Brent Steen has unique photo-realistic pencil skills. In our interview with him he talks about his everyday life and what makes him tick as an artist; emotion, inspiration, self-daring.

Tell us more about the titles behind your works. I like titles. I think they can really be useful in putting up guardrails for the viewer. Or not. Sometimes the work is talking a lot and you don't have to say much. Other times it's seemingly doing little but the title says otherwise.

What’s a typical day like for you? Coffee, dishes, work on work, then work on art, wine, then dishes.

Where and when are you most artistically productive? The parts of the day when my brain is the most loose, like just waking up or just about to go to sleep. Looking out windows can also be productive.

Why Photo-realism? Photo-realism, or realism, just because I like that the "real" world rules still apply. Not to say these things happen in real life, but déjà vu, the uncanny—all those things feel so unnerving because they’re happening on solid ground.

What is the artistic process like for you? Do you work from photographs, from imagination, or something else? Yes, yes, and yes. I’m always taking photographs, but only to put them into Photoshop, manipulate them, print them out, project them, and draw from that.

About how long does it take for you to complete one of your works? An undocumented amount of hours staring out the window and about a week to finish a drawing.

Do you envision your pieces as part of a series, or as stand-alones? Like Rothko: if I could, I would make a chapel for them. That’s why I got into art, because of him.

What ideas haven’t you tackled yet in your work, but intend to at some point? Maybe a return to video, or still photography… I always say that and end up making a drawing instead.

What are you currently working on? Trying to make photographs or drawings about sex. It’s like a puzzle: how can I do this without being like Mapplethorpe, and do it in not just some fashion-like artwork sense, but make it truly about sex. The prude in me is, I guess, daring me to do it.

In what ways does emotion factor into your work? It's the only part I care about. The only part I find mysterious. Everything else is problem solving. If an idea I'm working on in my head turns into an intellectual chess match, I'll drop it. But the word "emotion" is so loaded and grey. At the end of the day, I’m using all tools to make sure the work is making a connection.

What brought you to Brooklyn? How does location influence your work, if at all? In the beginning, it was the appeal of anonymity—being lost in a sea of millions totally appealed to me. As for place, as long as things are safe at home I can get lost anywhere.

Let’s talk about other artists you admire and feel have played into your own style. Haim Steinbach. Love that work. Richard Tuttle, just for far-out, bold decision making. The aesthetics of the Picture Generation— it's just how I like things to look. In the John Baldessari kind of way, writing has had a lot of play in my work. As of late it's been [fiction author] Lydia Davis. If I could only make work that looks like how her books read…wow! Dan Walsh, Bruce Nauman, Sherrie Levine, Christopher Wool…

What made you decide you wanted to be an artist? Probably that “I just wanna be loved” feeling. “Look at me, don’t look at me”—I’m totally that way.

What do you hope the viewer takes away from experiencing one of your creations? I'm hoping they're thinking about it afterwards. And wanting to look at it again.

Why is Art+Culture Editions exciting for you? Because I wish I could purchase art for $50 or even $500. The market’s gotten way inflated.

Interview by Amanda Tait Brower