Interview: Michael DeSutter
First few basic question, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
My name is Michael DeSutter. I’m an artist and graphic designer living in Brooklyn, NY.
I was originally drawn to collage for two reasons, 1) using vintage materials allowed me to explore the past in an intimate way and 2) it seemed immediately gratifying.
I think there’s also are some parallels between graphic design and collage. In graphic design, the designer works with the client to visually communicate a service or good; there’s a sense of “other” in this role. The designer works with an idea provided by another person and then visualizes this message to appeal to a specific audience. Similarly, in collage the artist also starts with preexisting material and creates a new visual piece from it.
What drives you forward as an collage artist?
I ask myself this question often. I’d hate to think that five years from now, I’d look back and decide that i created the same work over and over again during a given period.
Creating something new out of something that seems very common excites me. I see my art as a constantly evolving experiment. I’m open to trying new things at every turn and acknowledge that unexpected experiences have significantly impacted the way in which I now view the world. The anticipation of how I will see the world after my next experiment feeds my curiosity.
What’s the best part of the collaging process?
When i first started, my goal was to create a piece every time I sat down to work. This self-imposed process burnt me out, so I then devised a plan to ensure sustainable productivity and it created more even momentum for my work. I now break up my time between two types of sessions: 1) cutting out clippings and 2) sessions to compose pieces. Oftentimes cutting new clippings is the most exciting part of my process. As I collect new pieces, I can start to see how they may come together in my next piece. This anticipation may be my favorite part of the collaging process.
And then, what’s the hardest part?
I have my own way of composing a piece. I glue each clipping to the next and keep turning the piece and adding as I go. At the the end, I’ve created a piece free of any backing paper. The hardest part for me is committing the piece to the background paper..what size, which color, how much negative space will I need so that the completed composition is not crowded by the eventual frame?
You have recognizable style what comes to form, shapes and usage of colors. If you look back your very first pieces, how you quickly you found your ”style”?
As a designer and an artist, I am excited by the idea that our brains try to decipher visual elements really quickly – the quicker a message is interpreted, the more successful the piece. In my collage work, I use this idea when I connect lines from one clipping to the next to create movement. At first glance the eye may see a continuous line, but given a closer look, it will understand that many unrelated elements came together to create the movement.
For me personally, this has felt like my style all along, but looking back on my older pieces I can see that the longer I create collages, the more rounded and smoother the edges are and that my pieces are becoming more and more abstract.
Do you observe your development as an artist or in technical execution?
Continuous development as an artist is one of the major things that keeps me going and makes this interesting. I’m not really sure if I’m getting technically better or not. I suppose given the scissor calluses on my scissor hand, I must be getting a little better at cutting things out. 🙂
You have shown your works in many great art shows and been featured in various medias… So what’s next?
I want to keep growing as an artist and to try new things. There are so many people and places to visit, so I’d love to continue to show work in more places. As far as my art is concerned, I’ve recently started experimenting with fabric sculpting. I’m essentially draping and hardening fabric to create movements similar to my paper collage pieces. I’d love to be able to devote a more time to that exploration and show it in the future.
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?