In April we partnered with Pump Project to offer a 6-month residency to two artists in our community: Fabian Rey and Russell Brxwn.

They came together to share a studio and explore their unique non-style styles, which culminates in an exhibition during this month at Cloud Tree Studios & Gallery. Though neither Russell nor Fabian knew each other before this year, they discovered how similar their motives are. Making art is not a choice, it is a necessary part of their existence.

I interviewed both Russell and Fabian for Issue 15: Money Makin’ to get their perspectives on the residency, collaboration, and finances.

Background

Four years ago, Fabian Rey arrived to Austin from Puerto Rico. After living on the island his whole life, it is safe to say that he needed a change and he remembers, “Austin chose me.”

Fabian boasts a long list of art education, from studying under Francisco “Fran” Cervoni in Puerto Rico to attending the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale and another in Florence. However, he shared with me that his first teacher was his father, Ricardo Rey, a painter.

Though Fabian also works as a creative Director, he was eager to embrace the art community on a personal level. “I embraced the city and it’s weirdness and it helped me find my own voice.” He spent many nights at Cherry Cola Dog and started the Creatures of Austin, a photography project meant to “explore and document the iconic characters that walk the streets of this vibrant city.”

Artistic Process

Fabian values the techniques he learned in school, but emphasized that that’s not the only way you need to make art.

Instead of being labeled as one thing, Fabian would rather you simply refer to him as an artist. He is inspired by people and vibrant colors that remind him of his home. “I like to make art that has a conscience, a concept. It has to say something.” Everything he creates is an original so that when someone buys it “they own a piece of me.”

“At the end of the day, even if I don’t sell one painting, it’s more about making art for the greater good. I have to do it.”

Residency & Collaboration

Ironically, Fabian applied to be a part of Pump Project in 2015, but the space wasn’t available. But he says now is the right moment for him. “I have so many ideas, I know the city better and I’ve established my work here.”

Fabian describes the upcoming show as focusing on connection with people and the city. “When you’re an artist, you just want to connect.”

“Being different is fucking cool.”

Money

“I prefer, in this stage in my life, to make less money and to do more of what I love.” This is an especially difficult decision for an artist like Fabian, who also has to raise a family. He still gets offers to be a Creative Director for large name companies, but he fears it will only cause him to lose time.

“Art is not for everybody. It’s a way of life. I love art and I love to create. That’s what drives me. At the end of the day, even if I don’t sell one painting, it’s more about making art for the greater good. I have to do it.”


Written by: Natalie Earhart

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