Interviewed in April of 2013
Current town: Beverly,MA
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1.) Greg, Tell us a little bit about where you’re from or where you grew up… and how that influences the type of art you’ve found yourself making?
I grew up on a salt marsh close to the ocean, under a black railroad bridge in a modest pink whale. I was surrounded by wayward household appliances and often chased by tenacious packs of brook people. My great grandmother was a humpback whale and a talking crow was my best friend. I worked for the Tele-Tube and delivered newspapers to automatons. My childhood was filled with the hours between night and day. In order to make sense of these polar extremes I would often escape into my imagination. This caused me to become more introspective and seek refuge in abandoned rabbit warrens. I fell sideways. I was prescribed 80 rpm's of Edison-diamond-disc which put me into a state of psychic automatism. With pencil stubs of various sizes I would draw for hours. These experiences have had a profound influence on my art, which I think is evident in both media and subject matter.
2.) Are there any specific locations here in New England that have had a profound meaning to you and your art? ie; Your schooling? A place of major inspiration or childhood memory?
There are so many places in New England that are a source of major inspiration for me . To begin, I would say those amusement rides and carny games. The rockery and all the other trails in the sanctuary. That old arcade with the 10 cent musical monkeys. The Cabot Cinema and its Grand David Magic Company. I could go on for ever, so I'll end with the rose garden in which I have not yet been able to escape.
3.) You’ve had such a wide spread career as a professional artist after graduating from Montserrat College of Art. Everything and anything ranging from gallery exhibitions, installations in high-end restaurants, private commissions, published work in comic books and now full circle as an art instructor where you’ve originally received your training.
What’s been the most rewarding part about such an ever evolving & changing life of a professional artist?
I would have to say that it's very rewarding when people whom I've never met, know who I am because they're fans of my art.
4.) Knowing your work is such a variety of media from acrylics, pen & ink and layer upon layer of torn paper…What medium is your absolute sweet spot?? Even down to the brand name, odor, materials, found or purchased?
It all starts with a ball point pen, any kind and on any surface. When an idea comes to me, that's the first thing I grab. The rush that I feel when attacking the surface is probably equal to ten cups of coffee with a shot of espresso in each. Mainly because pen is not as forgiving as a pencil. So, there is no turning back. In dire situations, I've been know to "borrow" pens from complete strangers. Painting however, is a whole other type of rush. It puts me in a completely different mind set, almost in a trance like state. I use acrylic paint because it is extremely versatile. I prefer the higher quality brands but it also depends on how much money I have. If need be, I will buy the cheaper brands just to get my fix. If the pen were eating breakfast at home while running around in my jim jams, then paint would be eating breakfast at a cool old diner with no wait. All other media lies between. literally!
5.) Your workplace or studio; a disaster or super organized?
Complete disaster! My wife and I share a studio. You can clearly see a line down the center created by the high contrast of my clutter and her tidiness.
6.) Any music while working? -Anything your listening to now that is pushing you or inspiring you?
Always music! I like any type of Jazz and country, pre 1960. Punk from the 80's and 90's, surf, lounge, indie and the list goes on. Right now I'm listening to a Cliff Edwards record while my son plays on his toy piano. Tomorrow is Ken Nordine day!
7.) When was your first discovery that you were indeed meant to be an artist? Was there a moment or age when you knew?
I believe that you are born an artist. So, on some level I must have always known. At the age of three or four I remember discovering that when drawing shapes and putting them together, they could resemble actually objects. I would make stick figures and then draw different shapes over each line. I was lying down on my living room floor doodling. When all of a sudden my drawing looked like a person. It was like magic. I remember being startled, almost as if it had just appeared out of nowhere. From that point on I drew all the time, waiting and exploring to see what would happen next. Drawing and imagining was where I felt most at home. In second grade, my teacher introduced the class to artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Rembrandt. I felt the same emotion inside while looking at their paintings, as I did when I was drawing my own pictures. that was the defining moment in which I knew art would play a major role in my life.
8.) What’s been the most challenging part of building a career as an artist? ie; family, $$$, time, inspiration, networking, etc….
All the above, except inspiration.
9.) Who was/is the most important person in your life guiding your direction as an artist?
First, it was my great aunt Ruth who believed in me from the beginning. When I was in third grade, she knew how important it was for me to create. So, she continually signed me up for art classes. In later years, a lot of adults started to express a strong disapproval towards a career in art. It happen often and long enough, that I started to believe their bullshit myself. That is, until my eighth grade art teacher stepped in. She deserves a lot of credit for opening my eyes and getting me back on track.
10.) You can have one of your pieces displayed in/at anywhere of your choice….where does it go?
I would like it very much if one of my pieces of art could be in a traveling exhibit around the world.
11.) Dream client? Anyone, Anywhere….Go.
Some Hollywood big shot humanitarian movie star, buys an 18 room hotel somewhere in my surrounding area. I am asked, in person, to create the entire place into a work of art. Anything I want to do, draw on the walls, paint on the floor, skies the limit, money is no object and I can take all the time I need. Then, after all that, they keep me on hand as a consultant for all the furnishings.
12.) Your work has such a dreamlike quality to all its narratives. From robots to rabbits every piece tells a story about the make-believe albeit with a flirtatious look at every day life. Where are all these characters and stories from?
They come from my conscious and subconscious experiences. Which are then translated through my waking dreams, that act as a sort of bridge, allowing for both sides to come together.
13.) Over the years have you found yourself drawn to a specific character in your work? Has a personal favorite emerged?
A radiometer is an object that frequently shows up in my work. Does that count? I don't necessarily have a favorite character, but I do use anthropomorphism a lot as a running theme.
14.) Who is the most underrated artist out there right now that’s ready to take over the world?
I couldn't possibly name one. There are a lot of great artists right here on the north shore. It's hard for the ones that are doing something new, to break through the barrier that New England is so famous for. With the exception of some galleries in this region, most won't touch you unless your art contributes to the theme of seascapes, landscapes, or traditional portraiture. This is the stigma that also prevents us from getting recognition any place west of New York. In the past several years around here, I've noticed the emergence of truly original art. The likes of which that go far beyond the trends of what is considered to be cutting edge. I believe that It's only a matter of time before our neck of the woods will be in the spotlight again. This area has many innovative artists that are offering something new. Though I can't speak for all of them being ready to concur the world, I certainly know a lot of artists who are.
15.)What’s next for you?
Any future project or client?
Well, It's kinda top secret. I've got my moon goggles on and you know what that means.