Little interview with Gant Powell.
Gant is a Baltimore artist now living and working in Brooklyn.
Ok, he will say that in the interview so…
What more can I say?
I just arrived in Paris, it’s 6 in the morning and I’m a bit exhausted.
While I go get a coffee feel free to read the whole thing.
He says a lot of cool things.
More about the Brooklyn artist Gant Powell.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF
My name is Gant Powell. I was born in Baltimore MD and now I live in Brooklyn. I’m an illustrator.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK?
Whenever I think my work is one thing it starts moving in another direction, so it’s easier for me to talk about the things that influence my work, the ideas that motivate me. I have a love for campy movies, which might come from my Baltimore roots, but also probably has a lot to do with older gay culture. LGBT issues and struggle filter in regularly, with perceived gender roles and internal struggle featuring largely. I stay current with news and culture, I think that’s important for a commercial artist because our job is to distill and interpret our world for the masses. Just like it is a journalist’s job to stay as analytical as possible, I think we should be opinionated and fearless. I don’t know if this describes my work, but these are goals and ambitions I have for my work.
PLEASE SHARE WITH US YOUR WORKING PROCESS
I start with brainstorming, often writing some lists, either on sketch paper or just keeping it in my head, and i search the web and books for images that I think show a mood I want. Sometimes i search for examples of Baroque ornamentation, sometimes scenes from Casablanca. It depends on the project, obviously. After I find some images that offer me a foundation I start thumbnails for compositions. I work from reference fairly heavily and so I am usually simultaneously searching for more images while drawing. Then it’s on to a larger sketch, then a sketch in light pencil on heavy paper. Once that sketch is finished, I will start using washes to build up tone in the composition. It becomes a weird combination of structured and organic process here. I know what steps are necessary to make the image, but it is through constant analysis and experimenting with mark-making that the image becomes strong and interesting and mine. So I keep building up and painting with gouache all of the things I had planned on including, and then at ever stage I am also thinking about where I can use pencil marks, chalk, and maybe I want to try something new like spray paint (i haven’t gotten there yet but i’m working towards that).
HOW DOES YOUR ENVIRONMENT INFLUENCE YOUR ART
I keep my studio relatively organized. Folks I’ve shared studios with might scoff there, because it wasn’t that way when I was in grad school, but since working from home it has been necessary. The added bonus is that when I don’t have to search for an eraser or that pencil for 20 minutes, I really can just focus on the art. And that is the point, right? I work in my living room, where I am surrounded by books, artwork, interesting furniture, patterns, and really good light. I have to be around things and people I like or everything gets pretty crappy.
WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCES?
I love Mark Ulriksen’s work. And Demetrios Psillos too. Picasso, during his early years. I look at a lot of fashion work because I think that really good fashion illustration is all about the mark making and I focus a lot on mark making. So I like Bil Donovan and David Downton. 60’s lifestyle illustration, and Robert Weaver. All of my professors from college. My classmates, my roommate. They’ve all influenced me.
ANY LAST WORD?
Don’t force decisions, just allow them to float to the surface. I think forcing decisions often leads to inauthenticity and that will be a struggle to get right if you commit to it. I have to go through so many options before I can commit to something that actually feels right.