Portrait of an Artist: Vincent Giarrano

City Girl by Vincent Giarrano / Oil on board, 2011 / Collection of the artist
City Girl by Vincent Giarrano / Oil on board, 2011 / Collection of the artist

Q: Where are you from, where do you live now?

A: I’m from Buffalo, New York, and now live in Washington, Connecticut.

Q: What medium(s) do you work with?

A: I mainly paint in oils but love to draw with graphite or charcoal.

Q: What is your background (education, career, etc.) and how does it contribute to your art?

A: I went to the State University at Buffalo for my BFA and Syracuse University for my MFA. My major was sculpture. My education was predominantly Modern in aesthetic, and it taught me mostly about conceptualizing, thinking like an artist.

After college I had a career in illustration, drawing comic books for Marvel and DC Comics. The benefit of this was learning to be professional, working consistently and developing my visual storytelling. As far as painting, I’m largely self-taught.

Q: How did you learn about the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition?

A: I saw something about it in an art magazine. One of the pieces really caught my eye.

Q: Tell us about the piece you submitted to the competition.

A: City Girl is one of a series of pieces I’ve been doing about contemporary life in New York City. My subject in this painting is Amanda Leigh Dunn, a young, stylish city dweller. I’ve done several pieces that are about her lifestyle. I find the subjects in New York endlessly inspiring. I discover people and parts of the city and then explore them through painting.

Q: Tell us about your larger body of work.

A: I paint about contemporary life, but at the same time I like to acknowledge the history of things. It’s this combination of classic and contemporary elements that runs through all of my work. Another thing I focus on is connecting with real-life experience. I like my viewer to feel what I’m showing them is a sincere moment of life.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: I’m painting a young woman. She’s sitting on the floor in a sparsely decorated room, listening on headphones to music from an iPod. Sunlight is streaming in through a window with venetian blinds. A space heater glows red hot. Behind her, a modern painting hangs on the wall. It’s a quiet, sincere moment in someone’s life, a private moment that we might never have seen.

Q: How has your work changed over time?

A: My concepts have become more focused, and I’m always gaining skill with my painting process.

Q: Tell us about a seminal experience you’ve had has an artist.

A: When I discovered the benefits of writing and using it to become a professional artist.

Q: Who is your favorite artist?

A: Anders Zorn.

Q: If you could work with any artist (past or present) who would it be?

A: John Singer Sargent.

Q: What is your favorite artwork?

A: Domino by Frank Bramley.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Exploring New York City and experiencing the energy there.