The Devil’s Rainbow
Artist Alex Gross has granted us access inside his studio space located in Los Angeles, California. I have asked him to tell us about his creative process and what it’s like to paint every day in his studio. He recently finished an amazing time-lapse video of his brand new painting entitled The Devil’s Rainbow.
What is your studio space like?
My studio is in one of the bedrooms of my home in Los Angeles. I moved into this house about two years ago and the second bedroom seemed right for the studio. Although I would like the greater space of a large loft studio, I have always had my studio in my home. The idea of driving somewhere else to work is a bit foreign to me. This studio has worked very well for me. I have an enormous commission coming up soon and I will probably have to convert my living room to a workspace to accommodate it. It will be the first piece too large to fit in my studio.
What collections or inspirations do you surround yourself with in your studio?
I have artwork from several colleagues on the walls of my studio. Jeff Soto, Jana Brike, Eric Fortune, and the late Phil Hays are a few of the ones currently on my walls.
Do work in your studio every day?
Typically I paint every day except Sunday. Here and there I will take other days off, but for the most part I paint six days a week, about 6 hours per day. I find it very important to have a routine and stick to it, even when it’s tough.
Once in the studio do you have any habits or rituals that get your creativity flowing?
I will either put music on or listen to some podcasts. I actually enjoy listening to comedy when I am working. I also try not to answer the phone when I am working unless I am expecting an important call. No distractions are allowed when I am working. My wife knows not to bother me when I am in there, unless it’s urgent. I find this isolation from the outside world helpful and important.
Could you share a little about the process of putting together an exhibition. It’s important for an exhibition to be consistent thematically and stylistically, while also having variety within it. It took me many shows to learn this. When I am developing new ideas now, I usually keep in mind the piece I did last, and try to make sure there is some relationship from it to the next one. but at the same time, I try to push myself to try something new in each one as well. So it’s an interesting challenge. In the past, I had some shows where the style of the work was all over the place, and it made for a confusing show. Even if two pieces are both strong, if they are very different in style, it may be better to separate them. I find that I have more leeway thematically. Some pieces may make strong conceptual statements while others may be more surreal. As long as they feel visually related, I find that they still tend to work well in the same show.
What are some good tips and habits about working in an art studio that you can share with our readers?
The most important habit for me is the habit to work. Many people think artists wait for inspiration to just come, and then crank out something nice. In my experience, it does not work that way. All the successful artists I know and admire work hard. So I try to work hard too. Some days it does not work so well. But when the discipline of work becomes routine, then eventually you break through and something good comes out. Of course, you may occasionally need to step back and take a break, but it’s important to make work a daily habit if you want to be successful.