q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
a)Gabriel Shaffer. I was born in Marietta Ohio and raised across the river in Parkersburg West Virginia most of my life. Although i dont believe thats where im from. i dont know where im from, but something tells me, im going back there someday. I now live in the mountains of Asheville,North Carolina.
q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?
a)I make art for a living. I mostly work in Collage/Mixed media and illustration, but i have been expanding more and more into sculpture and assemblages.
q)What do you think sets your work apart?
a)A few things. Probably the way my style straddles the line between modern urban influenced art forms and Outsider/Folk art. I was raised within the genre my entire life, as my mom is a pretty famous Folk/Visionary artist. I had exposure to alot of that type of art growing up, while developing interests in many other movements. There are a few contemporary American self-taught artists currently redefining the genre as Old School Outsider/Folk art dies out. Id like to think i play an important role in that redefinition. Im trying to do my best to create contradictions that work well together. Past and future. Primitive and refined. Childlike and adult. I also think the way i utilize my collage techniques is fairly unique. Even though there are many other artists that work with paper, i think the methods i use to present them is special and shows a respect to their salvaged origins.
q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
a)My first real "show" was in July 2004 at the Broome Street gallery in SOHO, New York City. I was also lucky enough to have a few of my pieces hang in the historic Cedar Tavern at the same time. I guess my "break" started around the end of 2004 when various Outsider/Folk art galleries and dealers started to take an interest in me. I had my premier at the 2005 Outsider Art Fair with the Berenberg gallery. We sold all of my available pieces and i was featured in a full page ad in Raw Vision magazine. That pretty much blew my mind. Ive done over 90 shows and exhibitions since.
q)What are some things that have inspired you?
a)My family first and foremost. The struggle for us to pull ourselves out of poverty and create a better life for ourselves, is a naive dream i still believe in. My wife, my mother and my sisters are my biggest sources of inspiration. Next to that my animals and then my few close friends. The various invisible friends, ghosts and demons that wander in and throughout my studio as im working are pretty motivating. I also like to entertain the notion that i can travel between worlds in my mind, so thats pretty engaging. Caffeine is my savior.
q)Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
a)Constantly yes. It changes over time with stages of my work.One band that has been a heavy inspiration in my work for the past year is Electric Owls and their super talented frontman Andy Herod, a close friend. Ive been listening to alot of Caribou, Isis, Jonsi, The Knife, Meschiya and the Little Big Horns, Neurosis, Charlie Parker, Mastodon,El-P, Grizzly Bear, 2PAC, Bon Iver, Lungfish, Eminem and Tyler Ramsey, but not necessarily in that order. Id also say i wouldnt be where i am today if it hadnt been for the band Tool. Not just artistically, but personally as well. Danny Carey has played a really big role in my life.
q)Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?
a)I spent most of my life writing poetry, short stories and screenplays. Once i got caught up in visual art as a full time thing, in 2002 or 2003, i decided to take a hiatus from writing to consolidate focus and energy. Ive only written a couple of little things since. But, ive been developing a new project for the last 6-8 months. Im taking my time with it, but i can say its pretty inevitable that i will be writing again sometime in the near future and possibly teaming it up with my illustration work.
q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)Learn how to use the internet, learn how to talk about your work and never stop pushing forward.
q)Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?
a)I am currently a part of the NCNC exhibition at SECCA in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is once of my biggest exhibitions to date, that show will run into the early spring 2011. I will be a featured artist with the Outsider Folk Art Gallery at the Outsider Art Fair in NYC, FEB 2011. Im excited about a few shows next year. Ill be in a really kick ass works on paper show with Blue Spiral 1, here in Asheville, Summer 2011. Also a sick Denver group show being curated by Thinkmule. Im presently organizing the early phases for a conceptual group show ill be curating with the Satellite Gallery, In Asheville, Aug 2011, thats going to probably be the wildest project of the year. Theres a number of gigs happening in 2011, the best way to keep up is through my website, Facebook or Twitter feed.
q)Where can people see more of your work on the internet?
a)The website is my home base www.gabrielshaffer.com