Scott Saw is a true art lover and journeyman, as well asa fantastic fine artist and printmaker. The last few years have seenSaw faced by some life decisions that, though formidable, never dimmedhis fire for pursuing his creative endeavors. In fact, the artist madethe choice to evolve rather than to obsess, coming out on the top ofhis game with a rich vocabulary of imagery not previously imagined.Follow along as we get a few moments with the San Diego resident aswell as view his latest masterworks and a peek into his studio life.
Hi Scott, thanks for taking a few minutes to hang out with the HF readers. So tell us about your artistic growth, where did it all start and what possessed you to pursue the arts?
Some of my earliest memories are of hanging out in my dad’s art studio while he obsessed over painting after painting. Watching him make art naturally inspired me to become an artist. My parents met at art school, so art is an important part of my family history. From a young age I was encouraged me to learn the fundamentals of art and design.
Using art to express my most inner thoughts and feelings began to crystallize about six years ago when I created a series called ‘Curtains’. The series was a response to the death of a loved one and visually documents the unraveling awareness of my sense of spirit. I’d say this was a powerful turning point in my philosophy and focus as an artist. Since then all the major events of my life have been documented in my paintings.
Are you a SoCal native, and how has living here affected your work in your opinion?
My family moved to North County San Diego when I was 2. Growing up near the beach and surfing inspired my early drawings. I drew more waves than notes on my school papers in my teenage years. Later, the discovery of the Lowbrow movement, which was centered in SoCal, inspired me to really improve my painting skills.
Did you attend art school or have any training as such?
In the 11th grade I found myself with a passing grade in art and Fs in every other subject. I ended up dropping out. Years later I began attending art classes at the local jr. college. I stuck with it for years and eventually received two degrees from San Diego State University, one in art and another in business.
What do you look for in a new piece, or find the most fascinating about the creative process?
Usually the ideas for paintings come as quick flashes that are recorded in a sketchbook or a cocktail napkin. I revisit these ideas when it’s time to dive into a new painting and draw upon the concept with the strongest pull at the time. I love watching these rough ideas turn into larger more detailed drawings and then come to life through painting. It’s great to see both the image and the meaning evolve and crystallize through the production of the work.
What sort of schedule do you keep for creative pursuits?
Currently, my creative process has turned me into a vampire. It occurs in the late hours when all the world sleeps… I typically work on art from 9pm until about 3am. I find that if I want to create art, it has to be after I have taken care of the day job and the family. My studio is at home so I can work at night after Kai, my son, goes to bed.
One of the challenges I have been faced with in recent years is finding time to both make art and manage the art career. With a fulltime job and a family, I have had to choose to either make art, or try to show and sell art. Obviously making art has more pull so in recent years I have not been showing in galleries and have had limited outlets to exhibit and sell my work.
You’re a Dad now. How has that affected your work or work habits?
Yes! I love being a dad… it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I have my son 50% of the time, which means I can get in the studio a little earlier on nights when he is with his mom. When Kai came into the picture, I was inspired to create my Flipside series which was about the journey his spirit may have experienced in preparation to enter this world. When he was an infant my Microcosm series reflected the sense of isolation I felt as a result of caring for him constantly while manage an art and freelance career… I barely left my home for months. As he grew and I took on the responsibility of fatherhood, my work reflected the changes that were occurring in both our lives as I separated from his mom and how deeply I wanted to protect him and show him love. Kai is a huge inspiration in my work and in my life and I am so proud of who he is. He is 4 now and says he wants to be an artist when he grows up.
Do you typically pursue your work for yourself, for galleries, commercial avenues or some other interest?
In short, I pursue art completely for myself. I started showing my work regularly in galleries about six years ago and was constantly producing for looming deadlines. Then, I found myself in the thick of a divorce and chose to cancel all gallery shows so I could cope with my situation and focus all of my energy on becoming an active, dependable father. Now, two years has rolled by and find myself pretty much off the grid. In a way, it has been the best thing for my art. I am producing work daily with more drive and passion than ever and there are virtually no deadlines other than the ones I inflict on myself. Keeping my day job has allowed me to keep my art solely as a personal, passionate outlet.
Outside of painting and creating, what sort of hobbies or activities do you get into to keep you fresh and available for the new ideas?
I love spending time with my fiancé Erika and my son… we all have a blast together no matter what we do. Sometimes it’s a day at the Zoo or a playful afternoon in the parks or beaches near our home. Erika and I go out to see shows and love going to rock festivals. Music is an important part of my life and at home we are constantly listening to as much music as possible.
Talk about your “process” a little bit if you would. I’ve been following your work for a while now, and these new paintings definitely have a level of passionate display not previously seen. How do you arrive at these visual feasts of late?
Following my divorce I took about a year off from painting. During this time I embraced fatherhood, fell crazy in love and without art as an outlet I internalized my emotions. Last summer, Erika and I traveled to Chicago to hit a rock fest. While there, we visited the Art Institute. Being around all of that great art reminded me how important art is to my life. I recall standing in front of Seurat’s Sunday on La Grande Jatte, telling myself that it was time to get back to work. On the airplane ride home, I made the drawings that would become the basis of my paintings for the next 10 months. Airports and airplanes have been perfect places for me to sketch, as I am forced to wait and do nothing but draw… some of my best ideas have come from these times. Returning from Chicago, I was able to channel all of the love and passion, betrayal and raw emotion that I had been bottling up for so long and put it into those paintings, which would take 3-4 months each to complete.
I change up my technique fairly frequently to keep myself interested. I use oil paint and always paint on wood. I used to let the wood grain come through by treating the paint as a stain but have lost interest in that and prefer to lay down the paint now. Recent larger works have evolved in a bit of a traditional style with a monochromatic under-painting and then adding color layers followed by weeks/months of rendering. I spent the last month or so cranking out experimental works for my booth at Comic Con. It felt great to let loose after working tight for so long. These smaller works include spray-paint, screen print and oil paint. Now, I am producing limited edition screen prints and having a blast kicking out 100 prints in a night.
Do you have a choice dream scenario that you’d like to one day pursue (or perhaps you currently are) and achieve?
I would like to make art all day, every day and have my evenings and weekends free to relax and spend with my family. I would love to have a larger more equipped workspace with a built in photo studio and dance studio for my girl.
So now that we’ve gotten people all primed up for your next artistic outing, when might one have the chance to enjoy seeing your work in person? What’s coming up?
I will have my own booth again this year at SD Comic Con (#4632). I am very excited for this event and have been cranking out smaller works and screen prints to show/sell there. Later in the summer I will be set up at Sunset Junction in LA next to my friends at NOMAD studio of LA. I have some smaller shows in the works that will take place in SD. Other than that I will be getting back into making larger paintings for my next solo show… location and date TBD.
And seeing as how you’ve been doing this for a respectable amount of time, is there any advice to the young readers or artists in waiting that you would care to impart, any choice knowledge you’ve gleaned from your sweat equity in the trenches?
For me, making art needs to be enjoyable and meaningful. I feel that change and experimentation lead to great rewards. Personally, I have had to separate my work from my art to make my art seem more meaningful.