TooBigToFailCH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

TF: Mostly large scale oil paintings. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been drawn to patterns and the surface quality of objects. Rough textures and repetitive marks. I suppose a form of abstract expressionism.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

TF: All sorts of things get me going. Living in NYC and Miami for the last 25 years has influenced my work. Deteriorated ad boards, architecture and graffiti. The flow and rhythm of a city. The energy. I work best when I don’t think too hard about what I want to make and just go with what’s available in my studio. Kinda like cooking a meal with whatever ingredients you have in the kitchen. Just try and make it taste good.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

TF: I like to warm up to the material first. With painting I like to mix in the mediums or pigments to the paint for a while before applying it to the canvas. It helps me to focus and really see the color. I start to get ideas and a direction. When I worked in ceramics I would knead the clay for a long long time before forming it into something. It’s a meditative process that connects me to the material. You kinda of fall in love with the stuff before using it.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

TF: Hopefully it alters the mood. Good or bad as long as it makes you feel something. To make the viewer stop and consider.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

TF: I feel fortunate to have grown up in a creative family. My Dad was in the music business and my Mom sewed and worked in ceramics. Growing up my sister was a dancer and pianist. There was never any doubt with what I wanted to do with my life. When I was younger I was pretty reckless and did some dumb things. Although that shaped me into a person not afraid to take chances. I try to surround myself with people who inspire me. People I can learn from. I think my lifestyle has been pretty consistent with the way in which I was raised.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

TF: Depends on the project but a lot of the time it’s something as simple as a color that gets me started. Usually when I set a plan on what to make or if I try and stick to just 2 or 3 colors it ends up going in a different direction. I think it’s important to be able to listen to whatever the work is telling you as you go along. Try and follow your impulses and not think too much.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

TF: To not ever work in resin. Apparently I’m severely allergic to it. Before knowing this it landed me in the emergency room.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

TF: I don’t know. I think aesthetics and the ability to be open and listen to your gut are pretty important but who knows.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

TF: Well the obvious answer would be making a living at it. In New York finding a place to live and a good studio can be challenging and lately more and more difficult. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. It’s getting your work seen by the right people, networking with other artists and galleries, meeting collectors that will support you…the list goes on. Knowing when the work is done, when to stop.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

TF: I think it takes courage to really go for it and make a career of it. It’s not an easy path and without support or good luck it can be a rough road. That being said, most of the artist’s I know are typically happy people. They’re doing what they love. So it’s really the people you meet. Wonderful, interesting people that can have a great impact on your life.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

TF: Alot. Mark Grotjahn, Mark Bradford, Robert Rymann, Marina Abramovic are at the top of my list. Tom Waits.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

TF: I think it can be a great tool and save a lot of time. It can also be an easy way to cheat though. To eliminate the struggle and challenge of making the work is not that interesting to me.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

TF: No, not necessarily. I know a lot of people who don’t pursue creative paths that have the same views as I do.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

TF: I love to travel but don’t do enough of it. When I graduated high school I went on a road trip across the country in a van with some friends. We traveled for a month and camped along the way in state parks and stayed in small motels. It was our alternative to going to Europe and getting a rail pass. New Orleans and the Badlands in South Dakota were my favorites. I’ve lived in NYC for over 20 years now and every time I have a chance to get away it’s to a warm place. A tropical Island. Barbados and Virgin Gorda are a couple favorites.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

TF: Confederacy of DuncesSiddhartha – Hermann Hesse

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

TF: Keep making it, get better and show with my peers.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

TF: Everything. When I was growing up drawing in my sketch book always felt like an adventure. It was an escape from whatever was going on around me. And I had a great childhood – I wasn’t trying to block anything out but when I was able to draw or build something it was everything to me. It felt like I was mapping out the future. Creating something that couldn’t be judged, graded by a teacher or told “no thats wrong, you have to do it this way” felt great. To make something and not have boundaries or worry about what’s right or wrong is everything. For me being an artist is not to judge or be judged, but to just express yourself. Freedom of expression.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

TF: I hope you like it.


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