“I’m an artist, designer, dj, geek, paperboy, and general gadfly living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I make awesome stuff for awesome people. Someday I hope to make a living at it.”
I recently had the chance to meet with Grand Rapids artist Anthony Pesi Kwiatkowski, or more simply, “Pesi”. He graciously invited me over for a tour of his studio for an upcoming documentary about Grand Rapids artists. As he unlocked the doors of his Market St studio, he explained to me how he had only been in this location for a year or two. He had been laid off from work and after a short time he decided it was in his best interest to make sure that he was in the position to do what he would prefer to do with his time, rather than working for others. A serendipitous discovery of a long forgotten pile of sketches from his art school days reignited his desire to create art again. He invested his savings into buying some of the tools and renting the studio space that he needed to begin painting.
While Pesi has an education in art, especially a focus on “more traditional, or classical styles of painting” as he refers to it, his style is more of an instinctive, minimalist style. Certain rawness permeates his art, invoking more of a comic book art feel. I asked him to define his style but he admitted that it only frustrates him to come up with a term or descriptive phrase for his unique style. “As the sign on my studio door says ‘ I make awesome stuff for awesome people’. I like to leave it at that”.
His latest project, “1024 bits of you and me”, is a concept where he generates a large collection of individual pieces and assembles them into one large comprehensive design. Each 5” x 5” tile is a unique piece of art in itself, but is also a component, or “pixel”, in a much lager piece. 1024 pieces to be exact. When viewed from a distance, the series of 4 individual panels, each 8ft x 8ft, will create a 35 foot long installation, which will be extensively photographed and assembled into book form. Part of the whole reward process for sponsors is the collaboration involved in the project. The right to name each “pixel” with a word or phrase that will be the subject of the individual piece is a valued part of the process for the artist and the sponsor alike. Once the project is completed, patrons will receive the individual “pixel” that they funded as a reward for their sponsorship. The opportunity to possess a unique piece of art from an artist and to have that piece be themed on something that I chose was a major incentive for the 2 pieces I sponsored. “She’s a Mad Scientist in the Kitchen” for my wife Jewly will come as no surprise to those familiar with her love of the culinary arts.
As a project available for funding on Kickstarter.com, Pesi’s “1024 bits of you and me” is an “all or nothing” endeavor. Which means that if his project fails to obtain 100% or more of the requested funding outlined by the artist/owner the project, then no funding at all will be generated. This is a unique way for the artist/owner of a project to gauge real world demand for their project. This could save valuable time, money, and effort for an artist if a project doesn’t have a market available. If there are patrons willing to support the project that an artist would otherwise be unable to complete on his/her own then new avenues will be opened for the struggling artist.
While “1024 bits of you and me” is subject to Kickstarter’s project guidelines, Pesi explains that even if the project fails on a financial level, he would still continue. “At this point I have too much involved in this to turn back now. I won’t be quitting. If the project fails to get funding it simply means that the book won’t get published, or that it will just be delayed”. He pointed out that he already has purchased much of the material for the project and has pieces in various stages of completion for the current project backers, which accounts for over 20% of the requested funding. While his goal for this project was to generate enough interest from the public, and the financial support to realize his dream of making a book of his art, Pesi is also using this project on Kickstarter to facilitate his entry into ArtPrize 2010. As Pesi explained it to me, “To compete in ArtPrize, I had to find a way to draw more attention to what it is that I do. Most of the ArtPrize entries are on a much grander scale as far as size is concerned. What I do with these small little paintings would get lost in the shuffle”. With a more gargantuan scale of over 8 feet high, and more than 32 feet long, “1024 bits of you and me” will definitely not get lost in the shuffle!
or more info on the artprize thing, go here: http://www.artprize.org