Posted // 2013-07-29 -
Some of the more entertaining art works coming out of Salt Lake City have been the darkly captured paintings and illustrations by Grant Fuhst. A longtime resident of Poor Yorick Studios, the mixed-media painter has continually challenged himself to bring out the creative shapes hidden in the shadows, making him a constant standout at festivals and gallery showings across the valley. Recently, Fuhst started to take on sculpture, putting his unique touch on a 3-D perspective, where everything seems to be alive.
Today, I we chat with Fuhst about his artistic career and style, thoughts on his works in painting, sculpture and even comics, along with a few other topics here and there. (All pictures courtesy of Fuhst.)
Gavin: Hey, Grant. First thing, tell us a bit about yourself.
Grant: I'm a quasi-sentient, stereo-optic, semi-verbal biped.
Gavin: What first got you interested in art, and what were some early influences on you?
Grant: I'm not sure I can remember what first got me interested. I've been drawing pretty much since I could hold a pencil in my little claw. Early influences were old sci-fi and monster movies, dinosaurs, comics, etc. Later, there was Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben. Then came H.R, Giger, Picasso, Terry Gilliam, Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz and on and on.
Gavin: I read that you're self-taught in your works. What made you decide to go this route rather than take formal training or head to college?
Grant: Well, there wasn't much in the way of real PLANNING back in those days. I actually came out of high school with a scholarship to Salt Lake Community College, but I was a bit of a tortured youth, i.e,.dumb, and I dropped out after a quarter. I don't recommend it as a way to becoming an artist. It’s a lot harder to figure all this stuff out on your own. STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS!
Gavin: What was it like for you honing your skills over time and learning on your own?
Grant: Like I said, HARD! I suppose the only advantage it may have bestowed on me is that in terms of style, anyway, I progressed in a rather organic fashion dictated by my own ideas and interests, rather than being influenced by a popular "school of thought" coming out of art institutions at any given time
Gavin: What drew you toward comics, and how was it for you mastering that genre?
Grant: Let’s not say I "mastered" that genre. Let’s say I stumbled, tripped and fell all over it. I was pretty fascinated with the renaissance of adult-oriented comics that emerged in the mid-1980s, stuff by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller. I befriended Mimi Cruz, a local comic-shop owner, and she helped me get some work in the industry.
Gavin: You launched your own title called Mercedes. What was it like creating that and running it for 18 months?
Grant: Mercedes was written by a friend, Mike Friedland, and was a pretty ambitious concept for a monthly comic. I did all the panel work, as well as all the cover art, and after a year and a half, I was exhausted! I now have a whole new appreciation for comic artists and what they do.
Gavin: How was it for you breaking out into the local art scene, taking part in exhibitions and hearing people's thoughts on your work?
Grant: Incredible! I love getting to see people react to my work. Being an artist is a pretty solitary business -- holed up in a studio for hours, investigating the nooks and crannies of your psyche. But, the reason we do it is to reach out. Every painting is a message in a bottle tossed into the sea of humanity. I’ve never understood artists who say they don’t like to show their work. Art is communication. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t bother to do it. I would just keep it all in my head.
Gavin: Over time, you've branched out into doing design work as a freelancer. What made you choose to start doing that work, rather than finding a regular gig with a design company or comic publisher?
Grant: Ego, I suppose. When you are determined to spend your time working on your own creations, you have this crazy idea that you have something important or at least interesting to say. Otherwise, why not just go work for somebody else who will provide you with steady work and a regular paycheck. It’s much easier.
Gavin: Through that work, you've done magazine covers, album art, comic-book titles and more. How is it for you switching up between gigs and doing different pieces for different people?
Grant: I like it very much. Because I spend so much time in my own head, I get bored with me. I like to collaborate. It can be challenging when two or more people get together and try to share a vision, but its also quite rewarding when you get to that point where everyone is happy with the result.
Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new work, from concept to final product?
Grant: Depends on the work, of course, but in general, I start with an idea, work out several thumbnail sketches, maybe a more detailed larger sketch, then I plunge in. I don’t like to do too much prep work because I’ve found it dissipates the energy of the piece.
Gavin: Do you play around with your designs much, or do you stick to whatever you came up with or the direction you were given?
Grant: I leave enough open to allow for those “happy accidents.” I like the feeling of spontaneity that results from working more loosely.
Gavin: Another area you branched out into was digital-game designing. What did you get to work on, and how was it for you getting to try out that field of art?
Grant: It was fun. I was working with a start-up company that was working on their first game, which they could then launch the business on. I was recruited as the main concept artist, so I was designing all the characters from scratch. They gave me a lot of freedom, so it was an ideal situation. They never got enough funding to get things off the ground, but they got as far as rendering a couple of my designs in 3-D, which was really cool to see.
Gavin: You've also stepped out from design work and created sculptures. What inspired you to explore that genre, and what has it been like constructing those creations?
Grant: I have been incorporating 3-D elements into my paintings for years. I often attach wires, screws, cloth or pieces from scale-model kits to my work to give it a strong textural quality that is also a bit surreal. Eventually, I started wanting to take the next step and start building sculptures out of all this stuff. The great thing about working that way is that its almost entirely trial-and-error because you can’t “design” much when you are using existing materials. Again, that looseness forces you to think outside the box, and things usually come out a bit weirder than even I would come up with!
Gavin: A lot of your works have made it into the national scene; you've been featured in some galleries on both coasts and had your work on display at San Diego Comic Con. What's your take on having a national presence?
Grant: To me, it's just part of wanting to show my work to as many people as possible. I like for my works to have a life of their own completely divorced from me and the reasons I created them. Every time a piece of art interacts with another person, it's alive again, having a conversation with that viewer. And the conversation is always different, which is very exciting.
Gavin: Are you looking at doing any more comic-book material of your own creation, or bringing back Mercedes?
Grant: Mercedes isn’t mine, so that’s not my call. I’m not terribly interested in doing a lot of comic work; it’s a little too “daily grind” for my taste. However, I am just finishing up a graphic adaptation of a short story written by a friend of mine, Mark Bross. It's 18-pages long, very surreal and kind of dark but also humorous. We should have it done by the end of summer.
Gavin: What other art forms are you looking into and experimenting with at the moment?
Grant: I’m doing more digitally based stuff. I don’t paint digitally but I start with a drawing or painting, load it into Photoshop and complete it there. So, it's still very mixed-media stuff. I love blurring the lines between painting, drawing and photography so that you can’t quite tell what it is.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Grant: Let’s see. I’m contributing a piece to a Ray Harryhausen tribute show at the Hive Gallery in L.A. in October. Then, I’m working on an award sculpture for Brian Higgins’ Demon Chaser Film Challenge, also in October. I will be in the Artists Alley at the Salt Lake Comic-Con. And, of course, there will be the open-studio event at Poor Yorick’s in September.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Grant: Sure. I just set up an online store at Big Cartel
. I have signed, limited-edition prints there for sale. Steampunk Originals
, which is a comic anthology I did a story for, is available online at Arcana.com
and will be in stores in October. People can see my work here locally at the Urban Arts Gallery in Salt Lake and Silver Queen Fine Art in Park City.
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