Interview with Lou Patrou
Lou Patrou has been drawing and painting faces and figures since the 1960s. Patrou’s work is sometimes difficult to categorize because he doesn’t always use the same artistic language, repeat the same disciplines or follow a straight direction with his work. The only definitive thing you could say is that he is obsessed with making faces and finding new ways to create designs and forms out of them.
What is your earliest memory of art?
Drawing all kinds of faces at home when I was a teenager in Rochester NY.
What inspired you to be an artist?
There was never one inspiration that I can put my finger on. Early on I noticed a curiosity and a lot of enjoyment from doing art and have always felt those same feelings when I am doing something creative. I guess it is what is commonly called rewarding.
Do you listen to music while you work and what/or who do you listen to?
Yes, I always have music on to put me in the zone. Surprisingly, I have an extensive Country collection, (not NEW country), people like Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, George Jones and from the Folk arena I listen to John Prine, Iris Demint, Richard Thompson, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. From the Rock n Roll shelf, I still regularly play a lot of The Allman Brothers, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Zeppelin, Cream and the Band from my past in the ‘60s.
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you produce?
Absolutely, everything you see and pass by outside and live with inside your house/apartment visually influences not only your state of mind but your internal images, shapes and design sense. You are reacting to those influences all the time and may not even know it.
You have a surrealistic style mixed with Gary Baseman style of cartoon illustration. Is that the style you are most comfortable in?
My comfort and style changes with the times, plus I think get bored doing any one style or direction. I try to mix things up and look for new challenges from piece to piece. It would be like a band putting out different versions of the same album over and over year after year, never writing new material.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
Being told what to do is something I react very badly to, I can’t help it—imagine being told when to have sex or to perform on cue, it would be a real arousal killer! I only do art that occurs to me spontaneously and from there I cultivate it into a finished piece. Here’s another one, imagine telling a song writer to write a birthday song for your pet monkey, and that the monkey wears a red suit.
What long term goals do you have?
Like many artists out there, I would like to eventually gain the kind of recognition and exposure that brings career opportunities to show, publish, create editions etc. Along with creating new content in the form of drawings & paintings, I am simultaneously pursuing product development and licensing with my work and designs. I have a couple apparel & lifestyle brands that I have been developing, Hank & Sylvie and Cootie Girl.
What is piece of art are you most proud of?
Like a film maker’s response I have heard when asked this question, I always say the last creation I finished is my favorite. The cover piece is part of a series of 6 paintings called the Barney & Betty series, named after Betty and Barney Hill. They are each 30”x40”, acrylic paintings on watercolor paper. I have been working on them for over 2 years.
What was the strangest commission you took on? Or the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to create?
I have never done one.
What projects are working on now?
I am working on a painting of a face I call Mustang Sally. It is all pop colors and extremely simplified like a graphic or icon.