We love it when serendipity comes calling. A couple weeks ago, one of our favorite designers, the effervescent and hugely talented Mary Mac wrote us a cute note about an artist she had seen…and the rest, as they say, is history. We made an instant connection with Trip Park and we’re delighted to welcome him to the gallery.
We’ve had fun doing these little Q and A’s that shed a little light into what makes an artist tick. It turns out that Trip is not only an accomplished artist but also a prolific illustrator, writer and worked for years in advertising. Maybe that explains his infectious gift of gab – and his wildly endearing, personality-laden paintings that are just plain happy and fun:
HHFA: you’re an incredibly talented artist. Are you formally taught or self-taught?
TP: (oh no, I am not. I just know enough to fake it, possibly for a little while longer…)
HHFA: well, we’re pretty impressed! How did you end up as a professional artist? Tell us about the journey.
TP: I was fortunate enough to get in with some nice ad agencies (as an art director) that had great clients and budgets – which allowed me to hire my favorite illustrators. That way I got a first hand look into how each and every one of them had a discipline when working. That alone would be enough for anybody to learn how to be more creative. I’ve never had any formal painting lessons.
HHFA: Then what?
TP: I fell into advertising, stumbled into children’s books, dabbled with editorial cartoons and illustration, got drafted into animation character design and then was finally told to paint by my wife (as she needed something to put on her interior design store’s walls.)
(HHFA: we can relate to that.)
HHFA: Is it hard to separate your fine art from your commercial work?
TP: Yes, it is! I absolutely LOVE character/editorial design as well as the children’s books that I was happy to do. There is a direct correlation between my humor and quirkiness flowing to characters. They can be engaging instantaneously as you have the benefit of expression, eyebrows, mouths and the ever-telling eyes. Sad, happy, goofy expressions are so easy to project; just design the character and everything from their pose, energy and shape dictates a dramatic quality.
Paintings, I find, are extremely challenging (it’s a different passion altogether). I simply can’t do all that I know with characters to them, as it’s a world of difference and you simply can’t make a smiley vase or a crazed chicken in a painting. Well, you could, but would it sell? Don’t think so. Might even give people nightmares and I can’t have that.
HHFA: so, how do you deal with the challenge of painting and getting creative?
TP: There is a daily inspiration I live with that comes in a one-two-punch: 1) If I don’t try to do something neat, new, unique and engaging with that “next” painting, someone right behind me will sure as heck do it first. And 2) I begin with a sketch that has the right feel for the day, but the sketch has got to have a neat silhouette or balance in the frame before I ever begin. I love the sketch before ever loving the concept of painting it.
HHFA: having been a successful figure in the ad world as well as writing children’s books and now a well-known artist, what is your favorite accomplishment?
TP: It is always, always, the next thing I have not done yet…if I do it right.
HHFA: what’s your painting process? Up and at ‘em? Music? Pets? We’d love to know how you make it happen.
TP:I make myself paint daily, sometimes 7 days a week (2-3 paintings a day if I can). I might not make that next one my favorite, but one thing’s for sure: every time I paint I learn just little a bit more. I know this is the only way to get better too. I have to immerse myself in this world, so far I’ve just been boogie boarding on the surface.
Music, yes, switched off with an occasional DVR’ed movie to which I know every line just as background noise.
But sometimes it goes badly as I accidentally put on a home shopping channel then get so into a painting I haven’t noticed it’s on until the end of the day (then I’m trying to wonder why I have an urge to order up Dolly Parton signature bedroom slippers in a ladies size 6?).
HHFA: where do you find that daily inspiration as you stand in front of a blank canvas?
TP: inspiration comes from the day before, as I think about how something’s going to look and it festers inside until I’m ready to begin. But the perspiration comes from an ad agency mantra we’d always live with, “you’re only as good as your last ad.” No difference here at all (in fact I live most of my lessons from advertising out through paintings; creating campaigns of an animal, testing one out on my family to see if it’s total crap, and thinking of a way to paint something in a way it’s not been done before), I hate my bad paintings – they stay here in the studio “corner of shame” for months.
HHFA: favorite artist?
TP: I never thought I’d be any sort of artist, even in college, after all I majored in Journalism. I did editorial cartoons for the Daily Tar Heel at UNC but never thought I’d do those later. But as a sophomore there I got a chance to meet editorial cartoonist (and Pulitzer prize winner), Jeff MacNelly of the Chicago Tribune — and was blown away. His humor, style and grace were something to which I aspire every day. He was so nice to me as a student and I was blown away that someone so successful could still be so cordial and approachable.
HHFA: favorite medium and why?
TP: I use acrylic (along with mixed media at times) and a blow dryer mounted to a tripod. I have no patience.
HHFA: favorite travel destination and why? City? Beach? Mountains?
TP: as our kids get older we try to visit new places. It doesn’t matter where we go as long as everyone gets along once we’re there. I’ve found great places in all of the above all over.
HHFA: how do you deal with creative blocks? Any remedies?
TP: yes, but I never acknowledge it. I consider it like you would a seasoned driver taking their time on the road with the blinker unknowingly on for too long. If you just give them time they eventually turn. Then you have the road clear again!
The scary thing is that canvas, all white and untouched (well, it used to be). The trick there is to have the sketch ready so you approach it like a hyena to a wounded antelope. Once the first part is tackled I can slow down and have more fun with it.
HHFA: you’ve got 24 hours to live. How would you spend your day?
TP: tough one, but I think since you have not qualified which 24 hours of my life I’d have I’d like to live during a day when I see all my kids finally see their happiness reach their creative potential. It’s such a struggle to be creative and NOT know what you want to do with it. But I hope I can be there for the day when I see them all happy in their own skin doing the kind of things that they love to do and what makes them happy. That would make me happy, indeed!
HHFA: thanks, Trip. We love your happy and energetic paintings and we’re delighted you’re part of our little gallery family.
And, if you’re in town, stop by to feast your eyes on Trip’s paintings. We dare you not to smile when you see them.