January 12th, 2016
Jesse Gussow

Back in October 2016 I took a trip to the California Bay area to check out the art scene there. Before I left I tried to connect with some artists beforehand. Artist Todd Kurnat was one of those artists. Unfortunately our schedules didn’t line up and we were unable to meet up while I was there. We had to settle on doing this interview via email. I first found Todd’s art on Instagram, looking for Bay area artists. I love the big thick line work on his pieces, as well as his repurposing of maps. I can’t get enough of the birds that he draws; I like the anger or annoyance in their eyes. It’s so perfect! I think Todd’s art is a great representation of the art scene in the Bay area and while it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t connect while I was there, thankfully, there is email.


Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Great Lakes State.


How did you first get interested in art?

No pun intended, but I was drawn to it at a very young age. Even before I knew what "art" was, I was drawing at home and in class. In fact, I recall getting busted (often) in grade school for drawing during lectures.


How would you describe your work? How have others?

Bold. Strong. Abstract. Conceptual. Colorful. Clever. Chaotic. Rich. Edgy.


There seems to be a huge art scene in the Bay Area. Lots of galleries and the whole Oakland Art Murmur Project. How does the art scene differ in the Bay Area compared to other cities?

Yea, for sure. I feel like the Bay Area creative community is always popping off. Self-expression is a lifestyle out here. I love it. As far as how it compares to other scenes around the world, I only have an outsider's perspective. Social media has allowed a unique view into artists and scenes from around the world. But I don't truly know what other scenes are like without being immersed in it firsthand.


What are the best repurposed materials you like to use for your work?

Most likely paper. I have a natural attraction to it. It's also versatile – I use it in drawing, painting and collaging. And I always seem to have piles of it around.


How has being a father affected your artwork?

It has limited the time I have to create it and the energy I need to pursue it. My current role in the family is Mr. Mom. So, I'm with my son during the weekdays while mom works her day job. My studio time tends to be in the evenings and weekends. I've had to compromise my art output but it's worth it to hang out with Oskar (the ultimate art project).


What is your creative process on a piece? From canvas to the finished product.

It really depends on the series I'm creating. A common approach to whatever I'm working on is to give myself something to react to. Some of the best results I've experienced come from this approach. Happy accidents, so to speak. So, I like to set myself up to do so. A background is a great place to start, whether it's a collage of photocopies, a map or abstract washes of color. From there, I'll freehand draw or paint the subject matter over an existing background. All said, it's still evolving.


What's your favourite Iron Maiden album cover?

Somewhere In Time. I was 13 when this was released and well, a hi-tek, bounty hunter-looking Eddy in this city scene blew my mind. Pure dope-ness.


Has anyone ever gotten your worked tattooed?

Not that I'm aware of. Although, I recently had a friend ask me if he could get a tattoo of the Hawk vs. Raven drawing I did for the San Francisco Disc Golf Club in 2013. This could be the first. And years ago, another friend commissioned me to design one for him. But I don't think it ever made it to his skin.

How have you grown as an artist over the years?

The first thing that comes to mind is my approach has evolved, especially with freehand illustration. Ten years ago I used to use a ruler, french curve, pencil and eraser – all very planned and technical. But I ditched those tools a while ago and now prefer to jump right in. This has created a lot of confidence in putting my pen to paper. I've always admired artists that could create on the fly. It's taken some time but I can now do the same. In parallel to this freestyle, my patience while drawing into the unknown has improved. It's a journey that I really enjoy and has taken time to develop.


What goals do you have for your art for the future?

To continue to draw everyday. Hone my craft and discover new techniques. Ultimately, making the vision(s) I have in my head a reality. I feel like much of what I'm working on now is in its infancy. Material-wise, I'd like to use the paint brush more, as well as work in larger formats. And get some murals under my belt – so more public art.


Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O ccokies? Or perhaps something else that's sweet and delicious?

I'm not much for sweets – but when I do partake, I really like chocolate covered toffee.


Check out Todd's personal website as well as his Facebook and Instagram Accounts. He also just recently realeased a mini series check it out here.

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