Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Joe “:01” Iurato
Global Location: New Jersey, USA
AP Shop URL: http://www.zazzle.com/joeiurato
“:01 represents one second,” says Joe. “In times of adversity, it only takes a single second to decide you’re going to pick yourself up and move forward in a positive direction regardless of the circumstances involved. :01 means never give up. Stay the course. Believe in who you are. Embrace the next challenge and begin a new chapter.”
Joe’s art can be found in both public spaces and in galleries. His stenciling technique, which he describes as “drawing with an Exact o blade”, is completely his own, and it’s evidenced within the styling of his works. His cuts are proportionate and clean, yet painterly and imperfect. His subject matter varies according to his daily inspirations, from large-scale portraits of children recognizing their importance to society and this planet’s future; to faceless characters that appear at the crossroads somewhere in between victory and defeat; to people “floating and drifting” away with elation and self restoration; and to his more recent textural paintings of ropes and chains, things that Joe finds symbolic of strength and unity, rather than restraint and oppression. Regardless of the subject matter, Joe’s adamant about creating socially conscious work that speaks to the times.
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start.
JI: For as long as I’ve been able to help myself, I guess. Creating art has always been the easiest way for me to confront and understand exactly what it is I’m feeling at any given moment. That’s going back for as long as I can remember. It’s been a way for me to document and crystallize my emotions, from elation to depression and the spectrum of feelings in between. It helps me keep some sort of balance.
AP: Where do you currently live and work and how does this influence your work.
JI: I live in New Jersey. It’s a different New Jersey than the one portrayed in reality TV, though. It’s not all about Soprano wannabes, fist pumpers and disgruntled housewives here. Living in Jersey puts me an hour away from the mountains, an hour away from the ocean, and 15 minutes away from New York City. I need that constant change of pace and scenery. To be able to enjoy the serenity of climbing rocks one minute and then be in the beautiful chaos of NYC the next is vital to me being who I am. Having these different directions to run to makes inspiration and possibility limitless. As often as I say I want to get out of here due to the financial frustrations that come with living in the tri-state, I know I wouldn’t be the same person if I packed up and headed out. This is my life, and my life influences my work.
Photo credit: Martha Cooper
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training.
JI: I studied art for a couple years but never finished. While I absolutely admire and respect those who earn formal educations, I’ve found that I personally do better learning on my own – in my own time. I absorb information better that way.
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio etc.. and how it effects your work.
JI: I’ve got two kids - a 3 year old and a newborn. If you think I’m painting at home, your crazy. For real, though, we live in an apartment building complex, and I was working out of my garage for a long time. But the neighbors complained about the spray paint and so for the first time I went out and rented myself a studio. I go there at all hours of the night, turn on the music, crack open a few beers, make stuff, and then leave the place a wreck and go home. Of course, it’s another bill that’s got to be paid, but having a studio completely changed everything for me when it comes down to being productive.
AP: What are some of you favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date.
JI: I’ve had the privilege of being part of some great projects and exhibitions. For no other reason than they’re hitting me right off the bat I’d say: The Underbelly Project (NYC), Electric Windows (Beacon, NY), Willoughby Windows (Brooklyn), Primary Flight (Miami), Welling Court Mural Project (Queens), The Art of Basketball exhibitions (Miami and NJ), Eames Inspiration exhibition, the work I did for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and both G40 Art Summits are a few that are standing out. Then there’s the stuff that just happens – like my outdoor collaborations with artists like SNOW, SUE, and Chris Stain. Sometimes the random and relatively unplanned stuff is the most memorable.
AP: What is your medium of choice.
JI: Stencil and spray paint, though I’ve recently gotten into some mixed media work that also includes analog photography.
above image: Wall collaboration with Chris Stain
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work.
JI: I’ve worked with quite a few mediums and just found cutting stencils to be the most meditative when I get into it. My cuts are loose and guestimated, sometimes drawn in, and I prefer to avoid using Photoshop filters. It’s like a game I play with myself, never really 100% sure if a layer will work until I spray it out. I do enjoy shooting photos, too – which is maybe why stenciling is also so appealing. I can take these images I’ve shot and re-interpret them as paintings. I’ve also begun fusing the paintings with the photographs recently, too – taking the painted subject and sticking it back in the photo by creating shadow box dioramas. Lastly, I also enjoy painting in the street - and my work usually has a strong, socially conscious meaning attached to it. I can paint the same image in New Jersey, New York, and Miami, for instance, and reach a much broader audience.
AP: Who are some of the artists that have inspired you and or your work.
JI: I have many inspirations, from artists of the Renaissance to reggae musicians. People who choose to express themselves creatively and don’t think twice about leaving a piece of themselves out there for the world to judge inspire me. But if I were to list the stencil artists who’ve greatly inspired me to pick up and try this medium, it’d have to be Logan Hicks, Chris Stain, C215, Shepard Fairey and Banksy.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years.
JI: That’s a tough question. I don’t know exactly what it is I’ll need to get off my chest within the next five years. From a technical standpoint, though, I do have ideas on how I’d like to evolve my stencils and get excited thinking about the possibilities.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2011.
JI: Aside from commissions and personal projects, I’ve got a solo show coming up on August 20th at Art Whino in MD, I’m doing the Living Walls conference in Albany in September, a solo show at Kondoit Gallery in Miami in October and then I plan on heading back to Miami in December for Art Basel.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
JI: Wake up, try to take a sip of coffee, and instead be dragged into my son’s room to play with dinosaurs and Matchbox cars. Scratch the coffee and opt for a quick minute to check emails. Not happening. Change baby’s diaper, feed him and then dance with him around the living room until he falls asleep. Get my shit together for the studio and then put it down to blow up my son’s inflatable pool. Cold water from the hose feels good so I get changed and play outside. Realize it’s 4 o’clock and I haven’t done a damn thing except pretend I’m a T-rex, hum old Burning Spear tunes and have a water gun fight. Make dinner and start drinking wine with my wife. Kids go to sleep, my wife watches Dancing With The Stars, I regroup and hit the studio after dark. Better late than never.
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.