Oct 122011
Authors: Alan Perry

Recently I had the opportunity to ask Justin Camilli, a senior year printmaker at CSU, some questions about art and Fort Collins. Camilli is from New Mexico, and plays the guitar and keyboard in Cotton Keys, a local band. This is an abridged transcript of our conversation. His prints will be on display for Veteran’s Week in the Lory Student Center starting Nov. 7.

What is your process for making art?

A lot of times my art is mainly driven by my imagination. Many times I will have to just start working on a piece before I know the meaning behind it. It keeps the process loose and forces myself to derive the subjects instinctively. I sometimes come up with a concept before I start working, usually for larger projects that need planning, but sometimes I feel hung up by that process. Sometimes I can plan so much I’m afraid to screw the plans up, so it holds me back.

What artists do you draw inspiration from?

I really love the work of Henrik Drescher. His scratchy pen style has definitely influenced my work. It’s on the verge of childlike and Folk art, it’s great. I also heard of this great sculpture artist based out of Denver named AJ Fosik. His woodwork and patterns are similar to what I try to achieve in my drawings. And of course I’m greatly inspired by Kiki Smith, drawings and sculptures.

How do you feel about the art scene here in Fort Collins?

From my perspective, the art scene in Fort Collins is kind of garbage. I’m a young artist, whose ideas I believe to be progressive, and I feel like the dynamic of this town doesn’t allow for the flourishing of those ideas. There are a few galleries that welcome experimental art and the local coffee shops are great about letting you hang your work. For the most part though, the successful galleries sell boring landscape art because that’s what sells. The people with money in this town are mostly older family types, and that’s the kind of art they want. College kids might think my art is cool, but realistically they’d rather spend their money on a six pack.

What do you think it’s missing?

Honestly, I’m not sure if the issue is fixable based on the student/older person balanced population. I guess Fort Collins needs a larger population of progressive 25 to 35-year-olds who are interested in new art and are willing to go out to shows. Fort Collins also needs more galleries that show thought-provoking art. More venues would be nice too. It seems that music and art sometimes flourish together. Sadly, in Fort Collins it’s music more than art.

How do you like the art school here at CSU?

I actually love art school here in Fort Collins. I can’t say I’m completely confident in all the fields of the program because I haven’t taken all the classes. But I can say that coming to CSU and majoring in printmaking was the best choice I could have made. It has made my art exponentially better. It hasn’t changed my art. It’s changed my way of thinking about art, and I’ll take that through the rest of my life.

Local art columnist Alan Perry can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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