Today we’d like to introduce you to Curt Merlo.
Curt, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Orange County became my home when I went to college at the University of California Irvine to study Fine Art and play Waterpolo. The whole jock/artist thing was really confusing to most people and even myself. After college, I became a graphic designer for a small media company in Irvine. After two years the recession hit and I lost my job. Ever since then I have been doing freelance illustration, that was in 2010, so It has been almost nine years. I started out doing editorial illustration which I mostly still do, but in 2014 I made my first art book. Now, I try to make a book once a year, It fills the time in between jobs nicely, and it is really fun. In the last two years, I started drawing vintage inspired horror comics. Books are like tattoos in that they become addicting, but you can’t do them all the time because they don’t make a lot of money.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I have two basic outlets for my art right now. My main commercial outlet is editorial illustrations which is how I make most of my money. These illustrations are based around an article and usually have to do with some current event or topic. They tend to be more clever in nature and use a lot of symbols and metaphors, but lately, I have been moving away from that and not relying so much on the clever concepts. The main challenge is that the art has to communicate a complex topic very quickly, that can be difficult when the topic is complex and abstract.
The other main outlet I have is my personal work. I make comics and posters. I am currently working on my 6th book and hope to be done with that by June. My personal work has been mostly inspired by vintage horror comics and movies. It’s tame but bizarre horror of sorts but with a lot of humor. I really don’t try to be clever with this work, and most of the time I am not really trying to say anything although a deep message often emerges by the end. It’s more subconscious and intuitive. It’s my way of balancing the heady and clever commercial work I do.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
The thing I have been learning lately is if you want to be even remotely successful at art you have to practice a lot. I know this seems simple, but this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I am always looking for new techniques and tools to be a shortcut to good art and end up compensating for my lack of practice. That is why I recently got off the computer and make a lot of my work by hand now. You can’t hide behind a filter or digital trick. I am learning that there is no secret; it’s just hard work. Anyone who has ever been good at art has put in the hard work and has practiced a lot. My whole life is so much better when I draw a lot.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Curtmerlo.com is probably the best place to see the variety of works I have done recently. I also have an online store where you can buy prints and books. If you want to support my art buy something by going to my website and finding the store. I also have a studio space I share with other artists in Orange County called B Minus. Our studio is open during the Santa Ana Art Walk every first Saturday of the month. Come check it out.
- Website: curtmerlo.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @curtmerlo
- Twitter: @curtmerlo