Interview 6. Garrett Leo Augustyn.

After a little research in order to present the next artist I can tell that the city of Chicago, where Garrett resides, has got more than infamous gangsters and the mob. Did you know that year 1900 there lived more Swedish people in Chicago than in Gothenburg, Sweden (our second biggest city)? Also they have got the only (I think) Bahá´í temple in North America…according to wikipedia. I guess there´s a lot more but I´m not interested in that right now, I want to hear what Garret has to say about my q´s…

Me: Hi there Garret! Tell me about yourself, where do you come from and where do you live? Who are you?

Garrett: Hello! I am an artist born and raised in Chicago that works with just about every type of art. I currently live in the neighborhood of Pilsen in Chicago. I studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2017 with a BFA with emphasis in Art Education. My work is usually all over the place; recently I’ve been exploring illustration, digital art, and ceramic sculpture. Figurative ceramic sculpture is my favorite type of art to make. I am Garrett.

Me: Please tell me about your art, the things you create. You both paint/draw and you also sculpt, right?

Garrett: I do a little of everything! Figurative sculpture is my favorite type of art and the most consistent type I make. I’ve been experimenting with vintage digital illustration as of late. I draw lots of portraits, probably just as much as I sculpt them. I’ve been drawing lots of mugshots and teaching myself how to colorize them using digital tools. My studio is full of ceramic face jugs, random sculptures, and an in progress graphic novel. I really like making art about things that interest or frustrate me. A lot of my art is political, although sometimes I don’t always plan what exactly. I like having discussions with people and my art usually provides the opportunity for conversation or debate. I like that about my art. Big projects right now I am working on art my ongoing vintage illustrations of wiseguys and goons, life size ceramic portraits of public figures that frustrate me, and a graphic novel that has been years in the making.

Me: How was your year 2020? Did you learn anything as a human? As an artist? As an entrepreneur?

Garrett: 2020 was a very long year. It was stressful at times but I feel like I made the most of it. I connected with friends and family more than I had before. I pushed myself to make more art just for the sake of making. I was able to revisit old projects and concepts and bring them to life. I learned that in times of crisis, art is a process that can help give those who need it. We need more people to make art that expresses their voice right now, to provoke conversation, and to start a dialogue. Art empowers people. I realized that people are out there that want and need art and if you take the chance you usually can find them! I am very grateful for those who have collected my work, especially in 2020.

Me: What expectations do you have for 2021?

Garrett: I want to continue the path I started on. I would like to finish my current projects and create more opportunities to better myself as an artist and a person overall. I expect life won’t get any easier but I’m hoping I get better at making the most of it. I expect to host lots of dinner parties with friends and family when it is safe to do that again.

Me: Do you have any good tips to give when it comes to marketing and selling your art?

Garrett: Keep making art about things that you want to make it about. Don’t try to make it fit into what people want. You will find the people interested in your type of work. Put your work out there, show a friend, show a family member, show a stranger, the important thing is you make art and you talk about it. Even if you never do anything with it, you made it and that makes it important.

Me: What are your favourite movie(s)?

Garrett: I’m a huge movie nerd. One of the saddest things about my life right now is that I haven’t been to a movie theater in over a year. I love going to the movies. My all time favorite movie is Die Hard with Bruce Willis. My favorite types of movies are anything related to the mafia, Marvel movies, 80s action movies, and Star Wars. And I’m also going to put this in here that my favorite tv show of all time is The Sopranos.

Me: Wich kind of music do you prefer?

Garrett: I can listen to just about anything. My favorite artist of all time is Johnny Cash and will listen to his music anytime. I was raised on bluegrass, country oldies, and rock and roll. My dad taught me to give any type of music a chance and that if it was ever too loud that I was too old. I try to keep that same mentality whenever I listen to something new.

Me: Do you follow any faith/religion?

Garrett: I was raised Christian. I’ve had a couple traumatic experiences growing up and I believe there’s a reason I’m still in this world.

Me: Do you make a living on your art or do you have an other occupation and create art as a hobby?

Garrett: I currently teach for Chicago Public Schools as a Visual Art teacher and I am also the Art Director for a non-profit that empowers wounded veterans to heal through arts and music called CreatiVets. Even though I don’t pay my bills with my art, I wouldn’t say it’s a hobby. My work is heavily influenced by all the things I do in life and all the people I share those experiences with. You never stop being an artist once you start.

Me: If you got to make one question up yourself, what would that be? (And what would you answer?)

Garrett: What artists dead or alive currently inspire your work?

Garrett: Two artists that are dead that have inspired my art would be Viola Frey and Robert Arneson. When I was studying at SAIC, I created a piece titled Dark as a Dungeon, it was a series of larger than life sized ceramic figures depicting coal miners. The piece was a statement about the art world and who works within it. Who deserves to have their work in a gallery? What deserves to be in a gallery? That series was heavily influenced by Viola Frey and Robert Arneson’s work. I was introduced to Arneson’s work when I was in high school, and he was one of the main reasons I started working with figurative sculpture. Two artists that are still living and William J. O’Brien and Zachary Burgart. William was my professor at SAIC and really helped shape my mindset as to why I made art and what I made art about. I love his work and I appreciate his teachings. Zachary is one of my best friends and is a big supporter of my work. I would go as far as to say our whole relationship is a constant collaboration because we talk about art a lot, and I mean a lot. It’s been great seeing both of our practices develop and evolve over the years we have been friends. If you haven’t heard of any of these artists, you should look them up. They all make truly powerful and compelling work.

Me: Thank you, that was awesome! Where can one find you and your fantastic art?

Garrett: Thank you for the opportunity! This was fun! You can find me on Instagram @ManGlazedBlack or check out my work on my website at garrettleo.com.

Below I give examples of Garrett´s work. These are some of his sculptures, but thats not all he does, he can sketch and draw too. I suggest you follow the links above and check him out…

I just love his sculpting…those faces, the details…amazing!

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