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Interview with Artist Geoff McFetridge

September 16, 2010

Interview with Artist Geoff McFetridge
By Matt Mignanelli

I had the pleasure of speaking with artist Geoff McFetridge as he prepares to open his solo exhibition “‘The Westest” this coming Tuesday, September 21st at Half Gallery here in New York City. The opening reception will be 6 – 8 pm. He speaks about his involvement creating all the type treatments for Spike Jonze’ movie Where the Wild Things Are and his first solo exhibition of paintings.

Geoff McFetridge – The Westest
September 21—October 15, 2010
Opening reception: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 6-8 p.m.

NEW YORK, NY 10002
Hours: MONDAY-FRIDAY, 10-6 p.m. and by appointment

Q: Could you give us some background as to how you got started, and when you founded Champion Graphics.

I have known what I wanted to do with my life since I was very young. I was making graphics for skateboarding, and snowboarding as a teenager. I started Champion Graphics around the time of my first big project out of school, which was art directing the Beastie Boys Magazine “Grand Royal” It was the 90’s the Beastie Boys were pretty cool in the 90’s. I had just graduated from the Cal Arts MFA program. Cal Arts was cool in the 90’s in a different way.

Q: You seem to do a great job of balancing your personal work and your client work in a smooth way. Do you find that designers think you’re an artist and artists think you’re a designer?

Ha ha. Yeah probably that is true about designers and artists and how they view me. I am glad it feels that I do a good job of balancing things. I have always put a lot of effort into maintaining balance. Although, the real trick is, it takes very little effort. It is very much in my DNA to balance things out. The way I work is very much a product of who I am as a person.
Another way to look at that “balance” is; I am constantly muddying the waters.  My studio runs on a type of tension created from doing stuff that either an artist or a designer would never do.

Q: How was it working on a great project like Where The Wild Things Are? Especially being a book i’m sure you read as a child, did you use your own experiences in this project?

Working with Spike is always inspiring. When the project is as iconic as Wild Things it is almost comedy. Spike and Maurice Sendak both are two strong, but unrelated influences in my life. Maurice when I was a little kid, and then Spike when I was a teenager reading Homeboy and Dirt.  In the end getting to be involved in something that awesome, and close to my heart is hard to appreciate. You sort of wait for your head to explode but it never happens. In the end you just do the work as best you can and try to appreciate the experience in the moment.

Q: This latest work seems like a great progression forward, is this your first exhibition comprised mostly of painting?

Yes. This is both my first solo show in NYC and my first show of only paintings.
Painting has been a big part of my last 4 to 5 shows. In all but a few instances the paintings were on panels and were elements within large installations, whereas these paintings are all on canvas and stand alone. In technique they are closely related to previous paintings, but the subject matter comes more out of drawing and works on paper. In those ways these paintings are a convergence of many years of technical and conceptual work that had previously been developing independently. The sensation I have is of hammering through a wall and discovering how nice it is to be able to see into the back yard from the living room. Mind Reno.

Q: In your past exhibitions you’ve done some really great installations, can we expect to see any installation work here in New York?

Well. No. No secret doors!

Photos by: Ian Book, 2010


Matt Mignanelli is a painter based in New York City and contributor for The Ballast.



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