Monthly Archives: June 2015

Steve Vistaunet: The Art of Hair and Beards

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Steve Vistaunet is an Art Director for a company in Lehi, Utah by day and does a number of creative projects by night. His banners currently hang in Provo promoting the summer Rooftop Concert Series, but his distinctive approach to hair and beards can be seen in murals around town and filling up his Instagram feed.

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How did you become an artist? I grew up in Newport Beach, California. My parents were both music fans so I grew up listening to music and going to concerts. They were always very supportive of the arts and always encouraged my music and my art. The perfect day for me during my youth was to sit at my desk, play my favorite record, and draw. And to be honest, that is still my perfect day. Ha! My silkscreen class in high school made me realize I wanted to do art for a living. There is just something so amazing about printing your own art on a t-shirt and then wearing it around. I’ve always loved the do-it-yourself mindset.

How is the Provo art scene these days? Provo is the place to be! It is really fantastic here. There is a great art scene, loads of fantastic local bands, and creative people all around town. There is definitely a great creative vibe happening in Provo right now and it’s rather contagious. There is a wonderful monthly event called The Creative Collaborative on the second Tuesday of each month where someone in the creative field talks about their career, how they got there, what inspires them, etc. The presentations are great and it’s a perfect place to meet and network with other creatives after the presentation.

Who are some of the artists you work with? During the past year, a group of six local artists including Brian Kershisnik, Fidalis Buehler, Andrew Ballstaedt, Greg Caldwell, Jacob Haupt, and myself (how’s that for a bunch of last names) have done a couple of murals in local restaurants. It was great to be with other artists creating art together. Brian Kershisnik and I also play music together and we are currently recording our first CD of music which should be out in a couple of months.

What’s your next project? I am currently designing and illustrating the concert posters for the 2015 season of Downtown Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series. I am also creating a t-shirt for the next concert. My wife and I are working on a mural for a new building in downtown Provo, and also have a coloring book in the works! For the past several years my kid’s friends, and my friends for that matter, come over to our house and we have coloring nights and just color my drawings and the coloring sheets I would make, so I decided it was time to publish a coloring book.

Follow Steve Vistaunet on Instagram.

In My Office

Lindsey Shores: Fashion Stylist


Lindsey Shores’ fashion career started at a young age and progressed over the years into a position with top fashion stylist, Penny Lovell. Shores was involved with dressing celebrities for premieres, Emmys, Oscars, editorials, late night talk shows, and many other events. She was able to assist in styling the likes of Ginnifer Goodwin, Emily Deschanel, Rebecca Romijn, Olivia Munn, and Emilie De Ravin. Lindsey moved back to Utah in 2011 and soon after worked in wardrobe for the hit TV series, Studio C. While in Utah, she’s fashioned stars such as Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees, indie folk singer Mindy Gledhill, and popular bands Mates of State and Imagine Dragons.

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Walk us through an assignment. One of the music videos I really enjoyed working on was the Imagine Dragons, “On Top of the World”. Not only was it great to work with the band and cast, but the production quality and team it required for some of the shots was expansive and working on larger projects can be really fun. To be the stylist/costumer for a video such as this one that’s a period piece requires a lot of homework and research to get the exact year of 1969 that the producer and directors were hoping for. I first meet with the directors and/or producer and take a lot of notes of what style and vision they’re going for with the overall look as well as specifics for band and cast members. After meeting with them I get a start on shopping the pieces and looks for who is already cast. Most projects come down to the wire with a lot of casting and changes so you have to be willing to be flexible which can be rough when you’re trying to find sizes for someone who isn’t even cast yet, but will be in the shoot the next day. This video took two weeks of my personal prep and then I brought on an assistant stylist and intern to help for a few days prep as well as shooting days. With this being set in ’69, I shopped a lot of vintage stores in Utah as well as Ebay and Etsy and pulled it together by using some of my own personal pieces and some of the directors. It’s always most ideal to do a fitting at least with the main cast before the actual shoot but the luxury of that happening because of schedules is rare. The band flew in late at night and the next day we were filming, so crossing fingers that everything works out perfectly is often too common.

You worked in Los Angeles and now in Utah. How different is the work and how different are the people? I’ve loved working in both places, but they are pretty different. In LA I was assisting a Hollywood stylist and worked with many celebrity clients for all their red carpet events, editorials and anything else they would attend publicly. The work was brutal at times and required a lot of heavy lifting of couture beaded gowns, thousands of dollars of jewelry and a hustle when events were about to start within the hour while still waiting on a clients custom shoes to be finished. The people in LA were all very nice, from all the fashion houses where I’d pull and pick up cloths to the stylist, team and clients I worked with. I moved back to Utah and quickly got involved working in television, film, commercials, music videos and photographers as there are no red carpet events here. Utah is my hometown and it’s been great to work here, but I do miss handling couture, attending fashion line openings and working with stores on Rodeo Drive.

What’s your favorite crazy story from your experiences? I have one that stands out from when I worked in LA–when we were getting Rose Byrne ready for the Emmy’s. She’s a desired actress to dress which means many designers are hoping to send their gowns our way for her to wear them to the event. Although we’d always pull at least 60 gowns for a fitting, we narrowed it down to just two of which both Rose would look like a knockout in. We had a fitting set for the next day at 4 p.m. with her and had our options ready, however, Chanel was really hopeful we’d dress her in one of their latest. So instead of shipping the Chanel gown overnight, they flew a private jet from Paris to LA in order to bring it to us in time for the fitting. It was an incredible dress and was drenched in hand-sewn gold beads from the sleeves to the floor. Unfortunately, the Gucci gown on her had our jaws dropped so we went with that one instead.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Working with personal clients that come to me with a lack of beauty and self confidence and allow me to advise them in so many ways that can make them feel better about themselves through expressing on the outside more authentically. I pull out of each client the good they see in themselves, first by asking them and then observing and getting to know them and then elevating their style to match their amazing personality. Clients often come back to me to say how much I’ve changed their lives and helped them with feeling confident again and how it’s helped them receive a new promotion, boyfriend, motivation to work out and take care of their body or put themselves out there and become a lot more social. It’s extremely rewarding to see what an outward appearance can do for everyone. We often want to believe that beauty is always and only on the inside, but the reality is that our impressions mean a whole lot too.

Visit Lindsey Shores’ website.

Follow Lindsey Shores on Instagram.


Gregory Mortenson: Children of Haiti


Gregory Mortenson is an incredibly talented painter and his recent series and work in Haiti is remarkable. American Artist magazine explains, “Mortenson is one of the most accomplished in a new generation of painters who have embraced the rigors of training in the atelier tradition. This prowess is most evident in his portraiture, where the precision of description and delicate paint handling give a quite breathtaking sense of presence to the subject.” Mortenson got a BA from Southern Virginia University and then spent years in additional training and apprenticeships including a four-year curriculum at the Grand Central Academy of Art under Jacob Collins. He  lives and works in New York City.

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You and your wife spent time rebuilding an orphanage in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. After the Haitian earthquake a friend of mine quit his job as a middle school teacher and moved to Haiti to see what he could do to help. He was funded by a philanthropist that basically said, “Take this money and see what good you can do.”  My friend came across an orphanage that had been relocated into the countryside from Port Au Prince. Their building had crumbled in the city and they found themselves living in a cow pasture with 30 children in a tent. My friend found them and knew this was the group he could help the most. He bought them the field they were living on and began building housing and schools for them to use. It was then that I went to Haiti with my wife and a group of friends that I grew up with. We helped with the building of the schools and some of my tech-savvy friends spear-headed an on-line fund raiser (Hope for Life Children’s Home).

I remember arriving in Haiti and seeing the devastation of the earthquake everywhere. So many people had lost their homes and loved ones. There was mass depression everywhere. It was a two-hour drive from Port Au Prince to the orphanage. The whole way I was imagining how much worse the atmosphere of the orphanage must be to the images I saw as I drove there. To my surprise, their orphanage was a haven of hope away from the devastation everywhere else. The grounds were filled with laughter and even though these children had lost their birth families, they had made a much larger family. It was that very triumph of the human spirit that I wanted to capture in my paintings.

I returned to Haiti two summers ago to teach art classes for another school. It’s a school co-founded by another of my friends. He is a neurologist from Utah and returns every few years to do humanitarian work and train the Haitian doctors. He co-founded a school there with some educators. I taught art classes with a group that he had invited. (Donate to Zion’s Children of Haiti.)

Our careers are a series of steps–many forward and some back. After I finished studying at the Grand Central Atlelier, I noticed that students that had studied before me were either very successful artists, or working another full-time job and doing art on the side if at all. I wanted to be counted among the first group. I made a mental check-list of what they were doing right and what I needed to do to be a successful artist. I needed to 1. Paint at least 8 hours a day. 2. Enter prestigious competitions to win accolades and get my name out there. 3. Start teaching on a limited basis. Those three things really catapulted my career. Working eight hours a day gave me enough paintings to enter the competitions. Winning the competitions made the galleries interested in me. And finally teaching allowed me to give back while remaining involved in the art community that brought me to New York.

Explain the atelier tradition. The 17th, 18th, and 19th century artists were tremendous draftsman that continue to inspire today’s artists. They were all trained in the atelier system which involved a master artist that trained apprentices. It involved a lot of drawing and painting the figure from life, as well as drawing and painting casts from Greek and Roman statues. These systems eventually evolved to the prestigious 19th century French Academies. The method of training faded away in the twentieth century as representational art fell out of fashion. I studied at a four-year-school modeled after this method.

What is next? I’m currently working on a one man show with Arcadia Gallery in New York City this November. It will be an extension of my Haiti series. I hope to raise a little awareness for the orphanage. I’m also teaching a three-day workshop in southern Utah this June and another in New York this August.

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Visit Gregory Mortenson’s website.

Follow Gregory Mortenson on Instagram.

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Brian Crane: Making Pickles


Brian Crane, creator of the Pickles comic strip, won the 2013 Reuben Award for ‘Cartoonist of the Year’ from the National Cartoonists Society. Previous winners include Charles Schulz, Garry Trudeau, and Bill Watterson. Crane was born in Twin Falls, Idaho; grew up in the San Francisco Bay area; and graduated from BYU in 1973. He worked for 17 years as an illustrator, designer, and art director before realizing his dream of creating a comic strip—and the strip has been running for 25 years. He lives in Sparks, Nevada with his wife, Diana and they have seven children and fourteen grandchildren.

Pickles features Earl and Opal Pickles who have been married for over 50 years. As his bio states, “Whether observing the differences between genders and generations or taking a wry but sympathetic look at life in the twilight years, Crane’s good-natured wit and dry humor are sure to please readers of all ages.” In 2013, Baobab Press published a Pickles collection entitled, “Oh Sure! Blame it on the Dog!”

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You have said comic strip artists are the hardest working artists on earth. What is your daily routine? My daily routine is comprised of a lot of thinking and a little drawing. It is hard to tell that I am working sometimes, because the hardest part of my job is trying to come up with a funny or clever idea for a comic strip every single day of the week. Keeping the ideas fresh is a challenge. But I find it to be somewhat easier now that I am closer in age to the 70-something-year-olds that I am writing about. It has become a case of art imitating life I guess. After I finish writing and drawing a week of strips, which usually takes most of the week to do, I scan them and email them to my daughter Emily, who colors them with Photoshop for me.

You probably grew up with Pogo and Peanuts. Which comic strips really sparked your imagination? The first comic strip I remember reading and being inspired by was Li’l Abner, by Al Capp. Then came Pogo, by Walt Kelly and later on, Peanuts and B.C. They inspired me to want to be a comic strip artist when I grew up. But by the time I was in high school I had given up on that idea, mostly because I didn’t think I could come up with enough funny ideas for a week of comic strips, let alone months, years and even decades. It wasn’t until I was approaching 40 that I decided to finally give my childhood dream a try.

Images courtesy Brian Crane, BYU, and Deseret News.

Visit the Pickles website.


Brooke Smart: Family Portraits

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Brooke Smart is a talented Utah-based illustrator who creates, among her many projects, a fascinating collection of custom portraits of individuals, couples, and families. She has also completed the first two legs of the Mormon Triple Crown with her work in The New Era and The Friend.  As her website explains, “she spends her days gathering ideas for stories and her nights telling those stories with her pen and paintbrush.” She graduated in 2007 from BYU in illustration and is cousins with another talented artist, Hillary Henslee.

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You do a lot of custom portraits in your distinctive style. My artistic career thus far has taken many turns. I’ve always loved to draw, and to draw people, in particular. Growing up, I was drawing and painting constantly. This led me to the illustration department at BYU, where I fell in love with fine artists and illustrators alike. Along with my illustration courses, I ended up taking figure drawing and head painting classes each semester. Portraits became my passion. There is so much to be said in the human face and form, and it’s an exciting challenge to capture each specific person in paint. After college, I studied with Jeffrey Hein and began my career as a fine artist. Since then, and with many moves around the country, I’ve done a lot of fine art, illustration, and design work, including many jobs designing patterned paper and craft supplies. These portraits are sort of a marriage of all that I’ve learned to love in my art. It combines my oil portraits and my illustrative style into one.

I think your backgrounds are sometimes more fun that the subjects of your paintings. I’d never thought of it that way. The patterns in my backgrounds are meant to enhance the portrait and tell a story about the person I’m painting. I have each of my subjects tell me about themselves before I paint them and I like to think that their face as well as the pattern I’ve made for them describes who they are. My goal with these portraits was to do something new and all my own. I like them to look formal, as traditional portraits do, but to also have personality and whimsy, with a touch of folk art, like my other illustration work does. I want them to tell a story, and I hope that is what the backgrounds are doing.

How would you describe Mormon art these days? Mormon art has definitely evolved over the years. It parallels the message that is being conveyed through the ‘I’m a Mormon’ campaign, which is that our points of view within in the church are varied, beautiful, and often unexpected. Like music, it’s a way to worship God. I am constantly in awe of many painters within the church and hope to be numbered among them someday.

What projects are you hoping to do next? I would love to do more published work, perhaps illustrate middle-grade novels. And after pulling out my oils recently, I’m excited to do a lot more fine art in the near future. The goal is always to create beautiful, meaningful work and I want to constantly continue with that goal in mind.

Visit Brooke Smart’s website.

Follow Brooke Smart on Instagram.