Interview: Let Artist Anthony Waichulis Inspire You.

Founder of the highly successful Waichulis Studio and Ani Art Academy Waichulis, Anthony has established an international reputation for his Trompe L’oeil paintings. Waichulis’ works are highly prized by knowledgeable collectors worldwide and have been lauded by critics on many occasions.

Waichulis has exhibited in many of the most respected venues throughout the country including the Arnot Art Museum, the Washington Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Institute, the Midwest Museum of American Art and the Orlando Museum of Art.

Waichulis’ works continue to appear regularly in top national publications such as The Artist’s Magazine, American Art Collector, and Fine Art Connoisseur. His efforts have gained top honors in both national and international competitions as he continues to command an ever widening audience. In 2006, Anthony became the first Trompe L’oeil painter to be granted Living Master status by the Art Renewal Center.

Where are you from? Where did all of this begin?

I am a Trompe L’oeil painter, Art Instructor and co-founder of the Ani Art Academies hailing from Northeast Pennsylvania. My formal training in Representational art began right here in rural PA at the age of 14. Now at the age of 40, I still pursue this craft as passionately as I did when I began.

When did you realize that art is what you were meant to do?

While this may sound like a cliché answer for an artist, I have been drawing ever since I can remember. Throughout my childhood I can remember visiting my grandmother often. Upon entering her house, my siblings and I would always find a great stack of assorted paper and pens for us to draw with. I think she did this as a way to keep us pacified and curtail any damage to her house from ‘spirited’ kids. I remember those early drawing sessions quite vividly.

However, it was during my first trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art while in college that I was exposed to the genre of Trompe L’oeil. It was on this trip that I had seen the works of William Harnett, John Peto, and John Haberle. When I saw these brilliant paintings that were so filled with technical precision and clever guile, I was overwhelmed. I was so taken with the style that I knew immediately that it would be the genre that I would pursue without pause.

Who are your major influences, inspiration in life and in the art world?

Aside from my aforementioned genre-specific influences, I would say that I am probably most inspired by the many talented artists that I am fortunate enough to work with every day. Seeing their creative endeavors develop through to fruition is wildly motivational and inspirational.

What are some essential tools that you consider a must have for every artist?

I think that an essential tool for an artist is dedication. While it may sound easy to dedicate yourself to something that you are passionate about—it is often not. Overwhelming frustration is easily born from strong passions.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently immersed in a somewhat larger work (for me) entitled “Vessels”. While this work would be considered somewhat small for many artists (20×24”), it is large for me as the vast majority of my works are 11×14” and smaller. It has been some time since I have tackled something of this size; but I do find the challenge extremely exciting.

A large portion of our audience is artists, like yourself. If you could give them one piece of advice – what would it be?

Embrace the challenges that lay before you as they often hold a vast myriad of opportunities for your future. Life was not designed to be easy. There are many obstacles and challenges in our path that seem to always keep us from chasing down that which makes us truly happy.

But for those amidst the chase, remember this: adversity and opportunity are often two sides of the same coin. You just need to have the will and the determination to turn it to your advantage when necessary. Every challenge, setback, rejection, or bump in your road to happiness will make you more than you were before and will hold some type of opportunity for you if you if you are determined to find it.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given & by whom?

Live the life that makes you truly happy. My mother and father.

What has been your most rewarding achievement as an artist?

Ok – this answer is a bit lengthy:

One of the most rewarding events in my artistic development took place during my first drawing class with a brilliant artist and teacher, Mr. Leonard Stankunas. As one of the first esteemed teachers to sit in judgment of my efforts, I wanted desperately to impress him. I worked tirelessly on my first big drawing assignment in the hopes he would be bowled over. When it was finally due I can remember handing it in with a great deal of confidence.

A few days later, we received our graded assignments and I noticed a gleaming 96 on the cover of my project. I was very happy—BUT I did want to know what I could have done differently to attain a perfect score. Why was it not 100? I timidly approached Mr. Stankunas and asked about the grade… Mr. Stankunas kindly explained to me that he did not give perfect scores. He went on to say that there is always room for improvement and that he had never had an instance before where a perfect score was warranted.

I did greatly enjoy the rest of the semester trying to get that all elusive 100. I came soooo close a few times, but always seemed to just fall a bit short. Again, since I truly enjoyed what I was doing, the failed attempts to reach the perfect score were not met with anger or frustration, but rather a renewed enthusiasm to try even harder.

At the end of the semester, like most art classes we had to submit a large final work. I remember the morning the graded projects were returned to us as clear as if it had all happened yesterday. I looked down at cover of my project I did see the (now almost mythical) 100. I was overwhelmed and honestly, a little shocked. I approached Mr. Stankunas at the end of class, and with smile he said “Congratulations, it was the first one I had ever given. You deserved it.”

I can only describe an overwhelming sense of validation and renewed confidence. I honestly did know right then and there that I would always, always, always, chase down that which would bring me the greatest joy in life and look forward to the opportunity to tackle any adverse variables in play.

I’ll tell you— I have won a great deal of honors and awards in the past 16 years and not one of them carries the weight of the 100 on that paper from Mr. Stankunas’ Drawing I class. This simple event really made me feel that anything was possible and it is still moves me to this day.

Could you share with us your favorite quote?

Based on my answer to number 8 it would have to be: “Congratulations, it was the first one I had ever given. You deserved it.”

When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?

My painting efforts still remain as steadfast and focused today as they have when my journey began. I continue to teach and lecture privately at academic institutions and various art associations throughout Northeast Pennsylvania. My desire to learn and grow as an effective Representational Trompe L’oeil painter remains unfettered. I aspire to honor those I follow and strive to give benefit to those who may one day follow me.

What are your hopes for 2013, and where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?

I can only hope that the future will unfold in a way that I can continue to develop my craft and contribute to the development of others when needed. I look forward to many years of successes and challenges, all in an effort to do what many artists before me have set out to do— create something new that wasn’t here before.