Sri: Hey, Whitmore! How’re you doing? You’re in Idaho?
Whitmore: Yeah I was born in Montana, but I've always lived in the pacific northwest. I lived in Seattle for about four to five years. Moved back in 2011. So I’ve been between here and Salt Lake City for the past few years.
Sri: Awesome! So I have a few questions for you, and let's just keep it very conversational. If you want to ask any questions, feel free to do so. So how did you first start doing art?
Whitmore: Yeah well when I was in college I was an art student for a while. I switched my major to psychology. Got my bachelors degree in that instead, but I remember the professor who was teaching this particular class, and he said most of you are probably here because somebody told you that you were good at drawing or some sort of other. I think there's some truth to that. When I was a kid, I used to draw the stuff that I would see in comic books, I tried to recreate that. And I had put something in the local fair and I got first place in that. That was pretty neat.
But it was a sort of off and on. I didn't really start painting you know a lot until probably yeah when I was in college. I did a lot of still lives, watercolor.
But, just recently you know started finding my niche. What I do now.
Sri: Wow, that is really interesting
Whitmore: Yeah, it's very kind of all over the place
Sri: So, what does art mean to you
Whitmore: I don’t know, I guess maybe a feeling. I play the drums, you know as a drummer and I would always think I played these other musicians when I was living in Seattle and for me I guess really starting out well I tried to play something as awesome as I could but then you know I got to this point where you know ‘less is more’.
It was just us trying to find the right beat for the song and to me, that way I approached it, it was like art you know I was trying to define just the right thing to do something really simple and for me, arts is the same way. It’s just finding the right balance of color and value, whatever it is, however minimal you know that maybe just finding that solution I guess, that makes it complete.
So I guess it’s just finding that right balance.
Sri: So how do you visualize the art that you create? I see on Instagram that you’ve got a big following and people really like your work
Whitmore: Well I have an idea and soon so I have that idea I begin to think about how I'm going to execute because there's a lot of planning that goes on
I come from a watercolor background you know as an example, to do a lot of your thing is you really have to plan ahead. I’m going to do this layer first, and then the second layer, and I have to wait for this one to dry, and that when it does dry, I’ll do this.
So yeah I visualize that and I visualize the process that’s going to be involved, and you know you’re going to find surprises along the way.
Sri: Definitely. How long would you work on a piece from start to finish line? what is the typical time frame?
Whitmore: Depending on the piece. sometimes it can be about one hundred and fifty hours but I mean then there's a wait on you know when the paint is going to dry. So, you know I work with acrylics. It does dry fast. But, I like to have several paintings going at once, for that reason too. While one is drying, I can go to another one. Some of the moons I do take a lot of hours. Hundreds of hours yeah.
Sri: Wow! So what are some of the challenges that you face, and how do you get around them
Whitmore: You know getting your art out there, Instagram has been great for that. Sort of finding a platform or you know a venue, you just keep going. For me, being colorblind, I’m red, green deficient. So for me, it’s like a science. I know that when I mix yellow and blue, I’ll get green and so forth. But,mostly you have to focus on values. Contrasting values. The value being the spectrum between really light, white, or you know being really dark, black, or in between.
So, yeah you want to look at the composition, in terms of color.
Sri: Since you brought up Instagram, and that was going to be my next question. So how valuable has Instagram been to you, in getting your art out there?
Whitmore: It’s added tremendous value. It’s definitely, in the digital age, it’s good value. I’ve actually sold you know a handful of paintings. Just people contacting me and saying hey, I really like that painting that you did. Can you paint one for me? This lady wanted one. Well, her son was into the astrophysics, so she wanted to get the moon, I did that. So yeah, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me on Instagram.
Sri: If you don’t mind me asking, how much do the paintings usually go for?
Whitmore: So, initially I sold them for quite cheap. The moon paintings I do, have been the bestsellers. But I have the 24*24’s. They’re all on canvas. And up to 36*36, but initially, I sold them for 400 dollars. Then I realized that all that work that I had put into it really should charge more. I think about all of the hours that I’ve put in and wow I’m making three dollars an hour. And I guess that’s why paintings are so expensive, you put a lot of work into it.
Sri: So why do you like to keep doing work around the moon, or something that relates to it? Is there some kind of interest to it, or is it just what you like doing?
Whitmore: Yeah, I definitely found a technique to create a three dimensional, using en paste textures, So you know those are very textured, and you can see them come out of the canvas. It’s kind of like a sculpture on a canvas, in a way. The moon has always fascinated me. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was really young, I would just you know look at the moon with wonder. Yeah, it is definitely an interest in the subject of space.
Sri: So what keeps you going? What motivates you as an artist?
Whitmore: Getting feedback, on what I do. on Instagram, people reaching out and saying hey, this is great, keep up the good work. Those things are always motivating but it’s really just a drive. It’s almost something like I am compelled to paint, like its something I just have to do, and it’s some kinda calling, I always have to be doing it. So that motivates me. That what I like to do with my time.
Sri: Makes sense. I have a term for that- ‘compelled to create’. It’s just put your creation out to the planet. In the beginning, not many people might appreciate it, but over time if you keep doing your thing, you will always find an audience for it.
Whitmore: Yeah, totally. I completely share that sentiment. You just gotta do it. You just gotta put it out there. I totally agree. Whether it's received or not, it doesn’t matter, you know, you don’t ask for permission, you just do it.
Sri: Definitely. So what else do you like doing besides art and painting? Tell us a little about yourself.
Whitmore: So I mentioned I do like to play the drums. I did learn how to play the guitar, but I do like electronics experimenting with guitar and effects pedals, using equipment diodes and such. That’s a hobby for me. Also computer science. I do web development, you know to pay the bills, on the side too. It’s great. It’s kind of little bit of both. You know it’s creative. Has an icy nature. It’s also very logical. So yeah technology and music are something’s that I like to do, besides music.
Sri: How long have you been coding?
Whitmore: Not very long. So about 4-5 years, I went back to school and got my associate’s in computer science and information systems. I have a bachelor’s in Psychology. I did social work when I was living in Seattle. And you know worked with the homeless population there, the downtown emergency center. I did that and then you know around 2008, the economy kinda collapsed, just you know paying the bills was getting harder. That’s kinda when I decided, I got go back and find something that helps me financially. SO yeah computer science is it. And yeah when I’m not doing that I’m doing art. So hopefully things take off with the art, and I can transition to that completely.
Sri: How do you feel about putting up your artwork on tapestries. Because typically you’re doing 24*24’s. And we print it on huge pieces as tapestries. How do you feel about that?
Whitmore: I think it’s very cool. I love it. It’s great. Yeah, thanks, I’m really glad you guys reached out to me about this. I think this is great. I guess lots of my pieces really limit themselves, to being on tapestries, so a lot of the psychedelic prints are two dimensional. I have printed them on paper. A lot of them translate well, more so than more of the three-dimensional paintings that I do. So you know sometimes, seeing it on a six-foot tapestry is really cool.
Sri: For us how this started was when we moved into this new apartment and it was all empty, and we were trying to decorate the space. It was a bunch of us guys, we were really lazy. We didn't know much about decor, and you know my solution was to hang up tapestries because they’re going to cover up a large part of the wall, and gives a completely new vibe. It’s really great to be working with artists like yourself, it’s our pleasure. We’re doing what we can to support our artists. And we really appreciate your artwork. There’s a reason why you’re the first person that we’re interviewing. And no one else has done this before. This helps someone really connect with you and your artwork. If they listen to our conversation, they know you, and they know what you are creating. So, they connect with you, and that’s the reason why we are doing this.
So thank you, thank you so much for taking the time to do this Whitmore.
Whitmore: Yeah, thank you. It’s great and I’ve never done this before. I hope I did okay haha.
Sri: You did great!
Whitmore: So I have a question for you. You mentioned, how you had blank walls and you thought about these tapestries as decor. I definitely like figuring out my space. It definitely changes how everything looks and feels. So the tapestries, do you do printmaking or do you have silk screen press or is it like a large format printer?
Sri: Yeah, so this is a large format printer. These are really huge machines. The method we use is called the heat-dye sublimation technique. So what's really happening is that when you send us the high-resolution image of the design, we upload the design onto the machine, put in the required cloth, print it. The heat dye system really gets the design to stick on the textile. So these are huge machines we are working with. The fabric is 100% polyester, we like keeping it as lightweight as possible. The reason we’re doing it on polyester is that, as millennials, we are switching homes every year. So it’s just way easier to fold up a tapestry and put it in your bag. If I was switching homes every year, I wouldn’t be investing in a canvas, something that’s framed. I wouldn’t like to have something which is hard to carry around. And all you need to hang it is a couple of pushpins, so it’s really easy to hang up. And it covers up a bigger part of the wall. Why would you want to stare at empty walls? We’ll see where we can take. It’s definitely the artists that are most valuable to us. It’s all about you guys. And we’re trying to do what we can to build and find a network for your artwork. The rest will take care of itself.
Whitmore: Awesome! Yeah, I think it’s great what you guys are doing. For artists, it’s a great thing. Some of the artwork that you have up on the website is really cool. A lot of talented artists. And I do know what you mean, I’ve definitely moved a lot of times. Canvases take up a lot of space, and I’ve liked going to paper instead, just stack a lot of them on there, and tapestries, extremely light. Yeah, really cool!
Sri: Yeah, thanks! If we see some artists on Instagram, whose artwork we think is really cool, we just go ahead and message them. We don’t hesitate. And that’s the way we came across your profile as well. So I’m glad I didn’t hesitate with you haha.
So thank you, Whitmore, for talking to me today. It was a great conversation and I’ll let you know once the link is available on the website.
Whitmore: Yes thank you! Looking forward to it.