Artists often emulate their interests, and when Alex Roulette mentioned his affinity for the depth of emotion that can be conveyed in a short story, there was an obvious parallel with his work. I already wanted to read a book that could tie his paintings together. His work could easily accompany a New Yorker fiction piece, and yet it transcends illustrative nature. The paintings are the meat of the story.

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Artists often emulate their interests, and when Alex Roulette mentioned his affinity for the depth of emotion that can be conveyed in a short story, there was an obvious parallel with his work. I already wanted to read a book that could tie his paintings together. His work could easily accompany a New Yorker fiction piece, and yet it transcends illustrative nature. The paintings are the meat of the story. They flood small spaces with emotion, like coming-of-age stories that make a lifetime imprint, but all the mystery is held in the image and words are nonessential. Roulette lives in New York and I tracked him down as he was traveling through China, gathering inspiration. —Kristin Farr

Kristin Farr: Let’s cover the basics: age, hometown and lifestyle.
Alex Roulette: I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I’m 27. I find a way to keep my life very busy and I love being on the road, although in general, my lifestyle is fairly quiet. My family is small and I have a modest group of close friends.

Talk about your experience with suburbia and how that has influenced your work.
Suburbia does an excellent job of producing dreamers. I grew up in the suburbs of Ohio being filled with longing for something better, allowing my imagination to envision what was too far to see. It felt like a place where disappointment was around the corner but hope kept pushing forward. I’m no longer living in Ohio, but the experience has stayed with me and influences the work both conceptually and symbolically. The youthful figures in my paintings are perhaps going on their own journey to find something better or just find their place within the expanse. The next discovery could be down the road or just over the hill.

Are your narratives up to the viewer to interpret, or do you have a story in mind?
I typically begin with the intentions of conveying a particular emotion rather than a specific story, and then try to discover what visual and narrative cues could be used to communicate that emotion. Recently I’ve been focusing on the visualization of an archetypal longing, expressing a feeling of desire for something that is perhaps close enough to touch but remains unattainable.

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The November 2014 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine is on sale now.