Since 2002, Will Armstrong has spent ten to twenty weekends per year on the road; bouncing between gallery openings, festivals and his studio. He has steadily racked up over half a million miles on his vertebrae and on a rotating cast of trusted (though admittedly abused) vehicles through those years.
The road holds countless stories and in his work, you will find them.
Tales of out of the way honky-tonks, movie palaces, cheap motels and barrels of gas paid on questionable credit; stories of both roadside dives or majestic theaters and the musicians that crawl in and out. The real show sometimes taking place on the street. Where does music come from? Where does it go to be heard? Sometimes the artist takes a fragment of a lyric out of context and tells a new story to change or re-emphasize the meaning.
Will’s work is the soundtrack to a road trip; songs and artists are embedded on the towns they made famous. Bo Diddley, Johnny Cash and Deke Dickerson are as much as an influence as Frank Miller and Heinrich Kley. The lines of the road have become indistinguishable from the lines of the pen; just as the subject from location.
Will considers his work to be drawing, as each line is created by hand using a series of pens, and Chinese lettering quills. He works on a collage of vintage maps, show posters and sheet music. Every piece of ephemera incorporated into the work is part of the story telling process. Graphite, ink and acrylic might be used to finish the piece, ensuring that the artist's hands will never be clean.
For more information on the process, please watch this short video made by the Saint Louis Art Fair.