🎨 Aluminum Artist Scott Harris On Developing A Unique Style
Scott Harris is a Greensboro-based artist working in both painting and sculpture. His works (can we call them iconic yet?) are shown in galleries & public spaces across the country including large-scale sculptures at several Tanger Outlets locations. A unique aspect of his painting process is that he paints on sanded aluminum rather than canvas, a reflective surface that gives his paintings an extra-dimensional quality. Part of what has contributed to the success of Scott Harris is his mindset, as well as his decision to dive all the way into his unique niche.
We met Scott at the North Ridge Country Club annual gala earlier this month where he is the exhibiting artist for March. Read on below to learn about his style, his advice on being a successful artist, his inspirations, and more.
1. What inspired your unique art style and how has it evolved over the years?
It was at Brevard College that I first painted on aluminum. I needed to find a material that would bend for one particular painting idea that I had. It has evolved a ton since 2002 when I graduated. I originally sanded the metal for the surface to have tooth for the paint. Over time I realized that if I sanded in a particular way it would look more three dimensional. There was a lot of trial and error. Still is actually. Over that time I have also used different tools and different abrasives and each has its unique marking. Color is another thing that has been added. In the beginning all the back grounds were silver, relying on the paint to introduce color. Now I can put a translucent color behind the paint. Like everything else, it’s fun and frustrating. There are times that I get a piece that is just perfect, maybe the ripples in the water or the sky color, and then sometimes it seems impossible to recreate that. So there is always trial and error and always learning involved.
2. Got any advice for someone trying to develop their own unique style?
I would tell anyone the same thing a brilliant artist, Thomas Arvid, shared with me while I was a newly graduated punk that was waiting tables in Atlanta, a job that I loved. He paints amazing hyper-realistic wine bottles and glasses and such. He told me that you just have to find your niche and work it. I’ve realized throughout my career that there is an audience and a home for any kind of work. You just need to find that audience. It takes work. But so does everything else. I tell younger artists all the time that they need to treat their art like a business, not a hobby, if that’s what they are wanting to build. You have to find a style that fits you and continue to study and improve. Keep getting it out there until it finds the people that need to see it. Be ready for a lot of rejections, it’s a part of it. But when you find the right Yes it’s worth it.
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3. What does it take to get you in the zone? (Creative rituals, background music, etc.)
I almost always have music going on in my ear buds. Everything from classical to jazz to hip hop. I guess it depends on what I’m feeling, what time of day it is (sometimes you need something with a little more beat to get over that midday slump), or what my task is at the time. Classical never seems to get me motivated if it’s a welding or grinding kind of day.
I try not to depend too much on if I’m feeling in the zone. If it’s a work day at the studio I try to make sure I’m there. There are certainly times where you need to be refreshed. I am very thankful that I can do both sculpture and painting. On the days I don’t feel ‘creative’ I can always weld up some frames or work on some unfinished sculpture pieces. It doesn’t take a ton of creativity to weld and grind metal. Somedays it’s a refreshing rest for the brain. And there are days I don’t want to get too dirty or noisy so I can paint. Nice and quiet.
4. Share a good book or music album with us that you've recently enjoyed.
I’m always reading a handful of books at a time. From time to time I finish one. I just finished (really) Called to Create, by Jordan Raynor. It’s a biblical look at creation, innovation, and risk. Really good. Also reading a book titled Mastery, by Robert Greene. And I am always reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, a brilliant book on looking at how the creative brain works and how to make it work. A classic.
I already said that I listen to a little bit of everything so it may not be a surprise that the two artists that I’ve been listening to the most have been Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats and Macklemore. In his song Ten Thousand Hours he says, “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint; the greats were great because they paint a lot” (rhyming of course). Great line, right?! And true. Which reminds me… back to painting!
Scott is the exhibiting artist at North Ridge Country Club for the month of March and currently has a show in Lavish in Raleigh, NC. If you enjoyed his interview, feel free to check out his art further or send him a kind message by visiting HarrisDesignStudios.com.
Facebook page (Harris Design Studios): @harrisdesignstudiosart
Instagram and twitter: @aluminumartist
Galleries featuring Scott's amazing art:
- Midtown Gallery Nashville, TN
- The Little Gallery Moneta, VA
- Vision Gallery Atlantic Beach. NC
- Fat Cat Gallery Oak Ridge, NC
- The Uptown Gallery, Fargo, ND
- ArtBlend Gallery, Ft Lauderdale, FL
- Ann Jackson Gallery, Atlanta, GA
- Edgewood Orchard Gallery, Door County, WI
- Irving Park Art and Frame, Greensboro, NC