To be an artist is one of the boons of life. Yet, it is one of the least understood profession at times – especially if you’re dabbling in something different and never done before idea. So, here’s a toast to one of the different-path-travelled artist who shall be with us.
Today, on the occasion of “International Artists Day”, Kaffeinated Konversations has some fantastically brewing moments of traversing through the artistic journey of Gerard Tonti, an interdisciplinary artist who brews coffee and tea (just like we brew thoughts) but his painstaking hard work of 10 years can’t be just left unnoticed – whether you like tea or coffee – you’ll love his work… naay be in awe with it!
So let’s engage in some brewing konversations with Gerard Tonti from Pitssburgh and yes, you’ll need your cuppa to read through our talk.
KK: Hi Gerard, You are an interdisciplinary artist. What pulled you to artistic pursuits? Any earliest memories?
Gerard: Actually, my family is my earliest inspiration. My Grandfather worked in the steel industry but he kept a sketch pad. He and my mother would sketch and I remember going through their sketchbooks at a very young age and being fascinated that someone could sketch from life. I also had a creative uncle who would use conventional materials to create sculptures.
KK: Who are your major inspirations when it comes to art? Some favourites among the current crop?
Gerard: There are really too many to mention. I guess I can list a few favorites that come to mind: Lucien Freud, Kathy Kollwitz, Degas. There are way too many to mention though!
KK: You cover public art, fine art, animation and photography. How do you juggle your artistic and business side?
Gerard: It’s something that’s always a challenge. You have to create the art but always have to think about how the art can fit into things from a business perspective.
KK: A lot of artists are selling their work online these days and becoming very popular. How do you see this field developing in the days to come?
Gerard: I think that there are so many ways for an artist to market themselves. I think that there will be even more ways to sell and create interest in their work.
KK: Much of your work tells a story. Do you consider your products as a medium for saying something beyond the obvious?
Gerard: When I first started this idea, I was trying to capture people in coffee houses in their natural candid states, using the aromas and textures in actual coffee beans and tea leaves. That’s now progressed to not only to people, but still life and even abstract works that aren’t released yet.
KK: What is your take on symbolism of the artworks you make?
Gerard: I love incorporating symbols in my artwork whenever it’s appropriate and when I have a chance to. Sometimes it’s ok to just have a painting that works though. Sometimes I try to let the paintings direct me and naturally tell a story or express an idea. I won’t try to force symbolism though.
KK: Your views on arts and its understanding among the common people. Do we need more forms of awareness or Google has got it sorted out?
Gerard: I think people need to slow down and read a good book sometimes. The one thing that I don’t like about the internet and social media is that it floods us with information and images to the point of saturation. It can desensitize us quickly and we have to really look for inspiration. We have to be careful. I feel that with so much out there it can become like a wallpaper and might run out of focus altogether.
KK: How well is the Coffee/Tea Painting concept known in India or any other country other than the USA? Are people aware about what it is?
Gerard: Yes. I think it’s taken some time for people to realize that I’m not actually using any traditional paint. It’s all made from coffees and teas. There is not paint added.
KK: Looking back how has your artwork changed over the years? What role has it played in the buyer’s life?
Gerard: I think I’ve become more aware at what other people are looking for in art. Not everyone is me and not everyone is looking for the same thing. I think as artists we tend to get caught up in what we want to throw on canvas. I’ve definitely become more aware of how others view the art that I’m making. It’s great to have that perspective.
KK: Could you tell us a little about the process of creating an artwork from coffee/tea right from the artistic concept to execution? How long does it typically take?
Gerard: Usually I’ll let the subject matter develop organically on its own. The medium itself is organic and why not let that also come through in the subject? The length of time it takes depends on the subject and the size of the piece.
KK: Any interesting incident of an artwork that was commissioned and it proved to be a challenge?
Gerard: I recently had a commission that involved bracing four 6 foot by 6 foot canvases together to create one giant painting. There were so many challenging things involved but I was really happy with the result.
(Check out his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gerard.tonti.artist/ )
KK: How do people react when you paint live in public? Does it affect the flow of your work?
Gerard: It takes a while for people to realize what I’m actually painting with. You would be surprised at how many people still think I’m using paint from a tube. I love painting in public. It doesn’t affect me at all. I really enjoy meeting people and talking to them. There’s energy in being out in front of people and meeting new people while I work. They are genuinely interested in what I’m doing and that can be really inspiring.
KK: This is for the readers: Any tips on how to find Creative inspiration?
Gerard: I find inspiration in other art. Surround yourself with creative people and you will have a springboard of creativity. Also, If you have ideas, see what others have done or are doing. As artists we have to learn from each other to evolve.
About Gerard Tonti:
(More details: http://gerardtonti.com/ )