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Tony Spineto interview

Surf art from California

Californian artist Tony Spineto speaks to Club Of The Waves about his career in art…

Tony, thank you for taking the time to do this interview…

TS: Thank you, I really enjoy the site. It's great that there is such a large a diverse body of work to view.

Tell us about your background, where are you from, where do you reside now, where do you work from?

TS: Well, I am from San Diego. I am one of those rare SD natives. I lived in Huntington Beach for a while but found myself longing to be back home. I surf, eat, sleep, and paint in Encinitas.

How would you describe your work/artistic style?

TS: Many have yet to put a 'style' name on my work. Many art critics have called me a contemporary impressionist. I am very loose in my brushstrokes. I like to work very quickly and rarely does it take me more than 40 minutes to complete a piece. I spend more time developing my value patterns and compositions than actual painting time.

So when did you first find an appreciation for art?

TS: I have always had a pencil in my hand. I have always drawn. My parents will tell you that I was born with a pencil in my hand. I drew everything as a kid. I spent a lot of time drawing cartoons growing up. I always aced art class and did horrible in all my general studies. I have always been drawn to visual images.

What inspires you as an artist?

TS: This is a question that always bothers me as an artist. I have very few. I don't get easily excited about too many things. I try to stay away from the generic response to this answer. I find that spontaneous bursts of creativity keep me going. Sometimes I will not paint for months. I rarely create a large body of work. For example, I just started painting after a 3 month break. I am working on commission for the Hilton Corporation. So I'm forced to get in the studio. I have to wait to feel inspired, though. When I do feel creative, I become obsessed.

How long have you been surfing?

TS: Growing up in Southern California you find yourself at the beach a lot. I have been in the water since I was a kid. However, I have been surfing now religiously for about 10 years.

What is it about surfing and/or surf culture that inspires you so?

TS: I just enjoy the ocean and the waves that God has given me. I enjoy that moment where we escape the reality of life in the water and also the feeling of calm that I get out there.

Has surfing always been a subject for your work?

TS: No, I have studied portraits and landscapes. I enjoy the intellectual approach to many forms of art and seek to be well rounded.

Are there any other artists, individuals or organisations that inspire you, personally or professionally?

TS: No, not really. I mean there are few, but I don't get overly excited about one particular artist. I enjoy looking at other work, but I don't follow anyone in particular.

You've had your work featured in galleries, museums, magazines and websites all around the world, at what stage in your career did you start getting this kind of exposure?

TS: Too quickly. Many great things have come my way. I have had to work very little to be where I am at. I just got the right exposure at the right time. I am humbled by this. I received major gallery exposure only after a short time painting. I just stay humble and know that God makes the plans not me!

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of surf art, with surf art now appearing in magazines, surf shops, surf contest campaigns etc…?

TS: Surf art has become more of its own subculture in my opinion. It is often associated with a graphic arts kinda vibe. It needs more exposure in the fine art world for it to take off. It is, no doubt, popular among surfers. There are many talented 'surf artists' out there that need more fine art exposure. Some have taken the leap such as Ken Auster, Wade Koniakowsky, myself and others. I think more commercial fine art galleries could benefit from this movement. Websites like Club Of The Waves provide a great vehicle for more exposure.

Your art is available to purchase on various websites, magazines and of course on your own website… How does it feel to know so many people enjoy your work?

TS: Stoked! It blows my mind that people find enjoyment in my work. It's a great feeling!

Thanks again Tony for this insight into your work.

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