Interview: Nick Gaetano

Interview Nick Gaetano USA

Stream of consciousness from Southern Californian based artist Nick Gaetano.

We sometimes like to publish these interviews without editing, as there is a really honest beauty in the way people respond and talk about themselves.


i’m from NY
i grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island and
hated them both
so when i graduated high school
i went to Art Center
i got kicked out after 2 years i think
so i never graduated college
(the administration was really uptight and didn’t like me_
my instructors did and i was doing really well_
my advertising instructor got me a job at an agency in LA_
and the new head of the school wanted me to come back_because i was doing really well with him also_)
so i had a job in LA for 6 months and moved to NY to work at Y&R
i did that for a year 
advertising and some commercials
i quit after a year because i didn’t want to go to work _:-)
so i became an illustrator
i did that pretty much full time till 2000 or so and then my market diminished
i’ve been working on my own work also
i thought in the 80’s i was going to do well because i had a bunch of good galleries interested in what i was doing……..
but i moved from NY in the mid 80s because my wife hated it
(a big mistake)
moved to Asheville NC and love living there
moved to Dallas to help my daughter out with her new store
then moved to Laguna Beach CA (probably 2003) maybe 04
and i’ve been here since
i rent a small house and it’s the smallest studio i’ve ever had
so i live and work in the same space
it was fine when i moved in but now it’s getting cramped

i studied commercial art (advertising illustration)
so my art is self taught

when i was in high school
i was pretty smart
an honour student
a whiz in math
but i always loved drawing and painting
i used to work in my bedroom
sometimes i didn’t want to go out to play because i was having a great time
when i told my parents that i wanted to be an artist they weren’t very happy
my mom had a shit fit_something se was good at
my dad had studied architecture at Pratt but he worked in an office doing charts and graphs
(by hand_so i learned a lot form him)

i have a bunch of sketch books
i paint in some
ink in some
pencil and charcoal in others
i don’t get to them every day unless i’m in an exploratory mode
then i’ll do a bunch
a year or so ago i got to them every day

when i’m painting
i pretty much paint on pages of art in america and artforum
i’m not being careful but it’s fun to see what happens

i used to do rapido-graph or rapido-sketch drawings for years
and alway had a pen and book with me
but i don’t do that anymore
when i travel i bring a sketch book and watercolor paper
and true i do a lot of quick exploring with loose paper and sketchbooks

when i was a kid i loved cartooning and classical art_the renaissance_
we didn’t go to museums much or at all when i was a kid
so i remember seeing Frank Stella’s black pinstripe paintings and was blown away
at art center we did design but drawing was pretty focused on the model
it was painting and drawing_design was more open and i loved that
i started doing pen and ink and watercolor work for my illustrations some gouache
a friend was using an airbrush and i went to visit him in NYC
(i had movet to upstate)
i got caught in a snowstorm got high and played with his airbrush
totally got turned on by it and bought one for myself
worked that way for years

when i was in NY researching for projects i came across deco
mostly european artists that i didn’t know about
and totally loved all of it
so design became more of a focus for me

i love working
that’s why i make too much
one thing leads to another and i keep going
i never feel stuck
i love wandering about
some mornings i’ll wake up with a flash in my head and have to play with it

i still work with Adobe Illustrator and play with a lot of pattern ideas there
i was making paintings that were more graphic and geometric
but i pretty much gave that up for black paintings
so now it’s all hand play
i only have a spur of a idea and play it out
sometimes just one sometimes a series……………

i never know
but i love making art
i take photos of the Pacific every day because i love looking at it
i used to take photos of a lot of different subjects but since i’m mostly at home in my studio
so i don’t anymore…………

Do you like this artist?

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2 thoughts on “Interview: Nick Gaetano

  1. Lynne says:

    I really like this artist work. I was very fortunate to pick up a small watercolor of a desert “bed”. I absolutely love it and see new things in all the time. Appreciate the deco feel and the desert as the subject matter.

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