Talking with Artists: Richard T Scott

The House by the River Lethe, Richard T Scott, Oil on Linen, 22"x28"

The House by the River Lethe, Richard T Scott, Oil on Linen, 22"x28"

Richard T. Scott grew up in Georgia in a pre-suburb to what is now Atlanta sprawl. He received his B.A. at the University of Georgia, then his MFA at the New York Academy. He worked as one of Jeff Koons' assistants and studied with the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum. The dichotomy of working in the studio of, arguably, the most famous contemporary American artist and studying with the most well known traditional painter in Europe is the bedrock of all of Richard T. Scott's work. He is a painter who uses classical painting to explore contemporary ideas. Presently he is executing a large-scale series of paintings using the American Civil war as the backdrop to explore gun violence and race relations in America.

Brendan O'Connell: Do you do something creative everyday?

Richard T. Scott: Yes, whether I'm designing coins for the United States Mint, working on paintings for an exhibition, or writing, I spend the majority of every day, usually six or seven days a week, doing some creative activity.

BOC: Do you have fallow or less productive periods? Or do you sometimes feel resistance to making work? How do you overcome it?

RTS: I certainly do have less creative periods. Though, I show up to work every day, sometimes I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. It tends to go in cycles. When I was first starting, the fallow periods were much longer than the creative periods. Now, it's the opposite. If I'm feeling resistance, it's always just a mental block, so I do something to distract myself from it, like go for a run, or do yoga... then I remind myself what it is that inspires me to create in the first place; I reconnect with my passion, and then I just start working. It might start off slow, but before I know it, I'm deep into it.

BOC: Why does artmaking matter?

RTS: I think art-making matters both for each person and for society as a whole. Individually speaking, not only is it fun, but making art allows you to exercise your critical thinking and adaptive problem solving skills. It strengthens your focus. It cultivates your ability to communicate on many different levels. All of those are essential to everything else you do in life.
As for society, art-making can inspire people to see something in a new light and show them a valuable perspective. It can distill complicated issues so that everyone can understand them, it can win hearts and minds and drive productive change. All cultures since the beginning of recorded history produced art, and for good reason.

BOC:How old were you when you made your first art? When did you think you could do this as a career 

RTS: I don't remember making art for the first time, but my mother tells me I was three. Since then, I simply never stopped. I didn't think it was actually a career until I started college, and then I never expected to make any money as an artist. That only started happening around the time I turned thirty.