Honoring The Artist: Joe Chierchio

No matter what the season or the circumstance, this week’s cover artist Joe Chierchio always has something to say about art, politics or life. Even so, he’s not glib about his many interests and opinions. No doubt about it, Chierchio is serious and well-meaning regarding his world view and the ebb and flow of living in the present. A conversation with him is always invigorating, informative and thought- provoking as he skips from subject to subject with vigor and a desire to engage his listener.

Q: You just came back from a trip to California. What was the art like or art experience you might have had?

A: My fiancé, Susie, and I went to San Francisco, Carmel and the Napa Valley. In Carmel, there were at least 100 galleries, mostly showing nature scenes, mountains, trees. The place has a feeling like Santa Fe. The works were different from what I do; they were beautifully done landscapes, but I do figurative art, which is narrative. I respect the artists’ technique, however. And we visited Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyard where there was memorabilia from The Godfather and an old car from his film, Tucker. [expand]

Q: Did the art in Carmel influence you in your own paintings although it is different?

A: Not directly, but I am thinking I could do more cityscapes and put in more people.

Individuals looking at a painting love to relate to people they see, to ask, “Who’s this person? Are they blue collar? Are they jet setters, street people?” People tell the story.


Q: So the story is the most important thing in a painting or a film, for that matter?

A: It’s a combination of a great story and characters. Take The Godfather. The characters are well-defined. Sonny and Michael are so different. The movie is also a family story. Clint Eastwood does films that are similar. He has his finger on the pulse of people; he knows what the audience likes.

Q: It’s obvious you love movies. In fact, you are working on an art series that centers on iconic film images.

A: Yes, I am working now on Casablanca. I just finished On the Waterfront. My image created my moment, showing the docks, boats and Marlon Brando looking over his shoulder. There’s a sign that says, “Dead End.”

Q: You cover this week, “Dan’s On the Move,” isn’t a movie, but suggests a story based on the fact that Dan’s Papers is really moving to a new location. What does the expression, “On the move,” mean to you?

A: Artists should always be “on the move,” moving toward ideas, expressions, messages, but not changing media. I feel as if I’m moving toward fresh material. I try never to repeat myself, to feel I’ve played that note before. I Goggled the term, “on the move,” and it also relates to being busy, growing upward and in business, being very “today.”


Q: Where did the meaning that relates to you directly come from?

A: It’s my background as an art director where I had to come up with a new idea and new image every week. Ideas are the most important thing in advertising. Execute the idea, not the doing of the idea.


Q: When you started in advertising, was it hard to get the hang of things?

A: Yes. I didn’t have the discipline. I learned that by watching other art directors and taking classes. But you can learn technique; you can’t learn talent.

Q: What do you think of present-day ads and commercials?

A: It’s all about execution, computer-generated imagery. It’s all about sizzle and not the steak.

Q: Did you ever do an ad where you didn’t believe in the product you were selling?

A: I did some ads I didn’t believe in, like cigarettes or panty hose where I didn’t know about panty hose. That’s a real test of creativity. But after a while I said, “I can’t sell those cancer sticks.” I stopped doing those ads. I didn’t want to hurt people with my ideas.


Joe Chierchio’s website is www.joechierchio.com

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