November 2017 Artist Interview
Matthew Scott Gualco was raised in Sacramento, California and has a BFA in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA in New Genres from the San Fransisco Art Institute. He portrays his work through printmaking and bookmaking -- posters and the reinterpretation of well known written works and lyrics. In transposing popular words and lyrics, he hopes to create a new dialogue about what is culturally popular or sacred.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I was brought into art as a child when my nanny Mama Dee encouraged me to do art projects, like drawing and collaging. She used art as a learning tool to broaden my creativity and point of view. I liked art, because it let me escape into my own world and it let me communicate what was important to me in a coded way. I continued practicing art in high school, which carried on through undergrad at Kansas City Art Institute and was followed by graduate school at San Francisco Art Institute. I think that if people support you as an artist, then you can keep pushing forward and pursuing it.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
I started out painting. I used to make big abstract pieces, but then in college I discovered that you didn’t actually have to “paint” to be a part of the painting department. When I was in school, everyone was painting, and I wanted to find something that distinguished me more. I started doing paper collage and experimented with the written word, and I thought it was a more exciting way to make my art. It felt like the next step of my art career. In grad school, I did a lot of word art and made a lot of books about celebrity culture and high art. I found that outlet so interesting, because I wanted to shed some light on how much we, as a culture, are fascinated by the rise and fall of our celebrities – it seems like we want people to struggle. I liked the idea of people holding my art in their hands and actually having to process an experience with it, because they had to read it. I like that this medium feels more accessible.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
My work comes out sporadically. I’m like hot and cold. If I find something that strikes my interest, I work on it pretty obsessively until it comes out the way I envisioned. If I were to pinpoint a time of day when I work the most, it’s probably in the morning after I’ve been on the internet and witnessed the horrors there.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
It just depends on when the inspiration strikes. I collaborate a lot with other artists, so it will also depend on their availability and what they’re working on at the time. I can get pretty stuck on ideas though, and my wife has accused me of overproducing, but even that inspires me to make more. I guess you can say that some of my art has even come out of silly arguments with her.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
I’m easily influenced. I’m influenced by the internet, hip-hop, casual conversations with my family and friends, things I overhear on the street. Like before I made Art Bae, I was on the subway and there was a man and woman having a conversation. She was talking to him and said, “Do you know that bae means shit?” She said that in Danish, the word bae actually means shit. I thought that was amazing, and immediately I was thinking about how I could make art shit.
I never feel like I want to get too comfortable in my process. I feel compelled to always be moving forward or finding the next step. Even with what I’m making now, I feel that there is a new place to evolve. Someday I want to be making brands with other artists – branding and producing.
Some of the artists whose work I like right now are: Clayton Skidmore @claytonskidmore, Miza Coplin @dadshirt, and @gaadjika.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Trying new things is completely exciting to me. I keep looking for ways to put my ideas into different forms. There’s always a next step on how you can produce a new artwork. I like to put my work in a variety of different sellable forms, because I like the idea of having a limited run. Sometimes, when I’m trying out a new idea, I will feel anxious about how it will be perceived. When I get ideas for new art, I fixate, and that idea is the most interesting thing to me at that time. But you never know what other people are going to think about what you make.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
I never really have a full plan when I start something. I definitely have a vision for how I hope something will turn out. But I pretty much just troubleshoot through the process.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
My current project is “OVOB” (Our Very Own Boyfriend) with artist Melinda Melmoth @melindamelmoth. It’s a take on how Drake is the definitive boyfriend – so smooth and sensitive. It will launch at Printed Matter’s LA Artist Book Fair and be on sale at Quimby’s NYC. I’m also working on RihannaLisa lapel pins that will be dropping in November. I’ll be tabling at the Yale Artist Book Fair on December 8th, and I have work available at the Shop at Westchester.
You can find more information about the artist at his website www.matthewgualco.com and purchase his work at http://matthewscottgualco.bigcartel.com.