Monday, November 20, 2006

Art Space Talk: Tony Juliano

I recently interviewed artist Tony Juliano. Tony "Baloney" Juliano is an award winning satirist artist. He is known for his infamous 'Yoda Lisa', a painting that reveals the lengths that Mr. Juliano will go to get a laugh from his viewers. Mr. Juliano calls his art "AGOO ART". Agoo Art is a name that derives from a childhood nickname.

Mr. Juliano is an artist who is not afraid to have fun with his talent. He is a rare gem in a world of artists that are overly serious about their creations. His images are created with humor in mind. These amusing pieces offer the viewer some comic relief from the seriousness that is often found in our world.

Mr. Juliano has exhibited his Agoo Art throughout the world. His exhibits tend to be like a circus. Fans of his work arrive at his exhibits dressed like cows, robots, chickens, monsters, sumo wrestlers, and accordion players. Santa Clause is known to visit his exhibitions as well. Tony, who dresses in unique outfits, stands before them like a ringmaster during his exhibitions.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "The womb. Seriously, I always love to draw at a very young age. Though it was mostly cartoons and monster drawings. The first time when I got the itch to become a fine artist was in October of 2000 when I had my first real art show at this big event called City-Wide Open Studios. It was in a warehouse with about 300 other artists. I occupied the uni-sex bathroom there. It was a big hit for me! I made lots of friends and fans. I had people write on the stalls as if it was a guest book, I had refreshments in the sinks, and you could tak a copy of my resume out of the toilet seat paper dispenser."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "Really weird and yet I become a business man too. Even though I wear a purple coat and a top hat and I'm surrounded by people dressed as chickens, robots, cows, and Santa Clause... I take my career very seriously. I pay my taxes, I mingle with the crowd, and I show up at gatherings and meetings. I'm a regular Bill Gates."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "My art is inspired by parody and satire which I take out on other famous artists. I like the fact that I'm respected as I mock the masters. I'm also inspired by movies, TV, animals, food, and other pop culture. My feelings on the world is like I take reality and turn it into what I'd like it to be. My mind is a little bit whacked, but in a good way."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. I'm a big fan of MAD Magazine! There still cranking out new ones even today. MAD is like fine wine, it gets better with age. Others... Mark Ryden, Shag, Lisa Petrucci, Kurt Halsey and of course Gary Larson from The Far Side. He is a freaking genius!"

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "My past artwork was mostly cartoons. I love cartoon and comics and I still do. I drew Count Von Count on the living room wall when I was real young. My parents did not get mad at me on the fact that it looked really good. I started painting seriously at age 13. Then started doing cartoon paintings in my weaning years of College. It was a slow process in finding my nitch. But it found me when I wasn't looking."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "I started doing murals and illustrations in 1997 a year before I graduated College. Then in 2003 I formed my own free-lance art business called Agoo Art, LLC. Since then, I've been traveling all over the world doing exhibits, art festivals, and murals. I also teach art as well."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "All ages and anyone with a good sense of humor. Everyone can relate to one or more of my artwork in some way. As an example... I was in New York City doing Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit when this lung doctor bought Uncle Ed and his Amazing Iron Lung painting for his office. The painting is some old dude in an Iron Lung. Also, when I was in Liverpool England exhibiting at The Walker this total stranger bought a painting that I had in my Hotel. I get in his car, he drives to an ATM, drives me to my Hotel I run up and I grab the painting Mirscopic Germs, pays me and drops me back off at The Walker. That was a great and weird experience."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces.What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "My Yoda Lisa (image above) painting came to me while I was siting at my desk trying to figure out what can I do to parody the Mona Lisa. The day before, I was watching Return of the Jedi so it came to me... Mona - Yoda and I did a rough sketch and then started painting the very popular Yoda Lisa. I sell magnets and prints of this painting like hot cakes but I refuse to sell the original painting. I always said, if George Lucas came up and wanted to buy the Yoda Lisa for $1,000,000, I still would say, no."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "Thinking up ideas for my next painting usually comes to me when I just hanging out or driving or walking aimlessly... They start off as a rough sketch in my sketch book or napkin or anything I can use to draw on. Then I start painting with acrylic paint onto stretch canvas. Then I paint my pine frame and I write the title of the painting on the bottom of the frame. So it looks like a single panel comic but it's really a painting."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "Acrylics I always felt more comfortable with. But now when I do my parody paintings, I've been using the mediums that the original artists use. Like my parody of Robert Mapplethorpe I took a B&W photograph and put it in a painted frame. I still do paintings mostly, but I've been adventurous from digital prints of Spam cans (a parody of Warhol's soup cans) to sculptures."
Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?
A. "I'm a graduate from Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut with a BFA in Illustration. Having a Degree is good, but my artwork is what most of my clients care about. Dan Clowes said, the only piece of paper less valuable than your artwork, is your BFA."

Q. How influential was the school where you studied?

A. "I learned a lot from Paier but I grew after College. When I developed my own style it was not really the Paier style at the time. Paier has grown too since then. I've been asked to come back to Paier and give a lecture to the class on how to achieve in art."

Q. What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "As a free-lancer, it is very cool to be in one art department for awhile, then move onto the next one. I never get board. I'll be working on making backdrops for a theater performance about W.W.II for one season. Then I'll be making backdrops for a Haunted House for the next 3 months. Very diverse."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "Please visit my web site"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "Well, I just had a crazy art reception at The NEST Art Lofts in Bridgeport, CT. It was totally wild! We had the CT Girls Roller Derby Team serving drinks on their roller skates! We had live music and wild performance art too. Tons of people came! The exhibition will be up till January 1st of 2007. Also, I'mm talking to the curator at Monkdogz Urban Art Gallery located in the heart of Chelsea in NYC. More info on that later. And finally, this March, I will be exhibiting at l'art Noir New Orleans in a comic exhibit. For more info go to"

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

"Limner Gallery, NYC.
John Slade Ely House, CT.
Artescape Studios, CA.
The Walker, Liverpool, UK.
La Viande, London, UK.
CBGBs 313 Gallery, NYC.
Hygienic Art Gallery, CT.
MoCCA Art Festival, NYC.
Europa Gallery, NY. "

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Alcoholic drag queens rolling around in a puddle of Tapioca pudding while playing hypnotic chimes on the ukulele in the Brooklyn Museum."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Start locally and show at some coffee house first. Get your art out before you hit the major galleries and museums. It's a long, long, long process. So don't get discouraged quickly. I've got enough rejection letters to wallpaper my entire studio twice with!"

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "When I started out, I was doing these really harsh and somewhat evil comics. I did this one drawing called Uncle Gabe which depicts a middle age man jerking off to the Olsen Twins videos. I had this up in a coffee shop. I was new to this kind of art world and did not know the ropes. The coffee house received three hateful comments on that drawing within a day. I had to take down the drawing as well as a few other pieces which were not as horrible, but the owner did not want to take any more chances. I don't do shock art anymore but I do like to go over the edge just a bit still. Uncle Gabe now hangs in a friends studio. A good friend of mine that believed in me early on."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I have not hit rock - bottom yet... It's tough out there, don't get me wrong. I might just flip out and work with a squeegee and clean peoples cars for a living when I can't take the pressure anymore. Keep an eye out for me."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Because that what the voices in my head tell me."

Q.Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Soon."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. " New Haven, CT has a strong art community. Kinda like Twin Peaks meets The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Artists like Tony Falcone and Colleen Coleman who are working artists too. So many galleries to show in like ALL Gallery, John Slade Ely House, ArtSpace, there's the New Haven Arts Council which has done a lot for New Haven artist! There's Creative Arts Workshop that provides art lessons the list goes on..."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Not at all. I hate Politics. I usually avoid talking about them. I am aware of politics and I do vote, but I'd rather paint about films, food and fun stuff. I only did one political painting called, There's a Politician Under my Bed only because there is so much bad things happening in the world right now and it's hard not for it to have an impact on you."

Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your work?

A. "Not really. My Father is white Italian Catholic and my Mother is Jewish Russian and I think there's some French in me too (but my Dad won't admit to it). I was never brought up on any Religion. My parents always said, Treat other nice as you would like to be treated. My family believed in the goodness of yourself and other people."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "Keep your feet on the ground, Keep your head in the stars and keep buying more of my artwork! See ya at Peggy'sPlace AKA The Guggenheim."

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tony Juliano. Mr. Juliano is in the process of creating a account. Until then... you may observe his art at . Feel free to discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

When I first saw Agoo Art a few years ago I couldn't help but smile and laugh at the outrageous parady of fine art.

Thanks Tony for being brave and true to your artistic

Your works bring me joy!



Anonymous said...

Hi... I just met "tony" at the NEST show and found him downright genuine, refreshing, honest, real, creative and your interview really showed a good glimpse of him! Something I usually don't find in interviews so congratulations to both of you. The world is a better place because of Tony Juliani, the NEST and it's great you took the time to let folk know about such inspiration... John Georgette =Johnnie Cruz, George Jonette, Jon jett. ciao. peace...

Balhatain said...


Thanks for your kind words!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this guy! Wish he'd put out Xmas cards and X out the others that I can't stand to send. Applause, applause, applause! Well, ok, tidings of applause and joy... ~:-)