POST MORTEM: DWELL ON DESIGN LA 2015

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POST MORTEM: DWELL ON DESIGN LA 2015

 

We just got back from Dwell on Design LA 2015, one of the largest industry trade shows for interior design. We showed alongside innovative companies like AirBNB; previewed cool new products from companies like Panasonic (sneaking in as many massages as we could from their new massage chair); and even got to watch Moby speak about Los Angeles architecture.

The show hosted upwards of 30,000 attendees. Our booth was consistently packed throughout the weekend, and we got to meet so many wonderful and inspired artists, artisans, craftsmen and designers. Thanks for having us Dwell - we're already looking forward to 2016!

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MEET US AT DWELL ON DESIGN 2015

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MEET US AT DWELL ON DESIGN 2015

 

Art Unified is excited to announce that we will be attending Dwell on Design Los Angeles 2015. We will be exhibiting work from Ewan David Eason, Johan Andersson and Daniel N. Johnson..

Dwell on Design will be taking place Friday, May 29 through Sunday, May 31 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown LA. 

If you're also attending Dwell on Design, make sure to drop by BOOTH 1156 and pay us a visit. If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, you can do so here. We look forward to seeing you there!
 

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A LUXE TOUCH ON A CLASSIC PIECE

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A LUXE TOUCH ON A CLASSIC PIECE

 

Ewan David Eason's popular Mappa Mundi series is now available in 24 karat gold! Fans of the Mappa Mundi series, which is usually made on mirrored gold di-bond, now have the option to go luxe with the popular series.

Head to the Art Unified store to view the available cities, or contact us to inquire about a custom city submission. Given the recent introduction of 24 karat pieces into the Mappa Mundi series, edition numbers are low, so place your order today!

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ART UNIFIED IS BACK FROM SCOPE NEW YORK

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ART UNIFIED IS BACK FROM SCOPE NEW YORK

 

Art Unified has returned from the right coast after a successful exhibition at SCOPE New York 2015. This year's SCOPE New York (the show's 15th run) featured 55 international galleries, alongside 10 Juxtapoz Presents and 4 Breeder Program galleries. The show was beautifully and expertly curated, drawing the likes of collectors like Jon Bon Jovi, Johnny Depp, Adam Levine, and Swizz Beatz, who acquired several works for The Dean Collection. As fellow exhibitor Aureus stated, SCOPE New York 2015 “captured the essence of NYC - short, sharp, intense, crowded, and FULL of energy!”

If you weren't able to attend SCOPE New York this year, check out our Instagram for some behind-the-scenes shots of our experience.

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: PAIGE SMITH

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: PAIGE SMITH

 

We thought we were busy in the Art Unified office. However, after sitting down with Art Unified artist Paige Smith we've realized we're still in the productivity minor leagues. Smith - who also goes by her street artist name A Common Name - is not only a celebrated street artist, but an entrepreneur, creative director and freelance graphic designer. We were thankful we were able to catch Smith (who was just recovering from jetlag when we met up with her), during a break in her normally-hectic schedule. And it's no wonder that the market is in high-demand for this artist: Smith represents a rare, but growing, class of hybridized young creatives, whose adaptive problem-solving skills, unique artistic sensibilities and a gnarly work ethics have earned them both the attention of the art world and the empowerment to direct that attention. Her Urban Geode work has taken street art to a new level, with its three-dimensionality and participatory aspect. As a result, these Urban Geodes are now popping up in nooks and crannies all around the globe. Read on to see what Smith had to say about making the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Parisian street artist JR, and what it takes to be a successful creative entrepreneur (hint: it involves a lot of heavy lifting).

 

"There's an energy that I've never felt before. There are so many creatives in this city, and everybody's here to make it. It's really inspiring."

 

Art Unified: Tell me a little about yourself. Let's start with your schooling - did you study art in elementary school or in high school, or did it begin with secondary education?

Paige Smith: I started pretty young. I was always entering - do you have URL? It's this yearly competition, like in reading, but also in arts. I would always enter the arts competitions. And, actually, in fifth grade I won a greeting card contest. It was really nerdy.

I took art art classes in middle school, but I stopped in high school because I became part of the band. It's really hard to do more than one art, which is interesting. But then, in college I started up again. My degree is in Graphic Arts and Design Communications. To have that degree, you have to take a lot of fine arts classes. So I have a wide breadth of multimedia work. I took a lot of ceramics classes because I really love working with my hands - that's always been the case for me. I don't really like drawing for hours - I wish I did though.

 

AU: So, in our conversations before, you've mentioned that you've lived in other cities, so can you trace your route from college to Los Angeles?

PS: I grew up in Texas, and then I went to Texas Tech University, which is in Lubbock, Texas - very out in the middle of nowhere. Over the years, I realized that Texas really wasn't for me, and I wanted to try something new. I had friends moving to San Francisco, and I tagged along. I had never been there. I just picked up all of my stuff the day I finished class, and drove across the country to San Francisco. I just moved into this little apartment, sleeping on a couch, and I ended up living there for 5 years and having this whole life - I grew so much. And then from there, I decided to move to Los Angeles. I was a freelance graphic designer and I was just ready to move on. I knew that LA was a really big city in this world, and I really love California, so it was really appealing for me to jump in that atmosphere. I've been here for almost 5 years now.

 

AU: So do you have plans for moving on from Los Angeles?

PS: No, not for a long while. I think eventually, but I'm really loving it here. There's an energy that I've never felt before. There are so many creatives in this city, and everybody's here to make it, and I really love being surrounded by that. It's really inspiring. Even though I'm sure there are many other cities that have that to offer, especially New York, I think this city has been kind to me. I love it. I think it's a great place to stay and make roots, and to really build what I've started.

 

AU: So then, you mentioned your degree in graphic arts. So, aside from the artist personality A Common Name, what takes up your professional time?

PS: I'm still designing and I have my other company Vere Verto, which is a handbag line.

 

"I hear so many people that are worried and who ask, 'What do I do?' And I just say, do it. Just. Do. It. That's so cheesy, but just fucking sit there and do the work. Don't think about it."

 

AU: Can you tell us about Vere Verto?

PS: I came up with the idea while living in San Francisco. I rode my bike every single day. And if I wasn't riding, then I was taking the bus or the Metro. I realized there was a giant problem with awesome bags that weren't just backpacks, that made you look like a turtle everyday. It snapped in my head that I needed to create a nice bag that was able to convert that was able to be both. That festered inside me for years. By the time I moved here, I had kept on meeting people in fashion or related to fashion, and I was inspired by the fashion here. It took root again, and I just started the company with a friend. It's been in operation for one year. We were developing for a year beyond that, but it's been great. Every goal that we've set for ourselves has made it, but it's definitely a slow and steady course for us.

 

AU: One thing we're interested in implementing more into the Art Unified blog is this new hybrid figure of artist, entrepreneur and freelancer. How do you go about managing your schedule between these three things, and is there any sort of gray area between those three camps that allows you to maximize your time?

PS: That's a really great question - that's the thing I struggle with most in my life right now. I have three jobs. They're all within a design and art place, so one can influence the other very easily. For instance, I do all of the creative direction for Vere Verto - all of the design work. That helps inform the work on the other side, and it utilizes my talents. The bags themselves are a result of product design, which reflects my interest in hand-building things, which is also where the geodes come in. I feel like I'm always solving a problem. My art is site-specific - I'm solving a problem each time. That's what makes the pieces unique. 

But, in terms of scheduling myself, it's a very difficult thing. I do end up working up to 14 hours each day, 7 days a week. But I have a passion for everything I do, and that drives me. I'm not sitting here pissed that I'm working. I'm just like, 'See you later world, I'm gonna lock myself up in my studio for a while.' 

 

AU: So, just going off of that, do you have any words of advice to fledgling artists or entrepreneurs in a creative field? Like you mentioned earlier, everybody in this city is here to make it. It can be so daunting when you take a look at the competitor pool.

PS: My advice is to not worry about failing. You're going to, no matter what. It's that old adage, you're not going to succeed unless you fail. And you fail and fail and fail, and then just maybe finally make it. I hear so many people that are worried and who ask, 'What do I do?' And I just say, do it. Just. Do. It. That's so cheesy, but just fucking sit there and do the work. Don't think about it. It's one thing I do not have time to do is sit there and worry. I decided to do the geodes and they're not going to happen without me sitting down and actually doing the work. The more I did the work, the more things came to me. If there is a problem, I don't freak out - I just fix it. All you can do is find the solutions that will help you get to the next place.

I realize I'm becoming less and less of an emotional person, and more of a fixed problem-solver. I think that really helps you keep moving forward and building more work. Sometimes you can get stunted by those thoughts like, 'What do I do next?' But if you just sit down and force yourself to move forward, you'll find something. 

 

AU: Was there anything else you wanted to be while growing up? Did you ever think that you would be anything other than an artist?

PS: The only other thing I was interested in, which was not too far off, was architecture. I never thought I could be an artist, because I always felt that the world was too daunting for me. You come up with some kind of concept out of thin air? That was too much for me. But having design, where it's like - here's your idea. Here's your box. Grow on that, be creative there. Design really helped me in that way, and I feel like I've taken steps toward artistry. 

I knew I wanted to be creative - I always knew that. But where and how? That's always come to me naturally through the steps I've taken. I never had a main goal, but happened upon everything. 

 

AU: What artists inspired you as you were on your way to artistry? And who is most inspiring to you now?

PS: Hm, good question. Well, definitely always loved The Masters, of course. Anywhere I went, there wasn't a great push on contemporary art. I was definitely interested in Dali and surrealism. They inspired me so much. Now, as I've grown into what I've started doing, one of my most favorite artists is JR. He's everything all in one. His participatory art program is what inspired me to start doing that with urban geode, which is still in its fledgling, beta-testing program. He's major. I do find a lot of street artists that inspire me, like Swoon. I love Circle, because they're very design-oriented and I appreciate that. But they're also very physical and manifest more sculptural works more, which I like. 

 

"That's always come to me naturally through the steps I've taken. I never had a main goal, but happened upon everything."

 

AU: So, you've lived in San Francisco, but you travel a lot. How would you say the Los Angeles art scene differs from art scenes around the world? Are there inherent negatives that are maybe tied to the city's geography and what are some of the positives of living and working here?

PS: I think in LA there are definitely negatives based off the geography. It's really nice to have Culver City. But with any other gallery, sometimes it's hard to want to go because it's so over there and nothing else is there. So you walk through, and you're done, and now you have to drive again. But people do it, they're used it. But I think that hurts the general public's desire to go to these openings, because it can be daunting. There's always a specific crew there, and you don't want to walk in and be the odd person. But like I said, there's a crazy energy right now. People are moving here - I can't even tell you how many New Yorker friends I have that just moved here. For New York, it's so easy to go to 10 shows in one night. Same with Istanbul. San Francisco... definitely has a scene, but I have to admit, I wasn't involved, I didn't go, and it wasn't inspiring. I hate to be that crude on it, but I came here and immediately was like, 'I wanna do art!'

There are a lot of murals in San Francisco - a lot of new ones, but also a lot of historic, Mission-based ones that are really great. Same here, but in LA the street art itself is blowing up. I think we're one of the main places - besides Philadelphia, which has like the most murals per square mile on the planet, which is amazing to see. But I think we're catching up. It's a really big deal here, and it's a reason I started what I've started. It's like a public gallery in Los Angeles, which is incredible. They take over billboards... where you don't expect to see a mural, you see something. It's really inspiring.

 

AU: What are some of your places in LA to either draw inspiration from, and to also take a breather from your hectic schedule?

PS: Well, I moved straight to the Arts District. It's a really cool place. There's a lot of art, artists and entrepreneurs. It's a very interesting neighborhood. You walk around, and you see people you know everywhere - and they're all friends. Being part of that was really, really nice. It was a great community of thinkers and doers and tinkerers. To get away? This is what I love about California. 20 minutes to the beach, 30 minutes to the mountains, 40 minutes to the desert. I like all of it. I love to take small weekends. 


Learn more about Paige Smith and purchase her original artwork at her Artist page. Check out the Art Unified Instagram for some behind-the-scenes shots of our studio visit with the artist.

To read other installments of Inside the Artist's Studio, check out our conversations with Joseph LeeDaniel JohnsonEric Ernest JohnsonDan MonteavaroSusan HaynsworthJon Measures and Johan Andersson.

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: DANIEL N. JOHNSON

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: DANIEL N. JOHNSON

 

Art Unified artist Daniel N. Johnson is part-time nomad and full-time sage, by way of 35 countries. What initially began as a means of sharing his experiences abroad with family and friends soon turned into a photographic aesthetic characterized by the most beautiful dualities: waxing and waning, inhaling and exhaling, ocean and desert. This masterful play on the emotional duplexity of his viewers is precisely the wonder of this artist: by submerging them into a foreign world of refracted light and disorienting darkness, his viewers emerge from each viewing at the height of awareness of the solid ground beneath their feet and a steady rhythm of breath. To capture the emotional shore between the world we know and how we'd like to know it is no easy task, but Johnson's grasp of ephemera and quick lens makes this transient meeting ground somehow seem, for a moment, inhabitable. Read on to see what Art Unified's favorite wayfarer had to say about Chuck Close, his disciplined morning routine, and hitchhiking between Poland and Turkey.

 

"I'm continually drawn to shoot either in water or the desert - for me both environments lend themselves to equal parts absence and fullness."

 

Art Unified: What drove you to want to become an artist?

Daniel N. Johnson: I think it’s because I wanted to share the way that I saw the world with others. That may be a clichéd a response as a photographer but it’s definitely one of my initial motivations - to find a way for other people to experience the beautiful or unique things I felt I discovered in life.

As an introverted and shy kid, visual expression was the easiest way for me to communicate. That pathway began in drawing, then led eventually to graphic and web design, motion graphics/animation, and now, photography.

It also became evident while traveling solo internationally. I’d have these incredible experiences which I felt slightly guilty to encounter all alone. I wanted to share my adventures with my friends and family and the camera became the most evident tool to do so, as well being as a wonderful vehicle to interact with other people.

 

AU: Are there aspects of the art world that you do not approve of? Did any of those reasons lead you to move towards Art Unified?

DNJ: I’m not much a fan of the generic art opening experience - white walls, white wine and the gathering of who’s who, where it’s more about the social event and posturing and less about the interaction or confrontation with the art. What I ultimately want to do is create an experience around the presentation of my art, where you can’t leave without being viscerally affected by it, and leave resonating with your reaction to the work.

I like that Art Unified is actively figuring out ways to put their artists’ work into public spaces where people who wouldn’t necessarily find themselves within the aforementioned white walls of a gallery can interact with new art.

 

AU: What was your first camera? Do you still use it today in your work, or do you prefer another setup?

DNJ: When I was maybe 7 or 8 my mom gave me a Vivitar 110 automatic film camera (one of those that look like an ice cream sandwich) so I could photograph my Legos. I photographed everything extremely close, imagining that I was capturing giant macro shots of my creations. However, the focal distance on the lens was about 2 or 3 feet so all my images came back as blurry messes. Maybe those were just my abstract years :)

In college I was studying graphic design but I needed a camera for a Photo 101 course. My uncle, who was a photojournalist and my initial photography mentor, gave me his old 35mm manual Nikon FM SLR. Unfortunately the camera broke several years later but I gave it back because it was very nostalgic for him. 

I shoot mostly digital these days with a Canon 5D Mark II, but have recently been experimenting with medium format again - Hasselblad 500 series and a twin-lens reflex Seagull.

 

"When I was maybe 7 or 8 my mom gave me a Vivitar 110 automatic film camera so I could photograph my Legos. I photographed everything extremely close… however, the focal distance on the lens was about 2 or 3 feet so all my images came back as blurry messes. Maybe those were just my abstract years."

 

AU: What research has gone into the exploration of your artwork?

One of my main traits as a photographer, and probably as a person also, is an empathy for what is. I like to find my subject and potential locations and maybe give some direction but other than that I want to give minimal interference. Even though some of my work is slightly surreal I want it to still be honest - not manipulative, even in how I edit or process my imagery. I used Photoshop 5 years before I ever even took a photo class, so I knew how to create/manipulate other people’s images before I knew how to properly capture my own. As my experience with photography grew I tried to avoid any manipulation beyond the basics of color temperature/exposure/levels, etc

Initially everything starts with either my own experiences or the art I’ve been exposed to in the past. For me it’s more about the emotion I want to capture- so my research is a perpetual life search for reference or inspiration that speaks to that. It may be a quote, a piece of music, or a painting that conveys what I’m hoping to achieve.

 

AU: What are some of your favorite artists? How does your artwork relate and/or differ?

DNJ: My top three currently are James Turrell, Chuck Close and Ryan McGinley. 

I love Turrell for how he explores light and forces his viewers to become more aware of their own perception - to see themselves seeing; the way that he makes us aware of light itself rather than just what light reveals. My own best images seem to usually have an element of that - the way that light reflects off my lens or on my subject, it takes on its own characteristic as a subject in the image and not just as the source of illumination. My early work especially had a lot of lens flare, shooting directly into the sun or other light sources. Turrell’s recent exhibition at LACMA was profoundly moving for for me and was a realization that I’d already been subconsciously exploring the same thing, albeit in a different medium.

I love the honest way that Close captures the human face and the essence of his subjects, very true to their flaws, to what is, but presented in a larger than life format. Staring into a face that's 6 or 7 feet tall forces you into a new relationship with his work. It’s both intimate and intimidating at the same time but ultimately it forces you to view the subject differently, and I think, to see yourself differently as well. I took some self-portraits a couple months ago to capture my own face in a close, uncomfortable large way, that filled the frame. We always want to present ourselves in a very idealized form and instead it forced me to present myself as I was, honestly in the moment. Anyway, Close’s inspiration is more aspirational - I want to make larger scale prints, to find a way to present vulnerabilities and flaws in a beautiful way. Also, whether he’s painting or photographing there is a continuity to his work as he deconstructs and reconstructs his subjects' visages.

And finally McGinley for how he captures a very raw human, energy in his subjects, he taps into the essence of youth and freedom- it’s a feeling that I attempt to capture and convey as well and thus I feel a kinship with him and with his work. He also appears to navigate seamlessly between commercial and personal work while maintaining his integrity as an artist, something that I admire.

 

AU: What is your studio or preferred place of work, what is it like working there?

DNJ: When I’m on the computer I need a visually quiet space. It’s difficult to work in coffee shops for example because there’s too much visual noise with people constantly moving about. I’ve been pretty nomadic the past few years so I’m still working on developing my ideal work setup - currently I work mostly from home and have a standup desk with an external monitor for my laptop and then everything else just gets spread out from there. I also like having indirect light, air-flow and plant or two to feel some life in the room.

My preferred place to shoot, however, is in a type of environment that is at the same time both contextual and context-less, so the desert or the ocean tend to be two places that continually draw me. I love shooting underwater because while you may be aware that you’re suspended in water, you’re still not quite sure what is happening. Or shooting in the desert, in a barren situation. In both places the light reflects and refracts differently and in sometimes unpredictable ways.

 

AU: Are there particular habits you have while you work?

DNJ: If I’m shooting it’s to make sure I’m well hydrated and have trail mix or an energy bar at hand. When I’m working on the computer I try to turn off my wi-fi and put my phone on airplane mode for one hour sessions to really get in the flow. I’m a bad multi-tasker and having internet access only exacerbates that if I get distracted.

I also try to be really aware of my breath. There’s a particular pattern that my breathing takes when I’m in the zone and focused. If my breathing is shallow it usually means I’m distracted and not present.

 

"I used to feel so paralyzed by the sheer amount of things I wanted to do in life - in college I had the wish that I could lead four separate lives simultaneously."

 

AU: What is one of your favorite quotes or piece of advice you have been given towards being an artist?

DNJ: “It’s not difficult to make things. What’s difficult is getting to the state where you can make things.” - Constantin Brançusi

 

AU: Did you ever think you would be anything else but an artist?

DNJ: I used to feel so paralyzed by the sheer amount of things I wanted to do in life. In college I had the wish that I could lead four separate lives simultaneously. The first was to follow the path of being a graphic designer, which is what I studied and ultimately began my career as. The second was to be a fine artist - a painter or printmaker. The third was to be a rockstar, and finally the fourth was to be something completely random like a shepherd in New Zealand, to have a very separate quiet introspective, almost monk-ish life. 

However, I knew early on that I would work in a creative field of some sort. It may have taken me a while to take on the role of, or at least acknowledge myself as, an artist but from the age of 15 I knew I was going to be a graphic designer. Then I wanted to be a film director. Ultimately I landed in interactive design and motion graphics and out of that spun my current focus on photography.

 

AU: What has someone said about your artwork that resonates with you today?

DNJ: That I’m able to capture the essence of my subjects, enabling them to see themselves as they never have before. And to enable others to see the subjects as they never have before as well.

 

AU: How do you go about managing your time between your creative and personal life?

DNJ: There’s not much distinction - I’m always collecting inspiration, every book that I read or piece of music I listen to, every film or video I see, every conversation, etc. Most of my subjects are my friends. If I know you and we spend any amount of time together, the likelihood of you showing up in my art is very high.

That raises the question though - is art my life or is my life my art? I feel like all my life experiences are interpreted through the possibility of being part of something I eventually create. That mindset definitely helps for weathering difficult situations. For example, the best travel stories are usually the ones that weren’t the most pleasant at the time to experience.

However, when it comes to working, I’m a bit of a hermit if I get really focused. So when I try to separate my creative and personal lives, usually one or the other suffers. I can get too focused and only be working, or conversely I spend too much time hanging out with people and not enough time creating. The balance for me is usually found over a longer period of time rather than on a daily basis.

 

"Most of my subjects are my friends. If I know you and we spend any amount of time together, the likelihood of you showing up in my art is very high. That raises the question though - is art my life or is my life my art?"

 

AU: Have you taken part in a spiritual journey or means of travel to improve or change your perspective of art? What did you discover?

DNJ: Travel has been one of the most important influences of who I am as a person and consequently as an artist. From inspiring me to pick up a camera in the first place, to share my experience with others, to seeing the world as more than just my own felt experience. The majority of my travels have proved to me the interconnectedness of humanity, despite differences of culture, language, religion, etc.

After college I hitchhiked from Poland to Turkey, hitting about 17 countries in the process - a life-changing trip that forced me to confront a lot of my stereotypes and assumptions about other humans, as well as of myself and what I was capable of. 

What I’m searching for in my photography is always something a bit ephemeral, attempting to discover or capture something that’s deeper than simply what is being shot or what is initially evident. From an artistic standpoint it’s about recognizing that  the mountain is not "just a mountain” and the ocean is not “just the ocean’ but it’s the potential metaphor. . And in the same way I think that spirituality is also about awareness and perception, and the framework by which you interpret sensory input.

 

AU: What has your experience been with Art Unified? How did you get involved with Art Unified? How has your experience been with us so far?

DNJ: I first met Johan a little over a year ago at his Generation of War show. He had painted a portrait from a photo of mine that I’d taken in D.R. Congo shooting for Falling Whistles. Later that summer we crossed paths in Venice and he told me about his new business idea and asked me to submit a bio and some images - so I guess I was one of the original Art Unified artists, despite the fact that I dragged my feet a bit in finally submitting my work.

It’s been a great experience - Art Unified has consistently shown enthusiastic support for my work and were responsible for my first public showing in LA, helping me get some of my largest prints made to date.

 

AU: When you’re working, what does a typical day look like for you?

DNJ: I’m not a morning person but ironically the most consistent part of most days are my mornings. I wake up, do 15 mins of stretching and yoga, 20 minutes meditation, 75 pushups, make breakfast and coffee, then I try to write at least three pages in my notebook (a discipline I picked up from The Artist’s Way) all before I first check my phone or email. 

After that I usually try to make a list of the things I need to do or intend to do during the day. Other than that, every day is different. Edits. Emails. Research. or shooting. I’ve gotten back into drawing again lately and usually try to make a minimum 5 drawings throughout the day as well.

 

AU: I’ve heard from Patrick and Johan that you travel often for your work. What are your favorite places to shoot, and is there a particular destination you’ve been hoping to shoot sometime in the near future?

DNJ: In spite of all my travels I don’t think I’ve shot or discovered my most favorite places yet. However, top on my list yet to visit are Mali, Iran, Madagascar, and Palau. 

Two places I'm continually drawn to shoot in are either in water or the desert- for me both environments lend themselves to a equal parts absence and fullness. So living in Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Joshua Tree tend to be fairly consistent locations for me. But California is just an incredibly generous state in terms of it’s geographic diversity. 

The past few years I've also spent a bit of time in Utah, which is also one of the most photogenic states in the U.S. I’ve done a lot of my underwater work in Central America. My favorite country though would have to be Ethiopia and I'm hoping to get back there later this year.

 

"What I ultimately want to do is create an experience around the presentation of my art, where you can’t leave without being viscerally affected by it, and leave resonating with your reaction to the work."

 

Learn more about Daniel N. Johnson and purchase his original artwork at his Artist page. Head over to the Print Store to buy a giclée print by Johnson.

To read other installments of Inside the Artist's Studio, check out our conversations with Eric Ernest Johnson, Dan Monteavaro, Susan Haynsworth, Jon Measures and Johan Andersson.

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: ERIC ERNEST JOHNSON

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: ERIC ERNEST JOHNSON

 

For this week’s installment of ‘Inside the Artist’s Studio’, we seriously contemplated skipping the intro and letting you head straight to the interview, because trying to encapsulate Eric Ernest Johnson into an introductory paragraph is like trying to pare down a wild fern: some brilliance should be left to speak for itself. While this Los Angeles native is a self-described West Coast artist, his work is characterized by a richness in imagination that's essentially mapless. His paintings conjure both visions of places still on our horizon that brim with promise and homelands in our distant past for whom we have reserved the deepest tenderness. Read on to see what Art Unified artist (and cosmic warrior) Eric Ernest Johnson had to say about his cat Albion, failing painting class, and his recent trip to Peru.

 

"I am inspired by all artists, whether in a museum or the homeless masterwork on the corner." 

 

Art Unified: Where did you gather inspiration for your latest work of art?

Eric Ernest Johnson: The Sun and Moon, eclipses, shadows, prisms, waves, wild nature, bodies of water.

 

AU: What drove you to want to become an artist?

EEJ: My sister gave me a paintbrush at 3 years old… I never stopped.

 

AU: Are there aspects of the art world that you do not approve of? Did any of those reasons lead you to move towards Art Unified?

EEJ: Art Unified sells my art, expands my audience, and I enjoy seeing my work in new unexpected environments.  They are creative visionaries with heart, they love what they are doing, and are making people happy…. Onward!!!

 

AU: What about Southern California made you decide to create your work here? Favorite or most inspirational place in Southern California?

EEJ: I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. I consider myself a West Coast Artist, my work is a reflection of this place, it's colors, it's city life, it's natural wonders. Watts Towers, anywhere on a bicycle, Griffith Park, Venice Beach, Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax...

 

"My sister gave me a paintbrush at 3 years old… I never stopped."

 

AU: Who are some of your favorite artists? How does your artwork relate and/or differ?

EEJ: Niki De Saint Phalle,  James Ensore,  Tsuguharu Foujita, Jonathan Winters, Leger, Calder, Picasso, Dali, Giacometti, Matisse, Van Gogh, Hockney, Warhol… I am inspired by all artists, whether in a museum or the homeless masterwork on the corner.  

 

AU: What is your studio or preferred place of work, what is it like working there? 

EEJ: I built my studio in my backyard.  Natural lighting, open barn doors, working all night till dawn. 

 

AU: Are there particular habits you have while you work? 

EEJ: I enjoy the company of my cat Albion, and Bop Jazz or classical on the radio. 

 

AU: What is one of your favorite quotes or piece of advice you have been given towards being an artist?

EEJ: “First thought, best thought.” 
 

"Cosmic warriors, deep in the Amazon. I am still there now."

 

AU: What has someone said about your artwork that resonates with you today?

EEJ: I once got an F in painting at Scripps College by my teacher Alan Blizzard, that resonated… Arigato Pardner. 

 

AU: How do you go about managing your time between your creative and personal life? 

EEJ: I take cat naps. 

 

AU: What are some stereotypes of being an artist have you discovered? Are any of them true for you and in what ways have you differed?

EEJ: I don't believe in stereotypes. 

 

AU: What has your experience been with Art Unified? How did you get involved?

EEJ: Art Unified found me, they asked me to participate, I liked what they had to say.  I met them in person just to find out if this was for real…artists dedicating themselves to promoting other artists, helping exhibit the work, making the business of selling art fresh, fun, and exciting… they are all that. 

 

AU: When you’re working, what does a typical day look like for you?

EEJ: Strawberry Fields Forever 

 

AU: We heard that you recently took a trip to Peru. Can you tell us a little about it, and how it affected personally and creatively?

EEJ: Cosmic warriors, deep in the Amazon, I am still there now.

 

"Arigato, pardner."

 

Learn more about Eric Ernest Johnson and purchase his original artwork at his Artist page. Head over to the Print Store to buy a giclée print by Johnson.

To read other installments of Inside the Artist's Studio, check out our conversations with Dan Monteavaro, Susan Haynsworth, Jon Measures and Johan Andersson.

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: DAN MONTEAVARO

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INSIDE THE ARTIST'S STUDIO: DAN MONTEAVARO

 

Every artist is a storyteller, but what makes Art Unified artist Dan Monteavaro so alluring are the pieces of a story he chooses to exclude. This New York City native has lived all over the world - from London to Italy to Korea - and he's pulled inspiration from each's city's unique urban landscape, art culture and modern media. This urban influence presents itself in Monteavaro's work as an unraveling narrative, an overheard conversation that makes its viewers want to linger and eavesdrop a little longer to hear its conclusion. Though it would have been well worth the effort, we're relieved we didn't have to resort to eavesdropping to hear what Monteavaro had to say about stealing his mom's art supplies, arguing with art professors and finding decent pizza out on the West Coast in this week's installment of Inside the Artist's Studio.

 

“It’s like Lichtenstien. If he grew up in the South Bronx surrounded by graffiti.”

 

Art Unified: What about Southern California made you decide to create your work here?

Dan Monteavaro: The weather plays a big part. I do miss NYC a lot though…

 

AU: Describe the turning point in your life that made you realize you were an artist.

DM: The turning point was probably when I stole my mom’s art supplies and tried to paint (It’s not “really” theft if you’re 10 years old though)

 
AU: Are there aspects of the art world that you do not approve of? Did any of those reasons lead you to move towards Art Unified?

DM: (In my best diplomatic voice) Yes, but because art is so personal, the disagreements can change from artist to artist. I was drawn to Art Unified because the collection was extremely well curated.

 

AU: What materials do you use to make your art? What about those materials made you choose them over others?

DM: I stick to brushes and paint, but sometimes experimenting with anything from crayons to hardware tools can be very exciting.

 

"There’s never a 'give up' moment. You don’t ever stop creating."

 

AU: Favorite or most inspirational place in Southern California?

DM: Like any east coaster I could say the beach, but when I find a decent pizza place it will be there.

 

AU: What is your studio or preferred place of work? Do you have particular habits while you work?

DM: My studio is really, really close to where I live. I spend so much time there it would be hard dealing with traffic to get there. My usual routine in the studio is playing Netflix documentaries while I work or audio books.

 

AU: What is one of your favorite quotes or piece of advice you have been given towards being an artist?

DM: “The moment you finish a work and as an artist don’t feel that there’s anything to change or do better and it is the absolute best you can do, you stop being an artist.” – Bob Ross

 

AU: Did you study art, were you classically trained, or not, how did you discover your ability and unique style?

DM: I went to University for fine art, got into shouting matches with Professors and faculty, dropped out, went back, etc. This continued until I graduated.

 

"It’s not really theft if you’re 10 years old, though."

 

 

AU: Has there been a moment where you wanted to give up a career as an artist? Why did you continue to pursue a career in art?

DM: There’s never a “give up” moment. You don’t ever stop creating.

 

AU: What has someone said about your artwork that resonates with you today?

DM: “It’s like Lichtenstien. If he grew up in the South Bronx surrounded by graffiti.”

 

AU:  How do you go about managing your time between your creative and personal life?

DM: Personal life? What is that?

 

AU: When you’re working, what does a typical day look like for you?

DM: Wake up, check email, drink coffee, go to the studio, work on canvases, remember emails I forgot, drink coffee, remember to eat lunch (or I try to), and in this way I pretend that it’s more glamorous and not hard work. (I still get excited to see a new work in the morning after I finish it the night before.)

 

"Sometimes experimenting with anything from crayons to hardware tools can be very exciting."

 


Learn more about Dan Monteavaro and purchase his original artwork at his Artist page. Head over to the Print Store to buy a giclée print by Monteavaro.

To read other installments of Inside the Artist's Studio, check out our conversations with Susan HaynsworthJon Measures and Johan Andersson.

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