Gregory Siff is the definition of a creative hustler. Before hitting his stride in Los Angeles’ flourishing contemporary art scene, the Brooklyn-born multi-hyphenate dabbled in everything from singing opera to writing and acting in an indie film about Vincent Van Gogh to doing voiceovers for video games. Today, Siff’s raw, energetic artworks are collected by the likes of Swizz Beatz (known for his impressive Dean Collection), and displayed at major museums like the Whitney and MoMA PS1.
Dipping his toes into the fashion sphere, Siff has collaborated with brands including Helmut Lang, Pyer Moss, and―most recently―Saint Laurent. After a chance meeting with Anthony Vaccarello and Anja Rubik at Art Basel this year, the designer became interested in Siff’s work, and enlisted him to sketch several prints intarsia’ed onto sweaters featured in YSL’s new Fall 2017 collection. “The experience has been a dream come true,” says Siff of working with Vaccarello. Here, we spoke with Siff about his artistic process, upcoming projects, and blurring the line between art and fashion.
Pop art. Street art. Abstract art. Everybody wants to label things. How would you describe your own work?
“My art is feel-good art. It comes from things that happen in my life―as a way of recording it. The only label you can really put on it is: ‘If it’s on the canvas it really happened.’ The more create art over the years, the more I know about myself.”
From singing to acting and fine art, you’ve tried a bit of everything. What is your attitude towards trying on different roles?
“Most artists are people who feel too much. Painting, singing, writing, and all other creative mediums are ways to soothe that over. I think it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and then figure out the best way to get them out there. All expressionism comes from the same organ, your heart.”
What is your creative process like? How do you stay so prolific?
“You can’t force the good work out of you. To create work that holds up, you need to spend time with it in the studio, and all your senses must be recording. You have to hit the canvas with that. There is no perfect painting. But you can’t let any and everything out the door. The piece has to feed the artist first. That’s the only way the viewer can get the energy.”
What is your take on art vs. commerce?
“Don’t make decorations or things you think will be ‘the next big thing.’ You really have to create from your heart and have something to say about your life. If you can’t do that, there can’t be any commerce. You want your art to be what it’s supposed to be.”
How important is it to be a “personality” in modern art today? What role does social media play?
“You can have all the personality in the world or no personality at all. A damn good painting is a damn good painting, and that will silence a room. Social media is really an epic way to reach more people and affect more lives.”
What inspired the Handsome sweater and other prints you created for Saint Laurent?
“Handsome is a self portrait of sorts that reprises the male energy. I would say my other pieces [for Saint Laurent] represent the opposite, a dangerous-looking face.”
Tell me about your new residency at the Dream Hotel.
“The Dream Hotel in Hollywood is a new level of art experience. It’s an ongoing art installation and discovery process that resonates throughout the grounds. It all stems from the core, which is my art studio and 4AM Gallery. New works will be created and added to The Dream over time. You might catch me there at interesting hours. If you can follow the puzzle and put it all together, you will definitely feel like a kid again.”
For more information about Gregory Siff and his latest projects, visit gregorysiff.com
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