraction into curve and light and shadow. And Michael Whelan gave me integration of the impossible idea into fantastic image.