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Anthony Astone, August Artist of the Month

Anthony Astone, by Dakota Lenox Photo

Anthony Astone, August Artist of the Month

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Interview by Michael J. Epstein. Photos by Jaclyn Tyler Poeschl. Check out Jaclyn's blog post of her photo session with Anthony.
Every Child Forced Ahead

Can you give a brief overview of what you do?

At the moment I’m trying to be a present-day Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel. Creating large scale and modern narrative landscapes, but with a fair amount of humor and storytelling.

Is there anything new you’re working on, or an event that’s coming up?

I’m always working on new projects and looking for new opportunities to show my work.  It’s somewhat difficult to move around a few 7 to 10 ft. paintings (I find driving a U-haul truck around Boston stressful) so I’ve taken somewhat of a break this year. I hope to do more gallery showings in the coming year.

Why do you do what you do? What’s something you get out of it?

I graduated with a degree in film and animation. So my paintings are a way for me to get a narrative out without spending thousands of dollars and relying on the goodwill and free weekends of friends and actors. I enjoy creating art that most people can interact with, but still be challenged by. I try to keep the narratives in my paintings somewhat ambiguous so that people can create their own story when looking at it. To see people puzzle together what is going on when they view them can be fun. Also they can come up with ideas and narratives I had not intended or thought of, and if it’s better I just steal it, lie, and say that’s what I intended to do all along.

Astone Poverty ToursWhat inspired you to pursue the arts? What got you involved in doing what you do? 

I suppose it started due to positive reinforcement of my drawing ability when I was quite young, four or five. In high school I was lucky enough to have amazing art teachers, Lorraine Sullivan and Phillip Young, who made me see art being on par with other subjects and not some trivial class period. They are well known in the arts and arts education.  Rhode Island school of Design is where I was opened to the possibilities that art held, and the power it could wield. Art could be much more than a beautiful picture or interesting design. Art can evoke a wide range of emotions and ideas, used as a communication method that can force the viewer into a mental space they had not planned on visiting.

Rhode Island school of Design was incredibly competitive and really honed my work ethic. Pulling two to three all-nighters a week there was fairly common. I was lucky enough to gain life-long friends in college who were very intelligent and had extremely good taste, they in large measure helped mold my art as well.

A profession in the arts can be difficult. Can you talk about some of the challenges?

I suppose it really depends on what you are going for.  There are easier careers to pursue, such as web design, UI design, 3d modeling, special effects for video games and movies.  Each has their own hurdles to overcome.  The “sexier” the job the more competition you’re going to face, and careers in video games or movie special effects are somewhat unstable. Independent or freelance work is great once you build up a client base. One difficult thing with any artistic job where you are not in charge is swallowing your pride and just doing what is asked. Even if it flies in the face of what you know would look better.

Fine arts is it’s own beast. A lot of it comes down to being involved socially in the fine arts and gallery community. Making connections and selling yourself are just as important as the work, probably more so.

Anthony Astone, by Dakota Lenox PhotoAny thoughts on the local Somerville, or Boston-area creative scene?

The east coast in general is a great place to be. There is a great deal of talent here, but Boston is famous for things other than art. It’s a bit too decentralized, feeling as if tribes of artists stake out a claim to certain areas, but the tribes are all doing exciting things. I’m certainly lucky to be living in Somerville where there are always opportunities for showing your work and meeting up with other artists. The cost of living here can make it difficult for artists who don’t start off with a decent amount of money, especially if you want a separate studio space. The world is a much smaller place now. Even living in the middle of nowhere is not a great excuse to shy away from what is happening in the art scene, connect with other artists, and be inspired.

Where can people find your work online?

Instagram: tonyastone