Today I am excited to share with you and interview with mixed media artist Seth Apter. I have been a fan of Seth's work for a while and I'm very happy that he agreed to do an interview here at Back Home Art. Seth makes wonderfully textured and layered mixed media pieces, books, found object art, and much more. He was kind enough to share photographs of his work for this interview, all photographs were taken by Seth (maybe he should be a photographer too?!?!).
Not only do I enjoy Seth's artwork but I also respect his desire to further the community aspect of mixed media art and artists, as evidenced by his books The Pulse of Mixed Media and The Mixed-Media Artist- and Seth's respect for his fellow artists and gratitude for their support comes through in his thoughtful responses for this interview. I truly love learning about an artist's process and inspirations and I'm grateful that Seth has shared some insight into his. Thank you, Seth!
K.L. How would you describe the type(s) of art that you make?
S.A. I am a mixed media artist and typically work in many different art mediums and with a huge variety of supplies. I think the common elements in all of the work that I create are layers and texture. The sense of depth, complexity and richness that comes with layering is important to me and the ultimate compliment is when the viewer wants to reach out and touch the art.
K.L. I’m intrigued by all of the interesting metals pieces you use in your work. Where do you get your stash from?
S.A. First and foremost, I am always (always) picking up objects off the street - no matter where I am or whom I am with. I live in NYC and there is treasure to be found on the ground at every step. I also source objects at flea markets, the hardware store, art and craft stores, Etsy, Ebay, and other online shops. And many of the people in the art community have been extra generous and share their finds with me as well.
K.L. Do you have a part of your creative process that you enjoy the most?
S.A. I love all of the creative process but perhaps my most favorite part is that moment when I feel that the piece I am making has “turned the corner” and is becoming what it is meant to be.
K.L. Is your process structured or do you jump right into making without a plan?
S.A. Unless I am making a book, which requires a definite plan, my process is very unstructured. It is very unusual for me to have a vision in advance of what the completed artwork will look like.
K.L. Do you have any rituals around your creative process?
S.A. When I am working, I make a huge mess. Like many other people, my table becomes so full that I am creating in the smallest of areas. My one ritual is that I must clean my space and put my supplies away before I begin a new project.
K.L. Do you pursue any specific themes in your work?
S.A. I think the one theme that seems to reoccur in my work, many times unconsciously, is time.
K.L. Not only do you sell your original works of art but also books, dvds, and stencils. For artists who are selling their work, do you recommend that they diversify their product line?
S.A. I think for some people, being an artist is solely about making art and I certainly encourage them to keep on creating. For me, however, the plan has always been to diversify and create what I call multiple steams of income. It is not easy to make a living as an artist but branching out into other aspects of the art world (teaching, product design, writing, etc.) makes it more possible. The one caveat is that I think diversification only works if you have a true passion for all the other avenues you choose. And I truly love every aspect of my life in art.
K.L. What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?
S.A. I am one of those fortunate people that has never felt stuck or had an artist block. I believe the reason for this is that I am always working on many projects at the same time. With so many different things to do, I am always inspired by at least one of them.
K.L. Where do your ideas/inspiration come from? Or do you know?
S.A. Such a good question but also a tough one to answer. Sometimes my inspiration is external. I see nature, architecture, other art, people, etc. and am inspired to create. At other times my inspiration is internal. I feel the need to make art and express what emotions I am experiencing at the time.
K.L. Name three artists whose work inspires you.
S.A. Three only??? Nope. Patricia Larsen, Antoni Tapies, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Pat Steir, Imamura Yoshio, Donna Watson, Jose Parla, Hong Zhu An, Leslie Avon Miller, Gerhard Cambon, and so many more…
K.L. Do you remember when you first became interested in art? What is your earliest memory of making art (any kind)?
S.A. I was never interested in making art as a child or young adult, although I always loved looking at art in museums and galleries. A serendipitous encounter with another artist in 2000 “unleashed the beast” in me and took me from observer to creator.
K.L. Are their other artists in your family? If yes, who are they and what do they do?
S.A. I am unique in my family in that I am the person making art.
K.L. Do you feel like you worry about your art being liked by others?
S.A. I definitely carry the desire to have my artwork liked by others. I think it is a basic human characteristic to want to be acknowledged, accepted and embraced. However, I do not worry about it as I did when I first started out. At this point, I have realized that my best work comes when I am creating for me rather than creating with an eye towards what others might like.
K.L. Is there a type of art that you would like to pursue but haven’t yet?
S.A. I tend to work small and have only recently begun to work on a larger scale. In that vein and given my love of found objects, I have always thought it would be interesting to create larger metal assemblages via welding.
K.L. Any advice or tips for mixed media artists trying to get their work out into the world?
S.A. For me, the community that I am connected to online has made the difference between being an artist that creates work that nobody sees and being one with work out in the world. I am not simply saying that posting on social media sites leads to success but rather that if you take the time to connect with this online art community in a genuine and reciprocal way, you will develop strong bonds with fellow artists, art lovers, art buyers, and others who will become your art family. I strongly feel that there is more than enough to go around for all of us and that being supportive of others will lead to others being supportive of you!
I hope you enjoyed reading Seth's interview. Please don't forget to visit his blog, thealteredpage.blogspot.com, and his website, sethapter.com, for much more information and inspiration from Seth. And check of his blog post for today, sounds like a fun treasure hunt, I'll certainly be joining!
Shared to: Paint Party Friday (Happy PPF!!)