Imaginary Creatures by Tony Papesh

by Paul Weiner

Tony Papesh is a painter, illustrator, animator, and director working in San Francisco, California. Papesh’s paintings, which have been seen at the Honey Hive Gallery, are extremely playful, as he renders all kinds of odd creatures from his imagination. Papesh is an accomplished creative in a variety of fields. His animation work has been commissioned by clients such as Google, Youtube, and McAfee Antivirus. Take a look at his website to see his entire portfolio.

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Paul Weiner:
How do you come up with the creatures in your paintings?

Tony Papesh:
I usually pull inspiration from many places, anywhere from old cartoons and video games to heavy metal music and muppets. I just try to make silly and weird creatures that are fun to look at.

Paul Weiner:
Do you have a favorite creature you have painted over the years?

Tony Papesh:
With all the creatures I paint, I tend to make up each one as I paint. I suppose I have painted many similar ones over the years but never took the time to give them names or develop them. In general, I like drawing big, furry, stupid looking creatures. They just seem more fun!

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Paul Weiner:
What materials do you prefer to work with?

Tony Papesh:
Currently, I have been working with a lot of gouache and colored pencil on wood. I do a lot of layering with paints and colored pencil, and the wood seems to take all of the abuse I throw at it. Paper usually curls or wrinkles while traditional canvas feels too fragile.

Paul Weiner:
How do you feel about the rise of conceptual artists on the scene right now? Have you ever found yourself interested or repulsed by theoretical art?

Tony Papesh:
If an artist’s work is worth looking at, it should be seen. I suppose that is just a generic way of saying that I am not quite sure what you are referring to as I am not too hip to the scene at the moment.

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Paul Weiner:
Does the commercial work ever affect your personal art aesthetically?

Tony Papesh:
I would have to say no. The difference between what I do as a commercial artist and my personal work is the difference between night and day. During the day, I am mimicking someone else’s art. I am moving someone else’s text or creating someone else’s ideas. It is a great way to make a living, and you work on some fun projects, but, at the end of the day, nothing excites me more than filling a canvas with my own scribbles, paint, and bad ideas.

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Paul Weiner:
As someone who has worked in multiple creative fields, from animation to fine art, what are some tips for artists who are just getting started?

Tony Papesh:
I have always tried to keep my work and personal art separate. The biggest difference between the two is that when you are working for other people, you are essentially creating their ideas. They have the idea but need someone to make it. When it comes to your own art, you are free to make whatever you want. Don’t get caught up in pleasing an audience. Just please yourself.

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Paul Weiner:
How do you start a new work of art? How does your process vary between fine art and animation or design?

Tony Papesh:
I usually begin with a vague idea in mind. I will have a short phrase, an emotion, or something that I say over and over while painting. It kind of makes me sound like I am some sort of psycho to be repeating the same thing to myself while painting, but, usually, it is just the canvas, myself, and whole lot of time. I tend to get lost in my own head, and before I know it I am wrapping up a painting.

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Paul Weiner:
How did you get involved with making art in a professional way?

Tony Papesh:
I was always drawing, even when I was a little squirt in Illinois. I never really thought too much about doing anything else as a career because I was too focused on art. I always was drawing and painting, but, I guess, I became a professional when someone wanted to start paying me to do it.

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Paul Weiner:
You mentioned growing up in Illinois. How did you end up in San Francisco?

Tony Papesh:
In Illinois, I was always told that if I wanted to be an artist, I would need to move to California or New York. Now, that isn’t entirely true. You can be an artist anywhere, but I kept telling that to myself as I looked for art schools in California. I ended up in San Francisco for a few reasons, but the most appealing to a poor college student was that you could survive without a car.


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