Tag: interview with an artist

Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates

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Recently, a very talented glass blower, Doug Frates‘ work was brought to my attention. His pieces have an amazing sense of movement as the colors and shapes spiral outward. His body of work has been referred to as liquid color, a very appropriate title. His pieces almost seem frozen in time, as if they were still in the process of being heated and expanding outward into crazy and interesting shapes.

Doug Frates Glass 2

I had the opportunity to ask Doug a few questions about his journey to the world of glass blowing. At a time when art seems to be moving into the digital world, with digital photography, graphic design, and computer animation on the rise, I love seeing traditional artists and crafters still at work. Doug’s artistic journey doesn’t take the typical path through art school, but instead, through a war in Iraq, an admiration for handmade glass, and an apprenticeship with two accomplished glass blowers, Tom Philabaum and Fritz Dreisbach.

Doug Frates Glass 3
When did you become interested in art?
I really did not know this would be a Career until I saw that people were recognizing my work as something different.  I probably really started as a professional artist in 2003.
Was there a particular person or people who helped guide you towards a career in art?
I have worked for a phenomenal artist by the name of Tom Philabaum in Tucson, Arizona.   I also was guided by Fritz Dreisbach.   It was through their commitment to me that made this possible.   I thank them very much for the opportunities that led to the direction we are heading.   
Did you go to college and study art or learn through an apprentice like experience?
I guess you could say that I was lucky enough to apprentice under Tom Phillabaum. It was a paying job, but I was taken under his wing.   
What is your favorite part of working with glass?
The colors and the options available to me are what is most interesting.   Between transparent and opaques there are so many variations allowed.   The hard part is the characteristics of making those colors work within the style we work.   It can get very tricky and sometimes they just don’t work.   
What are you trying to accomplish through your artwork? Do you have a particular statement your are trying to make or is it more about pushing the glass into different forms that you find interesting?
 I love creating!  I am always trying to push myself into unknown directions.   This allows us to concoct new style and flair in the industry.
-Do you have a particular piece you like best or are most proud of?
I am proud of everything we send out the door.   If it does not look right or has the slightest flaw it will not work for the client.   I have learned over the years that only quality will pay.
-How do you live off of your work? Is it primarily through commercial sales, gallery sales, or commissions?
We are primarily commission based.   This allows us to constantly be creative.   We work closely with our customers to get the what they want.   That is the fun part about my job!!!
What do you say to people who say you can’t make a living with art?
People can be skeptical about art as a living.   Truth is everywhere you look there is art.   Without it there would be no sense of creativity and prosperity within life.   Yes it is very hard to make a decent living with art, but understanding that you have to run a business first is very important.   So you make it work. Just like any other small business it can be challenging.   We have found a way to do it and others can to.   We employ 6 at our shop and they love what they do.   Surrounding yourself with employees that are team oriented is key.  As a veteran myself we have half employed that are veterans.   This really makes for a great team atmosphere within our business. 
Do you have any advice for students interested in pursuing art?
 For the students.  Give it a try,  if you don’t succeed at least you tried but you did not fail because you tried.   This happens all the time in the art world and I think it only makes you better as an individual.
Doug Frates Glass
Looking through Doug Frates‘ work, I am very impressed by his range and creativity within the glass medium. I love introducing new, interesting artists to my students, and I can’t wait to add Doug to my list of inspirational, working artists. Thank you Doug for this interview, your amazing talent, and good advice to upcoming artists. Doug’s list of awards and recognition is proof enough that it is never to late to pursue your passion.
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Spray Paint Murals: Chor Boogie

michael jackson mural copy

I have always had an interest in street art. I love the vibrant colors, range of subject matter, and sense of freedom spray painted images have. As a child the special trips into the city of Atlanta brought awe at the height of buildings and a bit of shock to see words and images plastered on the sides of walls.

As an adult now living in the city I love seeing the living walls. Real art is created here. Conversations between artists happen as a stenciled bunny rabbit is suddenly surrounded by spray painted carrots, then a fox chasing from behind. One day I drive down the street and discover a mural being created, the next day I find Tom Selleck’s silhouette appeared on a bridge overnight. There is constant change, expression, and artistic freedom on these walls. You see mistakes, growth, and change in the layers of paint.

With spray paint often used as a means of vandalization and gang tagging it has developed a bad name. However, despite it’s many negative connotations I do believe there has been more acceptance of good intentioned (and well done) graffiti art. I am excited to see Atlanta begin to embrace street art rather than fight it. This is evident by the large increase in commissioned public art I have seen in my five years in the city. Amazing images have begun brighting dark corners, alleyways, tunnels, and overpasses. The ability for street artists and government officials to come together and create has brought much more culture and flavor onto the walls of my city. For those who don’t spend their weekends wandering art museums, walking down the street has now become an opportunity for them to be introduced to and experience art.

Chor Boogie is one of the artists working to give spray paint a good name.

MODERN HIEROGLYPHICS

Chor has been creating since the age of five, and spray painting since he was 13. For 23 years he has been working with spray paint, honing his skills, and working towards redefining spray paint as a fine art medium. A completely self taught artist, Chor has worked his way from Oceanside, CA to San Fransisco, and all over the world. His work of art, “The Eyes of the Berlin Wall” sold for $500,000.00, breaking records for the street art genre, and setting a standard for street art as fine art.

Chor is not only breaking down the walls between street art and fine art, he is taking the pieces and transforming them into unbelievable examples of the capabilities of spray paint.

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Chor’s artwork contains the sense of freedom and expression I am immediately attracted to. His work has layer after layer of bright colors, intertwining shapes, and a mix of graphic art and realism, which seamlessly come together to create images with impact. Simply looking at a picture online I feel enveloped in the color, I can only image what it is like to stand in front of one of these massive murals.

All of his work is created with 100% spray paint. His 23 years of experience is evident in the way he handles the material. The crisp lines, carefully faded colors, and overall clean look of his artwork is an unbelievable example of how spray paint rivals what any other fine art material can do.

chor boogie at work

I can feel the expression of his artwork dripping down the lines of the spray paint splatters and seeping through his many layers. I feel like I can breath looking at his work, it doesn’t look tight, stuffy, or overworked. I think part of the sense of freedom has to do with his process. He doesn’t spend a lot of time pre planning. His process is very go with the flow, which is evident through his work and in the way he describes it, “I basically scale everything by eye on a natural feel to keep things a little organic along with years of experience, I have a rendering if I’m doing realistic portraits, but I always add my original flavor to it.”

I envy his process. I get too caught up in the pre-planning stages and the little details. I strive to find a way to let loose, be organic, which is why I am so drawn to what he does.

Recently Chor was commissioned to complete a large scale mural on the ground floor of the CUBES, a retail development off West 42nd street in New York City. Chor chose to complete large scale portraits of Michael Jackson and Madonna. The bright patterns pop through the all glass front of the building. The layered spray paint shines through the more monochromatic, and slightly translucent faces of the two celebrities. The layers intrigued me as soon as I saw the images, and when asked the meaning behind them he simply explained, “everyone has flavor to them, some form of abstract within them, and we are all based upon layers shapes and forms.. that create a whole… as one.” Despite our individual level of celebrity, creativity, or exterior differences we are all made up of the same amazing, beautiful shapes.

madonna-jackson_chor_boogie_montana_colos

Future murals have already been planned for the second and third floors of the building, with super hero and film icons lined up to add a little flavor to the currently blank walls. I asked why he chose these themes for the projects and Chor explained, “I know I’m just like these celebrities and super heroes because I put in just as much work, just a different medium and on a different stage… and if the super hero theme mural happens, its all in relation to super heroes in NYC and the rest of the world..”

chor boogie and michael jackson

I’m excited to see the level of recognition Chor has received for his work. He is taking steps to change the views of spray paint’s role as a fine art medium. I hope with his continued success he will bring light to the importance of public works of art, and increase the collaboration between cities and their artists. He finished up our interview with a little advice for up and coming artists, “can’t stop won’t stop… never stop believing… make it or not.. never disrespect your talent ..”

A big thanks to Chor Boogie for taking the time to do an interview with me! To read more about his work check out his website here. Thank you for checking out this post and my blog. Help me spread the word about Chor Boogie, street art, and my blog by sharing it with others. I couldn’t do it without you!

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