Artist Interview: Tony Thompson, Utica artist, by The Gallery Goddess

How long have you known you were an artist?

I don’t want to sound overly modest or in any way dramatic, but I still question if I, myself, can say, “Tony, you’re an artist”. If we are talking about by trade, am I an artist or if I commit art on a daily basis? Then, the answer to those questions is yes!

“Krylon Kid”

 What sparked your interest causing you to pursue this career?

In high school I wanted to go to college for “art” because that was the only thing I could see myself studying and in my HS it seemed like everyone had college plans. Whelp, “ME” and “COLLEGE” almost ruined art for me. For years after dropping out, the only art I did was graffiti. I used to plan out my graffiti on the back of cereal boxes and man did they pile up over time. I would go back to them and add images to them with paint markers and spray. Eventually, I felt that some of them kinda held their own and thought it would be cool to show them somehow. A re-encounter with an old friend would push me to do just that. My good friend and artist Kayla Sergio hooked me up with my first group show in Schenectady, NY. I actually sold a few paintings that I had done on cardboard, which blew my mind for 2 reasons. One being that I didn’t expect to sell anything and the second being that I actually sold paintings that were on the backsides of old Captain Crunch boxes! That night hooked me. I got to meet great artists, great people, and show my work to the public who seemed to actually like it!

What is your favorite project or artwork that you have done to date?

I would have to say the mural I donated to the up and coming Utica Skate Plaza. Rallied by Erick Florez of The Utica Skate Plaza the locals and the city of Utica got together and put on a great event to raise money, awareness and support for park renovations. During the 2 day event I painted a mural at the skate park that is now a permanent fixture that I plan to update regularly. One of the really cool things about working on that mural during the event was the local kids I got to meet who are literally there daily!! One of the kids, Mike, (Miquael Hernandez), who I met for the first time at the event, ended up helping me paint the whole thing start to finish. He’s a pretty cool kid, and I hope to see all those kids again this year. It was interesting collaborating and getting feedback as I worked from the local skate park crew.

(Tony & Miquael at the Utica Skate Park)

What would be your dream job?

A traveling art show, like what a band would do…touring van, venue dates. I just want peeps to see my work, and as far as selling it, I’d be cool with just ridding enough of it to keep the engine going!

If you weren’t an artist, what would you like to be doing for a living?

Oh man!!! I wish, wish, wish, I was smart enough to have become an astronaut or physicist (for example how I spelled “physicist” before spell checking reconfirmed how this dream could never come to be…“phisisist”)!!!! This was never a childhood dream, I don’t know what I wanted to be as a kid. But the astronaut/physicist thing started at about age 23. Talk about a day late and a buck short.

Where do you think your talent came from?

It came from drawing a lot at a young age. Being extremely bad at everything they put at you in school. Never really a bad student, I mean I had my rebellion as much as the next kid. I was/am, just horrible at most everything there is to the whole structure of our schooling. So, at a young age, in school it felt natural and comforting for me to draw super heroes and monsters on anything and everything. It was a release for the anxiety of not understanding. Later, repetition and recognition allowed it to evolve.


Do you have any specific ways to keep the creativity flowing when working on a project?

Sharing and critiquing unfinished work with others, absolutely anyone! Well, you know, anyone who is willing to actually have a conversation conversation about it. Not like “What do you think of the color?” “I like it.” “Does the head look right?” “No, I mean, kinda” “How many teeth should I add?” “Aahh, none?”

Who is another artist or art professional that you look up to? Why?

One of my old professors and a good friend, artist Chris Cirillo. He was the only professor who gave me the hope that art was still partially the feeling you get when you see a great work in person or the same feeling coming out when you create something you had pictured in your mind. But in paint, it comes out better than you had even imagined.

What would be your best advice to anyone wanting to pursue this career?

Giving advice is not my area of expertise. So, instead of saying nothing, I’ll say this. If you don’t pursue what you want and sit idle on your goals, then you for sure won’t get to where you want to go.

What music do you like? Name three favorites.

I’m so bad with genre names, “post” this and “post” that, so I’ll name a few I’ve been listening to and one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve been listening to RJD2 and Miles Davis lately and the all time favorite band forever and ever is the late These Arms Are Snakes.

What is your favorite dessert of all time?    Baklava!

If you were the topic of tabloid headlines, what would the headlines read? Artist formerly known as Tony Thompson turn super hero with the ability to fly due to a mysterious brain stem bleed. Oh man, if only.

If a movie was to be made about your life, what kind would it be (horror, comedy…) and what actor would you like to see play the role as you?

I would hope that the movie could be a Wes Anderson clay animation film with Bill Murray doing the voice over for my character.

What’s been the hardest thing you had to do in the past year?

Haha, I laugh because I’ve had a crazy year! This counts as hopefully the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in my life. But, regardless, what definitely wins the answer is recovering from a bleed in my brain stem that rendered many parts of my body paralyzed. I’ve come a long way in a short period of time considering that statistically 80% of people die from this type of stroke and that my partially paralyzed state could have been permanent. But here I am and I’m getting better fast!! It’s been the best and worst thing to ever have happened to me.

What’s your favorite drink?

Draw between Thai tea and Code Red Mountain Dew.

What was the last movie you saw in the theater? How was it?

Harry Potter 5 or something was one of the last ones (it showed side boob of Hermione Granger, which was awesome) but who am I kidding I love Harry Potter.

What do you drive?

I can’t drive currently (docs orders) but I was driving the best car I’ve ever owned, my late grandfather’s “blue bomber” Suzuki Aerio hatchback…. Can’t wait to drive that again, and get back on my bicycle too!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, for fun?

Spare time kinda makes me uncomfortable…maybe ping pong with friends and family. Oh, and soccer, but that’s also on hold for a minute, (docs orders) ugh.

What’s your greatest accomplishment so far?

This is probably a cheap way of answering this question, but I would say holding onto this drive to constantly create. That’s kind of an accomplishment.

Like Tony Thompson Art on FaceBook for special news and events.

Download a free copy of Tony’s new coloring book “Color Me In.”

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~ by The Gallery Goddess on February 6, 2012.

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