Scott Buoncristiano draws inspiration from the wildlife surrounding his Cape Cod home. Scott spoke to us about his projects and shares his secret to a successful client relationship.
Hello Scott, it's great to talk to you today, thank you for taking the time to walk us through your portfolio and give us some insight into your creative practice!
How did you start your career as an artist, and have you received any formal training or are you self taught?
My career as an artist started around 3 or 4 years ago after 20+ years in the restaurant/service industry. It was a bit out of necessity in that I needed to work from home, but I also realized around that time that drawing for a living was an attainable goal. Not having any formal training and getting into it later in life, I knew that I’d have to study and draw constantly to make up for lost time. I kept saying to myself “If you want this to be your job, you have to treat it as such.” So after coming home from my day job, I’d go straight home and draw or study for another 6+ hours every day. Small jobs trickled in here and there, then they led to some larger ones. At a point where I had enough savings, I took the leap of faith and quit my day job, and haven’t looked back since!
We’re very pleased to be featuring your Fish Bouquet series in our upcoming publication, Curatorial Volume. 1. Please could you share some background of the work and how you created it?
The first of the Fish Bouquet series started in some downtime while waiting for client feedback on another project. I like to stay busy, and it was a good opportunity to squeeze in some personal work. Fish are always fun to draw, but I wanted to make it a little more interesting so I threw some flowers in there. There has always been a theme with me of putting things together that don’t quite fit. Dead fish heads with a lovely flower bouquet growing out of it, cats with realistic human eyes, goats and lobsters together in a forest etc. It builds a feeling of mild unease, which I like. The initial Fish Bouquet got a good response on social media, so I kept with the theme for a few more.
You live and work in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. Does living on the Cape influence the content of your work? I notice you have a number of pieces featuring lobsters, fish and octopi!
Yes, absolutely! It’s hard to not be influenced by the ocean and all that dwell within when you are literally surrounded by it. In addition to the sea creatures, I think the relative isolation of the Cape influences content and themes as well. There’s a lot of creepy quietness around here in the non-summer months.
Outside of your art, what are your interest and how do you like spending your time?
I like to spend time with my wife and my family members. Aside from that, I don’t really have many interests outside of my art career nowadays. I work 7 days a week and rarely take a day off, and at night I’m sketching or studying art. I had a bunch of different hobbies when I was younger, but for now, my main thing is continuing to improve my skills and to ensure I can keep doing what I love for a living.
In addition to your own commission based work, you also manage your own product line, do you have any advice for artists looking to begin to merchandise their own artwork?
Social media can be a very powerful public interest gauge. It’s almost like a focus group at your finger tips. Post and share your work, and see which pieces go over the best with the crowd. For me, it’s often times the complete opposite of what I think! It’ll help you determine which images are worthwhile to make into merchandise, and it may also help you refine and focus your direction. Also pay attention to analytics in order to understand your demographic as far as choosing which type of product you’ll have made. For example, if I drew a skull with tentacles coming out of the eye sockets, I wouldn’t put that on an infant’s onesie. It’d be funny, but it wouldn’t sell as well as on a men’s hooded sweatshirt. Know your audience, and use all the tools at your disposal!
Music, film and culture is a great influence on your pieces, and we have been enjoying the work you produced for Mastodon and The Melvins. As you know, these guys are a big deal and have a rich history of pretty amazing album and poster art! How did it feel to be asked to create artwork for such iconic bands?
Thank you! Yes, they both have a long history of pairing some incredible artwork with their music over the years. It was a massive honor to be able to do some work for both bands, as I’ve been a fan for a very long time. Working with any band is great, but when it’s one you’ve been listening to forever…it really doesn’t get any better. I didn’t deal with The Melvins directly, but the guys in Mastodon are super cool, and they really have an appreciation for art, and are very hands-on. Hopefully I get to work with them again in the future!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in becoming a professional creative, and how have you overcome this?
The biggest challenge so far has been locking down enough work to keep up with my output! I’ve learned that you have to be really proactive in seeking work, and that reaching out to clients is as important as the drawing time itself. Opportunities don’t always materialize out of thin air, you’ve got to make them happen.
How do you see your work developing over the course of the next year?
I’d like to continue to hone my skills, as well as discover some new techniques. Sequential art is something I’ve been studying heavily, so I’d like to develop that as well. It’s tough to say exactly what direction I’ll go over the next year or beyond…but that’s part of the fun of it all. I live for those “Ah-ha!” discovery moments.
Our audience comprises of artist and clients, as a working artist what in your experience is the essential ingredient for maintaining a good artist / client relationship?
Communication! If you’re unclear about something, ask. If you had a great time on the project, let them know. If they want to know what your timeframe looks like for the week, tell them as soon as you know. A quick email can help avoid headaches, and make things so much smoother for you and the client. These are your temporary co-workers, so be communicative and nice to work with. Also, be polite, be professional, and always hit your deadlines!
Where can we see some of your work in person?
I’ll be in a group show on September 7th at the Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and two more group shows on November 9th and 16th at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA.