Exposure: Artist Alex J. Cutler

Camp David’s Exposure series aims to highlight the creators who we think you should know, and whose work contributes to the beauty of our space.

We caught up with our first subject, LA based artist Alex Cutler, to discuss career influences, upcoming projects, and the best advice he’s ever received.

View his paintings, “Three Legged Dog,” and “Whoopee Cushion” on Camp David’s Fifth Floor.

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WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

Right now I am working on a series of paintings I am loosely calling “trash portraits,” which means I am collecting garbage I find around the city and painting it with the same care and affinity I would my mother.

From Alex’s series “Trash Portraits”

IN WHAT WAYS DOES LIVING IN LA INFLUENCE YOUR STYLE?

The move to LA had a huge impact on my work and for about a year I took a step back to absorb my new surroundings, explore my process, and indulge in general tomfuckery. It was a necessary transformation and I’m confident in where I’ve landed. In terms of my work and being stimulated, I couldn’t live anywhere better than LA right now.

The colors, the cultures, the weirdness of it all — LA has got a kind of violent beauty to it. Like a NASCAR crash. All that metal, fire, and unearthly colors crumbling together in mid air; if it weren’t for the suffering of those involved I’d love to watch it everyday. I would like my art to represent a similar crisis illuminated with the gold light of a LA sunset.

Alex in his studio in Korea Town, Los Angeles.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PAINTING AND DRAWING?

I’ve been drawing my whole life — it’s a part of who I am, a part of my existence on this planet. I remember all my drawings clearly and if anyone has or knows the whereabouts of “Blue Batman #7” please notify my people.

And I have been painting pretty consistently for about 7 years. And by “pretty consistently” I mean just about everyday.

WHAT TOOLS ARE CRUCIAL TO YOUR ROUTINE?

My eyeballs. Not having those would make things extremely difficult. Other than that everything else is a luxury.

WHO ARE YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCES?

My influences have changed so much over the years that it’s hard to name names. Lately, I’ve found that looking at too much art can detour my focus.

So I find myself reading a lot as a way of getting inspired and remaining driven and creative. I’ve also always thought if I could paint a picture like Leonard Cohen writes songs and poems I would be very happy.

Whoopee Cushion on our Fifth Floor in Lounge B

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

I think success is finding what you love to do and figuring out a way to do it everyday. That is the run of the mill basic answer, but it’s true.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

This too shall pass. Time moves and time continues, things will always get better. You have to keep moving forward.

Another great piece of advice, I think Chuck Close said this, and I’m sure others have too: if you take an idea that is overwhelming or seemingly impossible to accomplish and you break it down into small little bite size pieces and tackle each one of those, you can do just about anything. I apply that to my painting a lot. If I’m overwhelmed, I’ll tell myself to focus on just the leg today, and it might be one leg out of ten pairs of legs on the canvas but tomorrow there will be one less to do.

Hank the Three-legged Dog on our Fifth floor in Lounge C.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR THREE LEGGED DOG?

His name is Hank and he’s a good boy.

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Alex Cutler currently works and lives in Echo Park, Los Angeles. View more of his work at alexjcutler.com, or follow his process on Instagram

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