Les Satinover, artist interview
Who are three people you learn from?
With any honest self reflection to this question I would firstly have to say that my parents, regardless of their unique faults or foibles, had the most immediate and long term impact upon my personality and intellectual development. Then, throughout all the years of public education I had two instructors who had particular impact: one in the sixth grade who recognized my creative urges and sought to empower and reinforce my own belief in my capacities or talents through the most enlightened act of nurturing, by asking me in the sixth grade to remain after school to provide private art lessons to him and several other interested students. I didn’t have another mentor to so inspire me until my freshman year as an undergraduate in a Fine Arts program, where my instructor in Creative Writing – a young woman – was spellbound by my highly personal attempts at contemporary poetry (and maybe a little of me) and would provide anonymous copies of my work to my fellow classmates as part of the curriculum of study, thereby insuring my self confidence and building up in me an all to common inflated sense of self destiny and importance at this vulnerable young age. Alas, as a result of the following years of Life experiences, setbacks and various levels of recognition, I have come to have a much more grounded and practical sense of self… with reasonable personal evaluations based on reality and not fantastical visions of my youth.
For each, what is one thing you have learned from them?
From my parents, I am sure that I should attribute to them my general sense of respect for others, appreciation of the arts and a strong moral compass. From my grammar school teacher I learned that personal development comes from an “openness” in spirit and that it is not age-defined. From my slightly inappropriately infatuated teacher in college I learned that human attachments can blind and mislead you. I happily married my wife of forty four years shortly thereafter.
What advice would you give yourself if you could travel back ten years?
I know I always felt a forceful pull to travel and experience the places and people from around the world (and all the art that I could consume). I should have done more during my impressionable years. •What do you struggle with? I worry about security, money…the usual things. But I would have to say that I struggle now most with the knowledge that Life is a fleeting experience and I want to make as much art that reflects the “statement” I want to make as much as possible within the limitations of time.
What is creativity to you?
Creativity for me is self expression as a response to an inner and outer world. It is crystallized for every individual differently. Every individual brings a uniqueness to the practice of art that is limitless and representative of a particular fingerprint of identity.
How do you struggle with the “rules” of your craft? Can you give an example of one of these rules, and how you got a good result from breaking it?
There are rules and then there is a modern understanding, or maybe more likely a tendency to break from convention, that has become normative, at least in terms of the art experience as I know it, vis-a-vi gallery exhibiting. I produce my work with that knowledge and because of my unique circumstances of coming to my full time art practice as a second career in life, after retail design absorbed me for 36 years previously – I now have the security to direct my art towards my personal vision without the need for worldly (financial) validation
What are some of the things you do to nurture your creativity as it pertains to your field?
I consume media information from a plethora of cultural influences, visiting as many art venues, galleries and museums as possible, wherever I am, and immerse myself in cinema. •How do you set about critiquing your own work? I cross pollinate artistic sources that are representational, both contemporary and historical. I inspect and analyze work that I see all the time and certainly make comparisons to my own work. •Financial success and critical/audience recognition notwithstanding, what is your personal favorite creative accomplishment? Why? Simply said it has to be my most recent work within the last year and the clear, strict and rigorous approach to figurative painting that I have embarked upon that has been absolutely the most rewarding AND accomplished.
How do you cope with burnout?
In my case, I retired from a retail design executive career track at just the right time to pick up on my dream from youth to pursue art. I always missed the road not taken. The opportunity to shed the pressure and remove the fatigue from devoting myself to a corporate job was both liberating and the solution to that burnout from the executive pace. •How often do you doubt your talent? What do you do to push through that doubt? I am very fortunate to have maintained throughout my entire life a little slice of that youthful inflation of destiny and purpose, regularly challenging my assumptions of my own talents by making comparisons to other artists’ oeuvres that spring from a paired ideology. I do indeed recognize and objectively acknowledge alternatives to the approach to my craft.
What do you do to “get in the zone” or a “state of flow?” How critical is this to your work?
I perceive my work flowing from a sustained commitment to my process through discipline, which requires regularity in working times and output. This is no different than committing to a paid job where your dependability and reliability also help you maintain your employment and promotability. Work quality is another issue of evolutionary persistence.
What advice would you give to a young/aspiring creative on dealing with “haters” – ie, pessimists and trolls who are always criticizing, usually without merit?
Follow your inner voice at all times. Period. The rest works out. Seek out the positive influences and resist the tendency for the negatives to adversely affect your confidence, shun debate unless it is truly informed.
We all start at the beginning. How did you “learn” your craft and if you could re-do the learning process, is there anything you would change?
I started making art at an adolescent age and always carried on with a strong, determined belief in myself, and recognized that my identity was intrinsically a part of aesthetics. I simply knew my inner core was catalyzed by ART and a search for Beauty. As a result I perused art books at local libraries at a very young age, haunted galleries and museums, consumed and appreciated other cultural expressions in all fields and completed multiple degrees in my field. As I said earlier, my personal experiences have nurtured my outlook on life and provided me the impetus to self assess in addition to viewing my work within a critical context of related and unrelated art production. I consider myself very fortunate to have never really doubted my own abilities and to now have the opportunity to make my art without any external pressure to conform to any expectations (other than my own)!
Good place to be in.