Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category


Monday, February 22nd, 2016

The Met’s new logo has inspired divergent criticism from the art and design press. It’s a “graphic misfire,” writes Vulture, while WIRED explains how its ligatures create “a metaphorical moment.” The capital E’s “look like butts,” quips GQ.

To build our own informed opinion of the logo, we sought answers from Ilene Strizver, a longtime SVACE faculty member who teaches Gourmet Typography.  She also writes TypeTalk, an ongoing and deeply informative blog for Ilene responded with some valuable insights. She writes:

The New Met Logo
Ilene Strizver | The Type Studio

The new Metropolitan Museum of Art logo has everyone talking – and it’s not all words of praise. The new logo is the work of global-branding firm Wolff Olins, scheduled to be unveiled on March 2016. This design is a rebranding, with a totally new look, feel, and concept compared to the previous logo. While there is certainly nothing wrong with rebranding a highly revered institution such as The Met, I’m not sure this one accomplishes what they set out to do.

Old and new logos for The Met

Old and new logos for The Met

At first glance, the connection the new logo has with the overly tight type treatments of the 60s and 70s was unmistakable. This style was first employed by Herb Lubalin, who started the whole tight type movement during the transition from metal to phototypesetting which made it possible to do things that were not viable with hot metal. Lubalin was known for his extremely tight spacing and type tailoring (as we called it then), where two or more characters were often blended into each other, creating a ligature of sorts. The new Met logo uses this technique to create extreme ligatures out of each of the three-letter words. Unfortunately it is overdone to the point where the ‘tricks’ catch the eye and take visual precedence over the meaning of the words and the great institution it represents, in effect reverting back to the “bellbottoms and tie-dye shirts” of typography of the 60s and 70s.

This cover of U&lc Vol 5, No 4 was designed by Herb Lubalin in 1978. It epitomizes the overly tight type that was the revered style of the 60s and 70s.

This cover of U&lc Vol 5, No 4 was designed by Herb Lubalin in 1978. It epitomizes the overly tight type that was the revered style of the 60s and 70s.

“Our new logo no longer relies on symbols and, instead, is based on our commonly used name ‘The Met,’ which has an immediacy that speaks to all audiences. It is an original drawing, a hybrid that combines and connects serif and sans serif, classical and modern letterforms. In this respect, it reflects the scope of the Museum’s collection and the inherent connections that exist within it.”

This statement by the museum explains that the hybrid forms are intended to symbolize the broad scope of the museum’s collection. Unfortunately the logo doesn’t ‘read’ that way. If the viewer needs an explanation in order to ‘get’ or understand a logo that is not easily recognizable, it is missing the point.

Both revising or rebranding a logo should take an identity in forward-moving direction, but this does not do that. It is a caricature of a style gone by, and does not accurately reflect the greatness and broad spectrum of the institution it is designed to represent. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for finessing and type tailoring typography to either draw attention to words or letterforms (having lovingly created many in my days working on U&lc), but going overboard with too many tricks makes the tricks the star attraction, not the word mark or the institution itself. If this logo consisted of these same letterforms without the ‘triple-ligaturization’ it might have been more successful in achieving the intended goal.

-Ilene Strizver

Lost in Translation

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

The cartoonist group Charlie Hebdo provoked outrage last week by publishing a cartoon that shockingly resurrects a dead child refugee as an adult sexual predator.  Journalists responded: “Disgustingly racist.” “Unforgivable.”

How do we interpret this cartoon? Is it aggressive satire that mocks European xenophobia? Or do we take it at face value, as racist propaganda? Which interpretation is easier to believe? Do we expect the worst of our cartoonists, just as natives expect the worst of immigrants?

Steve Brodner, an illustration faculty member, agreed to share some insights. Along with practicing some of today’s most pointed political cartooning, Steve has spoken publicly about Charlie Hebdo with fellow artist Liniers  and SVA colleagues. On January 22, he will participate in Freedom of Expression in a Changing World: What Cannot Be Said. If there’s an illustrator whose own work and teaching experience who can illuminate the Charlie Hebdo debate, it has to be Steve.

Charlie Hebdo's Aylan Kurdi cartoon

Charlie Hebdo’s Aylan Kurdi cartoon

Steve writes:

“Here is the latest cartoon from the Charlie Hebdo controversy factory to whip across the news this week. It implies that the famous baby, Aylan Kurdi, who horrendously perished in one of the recent waves of Syrian migration (which are ongoing, so please contribute to UNHCR or others), would grow up to become a drooling rapist marauding across the streets of Cologne.

What are we to make of it? Are we to assume that the cartoonist and editor, both in league with the racist right of Europe and the United States, believe that the behavior of these particular people on New Year’s Eve should be seen as an accurate characterization of Muslim men in general? Or is this a broader commentary, via irony, on the way we so quickly revert to black and white thinking when we see such a story?

I knew one of the Hebdo artists murdered in January 2015. There is an undoubted level of sophistication that they share. And I believe that this sophistication is cleverly woven via irony into the Charlie ‘toons.

It should be said that it is the hard fought-for goal of all illustration to be, on some level, understood by the viewer. What we do is fine-tuned for communication. That is my training and what I teach at SVA. But how to judge a project where ambiguity is the goal?

Could it then just be about raising hell? And it does raise hell. So shall we talk about that instead? That this all is rewarded in the coin of the realm: attention. Great attention will be paid to this cartoon. And not incidentally to…Charlie Hebdo.

Here in the US we have, for the first time, a European-style hate campaign looking very much like it will take over a major political party. It would seem now that poor, muddled satire needs to be put away.  Mass communication is about driving that out. If the statement as written here, that Aylan would have grown up to be a sexual abuser, is to be taken at face value, it would be just another racist tract. And a pretty tasteless one.

I believe the statement intended is mocking of racists in France and in the West. But whichever it is, it is impossible to discern, and is therefore a failure. Which we are all entitled to have from time to time.  But don’t pretend that syntax and usage are not important in visual communication. They are everything.”

Point Man

Monday, December 28th, 2015

It’s a wonder that Matt Rota found time to write The Art of Ballpoint.  An SVA alum and faculty member recently endowed with a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, Rota maintains a busy freelance illustration career, in addition to teaching courses for SVA MFA Visual Narrative and Continuing Education.

Matt recently published The Art of Ballpoint, a book that examines the qualities of the ballpoint pen as a fine art and illustration medium.  The book combines drawing exercises with interviews featuring contemporary artists and illustrators.  The book is “equal parts instruction and inspiration,” according to Marc Scheff, writing for Illustration Age.

We flagged down Matt to discuss his insights on ballpoint, technology, and illustration.

"The Art of Ballpoint" by Matt Rota

“The Art of Ballpoint” by Matt Rota

SVA: You have interviewed many artists on your Tumblr blog, Pen and Ink. Is The Art of Ballpoint an extension of the blog?

MR: The blog is actually an offshoot of the book.  The book itself is an offshoot of teaching,  I have taught for several years in illustration departments at SVA and the Maryland Institute College of Art. I also was teaching online classes for a company called Craftsy; these were basic drawing and painting classes.

It was these online classes that I think led to the book. The classes were structured in a similar vein as a book, with chapters and condensed lessons, and it gave publishers a chance to see the sort of language that I use and how I communicate. A couple of publishers approached me to do books on drawing. (I assume not only because I taught an online drawing class, but because my professional work is largely drawing.)

I had generated a lot of writing that would be used for the book, but in a slightly different form. I did these interviews, but in the book, they are translated into third person. So the blog started once I was done with the book, as both a way to raise awareness for the book, but also as a way to to showcase some of the really great interviews I had gotten from the artists.

The interviews have the artists speaking in their own words, and the artists I got for the book I think are really great, so I was excited to present those as well. I thought it would be a shame to have all this writing sitting around from all of these great artists not being seen. Right now, the blog is attached to the book and the material from the book, but I gathered so much stuff I could not fit into the book. Eventually, the blog will carry on beyond the book until I run out of ballpoint material to post.

Ballpoint drawing by Joan Salo

Ballpoint drawing by Joan Salo

SVA: What makes ballpoint pen a unique and compelling subject for an art book? Is it distinctly different from traditional materials, such as charcoal, graphite, and watercolor?

MR: The ballpoint pen has been around for less than a century, in the form we know it now. It’s only been in existence since right before World War II, and has only been on the market since the fifties, so it’s really the tool of the mechanical age. Pencils and pens have been around in various forms for centuries. You could make an argument that the ballpoint is an extension of the fountain pen in that they are both pens that contain their own ink wells, but really the fountain pen is a part of the quill tradition, the last step in the evolution of a quill pen, and a ballpoint is something quite unique in and of itself.

Ballpoint drawing by Dawn Clements

Ballpoint drawing by Dawn Clements

MR (cont.): The main thing that makes the pen unique other than the ball tip is the ink. The evolution and success of the ballpoint is the development of its ink.  The innovation of an ink that dried quickly, did not smear, but did not clog the pen, and did not dry out over time (by some accounts the ink will last 20 years without drying inside the reservoir) came from Laszlo Biro, the first innovator of ballpoints (though not the inventor). He was working at a newspaper and noticed that printer’s ink dried more quickly than fountain pen ink, so the first ballpoint ink was based on printer’s ink formula. What these innovations meant was a writing tool that was extremely durable and long-lasting. (The ink can draw, I think, up to almost two miles’ worth of a line.)

The next major innovator, Marcel Bich, figured out how to mass produce them. He is the reason ballpoints are everywhere; there’s been something like 100 billion pens made by Bic over the years. For art, that has meant a lot of different things. For some, it is the modern drawing tool; it was popular among Futurists like Lucio Fontana for its mass-produced modernist implications. It has lowbrow appeal for other artists like Lennie Mace, where the pen is a non-art drawing tool due to its inflexible tip and ubiquitous, mass-produced nature. The fixed tip of the pen, typically 1.0mm, is pretty small, and the fact that you don’t have to dip, refill, or sharpen it results in a very focused, detail-oriented aesthetic that is common to the ballpoint. That unbroken focus creates a specific mindset and almost meditative quality that is almost always associated with the pen, and quite unique to it.  The pen’s ubiquity also lends a casual quality to some of the art associated with it; it’s a thing you can just doodle and daydream with.

Ballpoint drawing by Joo Lee Kang

Ballpoint drawing by Joo Lee Kang

SVA: You describe the ballpoint pen as “the tool of the mechanical age” and “the modern drawing tool.” And you observe that its precision and endurance make it ideal for a visual language of a focused, detail-oriented aesthetic and meditative process. Do the artists in your book all share these qualities in their artwork? Or some more than others?

MR: It seems to me, and according to many of the responses I got through interviews with the artists, that this is common to most. (I say most, but none have said it wasn’t, I just don’t want to speak for everyone.) Although all of the artists are unique in their own ways, and the book covers a wide aesthetic range, the artists drawing with the pen tended to have a very meticulous focus. (Shane McAdams uses the pen a bit differently, and is more experimental with it, so he may not fit in here.)

Ballpoint drawing by Shane McAdams

Ballpoint drawing by Shane McAdams

MR (cont.): Take two very different artists: Joanne Greenbaum, an artist whose drawings can have the feeling of complex, cerebral doodles, and compare her work with Jim Rugg’s. Jim creates these nostalgic pop culture references in spiral-bound notebooks that bring us back to things we may have been enthusiastic about in high school. Both have the attentiveness and inwardness that comes from the pen. Jim’s drawings take on these dedicated daydream-type feelings, like getting lost in your sketchbook as a teen, filling the whole page up with shading and textures. Joanne’s images are radically different thematically, but also have feeling that she has let her mind wander. There is a “letting go” here that is what I’m getting at. An important aspect to this is that the motion of drawing with these is fairly limited and within a constrained area. The motion is all in the wrist; it requires very little physical engagement, and far more mental focus. The drawings as a result tend to be smaller than if you were using charcoal with your entire arm on a larger sheet of paper. This, I think, has an effect on the inward quality that ballpoint can deliver, and is typical of the medium. (Though it’s not universal, given the drawings of Il Lee, who creates giant, cloud-like field drawings, using long, bold pen strokes on a large sheet of paper.)

Ballpoint drawings by Chamo San (l) and Joanne Greenbaum (r)

SVA: In addition to publishing interviews and teaching classes, you maintain a busy career as an illustrator, with work appearing in Vice, Reveal, and many other outlets. Do you consider these occupations to be separate interests, just various jobs? Or are they part of each other, like facets on a gem?

MR: At the core of it is my own work. I draw for my illustration work. I love drawing, and specifically, narrative drawing, storytelling. So the love of drawing and storytelling facilitates everything else. I teach illustration; I write about drawing and art that interests me. All of these are offshoots of my main interest in the art that i do. All of it, the teaching and writing, circles back around through and has a big impact on the work I do. As I teach and write, I have to research and always learn about new things, new skills, new artists. These things always impact my own work, so it’s all part of one big cycle.

Ballpoint drawing by Mu Pan

Ballpoint drawing by Mu Pan

SVA: You’ve made some good points about innovation and the technology of the ballpoint pen. And you benefit from technology in your work and teaching, such as Digital Coloring. Where do you see the most important technological advancements in art and illustration? Do you follow any publications or websites that feature innovative art?

MR: There is no particular area where I’m looking to find innovation, aside from the internet, where I find 99% of my art. Technological innovation is too widespread in the art world for me to talk about it broadly. In illustration, it takes a couple of forms, mostly in programs like Photoshop or After Effects, which simplify tasks and art forms that are over a century old, but which required processes that were much bulkier, and maybe required more people. Digital technology allows for one person to do what would have at one point required a team. Also, it allows for far more experimentation with less risk.

Ballpoint drawings by Jean Pierre Arboleda (l) and Joo Chung (r)

Ballpoint drawings by Jean Pierre Arboleda (l) and Joo Chung (r)

MR (cont.): For myself, I have a more traditional background in drawing. Photoshop allows me to treat my drawing process like printmaking, but with no constraints. I can replicate processes like screen printing, lithography, and offset printing, combining all kinds of wild ideas into a single image. I can explore multiple solutions to a single image very easily and quickly, and decide which one I like the most. For me, a program like Photoshop equals freedom to explore new possibilities in drawing, combinations of drawing, painting, collage, and printmaking that would be extremely hard otherwise. The coloring capability of Photoshop, that is, the freedom to explore a range of color options in a piece, is very liberating and has led to an era of very bold and exotic color palettes that I think are unique to this era. Photoshop helps me discover very unconventional but harmonious color choices I would not have thought of with traditional paint. Also, Photoshop has become wonderful at replicating the effects of traditional drawing and painting materials like pastels, watercolor and oil paint, which is great because it allows for quicker, cleaner illustrations that look traditional, but can be convenient for quick deadlines. Also, Cintiq computer screens, on which you can draw directly, have been around for more than a decade, but continue to advance, making digital drawing and painting more exciting.

In my experience, those are the advances that are happening on a technical level and that are advancing the field of illustration the most right now. In other ways, the internet and mobile technology are the other major advancement that are effecting the way people interact with art and illustration. More content than ever is migrating online and is changing the presentation and capabilities of print media by integrating motion and sequential elements in ways we’ve never seen. The internet has also facilitated advances in digital printing, which allows for inexpensive, high-quality, low-run print editions, like books, magazines, and prints. This allows for a much more affordable marketplace for printing and selling art products, which is great for getting artists secondary sources of income, as well as spreading their work to a much wider audience. I think these are the things making the illustration world a very exciting place at the moment.

Ballpoint drawing by Shane McAdams

Ballpoint drawing by Shane McAdams

See more from Matt Rota on Twitter and The Art of Ballpoint on Instagram.

#theartofballpoint #illustration #MattRota #SVACEfaculty

Holiday Gift Guide

Monday, December 14th, 2015

For creatives, holiday shopping can be a breeze. No shopping! Artists and designers can make gifts, cards, prints, and more. Made well, these gifts can outlast many objects impulsively added to Amazon wish lists.

But for those who love creatives, holiday giving is tricky for several reasons.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.15.22 PM

First, artists and designers work with a vast range of materials, devices, and programs.  Where does one begin? Sable brushes and ceramics glazes will always be great gifts for artists, but now we also might consider giving our artists fleets of acrylic paint additives, arsenals of markers, drafting pens or pen nibs, typeface licenses or Photoshop, Premiere or Unreal Engine, Arduino kits or Raspberry Pi, Wacom tablets or Apple Pencils.  And what about the books?

Second, and related to the first, we have to understand the creative pursuits of our artistic loved ones. A conceptually-driven artist might frown at a box of pastels. A rapid prototyping enthusiast might balk at a home silkscreen kit. Still, resourceful artists can work with anything, even disposable stuff.

With all of this in mind, we asked our faculty members about their own holiday gift experiences. “What gift(s) have you received that profoundly impacted your experience as an artist?” Read their responses below.

Elizabeth Sayles
Twitter: @LizSayles
When I was about 19, Milton Glaser came to speak at my college. I was a sophomore at what is now called the University of the Arts, but back then it was more specifically known as the Philadelphia College of Art.  No one in my class (including me) knew who Milton Glaser was, but apparently he was a “graphic designer.”  No one really knew what that was either.

He blew us all away. He spoke about his failures.  He showed us projects that looked pretty great to us, that the art directors hated and he had to do over. He did graphic work, but also really interesting illustrations. He didn’t fit into any neat category, and he opened my eyes to the possibilities.  He showed us that even professionals who had enough credentials to come speak at a college didn’t always get their artwork approved.  But mainly he showed us that you didn’t have to fit in a box.  You could do design AND illustration AND store design, etc…  He has become the Picasso of our time.

In the school bookstore was a large tome with a very understated, yet flamboyant portrait of Bob Dylan on the cover entitled Milton Glaser: Graphic Design. It is all I wanted that year.  And I got it!  Still have it.  Dog-eared and falling apart. Love it.


Adam Meyers:
“I don’t know about profound. But I used to work in a dark and dirty rock club. Yeah! All the employees were creatives, artists, actors, etc. Each holiday, we would have a party and the bosses would give us a gift based on our medium. I’m a renaissance man. But I would get a canvas each year. We would then have a spring show with our holiday gifts.

Being an artist can be quite lonely. But I guess the profound thing was being a part of a family of artists.”

Keren Moscovitch:
Twitter: @kerenmoscovitch
“I love getting vintage books that somehow relate to whatever ideas I’m knocking around in the studio. My collaborator Marianna Olinger recently gave me a first US edition of Albert Camus’ Resistance, Rebellion and Death since I’ve been looking at the ways that creative practices disrupt dominant modes of thinking, acting and loving. I’m inspired by not just the words on the cover, but also the physical object itself, with its rich personal and collective history and all the impact it has had on movements of social and political resistance.”

“On the ridge where the great artist moves forward, every step is an adventure, an extreme risk. In that risk, however, and only there, lies the freedom of art.” – Camus

Camus Book Keren

Mark Burk:
Twitter: @brandnv
“WRITING BOOK: A NET FOR IDEAS. There’s nothing more delicious than a new notebook, and no thinker (writer, artist, art director) should ever be without one.

My very first writing teacher – an enigmatic David Foster Wallace kind of guy – gave me a great piece of advice: “Get a notebook and keep it with you always. The best ideas always come when you’re not at your desk.”

So that’s the advice I’m passing on to all creative thinkers because you never know when an idea will fall out of your brain that you want to capture.

Using Notes on a phone is fine in a pinch, but what you miss is the opportunity to use that moment to create, because the act of getting an idea almost always begets more ideas — scenes, bits of dialogue, a sketch or written fragment that captures the poetry of a visual moment…

Here are a few of the books I’ve filled over the years that have captured thousands and thousands of ideas for fiction, film, wedding speeches, condolence notes, and lots and lots of ad ideas. I’ve written them in museums, on trains, in line at the grocery, at laundromats. Everywhere. Even at a funeral (I was discreet.)
I just got the book in the middle as a gift. In a few months it will be filled with all kinds of stuff  – most of it garbage – but all of it necessary.”

msb notebooks

Martin Abrahams:
“In the 1950’s, for Christmas, I received the Jon Gnagy famous ‘How to Draw Kit!’ Jon Gnagy was on television teaching drawing, so now I thought if I had this I can draw like him!

This ‘How to Draw Kit’ was filled with great drawing tools: erasers, pencils, chalk sticks, things to blend with, drawing tools I never knew existed! A book with lessons on how to draw, still life, landscapes, and portraits.

Of course, it was too much of a regimented technique! So I explored making my own expressionistic drawings, instead! Hey, I was only 7! I thought Gnagy was cool! He wore a plaid shirt! And looked like an artist! Happy Holidays!”

SVACE blog gift


Ruth Marten:
“When I was about 9, I received from the family of my father’s Navy buddy an 8-inch tall stack of white drawing paper and a pack of Venus water-soluble colored pencils in a case that had a snap closure. This was a great gift.”

John A. Parks:
Twitter: @skrappy3
A Christmas Gift

My very first set of oil paints was a Christmas gift, secured from my parents after a short campaign.  The inspiration came about through the visit of a clergyman the previous summer, a single man in early middle age who had been invited to my father’s church to preach.  Being asked to give a sermon was one of the few perks available to a Church of England clergyman back in the gloomy early sixties in Northern England.  Congregations apparently tired of a steady diet of their own vicars and craved the novelty of a stranger’s voice.  Some of the men even made small reputations for themselves as preachers and were much in demand. Not that there was any money involved.  What they had to look forward to was a stay in another man’s vicarage, where they would face the inquisitive children, eat the simple food offered, and get a night in a damp guest bed before receiving the polite attention of a congregation ranged in a chilly church the following morning.  After a roast beef Sunday lunch and an exchange of ecclesiastical gossip the visitor could get the train back to his own parish refreshed and invigorated, his ego propped and bolstered by the attention.

This particular clergyman, whose name I have long forgotten, deviated from the usual Christian small talk on his arrival by beginning to tell us about a new interest. This was over tea.  He had, he said, recently been on a painting tour given by a well-known artist.  They had stayed at several large country houses and had begun to use oil paint. Our clergyman spoke in a rich Oxbridge accent and his voice grew animated as he talked about the pleasures of painting outdoors and the wonder of spending so many hours simply looking at things.  He mentioned a few painters he admired and asked if we knew the French Impressionists.  My parents looked somewhat put out, being generally interested only in saving the world for Christ.  Their involvement with the arts began and ended with hymn tunes, and if my father ever mentioned art at all it was only to say that it was “merely the icing on the cake.”   But our visitor was not to be deterred from his new passion.    He ran off upstairs to the guest room and returned a few minutes later with a large portfolio.    From this he produced a canvas which he put before us with a flourish.

There were three of us children and of course we pushed forward to see what was so interesting.  The scene was blurry, a sort of stone gate house behind a swath of lawn framed by some rather rubbery looking trees and backed by an overly blue sky.  No doubt it was a terribly amateur shot at painting but I was transfixed, overtaken by the way in which the world had been transformed.  The building in the painting seemed unstable, almost dissolving, while the lawn heaved and the sky hung like an old shawl in the heavens.  It was a world that was recognizable and yet bizarrely different.  Suddenly painting a picture seemed like the most exciting and magical thing in the world.

So on Christmas morning I was presented with a wooden box containing a small set of tubes, a tiny glass bottle of turpentine and an even smaller one of linseed oil.  There was a wooden palette, a couple of brushes and several canvas boards.  I was beside myself to begin work but an enormous obstacle stood in my way: I would first have to attend church.

Christmas morning in my father’s church was a full dress affair, with the entire service of Morning Prayer from the 1662 prayer book and a sermon delivered by my father on the meaning of Christ’s birth, the promise of regeneration, and the importance of charity.

Nothing could match the overwhelming dreariness of this prospect.

I announced, therefore, that I didn’t feel well, that I was desperately, perhaps mortally sick.  I insisted that I couldn’t possibly go to church.  My mother was skeptical, but I was not to be moved and at last I achieved the almost impossible, I was excused a church service.   Suddenly the house was empty, my siblings gone, and the only sounds the dull sizzle of the turkey in the oven and the rustle and tinkle of Christmas decorations shifted by the frigid drafts of the old vicarage.

Within minutes I was squeezing great dollops of paint onto the palette, breathing in the heady smell of linseed and turpentine and deciding what to paint.  I thought I would begin with a picture of a candle.  I’m not sure why, although perhaps I had seen such a picture somewhere.  The paint seemed impossibly sticky and when I loaded my brush it splurged around unpredictably, climbed up the silver ferrule onto my fingers and generally fetched up on the wrong parts of the canvas.   Still, I managed to establish a white candle with a bright yellow flame and then a wall behind in a dark green.  It was immensely difficult pushing the paint around without getting the colors to all mix together.  The yellow seemed to find its way into everything.  Somehow I managed to get a dark red patch on my mother’s dining room table and a swatch of green on my shoe.  But by the time my family returned, my mother anxious to check on the turkey, I was able to present them with a recognizable picture of a burning candle sitting on a table top in an old-fashioned holder.

They were immediately critical.  “Well it’s all rather yellow,” frowned my mother.

My sister sniffed.  “It’s not very good,” she said.  “You’re not much of an artist. And anyway you should have been in church.”

My father said “My word,” and wandered off to his study, but then his eyesight was so poor, his eyes swimming behind his enormous spectacles, that I knew he could scarcely see the picture anyway.

And so I received a second and quite invaluable gift from my family that Christmas morning, the knowledge of what an artist will always face more often than not; rejection, disinterest and dismissal.  It didn’t bother me in the slightest; I was already hooked for life.

Faculty Updates

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

What have SVACE faculty members been up to? We have exciting updates from Peter Hristoff, Keith Mayerson, Matt Rota, and Viktor Koen!

Peter Hristoff at the Met Museum

Peter Hristoff at the Met Museum

Peter Hristoff is the Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this interview for the MetKids Blog, he picks his favorite artworks and offers insights on visiting the museum, including an assignment he gives himself.  To learn more about Peter’s work, read his statement about the museum’s influence on the monumental work he’s developing. One highlight: “Being able to spend so much time at the Met has provided me with great lessons in history; I see the fluidity of influences across borders, how one culture’s artifacts are reinterpreted by another. Pagan figures in one gallery evolve into saints in another; Islamic motifs that appear in ceramics are then repeated on a European fabric.”

Keith Mayerson, "My American Dream"

Keith Mayerson, “My American Dream”

Faculty update: Keith Mayerson has debuted the catalog for My American Dream, his vast solo survey at Marlborough ChelseaThe first printing is 200 copies, signed and dated. It has installation views, Keith’s notes about the exhibition, and every painting – and it reads like a comic narrative. It’s available at cost for $75 through Marlborough. 

rota ballpoint

Matt Rota has published The Art of Ballpoint with Rockport Books!  Matt has already established a practice of interviewing artists on his Pen and Ink Tumblr, so the new book seems like a natural progression.

Viktor Koen for NYT

Viktor Koen for NYT

Viktor Koen illustrated the cover for this weekend’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section! For his process and thoughts, visit his lively Tumblr.

See more updates on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages!