Scott Bakal has been on our ‘Muses’ wishlist since our first installment of the annual exhibition. His illustrations, which have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Variety, Playboy, and many more, have always stood out to us for their depth through layering of texture and color, as well as their endlessly interesting compositions based on simple concepts. Here, Scott talks to us about developing his career, his studio practice, and exciting projects in the works.
1. Did you aspire to be an artist, or did you fall in love with making art?
I ‘aspired’ to be an artist and I love to be creative but there wasn’t really a choice. Art making and other creative outlets are something that I always had done from when I was very young. When it came to that particular time in high school when people start thinking about college and their future, art was the one stand-out thing that I always did and that I always enjoyed. I decided to follow through and apply to art school– of course, to the horror of my very blue-collar family.
2. What does your perfect day look like?
This sounds like a run-around answer, but it depends on the day.
I saw too many friends and family being miserable doing mindless work for someone else and being trapped by a profession which is why I became a freelancer. Sure, ‘normal’ jobs helped buy their cars and house and feed their kids but I think there are better ways of doing that without spending 40-60 hours a week in perpetual misery.
A perfect day is one that I control.
Also, a perfect day is any day that involved sushi.
3. What would you tell your younger self when you were first embarking on your artistic career?
I would tell him to make sure that he didn’t worry too much about ‘markets’ and ‘styles’ when trying to develop a business and client base. I lost a lot of time trying to develop my work in a way that I thought would attract more attention instead of focusing on the work I personally wanted to do.
It was only when I pushed that aside and asked myself what and how I wanted to create work without those influences that I started doing work that I was proud of and representative of who I was. I think people started seeing the honesty in my work, and my life and career changed quickly.
4. Do you listen to music/audio while you work or do you prefer to work in silence? Any bands or albums you’ve been enthralled by lately?
It’s music sometimes or movies and shows other times. It depends how much I need to concentrate but there is usually some background noise in the studio. I’ve been listening to a lot of drone and noise sorts of music when working. It’s great to help concentrate to work out ideas.
5. Outside of the craft you are known for, do you pursue any other artistic endeavors?
I am currently building a portfolio of photography. I’m not sure where it will fit in my career but I’ve been having a great time learning about the process and working on projects.
6. What are you currently working on and what projects do you have coming up?
I am currently working on a project dealing with the Dim Stars characters featured in the work in the Muses show. Not going into too much detail, it’s been simmering for a long while and I’m getting to the stage where I need to push it forward. I have no idea how the project will land but it’s been fun so far.
I am in the process of building a dedicated website for my Dim Stars projects. Everyone can subscribe for information as it comes available and as the site develops.
Thank you to Scott for participating in this artist interview. You can read more about his “Dim Stars: Fire” series at www.scottbakal.com/studioblog/dimstarsfirehelikon, and see more work at www.scottbakal.com. For more information on Helikon Gallery and Studios visit www.helikongallery.com.
‘Muses of Mount Helikon IV’ opens Thursday, November 3 from 6-10pm and will be on view through December 10. Browse all work from the show at helikongallery.com/product-category/current-exhibits/muses-iv.