Interview: Ink, Pastel, Paint Artist Lou Patrou Explains his Creative Process.
by Daniel Haim
Daniel: How did you first start with art, and when did it become more then just a hobby?
Lou: I started drawing in the late 1960’s in junior high school, I would come home and listen to records and draw. I am not sure if it isn’t still a hobby!
Daniel: Were you always passionate about art?
Lou: Yes, it wasn’t any kind of decision, I always enjoy dong something creative.
Daniel: Do you remember your first painting?
Lou: I remember a lot of my early work, I worked in pastels and watercolors a lot.
Daniel: Do you remember your first painting sale?
Lou: I have never created art with the express purpose of selling it right away. I own all of my original work except for those pieces that friends and family own and instead sell a lot of prints.
My work is so personal that I could not imagine handing it over to someone. I don’t approach my art like is going to be a piece for sale or something to hand off, rather I am making something for myself in the end.
I have had many people over the years offer to buy work but the prices I could have commanded just weren’t satisfactory so I held onto my work. I also never cared about selling, I was preoccupied with doing it and always interested in showing it some day. That day is here, I started exhibiting and promoting myself in the last few years, with the bulk of my work of 40 years worth of works never being shown or written about, yet.
Daniel: Is art something you went to school for?
Lou: I thought about going to art school but instead joined the Navy and went to photo school, but I have never stopped doing my art over the years.
Daniel: What has been the most rewarding of being an artist?
Lou: The rewards are twofold, a feeling of excitement that happens during the processes of exploration & execution and a lasting feeling of satisfaction that occurs after creating something that I am happy with. I think it is the same feeling for everyone that creates something.
Daniel: How often do you begin a new painting, how long is the process to complete one?
Lou: I am not out to see what kind of quantity I can produce these days, but back in 1984/85 I did just that out of curiosity. I had enough money at the time to pay my rent and bills for the rest of the year and worked every day on pastels for 5 months straight, producing over 75 pieces. If I had that kind of financial freedom again I could do artwork every day.
The process and timeline has changed over the years along with the addition of new methods and sharpened techniques. Sometimes I can change the process and sometimes it changes itself as I work the piece. Some pieces are planned out and every detail controlled, others are completely spontaneous. When starting out a planned piece, I have to arrive at a concept first, then I get ideas one at a time and let them gel in order to review them another day in another light.
The puzzle (after the concept is established) includes; shapes and their positions, line designs, color schemes, tones, symbols and textures, and can take anywhere from a few weeks to even months to get the puzzle the way I want it and then execute it. I spent almost 5 months on Priest and another 5 or 6 on the Bobbingtons.
Daniel: Nowadays when creativity has gone down the drain how do you manage to find yours?
Lou: I see creativity bursting out from all directions and all corners.
I have never seen so many galleries, art magazines when I was growing up and now with the art galleries online, art communities and of course art blogs online things are happening all over. I remember going to New York in the 1980’s and looking through
Gallery Guide THE source for exhibits, now there are online guides, interactive calendars, iPhone applications, YouTube videos and email blasts about shows and art events.
And with technology today it is really astounding, take scanning and printing and image processing software, you can capture and publish your works as portfolio pieces and presentations on the internet and send out images for press and reproduction without having to go to a graphics house or photo lab.
Daniel: As an artist myself I know that sometimes I face difficulties, nor find the time to continue being artistic and creative. What keeps you motivated to making art?
Lou: Over all these years I have done art through struggling days, lazy days, hard times, painful times and happy days, so I really don’t know.
Daniel: Having art that’s so unique of style, truly one of a kind I wonder who are your major influences, and inspiration in life, and in the art world.
Lou: For the last 25 or 30 years I have tried very hard to stay away from other artist’s work for this very specific reason. Everything influences your creativity and decisions in varying amounts.
Daniel: You’ve been an artist perhaps, your entire life. What is it that originally attracted you to move out west to Los Angeles during the 80’s and what eventually brought you back to your origin?
Lou: Do you mean why did I leave LA? I spent 22 years there and need a change of scenery. but here are five good reasons: Traffic, Smog, Crime, Earthquakes, Weather.
Daniel: You took your business to the next level. Being an artist is one thing, but you have merchandise. From watches, to bags, to coffee mugs, to bed sheets how has that been working for you?
Lou: Yes I am trying to take my career to a new level with branding and licensing of my designs. All the product designs that you see is just in the concept stage. I have a licensing agency out pitching various ideas and product lines to manufacturers who were recently at the Chicago Housewares & Lifestyle trade show last month.
Daniel: What’s on the horizon for Lou?
Lou: Long term, I will continue creating as much art work as I can and when a licensing opportunity comes along I will work on more product design. Currently I have some new ideas I am working on for a new painting. Otherwise it is all about expanding that horizon, making inroads with publishers, manufacturers and art directors etc.