We have all met a few really interesting people in our lives, but Mr. Charlie Terrell is one of the most humble, honest and sincere people I have ever met. As a photographer I jumped at the chance to interview and photograph him for Austin Fusion Magazine. His digital art portfolio is mind-blowing in itself but, digital art is not the only medium Charlie excels in. He recently did a music video for the band Disturbed. That video has more than 3 million hits on YouTube (see video below).
He and his wife Polly also run Daddy Van Productions, a force to be reckoned with in the industry of design and technology. Daddy Van creates, develops and produces the most advanced concert video designs on the globe. They are responsible for the video, lighting and effects you see running behind the musicians. If you have ever been to a Maroon 5, Nine Inch Nails, or Aerosmith concert, you have had a Charlie Terrell experience.
Terrell was born on March 15, 1961, in Birmingham, Alabama. He moved to Los Angeles in 1988 to pursue a musical career. Eventually, luck was on his side and he was signed by a music label. As a musician he toured all around the world with Joan Osborne, G Love and Special Sauce and The Ian Moore Band, and he even played as opening act for Billy Idol.
It’s a long story, he says, but music was a tiring business and he gave up that career choice to become a graphic artist. While in L.A., he met his wife Polly Parsons (daughter of famed Gram Parsons). They eventually married and started a family.
Their six-year-old daughter, Harper Lee, is also a budding artist — she is named her after author of “To kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee. His eyes light up as he tells me about his wife and daughter, and his love for his family is obvious. A father’s love is clear. If you take a look around his studio, you can see Harper’s own art work hanging on the wall, her small chair and her paint brushes strewn on the floor by the window. Next to her artwork is a bigger canvas — daddy’s painting. I imagined father and daughter sitting for an afternoon by the window painting by sunlight, enjoying precious moments.
Terrell and his family moved to Texas four years ago and bought a ranch house in South Austin. He tells me his studio is where he spends the majority of his time. When we set up the interview I was asked if we could schedule as early in the morning as possible because Charlie holds strange hours. When I arrived at 10 a.m. he said, “This is a perfect time for me because it is actually the end of my work day and I am usually heading to bed by now.” It is understandable, with the many different forms of work he does, I would imagine there just isn’t enough time in the day.
“I have a graphic design background but the girls in my paintings, that’s just something I had to teach myself,” Terrell said. “I just pick a photograph of a model and I paint it. I started by meeting people on Tumblr and deviantart.com, from there I was able to paint people from all over the world.”
I was curious to find out exactly how long it takes to do just one painting and he told me, “People measure artistic ability or worth by time and time has nothing to do with it.”
We get to talking again about his daughter Harper. Seeing her art work on his studio wall, I asked him what would be one thing he would like to teach her about life. He replied, “To make her imagination as big as possible and teach her how to deal with it when the world takes it all away.” He goes on to say, “She is my inspiration, if I ever feel imbalanced all I have to do is see her face or hug her and it breaks open my black heart.” He adds, “I feel the same about my wife, and also if it wasn’t for Polly, nobody would even know I was alive. She is the one that gets stuff out there for me, she is my champion. She brings it all together.”
With all his success and surrounded by so many famous people in his life, I was curious and had to ask him. “What is the coolest thing that has ever happened to you?” He says, “Besides family life, I got a letter from Keith Richards after I painted a picture of Gram Parsons for him and it said he thought I had a ‘hell of a touch,’ and that made my life.”
So what’s next for Charlie Terrell?
Terrell says he plans to have an art show sometime next year and will direct some more music videos. March is the season for concert videos and he will be going on set with the musicians and arranging all the effects for their live shows.
In addition to being busy, famous and talented Charlie will make room for a special Austin Fusion Magazine event and contest. We are proud to announce that Charlie Terrell will choose from images submitted by our readers. Three winners will be chosen. Those lucky readers will be his inspiration for his next art pieces. In addition to being painted by Charlie, you will receive a high res copy of this image and the painting will be unveiled at Austin Fusion Magazine presents PrimalScreamMusic Party in February. So, get your photos submitted to us via our Facebook Page. We will post rules and other info on Facebook this weekend.
Before we left Charlie-world, there was one question I had to ask, “Any advice to the budding artists out there?” Charlie says, “Study the word of insects.”
I left that interview inspired as an artist, my imagination renewed and the immediate need to Google “insects.”