Meet Russ Potak
Good day to you friends! I am happy to introduce to you Artist, Russ Potak. Since getting to know Russ on facebook and Twitter, I’ve always been amazed at his ability to continually and consistantly produce wonderful pieces of art. No matter what the subject, Russ’s painting style is very recognizable. He has truly developed a beautiful style enjoyable for the eyes to see. Without further adieu, meet Russ Potak.
Russ, please give us a short introduction.
Hello. Its a privilege to be here and answer some questions to help you get to know more about me. You may have run across me already, on Facebook or Twitter, or possibly on one of my many retail sites that showcase my work. I’m Russ Potak, artist/painter. In my opinion, there’s not a lot to tell, and I would think it would seem rather banal to someone to hear my life’s routine. But, nevertheless, what may seem commonplace to me, may not to you. In short, and I quote myself, “Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and I have to paint. ”
Now on to the questions.
At what point in your life did you realize that you would choose art as a career?
I was born an artist. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the way it goes. Visual communicative skills were my once and always language. I talked with pictures, images, concepts, in short, I always used imagery to communicate with. I never asked to be an artist. I never chose to be an artist. You are or you aren’t. You who are, know what I’m talking about. Its not like, one day I woke up and said to myself, “self, I think today I’m going to be an artist.” That never happened. I always was, and always will be. I never turned on an artist switch. When does a fish decide to be a fish?
Well, that said, I just kept doing what came natural. So the word career, never crossed my mind. I don’t think of art as a career. I think of it as a sacrifice and survival. A career seems to me to be something that puts a safe monetary cushion down for your future years ahead and provides you with the way to make that happen. Being a career artist is kind of an oxymoron. To do art you’ll probably not have an easy life, in terms of financial stability. So, you’ll never know when the cash box will jingle, or when the hammer will fall. Its that brutal sometimes. Now remember, I’m talking doing art for a living. Thats the way it is. They are very reluctant to talk about that in college, fearing a lot of students jumping ship to “safer majors.
My only point I guess is this. I had to wait tables, flip hamburgs, clean toilets, load crates on a dock, just to keep from going under. That’s no fun. It’s been a while since I had to do that too. Knock on wood. And doing art for a living is not always fun either. Its work, and you can sweat tight moments a lot of times.
I’ve said enough, I’m moving on to the next question.
Are you a self-taught artist or did you have formal training?
Artist is as artist does. So, with that as my compass, the rest just happened as it should. I became the class artist in grade school, high school, and then I went to college, and earned by Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art, specifically, painting. So what’s left to tell? I paint because that’s what I went to school for and spent a lot of money on to get that BFA. I didn’t go with the thought in mind that I would spend four years and umpteem thousand dollars to just let it slide. So, I walked the walk. I painted like the good little artist that should. And, of course, forsook the life of monetary gain in exchange for pursuing a passion. My father warned me, and I didn’t listen. Its a tough life. Scratching, clawing, not being able to pay bills sometimes etc. Yes, that’s the way it is. Unless, you happen to be in a that microcosm of artists that hit pay dirt some where, somehow. That though, is like winning the lottery. Its more likely not to happen than happen.
So, what was the question?
Oh, yeah, I’m a natural artist, and yes i have earned a degree in art.
What inspires you?
As someone once said, to me, I think, if you are waiting around for inspiration to do your art, you might as well allow your dentist to drill when the spirit moves him. I paint because I paint. Its nice to have a moment sometimes where it seems like a vision from the clouds struck you to get moving on a piece, but generally speaking, as a professional, if your waiting around for inspiration to paint, your going to starve.
You work, and work hard at what you do because thats what you do. Who doesn’t work hard if you are trying to get ahead? It only makes sense. No work, equals no paintings, equals, no possible sales. So lose the painting by the serene duck pond image, if you are trying to make forward motion in your art.
Art is work. Artists work like everybody else. Hence the expression, “I am working on a new painting.”
Who or what influences your work?
I love the expressionists. The impressionists, the abstractionists. I guess I like the moment in history when artists were no longer enslaved by societal standards on what art should look like and be. I always say, the greatest invention of all time that freed artists around the world, was the camera. Thank goodness a visual recording devise was invented that would take up the job of making a true and accurate reproduction of what the eye sees, so that artists could now concentrate on making what the soul sees.
The Fauvists are a favorite of mine, and of course, Picasso. There’s nothing quite like the honesty and boldness of that man to see what one can do with tapping into the the well of spirit and emotion. His execution was as true to form as could be.
Kandinksy, DeKooning, Matisse, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Monet, Degas, and more. The list is endless. I have been influenced by all and I’m sure someone,someday will include me as their motivator as well.
What projects are you currently working on?
Presently, I sell on Etsy, and Fine Art America, as well as some other sites. I produce work that I list regularly for these sites specifically. I also retail work at various outlets, and art shows. In the summer I am booked for outdoor festivals and events.
I am always working on something. Right now, its my small works that I am putting up on Etsy for those who would like to own a POTAK but find it difficult to cough up a large price tag. So, I am making some small affordable little paintings that no one can refuse, or, at least the price. I also am working on some 16 x 20 canvases for location that retails some of my work.
There really is not a time when I’m not working on something. Its rare to be sitting around swatting flies and sipping margaritas, although the thought is very enticing.
Do you do commission work? If so, how can we contact you?
I used to, and I don’t anymore. I don’t like expectations. It ruins the spontaneous creative process for me. Its rare the artist and the client share the same vision. I don’t think the two can see as one. Unless, as I have done in the past, illustrate something for someone. But thats a whole nother’ story, and I don’t have the time to dive into those details here, at least now. Maybe some other time.
How can we find you on the web?
Fine Art America Print Gallery: http://russ-potak.artistwebsites.com/
Fine Art America profile: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/russ-potak.html
Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to share with our readers?
Just this. I know there may be some of you, that expected to hear the idealized version from me, of what its like to be an artist, but, that’s for hollywood. What I tried to do here is what I wish someone else had told me in high school, or even college. And even if they had, I’d still go on being exactly what I am today. Come to think of it, my father did his best to dissuade me, and that didn’t even work. I guess there’s no escaping your destiny.
I want to thank Brett for letting me have this interview and I hope this sheds some light on the world of working artist, if even just a little.
Thank you and good luck to all of you artists out there. Keep the fires burning!
Russ, thank you for taking the time share with us. It is a pleasure getting to know you better.
Friends, I hope you enjoyed Russ’s interview. Be sure to visit his sites as I’m sure you’ll enjoy his many paintings.
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Have a great day everyone!