Interview with Artist Richard Babusci
1. How did you get started as an artist?
Like I’m sure most people would answer – I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I’d say it became more of a thing for me in high school, though. I had this little journal type book that I would draw in, paint in – I’d even glue photos into it. That was my first focused art endeavor. It got me to love watercolor. It’s so easy to work with and so portable. I travelled a lot once I got out of school, and I got a new blank book for every trip. I’d just fill them with spontaneous art and photos.
2. What kinds of things inspire you to create your pieces?
Generally speaking, I’m inspired by life, nature, ideas that whizz through my head throughout the course of the day. Painting is my way of processing it all, I guess. It’s a kind of meditation for me – it’s my outlet. My most recent pieces have been focused on the concept of identity. I wonder about the different roles we play in different aspects of our lives and how they all blend to form who we are. So I paint these really loose figural forms that are fractured and intertwined with a fluid landscape. I guess the idea is to tie the two together – make them inextricable from each other.
3. Many artists are often displeased with their own work. Do you or did you ever experience this and how did you or do you deal with it?
There was an aspiring artist and journalist named Dan Eldon who unfortunately died way too young. Posthumously, his family published his personal journals. One of the lines in there says something like “What’s the difference between being lost and being on an adventure? With an adventure, the journey IS the destination.” It’s kind of that way with my art. The only time I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve made is when I’ve been too attached to some prescribed outcome. With my process, the piece really needs to grow at its own pace and in its own direction. The real joy is seeing where it goes.
4. Three other artists you admire?
Wasily Kandinsky, Katsushika Hokusai, Mark Rothko
5. You have a family. How do you make the time to create your art and also keep up with family needs?
I have a studio in my home, which helps. It’s actually been a joy to see my kids take an interest in art. They work in the studio with me sometimes. My oldest likes to write and illustrate her own books. My youngest recently painted a picture of my car, and it was on fire for some reason. Thankfully I wasn’t in it.
6. A friend of mine once expressed that she thinks artists (and poets) are snobbish. How do you respond to such an opinion?
It’s a generalization. What makes a person snobbish, anyway?
7. Did you receive formal education in art or are you mostly self-taught? And what is your opinion on either?
I have a BFA, and I’m glad I got it. I learned a lot. Critiques are important, and you get a lot of that in art school. It thickens your skin. It teaches you to kind of own your work and be accountable to it and really push it. It didn’t teach me how to succeed as an artist though, and I didn’t know what kind of artist I wanted to be until much later. There are plenty of artists out there who are self taught and doing great, so there are obviously many paths.
8. With the internet comes more possibility for exposure but also a high chance of getting lost among the millions. How do you market yourself successfully?
That’s a great question, and I am not sure I have the answer myself yet. I think it depends on what your goals are as an artist. For instance, if your goal is to secure an exhibit in a gallery, it’s not a good idea to publish that art beforehand. Some galleries won’t want to exhibit art that’s been seen already. I have a few projects I’m working on that no one has seen, or will see until it is in a gallery. For me, the internet has been a great tool for connecting with other artists and art lovers. I’ve grown my mailing list and expanded my reach. It has not helped me sell much though. The way I sell paintings is by engaging with potential collectors, whether at an opening, or during a visit to my studio. I love to talk art, and I’m not shy about pulling up my online portfolio for interested people to peruse. The last 10 sales I’ve made have come from studio visits.
9. Many stigmatize artists as “crazy”. Why do you think that is and do you think there’s any truth to it?
Like all generalizations, I think it comes from a lack of understanding. We all have our peculiarities and idiosyncrasies and strange ideas about the world and how we fit in it. Some people are more open with those things than others.
10. How would you encourage a budding/amateur artist or someone who wants to begin creating art?
Get inspired. Visit galleries and museums. Try new things. Take a class to improve your skills and grow. Get to know what kind of artist you want to be, and start making art. Once you’ve taken that step, consider where you want to go with it. Do you want an exhibit? Do you want to make a career out of it? If you can hone in on a very specific goal and what your measure of success will be, then you can start to form a strategy for getting there.
11. In your opinion, what are two or three most important things about art?
Art connects us in a way that transcends language, or time or geography. Also, it has no edge. Like space, its parameters are constantly expanding.
12. Favorite art quote(s)?
I’ll give you two: Gauguin describing fauvism to another artist – “How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine; these red leaves? Put in vermillion.”
Rene Magritte “This is not a pipe.”
Both of these quotes stand out to me because they remind me that art is not about replication. That’s not the point. The point is to make something new. There really aren’t any rules beyond that.
13. You can change one thing about the art world today. What is it?
I wish it was easier to make a living as an artist without selling your work. Does it have to be a product with a price?
14. Only three colors are allowed as your palette for the next year. What colors would you choose?
Mars black, opaque white and cadmium red.
15. Favorite music (if any) to listen to while you create?
It varies a lot. Most often I guess it’s either classical or some kind of ambient contemporary music. Hector Zazou is one of my favorites.
16. Creative slumps. Assuming you’ve experienced them, how did you get over them?
Take a break. Take my mind off of it and just don’t do anything for a while, then come back to it when I’m ready. My work seems to come in waves. I’ll have a period of really effortless productivity and then I’ll have a bit of an intermission.
17. A favorite famous artwork?
“Death and Life” by Gustav Klimt.
18. What is one memory from your life that you cherish or that was defining for you as an artist?
In 2010, I had a solo show at a gallery in Charlotte. I sold 10 paintings on opening night. It was the culmination of years of hard work for me and really very validating.
19. Any artistic websites or books you recommend?
20. What is the one thing you’d like to be remembered for most in reference to your creative life?
I don’t know. I hope that my art, in some way or another, can one day inspire another person to create. I’d love that.
A huge thanks to Richard for agreeing to do this interview. You can view more of his amazing work at: