I love the way a new year bears creative energy and with it comes new friends to Meet! For your viewing delights, I kindly present Scott. He’s a long time buddy of mine whose art offers study after study of works featuring gorgeous attention to detail that never disappoint. In fact, you may recall when I lusted over his Peacock. [Wait…that sounds…never mind.] I mean he lives in a lighthouse. I know! Mind blown. And that’s not all.
Ladywomen, gentlefolk, Meet: Scott
State your name for the record please.
Scott Richard Dalrymple
Ooh, that’s a strong middle name…Dick.
Describe your work.
I’m a production manager and at a custom picture framing shop, but I also do freelance graphic design or any other sort of art project that comes my way. This year’s goal is to delve farther into graphic design instead of so much framing.
Frame work is a great skill to have, though, as an artisan you can always rely on that.
Yes, and it allows me creative time because I’m not bringing work home. When I get home I can forget about everything that happened throughout the course of the day and work on my art. And I can always frame my own work.
Do you get to meet a lot of gallery owners?
I’ve met other artists who’ve come into the store and, actually, that’s how I have gotten gallery shows. This friend of mine, Siolo, was having a show and I helped her find frames for her work. We talked and she saw some of my artwork and, later, asked me to be in another show at the True Love Gallery that she thought my work would fit in. It’s definitely a great way to meet people in the industry and help them out.
What’s your preferred media or specialty?
I’ve loved sketching and drawing since I was little. Even in my professional career, I like to rely on sketching since it’s the best way to brainstorm and figure out compositions. A lot of the time one of those sketches turn into a final product. It’s definitely a skill to always be practicing and trying to master because you never know where you’ll utilize it. Other than that, it’s hard to say because I try to find some sort of excitement in whatever I’m working on. I let it speak to me and see what I can get out of the experience. Trying new mediums is also super fun. So I don’t have one thing I just do. I will gladly try something else.
What have you tried so far?
Definitely all the standard stuff you do in art school. I’ve done most styles of printmaking: letterpress, intaglio, silkscreen, etc. The only thing I haven’t done is acid etching. That’s an area I’d like to explore more in the future because of the high intensity of the prepping and the process. I think I’d find a lot of joy in that. I tend to be drawn toward any sort of medium that has a lot of heavy, intense processes. Hmmm. I also haven’t done a lot of film.
Same. Any time I watch a movie and I see the long, long credits and just imagine how many people are involved, it blows my mind. That must require so much cohesion, communication, etc.
True, but you probably have friends, too, who’ll get those Gopro cameras and put things together on iMovie and you’re just like holy crap. I’ve done a few music videos, but that’s about it so far.
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve made?
Hmm. I have to go back into the mind-vault. I would have to say the Sasquatch poster for the Moondoggies. It has so many layers. There were two or three split-fountain layers as well and that thing almost killed me! It was the hardest poster I’ve ever done. So much process and backbreaking sweat! I was using toxic inks. It was miserable. It was a full two to three days of some of the most intense suffering, but I loved it so much. I love how the poster came out and that I learned new techniques. I’d never done a split-fountain pull before. You mix the inks at the top of the screen and create a gradient. By the time you get the gradient perfect, you’re out of ink. You get two or three good pulls out of five. So much work for so little prints, but it looks so good! I swear, all the stuff I’ve had to spend the most time and muscle on, those are my favorite projects. Another Sasquatch poster I did was an intaglio print on plexiglass. I was just trying to save money. I had this scrap piece of plexiglass from work. I thought, I just have to carve my image into it, and all I’ll need to pay for is paper and ink. Well, I had no clue how much work this was going to be. It was an 18×24 inch plate that I had to carve into the plexiglass. I learned that if you only scratch plexiglass on the surface you’ll get maybe 8-20, maybe 30 good prints before the weight of the press smashes your plate flat. That wasn’t going to work ’cause I have to give away 30. I needed at least 40 prints.
Right, so how do you make a deeper impression?
Exactly. I used a Dremmel tool which is a high-speed drill, so one slip and you have to start the whole thing over. It was a beautiful summer day. I had a couple Buds. I took my time, brought the stereo out on the back deck, made myself comfortable and got to work thinking if I screw this up, I’m fucked and I’m not gonna wanna do this again. I prepared myself mentally and physically for the task and it was do or die. Any project like that–the do or die kind–when I’m working at work on someone else’s thousands-of-dollars print or whatever, you can’t screw it up. Some things are a one shot deal and you have to nail it. If you don’t, it’s all over. I think those projects are the best. I love having control over everything, but the element of surprise that comes along with printmaking is kind of cool. My favorites are the high-risk projects. Do or die, as I always say! That’s fun for me.
Most artists I’ve talked to strive to establish “rules” and sort of stay in there, it’s refreshing that you strike out from what’s comfortable.
I was experimenting, learning something new. There’s a lot of benefits to doing the same thing over and over, too, such as mastering a craft. Sometimes mastery is what you’re striving for. I’m always wanting to play with something new. I’m generally that way with art and nature. That curiosity keeps me going. As far as art goes, you can fail, but you really can’t when you’re trying something new. If you’re working in a medium where you have no control of that one particular eyeball or whatever, that can be really cool. You’ll find these happy little accidents; these little discoveries, because you didn’t have complete control. You have to get over the idea of failing at things. That was really hard for me. As a kid I always wanted to draw everything perfectly. I was completely engulfed in photorealism. I drew a lot of portraits and they had to be perfectly proportioned. That was always my goal. Then having art classes in high school and in college gave me the amazing opportunity to break out of my comfort zone. I found that that can be huge. You’ll discover something you never knew you could do. You’ll be like, I didn’t know I could oil paint. I’ve seen it in people’s eyes. I’ve seen them change majors and completely change their lives based on a new discovery. I keep looking for that because I get so much joy out of it.
Let’s talk about education. You went to Cornish, yes? I know someone who went there and of the 8 people in her class only 2 have jobs using their degree. Do you think that’s crazy or does it hold true?
In 1999 my mom passed away. It was so sudden and nobody knew it was coming. Bam. Just get this phone call, your mom is dead. I just talked to her yesterday, what do you mean? Having that happen in my late 20s on a path to nowhere changed everything. I wasn’t doing anything. I was drinking, doing a lot of drugs, and playing music. I had no goals at all. For some reason I always thought it would be great to go to college one day and I always thought, how awesome would it be if I were lucky enough to go. Those lucky kids who get to go to art school! I never thought it would happen, but my mom died and it struck me that life is friggin short and it can be taken away from you like that. In a second. And you have no idea when it’ll happen. So, I said fuck it I’m going to at least try. Before that I’d never even tried to get in or anything.
Nope. My mom dying, in a way, ended up being this huge inspiration for me to wake the fuck up and realize that you have to do what you want to do now while you still can. So I didn’t think about it. I just found the best art school in the Pacific Northwest or whatever and picked it. I didn’t have money, no inheritance or anything, but I got loans. It never hurts to try. My intention was to be a painter–that was the goal. I did that for the first year until the reality of getting a job and maybe having some sort of career after four years of this super expensive school, that I was going to have to pay for somehow, sunk in and I freaked out. I had a panic attack. I’d see people out of a class of 50 that would graduate, maybe 2 would be actual painters in the art world. It’s like going to school to be a pop star. How many people are gonna make it? I talked to my Photoshop teacher who was also a successful painter and he suggested I do graphic design. I hated computers. At the time I couldn’t sit in front of a computer for more than ten minutes without thinking get outta here! But I was finding enjoyment in Photoshop, it was intuitive for me. I talked to a counselor and even though it was heartbreaking for me to switch majors I thought it would be a better career move because then I’d have a billable, marketable skill. Why not learn something new? I didn’t own a computer, had no idea was typography was, but I wanted to be able to use my knowledge. Of course I basically had to start over. I was still able to do it in four years, but I missed out on some foundation classes, so I had to play catch up. Had to buy a Mac because it was industry standard. I didn’t know about gigabytes, megabytes, had no clue. I dove right in, though, and I was gung-ho to be good at it. A lot of it was easy to pick up having fine art skills that a lot of my classmates struggled with. They could only kind-of draw, but not really. They were programmers, computer people, in my classes. In some ways my outlook had its advantages. I found a way that I could make computer work, graphic design, into fine art. And in doing that, I fell in love with it. There are so many rules. I had no clue that there are bazillions of procedures and aesthetics. Before when I’d read words on a page, I had no clue why some things were bigger or smaller or anything about fonts. Why is this spacing here? Learning about different letterforms and typefaces, seeing it as an art-form was really cool for me. These were things I’d looked at every day all my life and never knew it was art. Now I’m over-analyzing the space between every letter. The difference certain typefaces give to certain sentences led to all new discoveries if I could learn to get over the techy computer part of it. That part still doesn’t speak to me until it’s about using computers as a tool for art. Letters are shapes are art. Cornish was a lot of fun because I had so many new discoveries and I was surrounded by amazingly talented kids. In some classes you’re with dancers, musicians and theatre people. Artistic collaboration. I took an introduction to gamelan which is Indonesian production ensemble. I didn’t know how to read music, I’d only dabbled in drums, and thought it would be easy. Turned out to be one of the hardest classes I took the whole four years! I had to learn to read music, play different instruments and memorize songs and perform in public in order to pass. Lots of things I’m not comfortable with, so many challenges. I swear it was the one of the most fun classes I took, though, because I was completely immersed in a different area of the arts. Out of my element, but surrounded by beautiful creative people. You feed off each other.
What do you do to ensure that there are many different types of art in your life now that you’re not in school?
I still play music. I’ve been drumming ten plus years so I’m more comfortable. In a way I’m bored with it, too, though so I try new things. I started playing keyboard and guitar. And even building guitars from skateboards. I have no idea how to play, but it makes noise and I can control noise. Learning how to fine-tune that, the discoveries, the happy accidents that come out of making noise is completely therapeutic. Drums is much more therapy for me in some ways. Yeah, it’s fun to jam out with buddies but I get more benefit in terms of anti-stress and anti-anxiety.
Agreed. It’s so comforting to be able to come home and just hit something.
Exactly, hit something, make noise. Control the noise. Put it in patterns. You can make 20 different sounds with one drum head by hitting differently and in different areas. Happy moments can come from happy accidents. You can laugh. Pretty soon you’re in a good mood cause you just made a bunch of weird noise. Trying new beats. Definitely playing music, I like to do landscaping as well. I know a lot of fine artists who enjoy landscaping. You can get in a zen state. You have control over the elements in a way and it’s design for sure, working with color pattern and texture. Whenever I get to shape the trees, that’s really fun. I find it very relaxing and it’s manual labor. For artists we have to get off our asses sometimes, get out and be physical. It’s really good for you. It’s easy to sit at a desk for 8 hours and let yourself get stuck in a rut. I’ve done it, seen it done in so many people. I think it’s really healthy to get up, get out and breathe. Try something new. I keep saying it because it’s true, it’s really beneficial. It’s good for me, but it’s good for everyone.
Have you been to Makerhaus?
No, what’s that?
Makerhaus is (and I haven’t been there myself), but when I saw it I immediately thought of you, its down in Fremont, it’s a giant studio with all sorts of equipment where they offer workshops. It’s tools for artists and it’s extra hands cause sometimes you just need a posse. We should check those guys out.
Yeah, that sounds awesome.
Did you set any New Year’s resolutions this year?
The standards, health, paying off bills and whatnot. Definitely getting my portfolio up online and having a bigger internet presence in general. I have an Etsy page up with posters on it. And that’s a whole lot of work. A lot of artists don’t want to deal with that end of it. In addition to the artwork itself, you’ve got to photograph it, make it look good, etc. Photographing art is one of the hardest things. I enjoy photography, in some ways I think I’m good at it, but photographing art is fucking hard! I’d like to figure out some sort of combination of portfolio and shop. I want to get rid of some things I’ve been staring at for years that maybe someone else can enjoy. I do plan on turning my graphic art into prints as more of a side thing. I had so many posters stuffed in a closet or down in the basement when I saw other people selling them. I thought if everyone was doing it, why couldn’t I? Out of curiosity I put some on Etsy, and every now and then you get an email, sold. All you have to do is put the print in a tube and send it off. I can see putting more time into maintaining that. My other goal is to accept more graphic design freelance work. I could also see going into some sort of field where I can utilize, design and build space, like theatre or set-building. Going from sketch to physically creating it, I could see myself blossoming. There are so many different paths you could take. It can also be very competitive, but the people who are really good are the ones who love it and have passion for it. I find passion and then get bored. This year I’ll try to focus on all those passions and see what I can mold it into. Jack of all trades, master of none, you know, but I don’t really want to be that anymore. I’m looking for something worth focusing on that changes all the time. That’s why I enjoyed working at a sign shop. Every sign was different, but it was artistic and it involved the whole process.
Would I recognize any of your signs from around town?
We did some work for PCC. They have a lot of hand-carved 3-dimensional signs around their shops. Most sign stuff is boring with plain vinyl letters, but that was intricate.
I need you to talk to me about the Peacock. Its incredible. It’s my favorite piece except maybe the bird with the tape.
It was supposed to be a Christmas gift for an ex-girlfriend. We had only been dating 9 months or so and it was getting toward the holidays. She liked certain colors and peacocks. So, I don’t know, I thought of doing this amazing peacock in the monochromatic colors she liked. For her. Christmas came and went, but I wasn’t done. I gave her a sneak peek so she’d know, but got her some other gifts, too. We broke up right after New Years and I had this unfinished painting that was a gift for someone who I quite frankly wasn’t talking to. You know, after the break up a lot of the times you don’t want to talk to that person anymore. It was a really intense relationship, too. I’ve never been with someone where it was like I love you, I hate you, I love you I hate you. It’s usually pretty straightforward. And we were both like that, so it was this polar planetary attraction, but we just couldn’t get it to stick. We tried so hard. We broke up a couple times, but after New Year’s we knew it was done. So, I have this painting. But I never want to talk to you again. You got something else for Christmas anyways, so let’s just forget about it. I had this unfinished painting that I didn’t want anything to do with so I shoved it behind a door and forgot about it for, like, two years. Any time I’d close the door I’d see this friggin painting! There was something there. It was going to be a beautiful painting. I got a wild hair up my ass to finally finish it one day. It didn’t take very long at all, maybe four or five hours left and it was done. It was kind of anticlimactic but this painting is cursed in a way because it was meant to be for someone and it never ended up in their hands. I’ve had people who wanted to buy it, but it always fell through. It was meant for Erin. In some ways I feel like she got cheated out of it, so it’s cursed. So I just use it for my personal enjoyment. So, yeah, that Peacock.
But it’s so beautiful!
But it’s cursed! Maybe one day I’ll give to her, but I haven’t talked to her in years. We still have a mutual friend and I saw her once, but didn’t talk to her. In some ways I can’t give it to her because I don’t know her anymore. She’ll never appreciate it anyway! She’ll put a mirror in the frame and throw the painting away. So what do I do with it? I put it up at work because it reminds me that I enjoy painting. It’s certainly one of my favorite pieces. It was tough. I’ll probably be dragging it around with me until I’m 80. In some ways it’s like a self-portrait so I don’t really want to give it up. It’s cursed.
Do you have advice or answers to questions I didn’t ask in your head that you’d like to express to the world?
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Cornish was that as an artist I had a lot of people tell me I was good, but I never had confidence as a kid or young adult. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go to a top school and graduate with honors and do something with that talent. So many people look at art as something you can’t do anything with. For so many people art is something you do to relax, not as a livelihood. I’d always lacked confidence and in proving something to myself, I discovered that I could be good. I could compete. Trying something really hard and challenging myself to prove it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in relation to my art. If you don’t challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never have the opportunity to stumble upon happy accidents. It’s had a major effect on my career on and my ability. Give yourself the chance to make happy mistakes. Don’t be scared. It’s not a big deal to fail. It’s really hard to nail something the first try, but trying builds confidence. You’ll find all these new discoveries to build your arsenal for future reference. If you never put yourself in situations where you tried something new, you’d never know what you’re capable of. I’d encourage people to always try new things and to never fear failure.
Thank you so much, Scott, it’s been a pleasure to pick your brain! And thank you, internet, for checking out a new artist with me. You can find Scott’s prints available on his Etsy page. Who will we Meet: next? You’ll just have to wait and see.