Check out the full shop at: richpellegrino.bigcartel.com
This week our Featured Store Friday is extra special, as we highlight the 250,000th store to open using Big Cartel. It’s sort of a big deal. So allow us to introduce you to the incredible Boston-based artist Rich Pellegrino.
BC: So you opened the 250,000th store on Big Cartel. What made you choose BC for your online shop? How was your experience setting it up?
RP: 250,000 stores is a lot of stores! I still can’t believe I got that lucky, and even though it has settled in, I’m still surprised. I want to say that you guys are hands down the best. Of everything there ever is and was. Seriously, thank you all for being so awesome. (editor’s note: awww)
Choosing Big Cartel was easy for a number of reasons. The most important one being that it’s the most economical service. I had a store using another provider, and the fees were just too high, factor in Paypal’s fee and costs add up fast. Plus setting up with Big Cartel is easy and intuitive. The features are exactly what a modern artist needs for a store: simple layout and design, easy to use interface, visitor stats and tracking. I love it.
BC: A lot of the work in your shop is pop culture or celebrity oriented. You just really like pop culture?
RP: What can I say? I like pop culture. I’m a child of the 80’s and have a lot of fond memories of old movies and cartoons. That said, my work was not always pop culture driven and, to be fair, it isn’t completely centered on that now. My earlier work was very comic/fantasy oriented, after a few years working in that genre I realized it wasn’t really for me.
From Spoke Art’s “Bad Dads” show
I stopped taking illustration work and got a full-time job at a bank. I had been primarily using oil paint, and my work was very monochromatic due to a fear of painting with color. So I switched to my sketchbook, using ink and gouache, and experimented with technique and subject matter. I used portraiture to visually “cover” some of my favorite Muddy Waters or Jimi Hendrix songs. That led to getting into galleries, and soon I was in themed shows and painting portraits of some of my favorite characters.
BC: Can you tell us about your fairy tale series? How did that get started? What was your process like throughout?
RP: That body of work was created for my recent solo show. At first I was inspired by famous literary characters and then narrowed my focus to stories from the Brother’s Grimm, Charles Perrault, Shakespeare, and the Bible. As a kid I remember seeing Disney films and later reading the Brother’s Grimm originals they were based on. I remembered how different the original tales were from the movies, and I wanted to go back and see what else I could find.
My process was to research the stories and their origins, a lot of times they were written interpretations of oral folk tales. I wanted to maintain a compositional theme with a centered figure holding ornaments from each story. The process itself starts with transferring a sketch to canvas then painting one area at a time until the piece is covered. Then I make edits, adjustments, and touch ups until it is finished.
BC: What are some of your current sources of inspiration?
RP: Currently, I’ve been getting back into music and my love of the blues. Their songs and stories are deceivingly simple, full of layers with symbolism. I’m also into art movements like Surrealism, Cubism, and Expressionism - and I’ve been exploring ancient cultures, how they perceived the world, their future, and how they used symbolism to describe their beliefs.
BC: What advice would you offer to someone wanting to start making a living as an artist?
RP: You must have an easy to navigate website with links to your Big Cartel store and all of your social networking sites: Facebook fan pages, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. Update your work often, and always link back to your website on blog posts. You should also watermark your images discreetly. If someone reblogs your image, you’ll want to get credit and have people know where to find you.