Name: Gus Harper
City/State: Santa Monica, CA
Being an artist, especially a painter, can often come with negative stereotyping. Whether warranted or not, stigmatic words like delicate, reserved, starving, chaotic and egotistical get thrown around quite frequently. While some artists absolutely embody these adjectives, Gus Harper certainly does not.
Hard working, professional, grounded, intelligent and approachable are the best adjectives for Gus. He possesses an uncanny eye for beauty and an excellent talent to translate such beauty onto canvas; however, it is the aforementioned qualities that have driven his career to the next level.
Gus makes stunningly beautiful work that art lovers and collectors want hanging on their walls, but when you meet him and spend a few minutes in conversation with him, his work becomes even more desirable. His passion and knowledge of art along with his positive attitude and genuine interest in other people truly set him apart from an art world often full of apathy and indifference.
People buy Gus’ work for the aesthetics, but they also buy a piece of the refreshing personality behind the work. Purchasing a Gus Harper piece doesn’t feel like buying something. It feels like an investment in a good person and a good artist who is on the rise.
Gus’ next show, “Fade to White” opens in San Francisco on Thursday, October 24th from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at LOCZIdesign (www.loczidesign.com), 175 De Haro Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.
His work can also be seen around L.A. and on several TV shows such as Modern Family, Dexter, New Girl and Entourage. His work is available for viewing by appointment at his Santa Monica studio.
You have a reputation amongst your peers for being a workhorse. What drives you to produce such a high volume of work?
Most of my work is born out of a bit of exuberance. Usually the paintings present a bit of a challenge and there are certainly moments of frustration. But there is always an adventure. Who wouldn’t want more adventures? So, am I working all day long, or am I playing all day long? Probably a bit of both.
There is a distinct progression in your art over the years. What has guided the evolution of your work?
I’m always trying new things and each painting is a segue to the next. Making images that surprise and engage the viewers makes things fun for me.
What are you most inspired by, artistically and/or otherwise?
Anytime I see someone living with passion, I feel inspired. I once saw a band jamming at a small bar in Northern Brazil. I thought, “I wanna make paintings the way these guys play music.” But mostly, it is a snowball effect. Once I start making one painting, I get several ideas for more. And the snowball grows and keeps rolling…
You are a big traveler. Where are some of the places your art has taken you?
Probably Mexico more than any other place. But I started an entire body of work in Argentina. I get a lot of ideas when I travel. I’ve also been lucky enough to teach art in some interesting places like Uganda and El Salvador. I’ve simply found that sharing art enriches my travel experience, and it’s about the best thing I have to offer.
How do you keep the process of making art fresh for yourself?
Deliberately breaking inertia, collaborating and traveling.
You’ve done several collaborations with other artists. What attracts you to working with other artists?
I love seeing what the other artists bring to the table. And it’s also a nice break from the solitary creative existence.
Can you tell us a little about how you have taken an independent approach to establishing yourself as an artist?
Ha! A lot of people telling me no made me independent.
What has been your greatest challenge to create a sustainable career as an artist?
My own self-criticism.
What is the highest moment of your career thus far, and what was the lowest?
Highest hasn’t happened yet. The lowest I let go of a long time ago.
What is your dream art gig?
I think I have that gig.