Interview with Mixed Media Artist, Seth Apter

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This article was written by Madeline Faiella

Seth Apter is a mixed media artist who seems to know what it’s all about.  I was able to tie down this busy man long enough for this interview.  I think you will find it interesting, inspiring and fun to read.

MF:  How did you become to like mixed media art?
SA:  There is both a freedom and a challenge in working in mixed media that have always been very compelling to me. The freedom lies in the fact that there is literally no limit to the materials and techniques that can be used. The challenge lies in the same place in that the endless choices need to somehow be self-limited, blended, and ultimately transformed into a cohesive piece of art. I find the creative possibilities in this process endlessly exhilarating.

MF:  What is your definition of a true mixed media piece?
SA:  The technical definition of mixed media art is simply a work that is created using more than one media. For me there is a deeper, more complex nature to mixed media that is quite challenging to put into words. I always have trouble adequately describing it to others. There is a story and a sense of history that can found in the layers of materials that make up a mixed media piece. There is a process of concealing and revealing that goes into the work that adds elements of mystery, energy, and excitement. Every layer, even ones that are not visible in the end, is equally important and integral to the final piece.

Interview with Mixed Media Artist, Seth Apter
MF:  What is your favorite part of working?
SA:  The process of making something from nothing is what it is all about for me. I absolutely love the hunt, whether for found objects, art materials or new techniques. I love the initial moments when an idea comes and a sense of excitement and possibility is sparked. Finding other elements to add to the work and dealing with the challenge of making all the layers and disparate components seamlessly blend is always an exciting challenge. And finally being able to step back and see the results of the entire process complete is thoroughly satisfying.

MF:  How do you set up your studio for working in a nurturing / empowering environment?
SA:  My studio is as much an art installation as it is a workspace. I surround myself with my many collections and finds, artwork of my own and other artists, creative objects that I have been gifted, and an expansive inspiration-wall filled with stuff that both has personal meaning and keeps me inspired.

MF:  How long have you been an artist?
SA:  I came to art relatively later in life, beginning in 2000. At some point since that time, I began to label myself an artist rather than somebody who is simply playing around and making things.

MF: What influences do you have?
SA: I have endless influences including the environment and energy of NYC where I live as well as a large group of artists whose work can be found anywhere from museums to blogs and from galleries to the walls of abandoned buildings.

Interview with Mixed Media Artist, Seth Apter

MF:  How do you engage with your audience?
SA:   I feel strongly about connecting to and engaging with people in terms of my art. I have an online presence that allows me to do this daily via my website and blog, as well as through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not only do I share finished artwork, but I share works in progress, behind the scenes glances, photos from my workshops, my experiences as an artist living in NYC and the artwork of the many other artists I admire. Those who follow me online know that I do my very best to respond to every comment and email I receive. I am also fortunate to be able to connect with many people in person through my frequent workshops. I fully believe that without the community that has resulted from these connections, I would not be a working artist today.

MF:  How do you keep your authenticity while working?
SA:  I do my best to remember that regardless of the nature and purpose of any particular project (be it a journal page, an artwork for exhibition or submission, or a blog post), ultimately I am creating both from and for myself. What I do has to be an expression of me or it is not worth doing.

Interview with Mixed Media Artist, Seth Apter

MF: How long did it take for you to develop your voice as a mixed media artist?
SA: I feel that while I have a strong point of view and have been told that I have a recognizable style, I am still and will forever be developing my voice as a mixed media artist.

Thank you Seth

Seth Apter is a mixed media artist, instructor, author and designer from New York City. His artwork has been shown in numerous exhibitions and published in multiple books and magazines. He has two books (The Pulse of Mixed Media and The Mixed-Media Artist) and two DVDs (Easy Mixed Media Surface Techniques and Easy Mixed Media Techniques for the Art Journal) released by North Light. His workshops have been held throughout the United States, Mexico and Australia. He is a designer member of CHA, a blogger for Spellbinders Paper Arts, a stencil designer for StencilGirl Products, and has an ongoing column called The Creative Pulse in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. You can see more of his work on his blog at thealteredpage.blogspot.com and on his website www.sethapter.com.

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Madeline Faiella is the owner of Madeline Faiella Designs, LLC.    She works traditionally and digitally in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.  Her work is featured on home décor, electronic devices, stationary, fabric and more.   She is licensed, published, appeared on TV and radio and has written continuing columns for newsletters.  She also has a line of non-toxic acrylic paint “Art Jacket”   Her art education hails from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and the many years she absorbed during her years of travel around the world.Her work is available for purchase and for licensing. See more her work at www.madelinefaiella.com

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Studio Tables Revealed

This article is written by Michelle G. Brown

Seth Apter, Mixed Media Royalty and All-round Nice Guy, is exposing our Studio Tables – you can see tables from around the world here: Studio Table: The Reveal.

And here’s my table / desk:

Michelle shows off her studio table

I am slightly horrified that I can see (at least) six projects that are currently being worked on. I’m playing with the Ranger Dina Wakely paints and working on three canvases to show three different styles across the range of colours. You can read about my play with the paints here: Painting with Dina Wakely Paints!

I am pleased that it’s colourful! And proof that lots of creating has taken place this week. (And I haven’t left any paint brushes sitting in water overnight!)

Thanks for stopping by! Happy Creating!

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Michelle G. Brown is passionate about mixed media art and enjoys sharing her knowledge and techniques with you to allow you to express your own creativity. Michelle understands that many of us have an inner need to create. By learning a few basic techniques the amazing world of mixed media art is accessible to everyone!

Michelle lives with her husband and two boys in Melbourne, Australia.

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The Story Behind the Artist – Seth Apter

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This article was written by Michelle G. Brown

While the true definition of “mixed media art” is extremely broad, there are three main categories in abundance on the internet at the moment – mixed media painting / collage, journals / books and mixed media assemblage. The artwork of Seth Apter may well be one of the most recognisable in the mixed media community, with his pieces crossing between these main categories. Many of his pieces are dark, rich and full of layers and elements of interest, put together in such a way as to engage the brain as well as the visual feats presented to our eyes.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist

I was very excited to meet Seth in person during the CHA Winter Show 2014 and jumped at the chance to chat further to get an understanding of the story behind the artist. I have followed Seth’s work via his blog ~ The Altered Page ~ which has been around for many years and celebrates and shares Seth’s mixed media adventures.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist creates wonderful pieces of assemblage and collage

You might be mistaken to think that with the richness and depth of Seth’s pieces, that he has been gluing bits together since he was a small boy but this wasn’t the case. Seth’s introduction to mixed media art was during vacation in 2000 to Washington and Vancouver when he wandered into a gallery, “like one you’d find in New York” and discovered this new and wonderful type of art. It turned out to be encaustic and collage mixed media, and Seth began talking to the gallery owner who happened to be the artist of these pieces that Seth was admiring. A month after buying a few pieces and returning home, Seth received a handmade postcard from the artist, just checking in that Seth was happy with his purchases. Seth wanted to return the thank-you but felt a store bought card would be inadequate to post in return, so he set about creating his own postcard. This “mail art” went back and forth, and Seth was captivated and leaped into the world of mixed media, through looking online at what other people were doing and through taking classes.

Now over 10 years later, Seth has written and curated several books, teaches extensively and continues to share his love for mixed media. Seth has a home-based studio, allowing him to work when he pleases, most often when he gets his second wind at 11pm. Having a separate studio space would make this kind of work much harder to do.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist creates wonderful pieces of assemblage and collage

In April 2014, Seth has extended his repertoire to a gallery exhibition as part of the New York City Art Expo, a juried show that has been going for many years. Seth was finding through all of his obligations with writing, developing products and preparing for workshops, he was having less time for his “own art”. Committing to the exhibition allowed him to change focus to make artwork outside of his “job” tasks. It was also a great chance to meet other artists and get exposure to the broader art community. When I asked Seth what had surprised him about the exhibition and the process of preparing for it, Seth replied that it was an amazing education. Seth created and submitted three separate series for the exhibition. The series that got the most attention and had the best sales was the series that Seth actually liked the best himself. He had not expected this. It was a great reminder for Seth to create work that appeals to him and that will also then resonate with the audience. The exhibition also helped Seth to set the direction for further work and he will continue to “do what comes to you, do your heart”. He wants to remind all of us that when we do what we are passionate about, others will relate to it.

With Seth living and working in New York, he finds he is surrounded by inspiration every time he steps out of his front door – the energy of the city, the architecture, the culture and the shops, all provide a dose of daily inspiration. Even the found objects that Seth picks up can spark a new piece. Seth finds that working on more than one piece at a time is a way to keep his work fresh and moving. Often working on three or four pieces, he will leave them and then return to them with fresh eyes to decide if the piece is finished or not. Another way of assessing his own work is for Seth to take photos of works in progress and the view them on the computer. This allows Seth to see his work differently and what may have appeared finished at first glance actually needs more work.

Layers are a key part of Seth’s mixed media work. He suggests that we experiment and use products and colours we don’t like or usually use in the lower layers. It gives us a chance to use up product we have bought or experiment with colour combinations that are outside our usual comfort zone. In these base layers, they are often covered up, so we are free to play and see what we can come up with. I love this tip from Seth – it allows us to give ourselves permission to play and experiment. And you just never know which product or combination will spark a new idea or move your interests in a new direction. And there are always new products to try. Seth says he is a self confessed “product fiend” who loves getting new stuff to play with.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist creates wonderful pieces of assemblage and collage

“The wonderful or not so wonderful thing about the craft industry is there is always something new” Seth says. And that leads to trying new things and evolving his process but he always comes back to the basics; gesso, acrylic paints and glazes. Seth will then use the new products, like inks and sprays as adjuncts to the core of his designs. Of course, he loves stencils (his latest stencil designs can be seen over at Stencil Girl Products) and enjoys playing with Gelli plats to create prints to use in backgrounds or in small pieces in collage. Seth also loves bookmaking and likes to use Gelli printed papers to cover book board, either to create a book or to use as a layer in his collage.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist creates wonderful pieces of assemblage and collage

We got onto the topic of helping people expand their crafting into the freeing space of mixed media, where anything goes. Seth suggest finding other creative people on line and taking classes to move you out of your comfort zone. And consider the art supplies you have and might buy – which ones give you freedom to use in a number of different ways.

If you wanted to take a class with Seth, you can see where he will be on his website www.sethapter.com. Seth finds teaching so inspiring and learns as much from his students as they learn from him. it gives everyone a chance to become part of the community. “I love seeing excited and happy students” Seth says “and seeing the impact I have with students who start less than confident, then let go”.

Seth Apter New York City mixed media artist creates wonderful pieces of assemblage and collage

One of his upcoming teaching engagements will be part of the Art Is You team heading to Australia in August 2014.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Australia” Seth says and he will have his chance to combine the trip and teaching with an a amazing group of instructors in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. You can read all about the Art is You Down Under tour of their website www.art-is-you.com.au Seth is very keen to see what the mixed media community is like in Australia

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Michelle G. Brown is passionate about mixed media art and enjoys sharing her knowledge and techniques with you to allow you to express your own creativity. Michelle understands that many of us have an inner need to create. By learning a few basic techniques the amazing world of mixed media art is accessible to everyone!

Michelle lives with her husband and two boys in Melbourne, Australia.

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