Thursday, February 23, 2012

Artist Interview: Marco Suarez.

Here is an artist whose work inspires me.  I really enjoy his digital collage work.  Please read further to get to know the artist Marco Suarez.

1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?
I was interested in art ever since I can remember. When I was very young, I would ask my older sisters to draw for me so I could watch them. Then I would try and mimic what they did.

Bird Collage I.

2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

I don't know if I have a favorite style. I enjoy most any style of art. As far as creating, I'm drawn more toward photography and printmaking than I am oil painting or drawing. Some people enjoy art because they appreciate the technical ability of the artist. I appreciate that. But more so, I'm interested in the emotional response. How does this make me feel? And do I like how it makes me feel? But I am a huge fan of the Pop Art era. Artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein.

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

Big cities and nature.

I travel quite a bit. And my wife and I love to explore cities. I love finding little cafes, shops, or restaurants. I love how you can create an atmosphere in a cafe or shop that generates a particular emotion. I'm very interested in how you respond emotionally to a space. So I'll try and find little details that explain why I'm responding a certain way to a space, take note of them, and try and replicate them in my work to capture and repeat that emotional response.

The same is true of nature. Milton Glaser said that you never really see until you draw. So I'm trying to train my eye to see the details I would only ever see if I was drawing something. I took a walk through a redwood forest recently and just wanted to sit and stare at a tree trunk all day. I think most artists are inspired by nature. It's kind of the ultimate inspiration.

Empire 2.

4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.

This is obviously always changing, but my circle prints start with a photograph. I love doing things like renting a car, picking a direction, and just driving. I love getting lost. Recently I did this in California and wound up finding some of the most breathtaking views I've ever seen. So I take the photos with my DSLR, go home or back to the hotel, and start playing with them. I do most of my work digitally. It's funny how artists either accept digital work or hate it. I see it as just another tool. I'm sure people were also intimidated by photography when it became an art form.

I generally don't know where a piece is going to go. I just start playing. Like I said, I'm interested in the emotional response, so I allow the photo to tell me how it wants to feel, then I try and push more into that.

But sometimes I start with the emotion and pick the photograph to fit that. For instance, I was greatly inspired by U2's song Get on Your Boots and created the piece called Empire. I picked the photo, colors, textures, etc to fit the way I was feeling.

5. What is a typical day in your life?

This is probably different than most artists since I don't do this full-time. So my artwork is relegated to late nights and weekends. It's the way I unwind from the stresses of working for a start-up. I generally start around 7 or 8pm and work late. Everyone's in bed, it's quiet and it's just me, my headphones, and a cup of good coffee. I do my best thinking and work from 10pm to midnight. Not really a sustainable model.

Glowing Forest.

6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

I have a couple circle prints I made from photographs I took of the smokey mountains. I had someone tell me they grew up in Tennessee mountains and moved away while they were still young. But these images captured exactly how they remembered the mountains. Like a memory. And that nailed it for me. When we remember things in our mind we attach the way we felt to them. And that alters the image. It makes it more intense and magical than the reality. And some people have a hard time remembering those images. They're distorted in their mind. And when people see my work, it makes that image clear again. That gets me so excited.


7. What are your interests/hobbies?

I absolutely love branding. My philosophy of branding is identical to art. How can I make a person feel? I love it. I'm also a musician. I play guitar. Occasionally write songs. Compose music. I love making coffee. We moved into a new house to fit our growing family and my wife and I are having a blast decorating it. Basically, I don't care what I do just as long as I can create. So, creativity is my hobby I guess.

North Shore.

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

I work for a start-up called Zaarly as their lead designer. It's a full-time and sometimes more job. I currently am a man without an art studio. A year ago I moved out of my studio and in with a coworking group where I lack the space for a true studio though I occasionally take over some table space to create some textures or something. But since most of my work is digital, this is manageable.

9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

Whatever I'm currently creating. The two that have sold the best is Painted Tree and Coast. Those are some of my favorites because of how people fall in love with them. But I'm most excited about what I'm creating right now, which currently from photographs I took in California.

10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

Learn business and take advantage of technology. I know amazing artists that work at Starbucks because they just don't get how to market themselves. And get a mentor! A mentor is critical.

Painted Tree.

11. Describe your work space.

Since I don't have a formal studio I'll describe where I pick to work. Like I said earlier, I'm interested in how spaces make you feel. So I'll find a place like home, coffee shop, park, wherever that energizes and inspires me. Since I work mostly on my laptop, that makes this easy.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

Um, everything. It's hard. Most people don't see art as having a function. They hang it on a wall or set it on a shelf. So people are hesitant to spend money on something they don't see having a function. And for a long time I didn't sell much. But I started to hit a stride and get some recognition on Etsy with my circle prints. People really started to take notice because of how they connected with them. That's when things changed.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

I see art falling into 1 of 2 camps: decorative art and high art. Decorative is generally cheaper and people purchase it to help decorate a room. Once their tastes change, the art gets ditched. Then there's high art. This is generally more expensive and people buy it as an investment. They're interested in the artist's career and look at it as part of their permanent collection. And they generally create a stronger deeper bond with the artwork. I want to see my work and my career fall into the high art category.


Thank you Marco for letting us get to know you a bit better.  You can also find Marco here:

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