Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interview with Mat Gleason of Coagula

Over this week I had an opportunity to interview Mat Gleason, publisher/creator/editor of Coagula, artist, gallery owner and a bunch of other things(the man wears many hats), on art in general around LA via email. I didn't know what to expect, but I was guessing he would say things for what it is not some bullshit or scared of stepping on someone else toes. It was as I expected. I can see why he created a magazine such as Coagula. See for yourself reading will do you some good my friends :D

MC: Hi Mat.


MC: I would refer to myself as a creative person, what about you? Since you are doing a lot of things beside being an artist?

MG: EVERYONE is creative but most people get lazy along the way.

MC: As a creative person do you feel you have a significant purpose in life?

MG: There is a lot of unnecessary ego in the creative fields, and yet we all need a sense of purpose. The phrase I heard was from Gandhi: "What you do will not be important but it is important that you do it."

MC: I asked this because I believe art is extremely important in our world but some people don’t seem to think so and some of these people don’t believe being an artist is an actual career.

MG: There has always been that battle going on, if it stopped, art would be like plumbing and maybe even more boring than plumbing. I like that art has to battle people who want a boring, safe world.

MC: And when you meet these people do you try to educate them about different art careers or do you just walk away?

MG: I'm not a missionary for art, but I have noticed a few people seeing what I do, and having done it this long and being known for it, I think it inspires people to take a chance, so leading by example is my motto. I believe the impulse to educate and the impulse to brainwash come from the same part of the brain, the opposite side of the "inspire them lobe" of the brain.

MC: What is your definition of good art?

MG: When something goes beyond entertaining me and makes me see the world differently or feel differently or expands my consciousness somehow. The problem with being in the art world is like after you have seen a thousand movies, you have seen that movie before, you have seen a painting like that before, but there are still great moments.

MC: Do you feel there is a difference between being a fine artist and illustrator?

MG: An Illustrator can paint a character in a costume, but without the costume you don't know who the character is. An artist can paint a face and not need to add a costume for you to know who has been painted.

MC: People most likely asked you this before, but what make you decide to start an art magazine?

MG: I realized there were ten thousand artists in town and only four magazine publishers in town.

MC: What are some of the proudest moments you feel since the start of Coagula?

MG: I have an ongoing sense of pride in publishing regularly and I have to thank my advertising salesman, Michael Salerno, for reminding me of the deadlines, but together we have kept it going and consistency in the art world is almost as powerful as being a wealthy collector.

MC: Besides ads, how do you keep your magazine free for so long?

MG: I looked into selling copies on news stands years ago and there was too much paperwork involved, so my laziness actually helped make it a bigger success. Now with the internet, information is free basically anyway.

MC: Which art magazines/journals/annuals do you read beside your own?

MG: I read everything and look at everything associated with art, especially contemporary art, I go to libraries still, I go to newsstands and I surf the internet for hours almost every day, but I have passions outside of art that balance my diving into art, so I follow those just as passionately, because people can get lost in a sort of "art-land" fantasy and that is how artwork of no consequence and no intensity and no passion can thrive... when art is disconnected from life and people in the art world are sealed off from the real world.

MC: Which would you recommend?

MG: The Wall Street Journal will give you the mindset of the people who are running the art world.

MC: I’ve heard a lot of “in this economy” stuff on the news, with some of my friends, the market etc...What is your take on this?

MG: The economy is a good excuse for when bad artists cannot get shows or sell art. But it has affected some good galleries and cost art world people lots of money, so the activity at the levels where money ends up financing the work of many artists... it has been cramped, but it is not gone. And you don't need big bucks to make great art in the short-term.

MC: I know it does affect how many pieces get sold in galleries now, however, do you think it has more positive effects than most people think? Like the quality of artwork being produced etc.?

MG: A lot of fake artists leave so the quality probably does go up!

MC: We all been to plenty of galleries what’s your view on the ones that charge a fee to get in when it’s not even for charity? Do you even go there?

MG: I only pay for parking and for museums. If the art is for sale it is a store - does Target charge a cover? Nope.

MC: Do you have several favorites you frequent?

MG: My favorite Gallery in L.A. right now is Kristi Engle. She showed an artist who made the art for 1970s pinball machines and then had shows with very edgy artists. Her gallery is in Eagle Rock. I like galleries where every artist is different - when a gallery shows the same kind of art after a while it is pretty boring.

MC: There's a lot of these "lofts" springing up around town, what do you think of it? Another trend?

MG: The problem is that lofts were originally great for artists to make noise in and use chemicals in that you cannot be mixing for paint at midnight on Wednesdays... but now it is all "loft style" living, people pretending to be artists. You are right to call it a trend.

MC: What's is the best thing about the Brewery and living there? There are mix opinions about this place like any other places. Some say it's overrated other say it's a great community to live in.

MG: The best thing about the Brewery was the diverse community. I finally moved out but have many friends there. There are not many places in California that you can call a community, especially one for artists. But it can be overrated if you move there thinking it will help you be an art star - making great art in a boring neighborhood will help make you an art star.

MC: What’s your opinion on networking on places such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc...?

MG: These are excellent because they are free. If you use them properly you can reach people more efficiently than with methods that cost money - a lot of money sometimes.

MC: And your view on the young generation of emerging artists? Any advice you can throw out for the young ones?

MG: Be first or second, biggest or best. Please try to blow my mind without sinking to a shocking stunt or just ordinary vandalism. I would LOVE to discover the next great young artist, but everyone who claims to be that is drawing the same stupid Cartoon hip-hop anime Britney characters or reciting art school big words they don't understand to justify boring nothing art. So I smirk when I hear the words " you are not gonna believe this" because you are not gonna believe how easy it would be to wipe that smirk off my face and how nobody ever does it because they want to make the same thing someone else did. As far as advice, Make art every day, find your voice, refine it with style. If you can't find a gallery, start your own and if you imitate your heroes you are the audience but if your art moves beyond what you heroes did you are your hero's peer.

MC: Thank you Mat.

MG: Thanks MIMI

ISSUE #100 of Coagula is available for download on on November 10, so check it out!

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