Q + A: Edward Trost

Edward Trost uses portraiture to highlight misconceptions of mental illness.

What do you hope to achieve through your work?

In my portraits, I render the subject’s likeness as a collection of scorched tones using pyrography, a technique to create individual burn marks on plywood. I select subjects who have faced mental health challenges with inner strength and resilience. By highlighting recognisable people who are either actively working through depression or advocating on behalf of the community, I hope my art will help to correct misconceptions about this debilitating illness.

Where did it all start? 

I originally started pyrography when I was about seven years old. My mother used to do it, rendering outlines of flowers on pieces of furniture and then oil painting the petals. Pyrography was very popular after the Great Depression but I don’t know where or when my mother started. It wasn’t until I came across her pyrography machine many years later that I again took up the art form. I always had the concept to do something large in pyrography as it produces a definitive result, but it’s such an unforgiving medium. There is inherent pressure not to make any mistakes otherwise I have to start again. Each portrait can take up to two months to complete. Even so, in the future I would like to work on an even larger scale.

Where do you find inspiration?

People in general inspire me. They can be everyday people or famous people, their stories all have a common theme in that they are promoting awareness of mental health illnesses and its attached stigma. I love the intricacy of people’s faces and how small nuances in expression can create such strong commentary.

Where can people find your work?

Currently some of my works are in exhibitions, both online and physical. However, all of my work can be seen online on my website. I am currently working on a solo exhibition for later in 2021.

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