From his Brooklyn studio, painter Julian Rapp prepares for his very first solo show. It is an exciting time for this young artist as talent and a lifelong love of art have transformed from hobby to career. Julian began showing his work in coffee shops and bars – and occasionally on the streets of New York City. Although you may still see his robots around from time to time, he tries to keep the majority of his paint on canvas. Julian Rapp’s pieces are often bright and abstract, poignant and emotional – and super cool! Come check out his show at Openhouse Gallery, so some day soon you can say you knew him when…
MPISA: This is your first solo show. Congratulations on being the headliner! What can people expect from this show? What will they be dying to tell their friends about?
JR: Yes! First show. I can’t wait – People can expect a lot of color, a lot of energy, a lot of paintings and a fun party with good people. I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember and this is the first time I’m doing a proper show so I’ve got a lot of work that will be there! It’s also an awesome spot – Openhouse Gallery, 379 Broome in SOHO. Huge place, has a great backyard. It’ll be a good hang. The show will open the evening of August 27th and run through August 30th. We’re throwing a party on the 29th. Purchase your ticket here and enter to win a robot painting.
MPISA: We love your Robot series. They have such personality. How did you come up with the robot concept? Why the heart?
JR: They sort of morphed their way to what they are now through old drawings and paintings. It’s all about love – I think the heart connects with people. Also, it adds a color, which makes it look better.
MPISA: Speaking of your robots, they seem to appear on the streets of New York City once in a while. Tell us about your street art?
JR: From time to time I’ve put a robot or two around the city and in other cities. The truth is, I just enjoy doing it. I don’t consider myself a street or graffiti artist. It’s called one or the other – or vandalism – because it’s out in the streets. But I’m not thinking about it in that way. I just see a spot that I think needs a robot and I am compelled to indulge in that impulse. My intent is to make people smile.
MPISA: So many of your pieces involve faces as the main focus or in the background. Some are robots, some are skulls, some are more abstract. Tell us about that.
JR: I’m not really sure why. A lot of those faces and figures come out of my subconscious when I’m zoning out to music. For the most part, I picture all my paintings as one big background with a bunch of different creatures and things living there. Sometimes they come forward, sometimes they’re zoomed out, but they’re all living in the same world.
MPISA: You were a part of a recent group show and auction with other talented artists including Borbay, Jeremy Penn and Paul Zepada. What a great way to share, collaborate and cross promote. It almost reminds us of the Inklings or the Algonquin Round Table. How did you connect with these artists? How do these relationship influence your art?
JR: Those guys are great. Funny enough, I met them through Twitter. I reached out to Borbay because I thought his art was awesome and through him I was introduced to Paul and Jeremy and I have met a group of ridiculously talented people from there. It makes me want to keep my game up. Check these guys out for some dope art, all good friends and extremely talented painters and artists. I owe them a lot. Also see, Joseph Meloy, Ari Lankin and Michael Serafino.
MPISA: It seems social media has influenced your art, career and interactions with artists/fans. Do you think social media has made it easier for artists to bring their work to the public?
JR: It all has its place. I’ve met a lot of talented people on Twitter and it gives you the opportunity to show your work to a vast number of people quickly and easily. For painting though, online photos don’t do the work justice.
MPISA: You were an international relations major in college. Did you spend some time in corporate america? Tell us about the transition from college to full-time art.
JR: One summer in college I worked at a private equity firm. I think from that moment on I decided I wasn’t going to do anything like that. From there I finished out senior year of college and got an internship that turned into a job at a music management company. I got to travel a lot for that, which was awesome. I worked there for five years and I’m still involved with them in a smaller way. Within the past two years, I have been making a lot of new paintings. So I was sitting there with an apartment full of paintings that no one was seeing. I started out in bars and coffee shops to hang my work. When I sold some paintings, I realized it was possible. I tried to make more art, meet more people and figure it all out. I feel lucky to have met people with similar goals and idea. I’ve still got plenty to learn and along way to go.
MPISA: What do you like most about being an artist? Would you ever consider doing anything else?
JR: Probably physically the act of painting. When I’m making good progress on a painting and my mind is clear, that is my favorite part. I’m always open to new projects. I’m working with my little brother right now – he’s in an awesome rock band called The Rotaries. Anything that will make a positive impact and is cool, I’m open to being a part of.
MPISA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
JR: When I’m not working I feel guilty about it. So, I paint a lot. I’ve got a guitar I mess around on, do a little “outside art” every now and again. I don’t drink all that much. Love Breaking Bad, I’ve been catching up on that lately – and the Olympics.
MPISA: Whats the best advice you have ever received? The worst? (about life, art, etc.)
JR: I think the best advice I’ve heard is not to worry about what other people are doing and to concentrate on yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in and discouraged by other people’s successes. That’s wasted energy. Do what you love the best you can and success will follow. Also, there is no substitute for hard work. If you put in the hours you’re going to get better, regardless of what you’re doing.
MPISA: MPISA concludes each blog post with “MPISA loves…” What does Julian Rapp love right now?
JR: I love my little bro’s new record Before Leaving with his band The Rotaries. Download it free or pay what you want here – Definitely worth a listen.
Painter, Illustrator, Sculpter, Graphic Designer
New Milford, CT
Sometimes you just know when you are meant to do something in life. For Tarol Samuelson, art has always been a natural extension of her personality and creating things an organic expression of her ethereal yet earthy existence. “I have always known that I AM an artist,” she says from her studio in New Milford, Connecticut.
Tarol began painting seriously in 1981, selling her first pieces a few years later. In 1995, she debuted in her first solo show. Many years and more than eight solo exhibitions later, Tarol continues to create some of the most magical pieces that somehow straddle the line between substantial, natural, bold – and unearthly, fragile and playful.
We at MPISA have known and loved Tarol and her imaginative work for quite some time. During her birthday month, we had the pleasure of talking with her about where her creativity has taken her these days.
MPISA: You are a very busy lady! You have about 20 pieces in two galleries in Litchfield, Connecticut. Plus, you are a graphic designer and illustrator! Tell us about some of your latest work and exhibitions.
TS: The Ridgefield Guild of Artist just held their member’s exhibition this past weekend; I received an honorable mention for one of my entries, always a nice pat especially when the Juror happened to be Steve DeFrank.
Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut aka (HVCA) is holding their 6th Annual Awards Breakfast at the end of October; I am designing the cover for that event, and designed a 28-paged online events calendar.
Keeping up with Senator Mike McLachlan’s Campaign, and of course there is my job at LMT Communications. I have just finished designing the company’s media kit and a 36x24” map of the United States, concentrating on the information relating to the industry.
MPISA: Recently, your work has been featured in the Pop Up Art gallery exhibit in Bethel, Connecticut alongside other award winning artists and craftspeople. This is pretty revolutionary for such a small town. How did this come about? What was the local reception like?
TS: Mike Seri, a friend, was the brain behind the Pop-Up project, the artists that had been invited came from as far away as California. We had police directing traffic for the reception, it was crazy fun and Bethel didn’t know what hit them. I sold one of my favorite paintings; it was so bittersweet.
MPISA: There is a growing art scene in the Housatonic Valley area of Connecticut and New York. Perhaps the artists have always been there, but it seems artists are coming together and sharing their art where it might not have otherwise been. How do you feel about this community? Have you been able to work or collaborate with any of the local artists?
TS: There is a wonderful energy being involved with a community that appreciates and supports artist. I am a member of HVCA, Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance, and take advantage of what they have to offer (exhibitions and classes). In talking to different artist from New York State, they say it’s worth my while getting involved across the border, one more thing on my to do list for sure.
MPISA: Last fall you partnered with renowned illustrator, Carol Rizzo, in a whimsical show called CREATURAL. You featured a lot of expressive, friendly and personified animals. We at MPISA loved that show! Have you remained in the animal world at all or are you working in a new genre?
TS: Thank you. I laid the animals to rest (in Litchfield). I want to explore vegetables, the root family especially, knotty, purply, texture and all those wonderful colors. I was inspecting the produce department at the supermarket recently and feel I am about to start something soon.
MPISA: You are such a talented and prolific artist. Tell us about your creative history? Was art always something you felt compelled to do?
TS: I was compelled from the time I was a child - dying my dolls hair with purple pokeweed berries up till now, and all that I have created in between. I have always been driven, resourceful, intuitive, passionate, and skilled with much zeal, zeal, and zeal.
MPISA: So many of your pieces feel very emotional and passionate – almost like there is a deeper message beyond the surface. What do you hope to express to your audience?
TS: I paint intuitively and my works boldly evoke a sense of warmth, strength, spirituality and a child-like sincerity, and I find that appeals to a wide audience.
MPISA: There is a certain kind of freedom to artistic expression. And yet, as your work is an extension of your own consciousness, there is something about creativity that can also be mentally binding. Do you ever feel this way? How do you sort through the grey area of it all? Have you ever gone through a lull – artists block?
TS: The way to avoid artist’s block is to have a scheduled show, a shows deadline is sure to help. If I do have a block I have learned to give in to it, knowing the other side of that block is something wonderful, my work always is a bit different, well-matured somehow, Yin-Yang.
MPISA: MPISA always concludes each blog post with “MPISA loves…” What does Tarol Samuelson love right now?
TS: What I love right now is that I am content to be in the moment; I'm not sure I've ever felt that way before.
Hyde Park, New York
Like most kids, Saturday morning cartoons were a regular part of Marty Qatani’s childhood weekends. However, as he enjoyed the images and stories on the screen, he knew he wanted to do more than just watch - he wanted to create what he saw. Now many years later, from his Upstate New York studio, Marty brings to life an exciting and positive bunch of characters, including Benny and The Dino Jr. Club, and Howler, The Extreme Werewolf.
With a connection originally formed through social media, MPISA had the pleasure of getting to know cartoonist, illustrator and freelance graphic designer, Marty Qatani.
MPISA: How did you become a cartoonist? Tell us about your beginnings.
MQ: Being a cartoonist was something I don't think I could have avoided. I always drew as a kid and was fascinated by Saturday Morning cartoons. In my teen years, I would lay in front of the TV with a sketchpad and try and draw all the different characters I was watching.
MPISA: How do you develop your characters? Tell us about some of your favorites.
MQ: In the case of The Jr. Dino Club, I had a main character in mind right away - Benny, a gently and easy going Brontosaurus. I then needed some friends for him and I knew they each had to have distinctive personalities, so I came up with "types" that I thought would be interesting to the audience. Those personalities have been refined over time.
MPISA: What is the process of building a cartoon like in terms of concept and art coming together?
MQ: My process is pretty fluid. One of my original properties, The Jr. Dino Club, came to me while I was at the International Licensing Show in New York several years ago. I approached an agency with my portfolio. They weren’t interested in my designs at that time, but I was told they were interested in cute dinosaurs. I've been refining the property ever since. Outside of The Jr. Dino Club, I've always loved monsters, especially werewolves, so one of my favorite original characters is Howler, the Extreme Werewolf, an x-sports fun loving, and thrill-seeking werewolf.
MPISA: What are some of your influences?
MQ: Wow, I have so many. I grew up on Hanna Barbera cartoons, so they're an obvious influence, but also shows like Top Cat, Yogi, Huckleberry Hound, and then even Space Ghost and the Herculoids. As I got older, I discovered Berke Breathed and Gary Trudeau and Bill Watterson. As far as design goes, I love Pop Art and vintage rock posters from the Fillmore era.
MPISA: Where are your cartoons published? Where can people see them?
MQ: My website, My Facebook page, My Cafepress Store, and my Zazzle store, which is almost complete with a facelift...
MPISA: What do you love about being a creative? Does your work give you a rush or provide a release?
MQ: It's hard to explain, other than saying it's just inside me and needs to come out. Obscure I know, but the only real way I can explain it. At times, it's both a rush and a release. It's a rush when I'm working on something that I've been planning on and I can see it coming together. It's a release when my head is clouded by outside influences and just random loose doodles take me away from those things.
MPISA: What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
MQ: I'm working on several self-initiated projects. I'm creating designs for specific markets that I can hopefully land some licensing deals with. Another project I'm working on is some greeting card designs that I'm submitting to my agent in the U.K.
MPISA: Any advice for creatives just beginning in their careers?
MQ: Learn as much as you can, avoid distractions, and focus. Create a good circle of influence. Two things I highly recommend are Tara Reed’s Goal Wheel for Artists and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
MPISA: MPISA always concludes each blog post with “MPISA loves…” What does Marty Qatani love right now?
MQ: : Learning new techniques that I can apply to my art.
©2013 MPISA, L.L.C.