Drake Arnold’s life in 3D

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted October 8, 2021 | By Julie Garisto


Artist Drake Arnold obliterates the boundaries of the biological and digital worlds as an augmented reality installation artist, painter and Citra-based homesteader.

Drake Arnold lives to propagate. From cultivating papayas to digitizing fractals ad infinitum, he defies stereotypes and doesn’t see the creative process in terms of either/or. From bits of fruit to bits and bytes, it’s all part of one multidimensional mix.

Resembling an aerosol-can slinger from an alternate universe, where the world is a happier more sustainable place, Arnold jokes that he’s gone “full-blown hippie” as he meanders through his gardens with spray paint cans strapped to a belt and an oversize straw hat with a slightly wilted daisy on the band.

He lives with life partner and artist Rae Grand and their 2-year-old daughter, Lila, in the ultra-serene Black Sink Prairie. Their home and studio compound can be found under a sprawling tree canopy, surrounded by fruit and vegetable crops.

On approaching the Arnold-Grand property, Horus, a friendly Husky-Malamute mixed breed canine, does a quick security check. To the left, a yellow triangular sign reads “Gator crossing” and, just behind it, an easygoing pet hog named George loiters in his own spacious pen. Graywater from an outdoor shower feeds banana plants and the family bathes there with juice from the shampoo ginger plants close by.

Arnold, 35, sips a Citra Pale Ale made by Cigar City Brewing — a beverage that symbolizes hometowns of his past and present as he studied digital art at the University of Tampa. He has designed murals and commissioned installations for the City of Ocala, the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) Marion Cultural Arts Center, the Mote Marine Aquarium and in cities across Florida and the U.S.

He has worked as a motion graphics designer for Fortune 500 companies and crafted installations for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and other festivals, touring the country in a school bus converted into a makeshift RV.

Working in both traditional and digital media, Arnold uses acrylic and aerosol when painting on canvas or wall surfaces. His digital projects include creating animations and interactive design work with projection mapping, 3D printing and virtual reality.

Words like “psychedelic,” “natural” and “surreal” have been used to describe his works, which also comprise the classical and precise figurative work of a trained artist. Some of Arnold’s more recent creations are currently on display in tandem with an exhibit by partner Grand at the Leesburg Center for the Arts through Oct. 22.

In summer 2020, Arnold created the “Life Cycle” mural in the courtyard at the MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts at 23 SW Broadway Street, inspired by the aforementioned homestead he started with his family last year. Just before that, he painted the city-commissioned “Electromagnetism,” featuring electro-chemistry pioneer Michael Faraday at 201 SE Third St.

To get the full, immersive experience of viewing his murals and painting, Arnold created an app called Fractal Spirit to view them in 3D. Fractal Spirit is also a collective of visual artists, designers and creators.

Arnold received a 3D printer through a public grant and an additional 3D printer through donations. After he received the second printer, he donated the first one to the Marion County Public Library System.

“Whenever I can, I use my art and my position to try to give back to the community,” Arnold says of the printer donation and his volunteer work on the “Life Cycle” mural.

Though he enjoys the seclusion of his homestead, Arnold says he has “mad love” for the Ocala art community, even if he’s not out and about very often. He says local artists like Justin Alsedeck, with whom he worked recently on a private commission, and cohorts at the Magnolia Arts Exchange, hold a place in his heart.

These days, he’s working on paintings and installations inside his home studio and ongoing permaculture projects outside. Art projects with daughter Lila also take up some of his time.

“We love to sit around and draw together,” Arnold says with a smile. “She’s so smart and just so full of life and energy and stuff, and sings her ABCs.”

Family has been a stabilizing force for Arnold — his current family and the family he was born into. His parents, brother and sister live in Ocala, and his older brother first inspired him to take up art.

A multi-venue multimedia project in California also is in the works, but Arnold can’t divulge details until the project gets the official stamp. In his home studio, a prismatic, hexagonal work is taking shape, influenced by cross-cultural religions.

“I wanted, in all honestly, to create a piece that speaks to the unity of all religions and all philosophies, which all say that love is the answer, really,” he shares.

Of his current break from social media, “I’m trying to just keep it going until the end of the year and take a full year off of posting,” he says.

“In the meantime, I’m just out in the dirt, propagating trees and plants and trying to build an edible food forest.”

Learn more about Drake Arnold and his work at https://fractal-spirit.com/.

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