Garden Spices Magazine connected with Dillon Utter, a visual artist based in Endicott, New York. Along with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, he has won awards, grants and scholarships. This New York graduate from the School of Visual Arts is constantly creating and recreating himself. His works have been part of several exhibits, galleries, studios, as well as places of business and private residences. We shine a spot light on this young talent who not only uses canvases to express his art but also lends himself to fellow artists as a canvas himself. He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at The North Brewery in Endicott, NY. Dillon, a hearty welcome to Garden Spices Magazine!
Garden Spices Magazine: What does art mean to your life?
Dillon Utter: Art gives me purpose. It helps me to find identity and drastically influences my day to day life. It’s a way to catalogue my journey.
Garden Spices Magazine (GSM): Take us back to the moment when it all started.
Dillon Utter (Utter): I have been drawing and painting since I can remember. I grew up surrounded by many artists. The activity of creating something, anything, was always very encouraged. One of the most influential figures being my grandfather Armondo Dellasanta. He was a very accomplished artist and his work is still celebrated to this day. That exposure is what made it seem like an achievable avenue to pursue. Not without a little blood, sweat, and tears though.
GSM: What inspired you?
Utter: My inspirations have changed drastically over the years. One of the first art books I received growing up was on the Dada movement. As a young teen, I had no idea or care for the concepts. It was a gateway for totally unique imagery that wasn’t popular in the culture I grew up around. Much later on, artists like Otto Dix and Christian Schad became very relevant in my work. I later became obsessed with photo realism and hyper realism. Gottfried Helnwein is an artist that inspired me to do some self portraits. One of which won a Congressional Art Competition and was displayed for two years in the United States Capital Building. Another force that really kickstarted me was my high school art teacher. She fostered my passion and gave me many great opportunities!
GSM: What keeps you inspired?
Utter: I’m inspired by people and observing/getting to know them. All walks of life. Which is why I enjoy painting portraits. Every person’s face and physique is completely unique. Every portrait presents itself with different challenges and gives off a particular mood or energy. Many of my subjects are close to me or often times myself.
GSM: Especially… during COVID pandemic and lock downs?
Utter: Don’t open a can of worms! [LOL] This is increasingly important right now. With Covid-19 and social distancing, it can be lonely. Painting portraits of friends and fellow artist is very therapeutic. It’s often the closest I can get to somebody right now. My latest painting “Self Portrait in Quarantine” is a direct result of trying to look inwards and seeing where I stand in the world today. With the anxiety and tension many are feeling right now, dissecting yourself and making sense of your emotions and aspirations is a very healthy practice.
GSM: What are the most important lessons you carry with you always?
Utter: Remembering, honoring and watering my roots. I’ve been working on a series of paintings over the past 6 years documenting the lives of people in and around my hometown. This is a direct response to my connection with the area and how it has influenced me.
GSM: How did / do you master your art? Have you attended art school / courses? Please share about your growth and evolution.
Utter: I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from The School of Visual Arts in NYC. This was an amazing experience. Moving to Manhattan was very fruitful. There are so many great opportunities to see contemporary art and also study the masters. I had many great professors, who are still my friends to this day. They continue to provide feedback and new opportunities. Rather than teach me how to paint, what art school provided me with is an understanding of new concepts, theory, and how to justify my visual vocabulary. By that I mean intent and creating a dialogue in my work.
GSM: Which do you prefer canvas, body art, photography, portraits…?
Utter: While my favorite medium currently to work with is oil paints, I’ve done a little bit of everything. Photography has always been important to me and is usually the starting point for most of my works. I take my own reference shots for painting including my street photography. I’ve recently been painting wall murals for a local business. It has been exciting to work on such a large scale with new materials and a drastically different style. Unlike my oil paintings that have a great sense of realism, my mural works have been very graphic, flat, and bold. Collaboration is important. There’s a very unique arts culture in the Greater Binghamton area that I’m extremely fortunate for.
GSM: Has your experience with art contributed to your emotional state of being?
Utter: My experience with art grounds me and also excites me. It absolutely contributes to my emotional well being. The feeling of getting lost in a work can be very therapeutic and take your mind off of others things. Sometimes art making can be very emotional, especially depending on the subject matter. This allows me to feel and be felt.
GSM: What can you tell us about your work ethics?
Utter: I try to make my studio practice like a normal work week. Putting in the hours, staying consistent, and setting goals for output. These have been essential for growing a significant body of work.
GSM: Your most unique quality / attribute the none of your art peers have is…
Utter: My most unique quality would be my style. I’ve been told that people can pick my work out of a show instantly because it’s distinctly me. That’s something that everybody has.
GSM: When not in the studio, you are…
Utter: When I am not in my studio I am planning future projects. I also love the outdoors and spend a lot of time hiking and camping. It helps me balance my time indoors working and gives me a clear head.
– Interviewed by Pratik Mamtora for Garden Spices Magazine
Pratik Mamtora was born & raised in India. He has lived in London, United Kingdom for three years & absolutely loved it there. Pratik has a Bachelor’s in English from India and Master’s (ABD) from UNA. He loves to read and write, especially poetry. Pratik enjoys coffee & conversation and is passionate about serving the community. He invests himself in understanding the needs of the modern world and the evolving spirituality within. Pratik is known to walk that extra mile to make others happy. If you ever meet… or when you meet him, Pratik will make you smile.