Today we’d like to introduce you to Gregory Forber.
Hi Gregory, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
In short, I’m a Colorado artist and graphic designer working primarily as an oil painter. I graduated from Colorado State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a second major in German. Studying art abroad in Europe, notably in Italy and Germany, strongly influenced the early trajectory of my work. My figurative style can be traced to European symbolists and often features biblical, mythological, and historical themes found in Italian renaissance art. More recent non-objective work explores improvisation, color, composition, movement, and mixed materials, namely metal leaf. I recently completed an artist residency at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence and am building a body of figurative and abstract art in Denver.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Haha, not exactly. So I shifted my career direction to fine art after working in media for about 10 years. I always painted portraiture on the side but never considered myself a serious artist and the thought of becoming one seemed completely overwhelming. However, after losing my job in July of 2017, I decided it was time to give the artist thing a shot. Or I never would…
The first couple of years felt great. I completed an artist residency in Italy, I was getting support and encouragement from friends and family and was showing my work at coffee shops and other small businesses around Denver.
Then the pandemic hit.
Everything came to an abrupt halt. A good client backed out of a commissioned portrait I had just finished, the place on Santa Fe showing my work went out of business, and I started facing some scary financial realities. It’s easy enough to feel discouraged with the amount of rejection an artist endures during normal times, so—needless to say—I was feeling quite discouraged.
Somehow I got through the next few months painting half-priced pet portraits. My partner at the time was still working so I wasn’t in dire straits or anything but I was definitely questioning my career decision and the challenges ahead.
As businesses opened back up, I began showing my work again. It felt like starting over. Mostly because I had totally exhausted my friends and family as a resource so I couldn’t really rely on their patronage anymore. In other words, my people who were going to buy art already did and weren’t buying more. I restarted the game with the difficulty set to hard.
And that’s kind of where I’ve been for the last year or so. The current challenge before me is to break into that next level where I’m selling art to people I don’t know yet. Getting my art in front of art buyers. Looking for representation. Submitting art to shows. Etc. The real artist struggles are just beginning, but I couldn’t be happier. Even though the road ahead is difficult, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And that’s a great feeling.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I work in two completely different disciplines. I do quite a bit of portraiture and pet portraiture using oils or charcoal. Also, figurative pieces like nudes. These are done in a tighter more representational style. My other primary style can be described as abstract, non-objective/non-representational, spontaneous, larger scale mixed media painting.
One material that I like to use is gold leaf or metal leaf. I love working with it. I love how it looks. I use it experimentally in my abstract work and more intentionally in my representational work.
Most recently, I completed a collection of 17 angelic pin-up model portraits. For this project, I searched photo shoots on suicidegirls.com for poses resembling figures in Italian Renaissance art. In short, from sensual edgy nude photos I created a series of renaissance-esque angelic portraits. Multiple contrasting elements throughout fashion a sense of rebellion/defiance. For example, the models themselves, tattooed, pierced, and sexy are painted as an artist might have depicted saintly biblical figures. Also, the recycled materials add to the juxtaposed nature of the paintings. Beautiful portraits of women with gold leaf halos on old recycled beat-up and scratched floorboards peppered with nails, staples and glue.
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
First and foremost, my mom. She recognized my love of art at a young age and nurtured it by sending me to art classes from elementary school though high school, cheering me on the whole way. She supported my decision to study art in college and again recently when I decided to shift my career towards fine art. Anytime I have a showing or First Friday event she is in attendance. She is my biggest fan and supporter, always has been.
- Abstract Art: $1,000-$2,500
- 16×20 Pet Portraits: $1,000
- Figurative: $500-$3,000
- Website: forberart.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forberart/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ForberArt