Interview with Casey Weldon for “Sentimental Deprivation”

Thinkspace is proud to present Casey Weldon’s latest body of work ‘Sentimental Deprivationin our main room. Casey Weldon’s paintings combine elements of humor, nostalgia, and the absurd; weaving pop culture and kitsch into the illuminated neon world. In anticipation of Weldon’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Casey Weldon to discuss his inspiration, creative process, and dream collaboration.

Sentimental Deprivation‘s opening reception is this Saturday, June 3rd from 6 -9 pm in our project room.

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
CW: I was up way too late one night with my bestie artist pal Crystal Barbre, and she complimented me on some of my work that she deemed emotionally powerful. I laughed and reluctantly told her that everything is just based on a funny/weird idea and the color schemes are just colors I like. She puts a lot of herself into her work and is intimately connected to them, so she didn’t buy it. I was trying to persuade her that I, in fact, I was a robot devoid of emotion and have several ex-girlfriends that could testify to that. I went through a bit of rough time last year personally, and while working through that this has become an attempt of an emotionless person painting emotionally.

SH: You have a unique way of using colors that seem neon and creating a glowing illumination from within the work? What made you explore this style and develop the technique? Were you directly inspired by something to go in this direction?
CW: I’ve always had trouble keeping my work’s brightness on the level. Everything has always naturally skewed towards the darker side. To offset it, I started including small and super bright light sources. It’s a lot of fun inventing what the effects of a bright blue light will have under a setting red sun. I used to joke that my direct inspiration was Thomas Kincade, but now I’m beginning to wonder if that statement is 100% a joke.

SH: How have you grown as an artist in the last 5 years and how do you hope to grow in the following 5?
CW: Yes and yes. At least I hope. Usually, it works like we always feel the same despite those around us notice we are changing as people. I guess I’m hoping the opposite isn’t happening and I’m stuck in a rut I can’t even see.

SH: You’ve moved around a lot, do you feel your moves and various home-bases have influenced or informed your work?
CW: Yes, I think so, though it’s hard to point to any direct pieces and say why. I think it’s just more of a mindset. Like when I was in NY and depressed I painted a lot of funny pop art stuff. When I lived in the Las Vegas desert I painted a lot of lush nature. Here in gray Seattle, I paint a lot of bright colors. I guess I’m always looking for greener grass somewhere.

SH: What about another artists’ work excites or fascinates you? Who do you think everyone should look up?
CW: I get really excited anytime I feel like I don’t know what to expect from an artist. When their body works shifts often into new and unexpected directions it really inspires me to try and do the same. Although, on the other hand, I really admire artists that have developed a truly unique and identifiable voice, as often I feel like I struggle with that. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some really fantastic new artists. Cassie Murphy is adorably batshit crazy, James Carpenter is a technical master, Jeremy Gregory is in a whole other world he has created, Angelita Martinez is always pushing experimentation and Abby Fields is somewhat green, but I am positive she will be a force to be reckoned with. I could name a 100 more because this town is full of them.

SH: What is your creative process? Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
CW: I wake up somewhere between 5-6am with a fire in my heart. “I’m going to get up and crush this day,” I say to myself. And then I eat a nutritionally questionable breakfast and go back to sleep. Around 10 am, I drag my ass to the drawing table and work till 6-7 or so. My process is 80% waiting for a decent idea or theme to start with, 10% gathering photo reference and shooting models, and 10% mad dash to finish painting by the deadline, which rarely ever happens. It’s a weird mix of wishful thinking and high anxiety.

SH: What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
CW: That we don’t work hard. That we are ‘lucky’ and are taking the easy road. Every artist is doing everything they can to sell a product there is absolutely no demand for, and they are betting on their own personal thoughts and emotions to sell it. They spend countless hours working with no guarantee of a paycheck, putting themselves out there and getting rejected, or taken advantage of over and over hoping to find some sort of communication with an audience. But your friend at the Dodge dealership says “get a real job”.

SH: What was playing in the background during the creation of this body of work? Does what you listen to inform the mood of the pieces or are they separate?
CW: I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks and my local radio station KEXP (the best radio station ever). I’m deep into ’The First Law’ series by Joe Abercrombie, and thankfully the subject matters have kept to themselves.


SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music etc.
CW: Michel Gondry first comes to mind. It just seems like he has a boundless imagination and a DIY approach to realizing his ideas.

SH: If your artwork inspired a cocktail, what would it be made of and what would it taste like?
CW: Hmmm, how about a ‘Furball’ which is just a pint glass of Fireball with a rim dusted in cat hair? Or a ‘Glowey’, which is Ecto Hi-C and vodka with a glow stick in it? It may be obvious, but I’m not much of a cocktail guy.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
CW: Rock and roll all night, and sleep all day.

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Interview with Kisung Koh for “Long Live The Polar Treasure”

Thinkspace is proud to present Kisung Koh’s latest body of work ‘Long Live The Polar Treasurein our project room. Kisung Koh, a South Korean Toronto-based artist uses oil paints to capture beautiful and sometimes heavy reflections of the majestic polar bear, and it’s connection with human plight.  In anticipation of Koh’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Kisung Koh to discuss his fascination with polar bears, a day in the studio, and his dream collaboration.

Long Live The Polar Treasure‘s opening reception is this Saturday, June 3rd from 6 -9 pm in our project room.

SH: What inspired this latest body of work? And what made you explore the theme?
KK: Most of my works are closely related to wildlife animals, and I do love and care all animals. In the past couple years, I found a very deep connection with Polar bears especially in many ways; I moved to Canada in 2006. To me, Canada is the place that I dreamed about but never thought about residing. Everything was new and unfamiliar. There were a lot of struggles and inner conflict, and loneliness.
At first, the idea of new and unfamiliar was interesting. However, as time goes by and feeling needed to fit in a new environment, I needed to do everything harder than others. Every moment was survival that I had to challenge myself to fit in a new environment, but unfortunately, I still feel that I can never fit in this world regardless family or friends. For these reasons, I saw myself in polar bears so wanted to capture the scene that the polar bear is resting in the environment where they are not supposed to be, in a dreamy way.

SH: Why did you choose to use Polar Bears as a symbol of the change and dislocation specifically, as due to global climate change and environmental threats many animals are facing challenges?
KK: There are many other endangered species due to environmental issues, poaching, habitat loss or political conflicts but the Polar bear is the one that you can think of the first when we talk about weather warming issue. In fact, they are among the most significantly affected species by temperature and sea ice level.

SH: What makes working with oil paints your medium of choice versus acrylic paints or other mediums?
KK: I used to use Acrylic, watercolor, and gouache paint at one point. I think I had used oil in the same technique as using other mediums but these days I really like using oil when making textures such as fur or other nature parts. In addition, using oil can create deeper emotions in my opinion when needed.

SH: How have you grown as an artist in the last 5 years and how do you hope to grow in the following 5?
KK: I was not satisfied with the level of ideas or concepts a few years ago and I noticed these days that it works better when I have related not only beauty of nature but everything happening in life to my works.

My answer might not be related, but I think it could be. I was not able to read books enough the past years, so next 5 years I’m reading more books, also experiencing more and spending more times with ‘humans’, trying to be more communal and social. As I mentioned earlier, I always feel alone no matter I have friends or family, so my hope is to be happy and to bring/share the happiness and sadness at the same time to others through my works.
I hope those I mentioned above will be seen more in my works in next 5years.
I want to be a better artist and better human being.

SH: What about another artists’ work excites or fascinates you? Who do you think everyone should look up?
KK: Sorry. Too many to list, and it changes every once in while but currently, my favorite painter is Aron Wiesenfeld.

 

SH: What is your creative process? Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
KK: I get inspirations or emotions from documentary videos, photos, and short animations. I’ve been listening podcast recently and I think it helps me too in some way. I just wish I were better in English words to understand them 100%.

It might sound weird, but when I try to get ideas or images, I close my eyes and draw overall image/ scene in my head first. Then I start doing small sketches roughly mixing with my visual image or emotions I get from my dreams (I can’t sleep well but I dream a lot, including something unnecessary. I sometimes get asked if I dream about animals. Sometimes yes (rarely) but the answer is No, at least not these days)

In addition to that, I find tons of reference photos for sketching.
I work at home, my living room with my dog ‘Dooly’.

SH: What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
KK: Well, I feel like I’m not in the position to say something because everyone has different opinions and I respect that. But here is my thought that I carefully say;

When people think of an artist, they tend to think artists have ‘free soul’; They do art because they love to do it, which is right. However, I don’t think art is not coming from just affection. The affection for art is a base coat. But it requires many processes of thinking, frustration, many experiences to create something that you would want to look at and feel deeply for a long time. You have to put your thoughts/message into your work and you need a reason at least to yourself. It is just not what you want to draw and paint yourself, obviously, depends on purpose and circumstance.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music etc.
KK: I’d like to dream big. Leonardo Dicaprio due to his environmental activism.

SH: If your artwork inspired a cocktail, what would it be made of and what would it taste like?
KK: I don’t really know about cocktails but I would say red wine + some sort of fruits. I actually drank so much wine while I was preparing this exhibition.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
KK: Spending time in nature and take photos of the scenes.

 

Interview with Seth Armstrong for “Pretty Deep Shit”

Thinkspace is proud to present Seth Armstrong’s latest body of work ‘Pretty Deep Shitin our main room. Armstrong, a Los Angeles native, and based artist uses oil paints to capture the paused observation, catching a scene one might not be meant to be a witness.  In anticipation of Armstrong’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Seth Armstrong to discuss his feelings about Los Angeles, a day in the studio, and how he pushes him to grow as an artist.

Pretty Deep Shit’s opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 29th in our main room

SH: What inspired your latest body of work?
SA: My personal life, basically. I’m looking at the artwork right now and it’s a map of where I spend my time and people I know. I can think it’s more complicated than that when I’m doing it, but sitting here now when it’s done, that’s how it looks.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of LA? What do you think is the most overrated & underrated aspects of living in Los Angeles?
SA: I love the weather, I love the proximity to the ocean, I love my backyard, my parent’s backyard, backyards in general. My least favorite thing is the fact that I only see my friends on the Westside once a year.

SH: Do you imagine the people within your painting have connected story lines? Or are the all independent from each other?
SA: I like to think that they’re all related.

SH: How do you challenge yourself to grow and progress as an artist?
SA: I try not to paint the same thing too often. I feel like there are some aesthetic qualities that my paintings share, of course, but I don’t want to have a gimmick.

SH: What are your three favorite colors?
SA: Red, Yellow, and Blue.

SH: If you were to collaborate with any artists dead or alive, who would it be and why?
SA: Does Ben Franklin count as an artist? David Hockney, Edward Hopper, and Ben Franklin.

SH: What do you enjoy using oils over other mediums?
SA: I like their unpredictability. I never know quite what I’m gonna get, which is challenging and fun.

SH: Can you walk us through what a day in the studio might look like?
SA: My dog wakes me up by dropping toys on my face. I take her somewhere and get coffee. I come home, eat breakfast, answer emails and bullshit. Hopefully, by 11 or noon I’m painting. I paint until dinner time, take a break for an hour or two, then I’m back in the studio for another few hours at least.

SH: What excites you about other artists work?
SA: I like seeing the process within the finished piece. I like seeing the evidence of the work put in. And I like texture.

SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it be made out of and taste like?
SA: Half coffee, half beer.

Interview with Brian Mashburn for ‘Axiom’

Thinkspace is proud to present Brian Mashburn‘s latest body of work ‘Axiomin our project room. Mashburn, an Ashville-based artist, creates detailed oils painting of smoky landscapes where nature finds it way to prevail amongst a desolate industrialized world.  In anticipation of Mashburn’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Brian Mashburn to discuss his creative process, a day in the studio, and a perfect day in Asheville.

Axioms opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 29th in our main room

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
BM: For the most part it’s in response to our ongoing political situation and various other social and environmental concerns.

SH: The mountains seem to be more looming and ominous compared to past work, is this a progression or our projection?
BM: Maybe a little of both. I’m pretty fond of traditional Chinese landscape painting, earlier works from the Song and Yuan dynasties in particular. Some of the recent thematic and compositional cues have certainly come from that influence, which includes more prominent mountains. Personally, I don’t see them as necessarily ominous or looming but I understand how they could read as such. For me, the mountains represent either an ideal place or state of mind or serve as an anchor for the composition providing stability and/or depth to the picture.

SH: How do you challenge yourself to grow and evolve as an artist?
BM: I try to stay engaged and curious, earnest and when possible not cynical. I do my best to educate myself on a wide variety of topics both technically and conceptually tangential to my work.

SH: What is your creative process? How much does the outside world influence your work and voice?
BM: Quite a bit, there is a ubiquity about the news these days that is sort of unavoidable and painting can be a good way to process things, a kind of catharsis for sure. For example, the painting called “Great Leap Forward” began as a response to Trump’s proposed border wall and other antics from this administration. It got me thinking about examples from history in which a brutish solution failed to address a nuanced problem. The historic Great Leap Forward was Mao Zedong’s campaign to force China from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. A particularly insidious part was the mandate to kill all Eurasian tree sparrows and rats in China in an effort to boost grain production for export. I guess the thinking was the fewer grain-eating sparrows there were the larger the harvest and subsequent export business would be. The plan failed but not before creating an ecological catastrophe that greatly exacerbated the Great Chinese Famine. Scattered throughout the painting are several references to Mao’s rise to power and looking on are 3 tree sparrows and a rat.

SH: Can you walk us through what a day in the studio looks like?
BM: I wake up around 6 or 7 most days then have my coffee and read until 8 or 9. The rest of the morning I try and focus on the things that are either more difficult or less appealing, things that I will dread doing until I get them out of the way. The afternoon usually finds me down some rabbit hole either in a painting or doing research. I’ll take an occasional break to play with the dog or go for a walk. I try and finish up around 8.

SH: What do you enjoy doing when not painting? What would be a perfect day in Asheville?
BM: I like to hike. I also watch birds. Asheville is a great town for both. There is a scenic route called the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, it’s sort of like our version of the PCH. It closes in the winter whenever there is snow or ice. On those days I try and get up to the parkway early in the morning and walk the closed road. Those are pretty ideal days in Asheville.

SH: If you were to collaborate with any artists dead or alive, who would it be and why?
BM: It would be cool to work on a mural with Thomas Hart Benton, I think our approaches would be similar and I would learn a great deal.

SH: What excites you about other artists work?
BM: That’s hard to say, I appreciate nuance, integrity, and technical proficiency but those things may or may not generate excitement. There is something about the immediacy of visual art that produces a sensory experience separate from critical thinking.

SH: Are you a binge-watcher/listener? If so, what’s been your latest addition?
BM: Yes, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks compulsively. I binged S-Town twice the first week it came out and recently ran across The Atlantic’s feed on Soundcloud. Recent audiobooks include Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, Them by Jon Ronson, and The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker.

SH: If your work was translated into a cocktail what would it be made out of and taste like?
BM: Bourbon, neat.

 

Interview with Kari-Lise Alexander for ‘WAKE’

Thinkspace is proud to present Kari-Lise Alexander’s latest body of work ‘WAKEin our project room. Seattle-based artist Kari-Lise Alexander draws inspiration from her Scandinavian heritage painting ethereal portraits that capture transformation and vulnerability.  In anticipation of Alexander’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Kari-Lise Alexander to discuss her creative process, progression in her style, and what a cocktail inspired by her work would be made of.

WAKE’s opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April Ist in our main room

SH: What themes or ideas were you exploring in this latest body of work?
KLR: I wanted to explore a few different themes through the use of water and the abundance of flora in this series. First, water is never the same it’s always changing, shifting and taking different shapes. I wanted to use water to explore the changing perceptions we have of individuals and also use it at the same time to create a dreamy, mercurial, and surreal feeling to the pieces. Second, the prolific and very lush flora creates a similar feeling of dreaminess and richness throughout the work. Both the water and the flora distort and block the viewer from seeing the subject clearly, leaving us wondering what we might be missing.

SH: In this latest body of work you’ve really played with the movement of water, surrealist elements, and an inner illumination of color – what inspired this new direction/ evolution of style?
KLR: It felt like it was a natural evolution in my work to expand my use of water in my painting. In this series there’s flowing water, still water, water when it’s raining and surreal cloudy water. It created an overall feeling that is moody, dream-like, and introspective all at the same time. The other elements in the series reflect that as well such as the highly saturated color palette and the plethora of flowers that dominates the pieces.

SH: Walk us through a day in the studio?
KLR: I typically get up get my coffee, snuggle with an animal or two (I have two dogs and two rabbits, not to mention several insects) and then head down to my studio and get to work. Depending on my schedule I usually paint 6-9 hours each day during the week. I do spend a lot of time brainstorming, sketching out ideas, planning upcoming photo shoots and working with models as well.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
KLR: My favorite thing about another artist’s work is if it surprises me. These pieces usually involve a smart narrative in the work, great color usage, and composition. All of those things might sound obvious for a painting or work of art, but as any artist will tell you are very challenging to get right. When a piece “surprises” me like that it’s really a delightful thing.

SH: How does is it feel to be an active artist a part of the new contemporary art movement? How do you think it will be documented in art history? Give us your one liner.
KLR: I’ve never thought about myself as an active artist within the new contemporary art movement. But, I suppose that is very true. All I really think about is what I want my voice to be in the art world and what I want to say with that voice.

I’m not really sure how new contemporary art will be documented in art history. The world moves so quickly now, and artists are trying to keep up with trends and get “likes” that I’m not sure if the movement will be here for a moment or if it will be here for some time and be notable to history.

I’m all about hard work so I would have to say my one liner would be “It’s hard work, not talent.”

SH: What are the most challenging aspects of being an artist? What are the most rewarding?
KRL: This is a hard question to answer, but a good one. I think the most challenging thing is not to let yourself get in the way of creating the art you want to. I think we tend to be our own biggest obstacle when it comes to doing anything creative. We make up reasons why we shouldn’t, we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough, and we are constantly the worst critics of what we do. We look at other artists success and judge our own work by it. All of these things get in the way of actually creating art without fear and creating the art we want to.

I learned a few years ago that if I spend time tearing myself down about my work, I’m actually wasting time instead of working on the thing/s I don’t like in my own work. It’s ok to be critical of your own work in a healthy way. However, it is not ok to be mean to yourself about it. One is productive, and the other is destructive.

The most rewarding thing about being an artist is creating a piece that you’re truly proud of or in this case a series of paintings. “WAKE” is a series I’m really proud of, and it feels like the compilation of years of what I’ve been painting and trying to figure out in my own work.

SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it taste like? What would it be made of?
KRL: Well I think with this series I’d have to say it would be something fantastical with lots of different floral notes. I think it would also have to be a really colorful drink. Definitely served on the rocks with a few flower petals as a garnish. My only fear is that with all the water that is featured in this body of work the cocktail would end up being watered down!

SH: What were you listening to while creating this latest body of work, music, podcasts, Netflix?
KRL: I listen to audiobooks when I paint. I found it works best for me since I don’t have to keep looking up at a screen. Audiobooks tend to go on for hours without having to play the next episode, or stopping everything to find something new to watch or listen too. I listen to a lot of fantasy books on audio. The King Killer Chronicles, The Night Circus, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, have been some of my favorites I’ve listened to in the last year.

SH: Do you experience creative blocks? If so how do you push through it and find new inspiration?
KRL: Of course I experience creative blocks! I don’t know any artist who doesn’t from time to time. Mine usually pop up when I’ve been working really hard and haven’t given myself a break. I usually have to force myself to stop working and step back from my art. Otherwise, I’m forcing it, and I get frustrated when it’s not working out. What usually helps me is getting out into nature or going a museum. Something to get me out of my head and look at the wider world.

SH: What artist (it can be in painting or a different art form) would be a dream collaboration?
KRL: Well I would want to go back in time and collaborate with my favorite artist from the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale. I love everything about her work from her use of color, to subject matter and composition. I think it would be amazing to collaborate with an artist that is at the top of their game and has a breadth of understanding about their craft that she did.

Interview with Jacub Gagnon for ‘Short Stories’

Thinkspace is proud to present Jacub Gagnon’s latest body of work ‘Short Stories’ which will include a departure from Gagnon’s classic black and include a few pieces that have a stark white background. This will be Canadian artist Gagnon’s third solo exhibition with us showing his work that pushes playful juxtapozition by pairing familiar animals and everyday objects to create scenes that delight and induce wonder.  In anticipation of Gagnon’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Jacub Gagnon to discuss parenthood, thoughts on the new contemporary art movement, creative process, and his desire to be a professional schmoozer. Short Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April Ist in our main room

SH: You’re a new parent! How have you been balancing parenting and painting?
JG: I’m not sure the word balance can be attributed to my effort in wrapping up work on this show and being a new parent, maybe a juggling of sort? It has been tough to say the least, the months leading up to a big show are my busiest. My wife has been amazing in stepping up and pulling her share of parenting weight and mine during this time. Neither of us have been sleeping much these past couple months, but I must say I’m looking forward to the show so that I may take spend family time with them afterward and give my wife a chance to catch up on her sleep.

SH: What themes or ideas were you exploring in this latest body?
JG: I like to tackle a wide range of themes in my work, some may seem trivial while others poignant or deeply personal. You will find unlikely tales of comradery, loss of loved ones, innocence, hard truths, and as always my imagination running amok! There is an overarching theme of the human presence though never a human present. Each painting is a a glimpse of a much greater narrative that I welcome the viewer to build upon with their own imagination.

SH: Walk us through a day in the studio?
JG: Lately I’ve been getting my best work done in the early hours of the morning, around midnight to 7AM is kind of the sweet spot, the house is quieter and there are less distractions on the whole. Coffee proceeds most things in the morning, it’s my main mission once out of bed and it’s always in hand upon entering my studio in the morning. I like to sip away while catching up on current events in both the world news and the art world. When time was a little more free I’d take this opportunity to check messages and reply to emails but this aspect of my work always slips a little while working intently to finish a show. With blinds open and blaring daylight LED bulbs on, I set up my painting area and throw on any music or current show that I’m watching. I paint all day/night and lately just stop for food breaks, to take the dog out, or to spend a few moments with my wife and son. I can easily spend 15-18 hour stretches in the studio though and that has been much of my daily routine for the past 3+ months.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
JG: I have a lot of anticipation for upcoming shows of artists that I admire and follow, that always excites me. As of late I haven’t made it out to many shows, so a lot of my excitement comes from social media. I’ll see something that surprises me or catches my eye and there’s often this feeling of inspiration that immediately makes me want to start painting or working on a new idea, it’s a great feeling.

SH: How does is it feel to be an active artist who is a part of the new contemporary art movement? How do you think it will be documented in art history? Give us your one liner.
JG: Unfortunately, I don’t believe this movement in art history will be very romanticized, ingenuity and innovation aside, I think it will be remembered as a reflection of an ever-changing/growing technologically and politically distraught time where vanity is at odds with morality and we’re all drinking the kool-aid from Duchamp’s Fountain. I’m not a cynic by nature, just shy on sleep, I swear.

SH: You’ve stated your creative process tends to change and evolve. What is your current process?
JG: For this show, I made a list of animals I wanted to paint and a list of themes/stories I wanted to tell. Everything didn’t fall into place at once, I still had to work for the narrative and the image to emerge, but it helped me flesh out a number of new pieces and make sense of things. I’ll definitely try this again in the future.

SH: Do you experience creative blocks? If so how do you push through it and find new inspiration?
JG: Creative blocks happen, I try not to let them hold me back for long. I find a good way to jump-start things is to flip through my old sketchbooks – start where things first began. Old ideas, failed or not, breathe new life. Half fleshed out thoughts that didn’t amount to anything at the time help to make new connections and inspire new creations.

 

SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it taste like? What would it be made of?
JG: My guess is It would taste like a magical mystery tour of the senses. It would consist of lots of bourbon, a hint of coffee bean, essence of baby bunny and tiny giraffe. And of course this cocktail would be served in a teacup balanced on top of a coyote and lit aflame by a hummingbird. Oh, and the rim of the teacup would be coated in powdered Cocoa Puffs!

SH: What were you listening to while creating this latest body of work, music, podcasts, Netflix?
JG: I jump around from music to audio books to movies/TV shows. I must say, Netflix has been very helpful to play in the background lately, it’s convenient and I love that it will just keep playing on it’s own. I find that when I need to focus I can’t watch something new on Netflix, having already seen a show allows me to still enjoy it but not pay full attention. Most recently I burned through all of the ‘X-Files’ which was a nice flashback.

SH: You’ve shared you never intended on being an artist, but applied to OCAD, was accepted, and the rest is history. For your college days, what was the most valuable information you received? What did you have to learn on your own?
JG: I’m not sure I can say the single most valuable information I received, but I had a professor that really took me to task during the critique of my work urging me to not follow in other’s footsteps, but to find my own style. At the time my work resembled Dali-esque landscapes, not original in themselves but it was the beginning of my journey into surrealism and I worked hard on them. I took her advice and found my own style, it helped bring me to where I am today artistically. As for what I learned on my own, there was not a lot of technique taught, I learned much of my style by putting in long hours and through trial and error.

SH: If you weren’t painting, what would yoube doing instead?
JG: I would like to be a professional schmoozer. I would shmooze with high profile clients with a no-holds-barred attitude, doing anything necessary to ‘make the deal’, making both client and employer happy. My wife insists that’s not the job title, but ‘I’ insist that my business card if ever I venture into the subtle and artful world of schmoozery would read in large, bold print, “Professional Shmoozer”.

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Discarded”

Alvaro Naddeo

We’re excited to be showing the work of artist Alvaro Naddeo this month in the Thinkspace Gallery office. The subject matter of his work is inspired by waste, overconsumption and social inequality. Our interview with Alvaro Naddeo covers his creative process and we’re excited to learn more about our latest member of the Thinkspace family. Owner and curator Andrew Hosner was blown away by his work, and we hope you are all equally excited by his detailed composition.

The opening of Alvaro Naddeo’s “Discarded” is Saturday, March 4th from 6- 9 pm.

SH: What is the inspiration behind your latest body of work?
AN: The inspiration behind my latest body of work could be separated into two parts, one esthetical and one political.

On the aesthetic level, I’m inspired by everyday marginalized, urban, quotidian objects, and inspired by trying to find an angle or a composition where those uninteresting objects obtain a new and compelling beauty. I’m also fascinated by the natural decay of those elements, observing how everything loses its original color, shape, and texture, how sunlight, heat, rain, humidity wind and time add an organic and particular texture to them.

On a political level, I’m inspired by the opportunity to share my point of view of the world and to connect with people who think alike. It’s very interesting to me to use art as an instrument for criticizing the things I see and disagree, like overconsumption, social inequality, programmed obsolescence and the
consequence they have over the exploited third world countries, nature and planet as a whole. I’m compelled to criticize the insatiable greed at the expense of people who didn’t have the same opportunities as the lucky ones. I try to use the little attention that I can get with my work to try and provoke a conversation about those uncomfortable issues that we usually try to avoid.

SH: What made you leave advertising? Or do you still work in advertising and your art is a form of rebellion?
AN: I still work in advertising, I have been for the last 20 years. I have two young kids and can’t afford to quit at least until they grow up some more. I also don’t want to burden my art with the responsibility of providing for my family. I would rather have my art independent and free, without the need or worry of selling at all costs. I’m afraid that if I have to sell a lot and fast, I may involuntarily or unconsciously shift my themes towards what sells more, instead of keeping as it is, which is just what I really want to say and paint. I believe not all brands
are evil, not all of them are trying to sell us things we don’t need. Some of them are indeed providing good and useful products at a fair price and entertaining advertising. There is a middle ground between over consumption and total absence of it.

SH: How have the various environments you’ve lived influenced your work?
AN: The various environments I’ve lived have a huge influence on my work, I consider it to be very auto-biographical. My daily observations influence my work in a very unconscious manner and as I moved from city to city I noticed that my visual vocabulary grew and incorporated new elements from those places. It’s interesting to combine what is universal with the very local. I have a lot of pleasure mixing the particulars, for example, you could find on my paintings a container that I saw on top of a truck on the Interstate 405 and inside of it, find a Duane Reade’s bag from NY, next to a sign that says “proibido estacionar” from São Paulo.

 

SH: How long have you’ve been developing this particular composition/narrative? What are your favorite brushes and paints?
AN: I’ve been developing this particular composition narrative since 2010, when I started to draw and paint just for fun, very unpretentiously, painting just what I wanted, what pleased me to see on the paper, never worrying about an audience. After a couple of years, I was able to look back and rationalize in words the meaning behind what I was doing and communicating. I experimented a lot with different brushes sizes and shapes, and now I have found what works best for me. My favorite brushes are pretty simple, they are a generic brand from an art supply store, I paint 80% of the time with two script brushes sizes 5/0 and 1. My paints are from Winsor and Newton, I started with a small 14 pan set, then added the 45 pan set and now I’m buying Winsor and Newton tubes when refilling for the colors I use the most.

SH: What is your creative process? Walk us through a day in the studio?
AN: My studio is at home, in my garage to be more specific. My day at the studio begins after my work day is over and after I’ve spent some time with my kids, so usually it is at night on weekdays for about one or two hours. I average about three or four hours on each day of the weekend.

Before each session, there are three imprescriptible things that I make sure to have at the studio: coffee, podcast and a chronometer. My creative process begins drawing very loose ideas, rough sketches on the closest available piece of paper, I don’t have a sketchbook and I usually collect future ideas while painting something else, I don’t work on the new ideas immediately, I only go back to them a couple days or weeks later, (I do believe in letting ideas mature) then I start studying slightly different possibilities or compositions on tracing paper.

After having the composition more or less figured out, I use Photoshop or Illustrator to get a clean block of the overall shape, with more accurate perspective and correct proportions/scale among the objects, then transfer this base drawing to my watercolor paper. When painting the objects in my composition I either draw it from memory or have it in front of me as a model or work with a picture that I took. It depends on the object and how close I want it to be to reality.

SH: What do you enjoy doing when not painting?
AN: When not painting, my favorite thing are spending time with my family, consuming art, watching movies, reading and I am ashamed to confess, playing video games for a lot more hours than I should.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
AN: The thing that excites me the most about other artist’s work whose art I like is learning more about their creative process, trajectory, and background. When beside the finished piece you also have access to all the circumstances that surround that creation, having the tools to understand what lead the artist to do that, it amplifies my enjoyment so much and I connect a lot more.

I’m attracted to works that have a narrative, pieces that tell stories and that reward you more when you spend more time with them. Very good examples of that are Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell’s work. I’m also attracted to artists who use brands, logos, icons and typography on their art, like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha. I enjoy the contrast and color combination from Robert Indiana and Stuart Davis, the organic nature of Egon Schiele’s watercolor and I also need to mention Paul Cadmus, Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth and Lee Bontecou. And finally from my design and advertising background I love Milton Glaser, Saul Bass and Paul Rand.

SH: If and when you experience creative blocks or self-doubt, what do you do to re -inspire you?
It may sound unusual, but I haven’t really experienced creative blocks. Probably because I paint for so little hours a day, and because I have all the time of my non-painting hours to have ideas so it doesn’t feel like I’m having a creative block. I’m sure that if I was painting at least 40 hours a week I would experience that.