Ken Garduno is a fascinating study in narrative illustration, conjuring images of strange scientific studies, time travel, interdimensional communication as well as the age-old tale of inner turmoil and the search for love. In his debut solo exhibition, “Channels,” at Black Maria Gallery, he continues his growing repertoire of distinguished and interconnected visuals. And recently, Ken gave us a little insight on his latest body of works and his life in general.
A Southern California native, Ken Garduno is actively towing the blurry line between illustration and fine art. His acrylic, ink and ink wash works on paper have continued to interest viewers , showing no signs of stagnating their personal and universal creative studies. Currently, Ken has created a wonderful group of works titled, “Channels,” showing at Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles. Ken took a few moments out of his very busy schedule to sit down for a minute and answer some questions, giving us a little peek into the world behind the creative curtain at Studio Garduno.
So Ken, whereabouts are you from? Did you grow up in Southern California?
I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. I spent a few years living in San Francisco. I missed L.A. so I moved back.
“Origins,” 22 x 17 inches, acrylic, ink and wash on paper
You attended art school as well as enjoying being creative on your own. Did that experience shape you or affect your art in any way? What was your art school experience like?
I think art school made it possible for my drawings to look more like the ideas in my head. I might not have put the effort in by myself if I didn’t have something motivating me to improve on basic drawing and painting skills. It was like boot camp.I didn’t spend much time at school. I went to class, did my work and left. I wanted to get through the school as quickly as possible…mainly to prove to myself that I could finish something.
“Propaganda,” 22 x 17 inches, acrylic, ink and wash wash on paper
When did you feel like you found your groove, your trademark style or creative niche?
I was frustrated while I was in school because I felt a bunch of my peers had either entered in with their style, or were pretty close to having one. I didn’t. My grad show was all over the place. It was pulling in all different directions of styles because I couldn’t settle on any. My art school experience left me confused, as instructors were pulling me in different directions. After I graduated, I was on my own. It was a good place to be. It gave me time to combine the skills I had acquired in art school and with the ideas that I couldn’t bring to life before.
I remember the piece that started me in this direction. I showed my girlfriend the piece, and she was equally excited. I trust her judgement so I knew I was going in a good direction.
Ken diligently working on his sculpture for the opening.
There appears to be a definitive narrative quality about your work, is there an actual story or storyline that you’re following?
Sometimes I think of stories before I start the piece, and sometimes I attach a story to a completed piece. The stories are usually very short. They’re actually more of a description of what is going on at the moment in the piece. That is why I came up with “Channels” as the title for my solo show. It best describes how I come up with my stories. When you’re flipping through on a television, you only get a short moment to see what’s going on. That’s about how much story I think about before I move onto the next channel.
I never really tell anyone what I think the pieces are about. I prefer to hear what stories they come up with.
Installation view of Ken’s 3D work. Photo courtesy Chal Pivik / la.metblogs.com
Do you feel like your current work is exactly where you want to be, or do you feel it’s still going somewhere?
I never want to feel comfortable. Even if it doesn’t show up in my gallery work, I’m always experimenting. If i ever feel like I’m exactly where I want to be with my work, I don’t see a point in going on. I like to feel excited about what I’m doing, and this can only happen for me if I feel like I keep progressing.
Front of the gallery on the eve of the opening. Photo courtesy Chal Pivik / la.metblogs.com
I’ve heard that you have a big show going on, maybe your first solo exhibit, what’s that all about?
This is my first solo exhibit, and I’m very excited about it.As I mentioned above, the show is called “Channels”. I started my work for the show with a different show concept. It was going to be much more of a theme show. I started working, and I got bored a few pieces in. I had to come up with an idea that would allow me to make a body of work that represented the randomness of my ideas. “Channels” was the perfect choice. I have a hard time keeping my attention on something, so the show is a peek into the way my mind works.
“Summon,” 17 x 13 inches, acrylic, ink and wash on paper
What influences do you feel have helped shape the way you approach art or your work specifically?
I’m not sure. I don’t know what it was that made me so attracted to paper and ink. I think it was all I knew before I started art school, so it was natural that I would return to this simplicity after experimenting with various mediums in school. Most of the time, I have no idea what influenced me. I’m constantly feeding on information from various sources.
Opening attendees at “Channels”Photo courtesy Chal Pivik / la.metblogs.com
If there was a place you could visit to create a certain masterpiece or body of work, where might that be? And what do you think you would want to create there?
I’d love to work large scale at some point, so murals are likely. I’d love to do something in France. Maybe this has nothing to do with creating art there. Rather, it’s just an excuse to visit. Who wouldn’t want to visit that place!?
“Rejuvenation Point,” 22 x 12 inches, acrylic, ink and wash on paper
Tell us a little about what the future holds for Ken Garduno. Are you planning a volume of your works? A graphic novel? Illustrations? What’s up?
No plans for anything yet. I rarely plan, as I disappoint myself when I don’t go through with something. All I know is that i’ll continue drawing/painting. (Unless my hand falls off)!
The graphic novel is something that has been floating around in my head, though…
The artist himself, Ken Garduno, in front of the largest work to date, “Widow”, 47 x 33 inches tall.Photo courtesy Chal Pivik / la.metblogs.com
-Brought to you by Nathan Spoor