Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art Space Talk: David Stoupakis


David Stoupakis is a dedicated painter who has quickly earned international recognition for his art. David has stated that his paintings are about the strength of imagination, innocence, and the truth that children are are far more intelligent than most adults give them credit for. In a sense, David explores his own world through his imagery-- a world that often conveys a fairytale-like quality... yet it contains the essence of reality.

David's paintings, like fairytales, are open to interpretation. Viewers have had mixed reactions about his work. Some observe a sense of purity within David's imagery-- while others see only brutality. The reality of David's imagery is that what you see is in the eye of the beholder. Thus, his paintings have an aspect of psychology about them-- it reminds me of Carl Jung's theory about the 'shadow self'.


The Tea Party, oil on board, 24" x 24", 2006

Brian Sherwin: David, can you tell our readers about your youth? Do you recall any key events that helped guide you toward the direction your are going today?

David Stoupakis: When I was a young kid I found an old wooden chest while looking through the window of my neighbors ran down barn. While I was peering in I got startled by a noise and ran. That night I couldn’t stop wondering what could be in that chest. The mystery of not knowing was running all kinds of stories through my head. It was the first time I recall really feeling the power of what imagination and story telling can do for you. I feel it's moments in my life like that one that play a large part on the direction I take my art in today. The idea from a vision and the curiosity of the unknown.
Balance, oil on board, 16" x 19", 2005

BS: Do you have formal training in art? If so, where did you study? Who were your mentors?

DS: I did one year of art school at the Art Institute of Boston before making the choice to study on my own. I think art school can be amazing and be really beneficial. However, at that time I just wasn't ready to go through with another 2 to 4 years of schooling.

BS: David, what about early influences? Were you inspired by certain artists or musicians?

DS: My early influences came from fairy tales, horror movies, and most of all comic books. Almost all my early work was heavily influenced by comics. I also studied some of my favorite artists like Sargent, Vermeer, Bosch, and Goya. Music has always played a roll overall. After all, we all need soundtracks to are life.

Frozen, oil on board, 16" x 28", 2004

BS: I've read that you started out as a mural painter... do any of these murals still exist? Can you tell us where some of these can be found... or would you rather forget your early commercial work?

DS: I started out doing murals, signs, and video games. I'm not sure if any of the murals are still around because I haven't been back to visit any of them but in no way would I want to forget any of the early commercial work I did. I feel like everything I have done has helped me grow into how I am today.

Mary And Her Lambs, oil on board, 16" x 28", 2004

BS: What made you decide to make the jump from doing commercial art to personal art? Do you still do any commercial art on the side?

DS: I just had my own stories to tell. It wasn't really ever a jump over from commercial to personal. I've always done my own thing outside of the commercial art gigs. I think I was just still trying to find myself as a painter when I was taking on those jobs. Then when Aprella and I moved to NYC that’s when I made the decision to step way from the commercial art thing and really try to put myself out there with my own work. Now I only get involved in select projects outside my personal work that I believe in and truly want to do. That's not to say the commercial art world is bad. It can be a really amazing money making job. But, the long hours needed give no time for personal work and being my own artist was what I wanted most.

BS: David, in recent years your career has really had a boom- you've had interviews in Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and have been very involved in the scene... does this form of success ever make you wary? Does it put pressure on you? Or do you just let the chips fall, so to speak?

DS: It's been a great year and I just take it as it comes and roll with it. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunities that I've been given. Sure, it's high stress at times, but it's not worth complaining about. Life can be truly amazing when you work hard at it and anything is possible if we just set are hearts to it.

The Day The Frogs Rain Down, oil on board, 18" x 24", 2005

BS: David, some people view your work and only see disturbing images of children... they miss the point of what you are trying to do. Based on what I know of your work- I'd say that you are trying to give voice to children who have never been heard- voice to the abused and broken. That is what I see in your work. Would you like to clear the air and say, in your own words, what your imagery is about and the motives you have behind it?

DS: I feel that most of the time people see negativity in things because of the conflicts they are working out in their own life. So they seek and dig for something disturbing or some sort of negativity in something. I have never seen what I do as disturbing. My works are about imagination, innocence and the truth that children are far more intelligent than most adults give them credit for. I work with antique photos of children that I find and purchase quite a lot. For me it's sad to think of these abandoned or sold off images of children just sitting in a box in a dusty store. So, I bring them home and paint a world for them to live and tell their story in.

BS: Can you go into detail about your process? How do you start a painting?

DS: Mostly I paint on board. I start out with a lot of gesso and sanding. Most of the time I do an under drawing then I just get into the oil paint. I always try to experiment with different ways to do the process. So I can try to keep it new and growing.

Red Ribbon, oil on board, 24" x 26", 2006

BS: David, tell us about your studio... do you work in a small space? Large space? What is it like to be in the studio of David Stoupakis?

DS: It’s a good size space. There's quite a good deal of antique photos, fairy tale books, misspelled writings and an overall trash pit of paper, empty coffee cups and supplies. The most important thing about my studio is that I share it with Aprella. We both work everyday-- as much as 12 hours or more a day sometimes. So if we didn't share the space we might never find the time to see each other.

BS: In many ways you remind me of Chet Zar in that you have created a unique world with your paintings. Like Chet, you don't really seem to care about what is popular at the moment... you continue to dig into the world you have created without looking back. I assume that you will continue to dig deeper into 'your world' no matter what fate brings you as far as success is concerned. Would you say that I'm correct in feeling this way about you and your art?

DS: It's just all about me trying to understand more about what I am doing. So, yep-- you got it. For me it’s never been about what’s popular. It’s always more about me working out whatever I am going through at the time-- as I am sure it is for many other artists as well. I'm on a quest to understand this world I have been creating and if it happens to put me on a path of being unsuccessful that will suck, but I'll still be me doing what I do. I am not selling paintings to match your couch.

The Messenger, oil on board, 36" x 36", 2006
BS: Do you have an suggestions or advice for artists who are just starting out?

DS: Make art all the time-- and really all the time. You won’t grow unless you do, and the art won’t make itself. If you have a TV-- get rid of it. When you feel you are ready figure out whatever field it is you would like be involved in and approach them. They don’t know about you so you need to let them know who you are. If you are trying to get involved in the galleries pick up this book "Taking the Leap" it's an insider's guide to exhibiting and selling your art by Cay Lang. Don’t let criticism get you down. The art world can be really overwhelming at times. You definitely need to work really hard at it. If one place turns you down keep moving on to the next place and just keep on hitting it and don’t ever lose site on why you make art. Your art is who you are. The most important thing is to just believe in yourself.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the artworld?

DS: I am so very grateful to be where I am today. It is a dream come true to be living from my artwork and I am so looking forward to the road ahead for Aprella and me. I'm an extremely fortunate person.
You can learn more about David Stoupakis by visiting his website, www.davidstoupakis.com. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page, www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Jardley said...

The man is truly brilliant. I'm very drawn to his work. Very disturbing yet is very enchanting. Great interview.