His Motto?Work your ass off, talent will follow.
Trip Park grew up in Ithaca, NY and then headed south to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduation, he got his start in advertising, crossing over into illustration and even some editorial cartoons before taking up painting. Today he continues life south of the Mason Dixon in Charlotte with his wife and children. His artist statement relates a ‘very crooked, creative path on his way to finding paint and canvas.’
His iconic subjects express a light and airy viewpoint with a touch of humor. We set out to learn a little bit more about him in a recent interview.
Artists can often recall a pivotal moment in their life that steered them on the path to becoming an artist. Trip recalled a specific time in college when “I thought I was going to major in journalism. I got to know my advertising professor pretty well and one day he looked at all of the ads that I was creating in order to try to get a job in Chicago and he told me, ‘you know Trip, your ads look better than they’re written.’ Most people would’ve been insulted. I, on the other hand, became an art director.”
As a successful art director and illustrator for so many years, one might wonder about the difference in the approach to the artwork now. In this case, Park sees little difference in his own style. “Advertising taught me how to campaign out a series of creative concepts. I’m still doing that to this day, but with paintings.”
In spite of the cheerful colors and humorous painting titles like “Old Buoys Network,” Park surprisingly likens himself to Seinfeld’s wry character George Costanza. Knowing this makes it more understandable to learn he is not content with his efforts, and is constantly working to get to a place called “better.”
A favorite question we like to ask artists is how they know when their work is finished. “There is a great painter in Atlanta I’ve gotten to know, Tony Hernandez, who once told me that “painting is a challenge because you have to know when you’re done or when you’re just tickling it.” And for the most part I just hope that I know when I’m done,” says Park.
A prolific painter, he often completes a painting in a day. At that rate, he’s always looking for new subjects. Is there anything he cannot do without while painting in his studio? He concedes, “Unfortunately, it’s my mess.”
On the subject of inspiration, Park says he has almost too many creative influences to count. “My favorite illustrator of all time is Jeff McNelly, who is a Pulitzer winning editorial cartoonist from the Chicago Tribune.” The Tribune is a very visible media outlet so while on the subject, we asked about the role of art in society today.
“I can only tell you what my opinion is there because art is always in the eye of beholder. But to me when I’m going through a new city and I see something, whether it’s outside or in a museum, that just makes me stop and stare… the things that make me think about it all day and get in my head are the things that I think art is really made for. It should stay with you in a good way; something that just makes you think about it a lot longer than you expected it to.”
One of his works currently at dk Gallery is called “I Dare You.” We asked how many doughnuts did he have to eat to get this painting right? Jokingly, “I am the biggest junk food addict. If I had a bunch of donuts in front of me they wouldn’t last very long. One time I sat and ate a full box of chocolate chip cookies and a bag of potato chips in one sitting when I was a kid and then thought to myself, ‘should I be proud or ashamed’?”
One thing he is proud of is his prized possession –“an autographed copy of Jaws by Peter Benchley. He even corrected that they spelled his name wrong on the inside. We were talking about doing a children’s book together before he passed away.”
We look forward to seeing more work from this outstanding talent.