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Artist Interview: Fausto Fernandez

I can’t remember the first time I met Fausto Fernandez but I’m sure it was years ago at an art event in the Valley. I do remember the first time I “really” met him. I was showing my work with eye lounge in an exchange with a gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fausto was doing the same but his exchange was through Modified Arts. I remember hanging out in downtown Milwaukee with my parents, feeling a little out of place and running into Fausto. He was a breath of fresh air, and so easy to talk to. There was something about our talk with him that changed the mood of the evening. I could never forget him after that night.

I found out a few weeks ago Fausto was moving to Los Angeles. For some reason this didn’t surprise me. Fausto has been a fixture in the Phoenix art scene for a decade. His work has been shown in most of the major museums in Arizona. I can’t even count how many group shows he’s participated in and he has representation from a major gallery in town. He’s “done” Arizona and I could see he needed a bigger pond to play in. So I did what I needed to do, I interviewed him for Culture Seen before he headed out of town.

I met him at his Phoenix studio, The Lodge, and we talked LA, art and the future. After hearing about how he found his new studio and made connections in LA, I realized right now synchronicity is playing a major role in his life. It sounds so exciting and I’m glad things are falling into place for him. I am a little sad for the Phoenix art scene, I don’t think it will be the same without him.

Fausto Fernandez, It's What You Do With Time That Heals

Fausto Fernandez, “It’s What You Do With Time That Heals”


Fausto Fernandez was born in El Paso, Texas and lived in Ciudad Juarez , Chihuahua, Mexico for his first 25 years. He’s lived and created art in Phoenix Arizona for over a decade.
He spent his first twenty-five years as a resident of Mexico, continuing his education through high school in Juarez then crossing the border on a regular basis to study at the University of Texas in El Paso where he received a BFA in graphic design and a BFA in painting.

His works are colorful, decorative mixed-media collages that depict tools, machines and aviation renderings. He uses blue prints, maps, wall paper, ashphalt ,spray paint, acrylic paint and instructional materials as backgrounds in some of his paintings with overlays of bold graphic designs figuring the foreground. The works are decorative with conceptual ideas about relationships.

His work has been chosen for inclusion in the Mesa Contemporary Arts at Mesa Arts Center, The Tucson Museum of Art, Tempe Center for the Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum, The Heard Museum, The Smithsonian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York and The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada. He received the Erni Cabat Award at the Arizona Biennial 2011 at the Tucson Museum of Art for the most beautiful painting.

In 2008 he was selected to design a public art terrazzo floor for the Phoenix Sky Harbor International to be completed and displayed permanently in 2012.

Fernandez is currently represented in Arizona by Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale.


Fausto Fernandez, Modern Advances Adapting to Nature
Fausto Fernandez, “Modern Advances Adapting to Nature”

Your most recent work is monochromatic. What pushed you away from your usual colorful palette?

A couple of things. I find that in my work i try to go against my gut feeling or shape my personality. When something feels right then i do the opposite, for years i have worked in color and over time certain things become like formulas and when it becomes that then it needs to change. Its a constant struggle and i think that is what i enjoy the most. Working in the black and white series i feel tempted to add more color but the point of them being monochromatic is to find out if i could possibly make them. I was a little disappointed with my first black and white, it didn’t work so there is where the challenge begins. I think i am getting there and they will look much better and i am having new ideas, its like starting all over again.

The second thing came from a comment i heard a while back. It was only one comment that someone made that got me thinking Why would he say that? I was part of a show in Santa Monica California and submitted a painting that ended up being the biggest painting in the show and it didn’t sell that night. A man approached me and said, I think the problem with your painting is that with all those colors it looks too Mexican. That got me thinking, the painting didn’t had anything to do with Mexico and the colors were just an aesthetic i like. I wondered if by association he read my name and looked at the painting or how would that change if the painting was in black and white.

What inspires you to create art and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

I don’t find that i have only one thing that inspires me, might be a series of things that i like about creating my paintings. I love building things in the shop so i really enjoy building my own canvases for my paintings. I think a lot about who i am and my role as a human being . I think about the things i have, the things i lack, the friends and my relationships with people. I find people interesting and how being so different as individuals some manage to couple up and become, in a sense, one. My work is an exploration of myself and that is a constant struggle. Everyday i learn new things and the ideas i had before constantly change. Being a full time artist allows more time to reflect and think. When i was employed full time i had to rush and worry so much about trying to get more hours at the studio because my time was limited. When things get tough in the studio i can’t even work and i have no motivation, its time to think and reflect, its stressful not knowing the direction of the work so in thinking about ideas i work. I have time to talk about ideas, think, experiment and explore, that is how i get over the tough moments. These past two months have been mostly about reflection and future ideas, i have a plan now.

What is the best and worst parts of being a full-time, working artist?

I always wished that i could be a full time artist but i don’t think i really intended to become one. I have a passion for museums and i worked for them for 7 years, i thought that was going to be my life career. I got selected by the city to design a floor for the Airport while i was working full time. The project required more of my attention and it was becoming difficult to take so much time off from work so i had to make a decision then of what was most important. The opportunity to design the floor was a once in a lifetime experience so i decided to quit my job and that is how i became a full time artist. I think the most difficult part of becoming a full time artist is figuring out how to make a living. I never thought i would get by the first year without a job but looking back its been over 3 years and i still don’t know how i managed to do it. Its one of those things that requires risk and with risk comes fruition, things work out without knowing, its scary but they work, there is always someone out there that believes in us. I remember that week when i quit my job, a full time artist friend of mine said, welcome to the club, that is exactly how it feels. A thought of becoming one suddenly becomes real and its a surreal feeling , we need to own it and believe in it.

The best parts are the fun ones, I get to basically live. Being self- employed, it’s the best feeling ever. I enjoy every day, its a surreal feeling that you never get comfortable in, how can this be i wonder? My instincts tell me this might not last forever but i fight against it and try to make it a better day everyday even if its not at the studio, it could be sleeping late or having a coffee early morning while everyone is working, it’s a great feeling to feel free. I feel that my work is more honest, i have time to explore my ideas and think about the direction of my work and pursue it because i can. Thing are not supposed to feel comfortable for me, i build up to where things feel right and have to turn back again to feel that adrenaline rush of life.

You’ve been a member of the Phoenix art scene for over a decade, what do you think you will miss the most about it?

Phoenix has been the one place where my careers started, museums and art. I owe so much to the friends i worked with from the beginning. I will miss that feeling of support i have here, i feel local. Phoenix has a great community with different scenes and every scene has a different experience of what they think Phoenix is like, its not the same experience for everyone. I think i managed to be around great people here who have given me opportunities because they believe in me, its a great feeling. I will miss my art studio, I have been in The Lodge for almost 9 years, the good and the bad things happened while i lived there so i have a lot of good memories. I have seen a lot of people moving in and out of the building and even all around Grand Ave where my studio is located. I like seeing all the changes and i’ll miss those experiences.

Fausto Fernandez in his studio.
Fausto Fernandez in his studio.

What scares you most about your move to Los Angeles?

Failure. I don’t think its LA that im scared of , i could fail living in Phoenix too. Knowing that i am afraid of failure it’s what drives me to succeed, it’s a new challenge. It’s incredible how wiser we get as we become adults. When i moved to Phoenix i had a couple of friends, no experience and my work had no direction. Moving to LA is different, my work has a much better direction, i have friends that live there and from the looks of it, a better studio. I was expecting things to be worse when i moved to LA but things are turning out to be great and things are falling into place, little stories here and there. The uncertainty is always a little strange.

What excites you the most about your move to Los Angeles?

The way i know LA has been through short trips, the beach, the friends and the fun. This time i’m moving to LA to pursue my career, that is different. I am not expecting any luxury and in fact i am getting rid of my things. The most important thing right now is my work and exploring my work. I was feeling comfortable here in Phoenix , its a great feeling starting with little and building on up. The economy changed a lot of things, i had to short sale my condo and leave my full time job, I take those things as signs. That is what excites me about my move to LA, i am starting again and i have new challenges. Doing the same things i did in Phoenix and expanding to understand myself, ultimately that is what i explore.

Besides your move to Los Angeles, what is next for you and your work?

I will continue working on my black and white series, I have plans to make a series of portraits and i’m working on a series of paintings where i arrange things using math. i’m also working on some ideas for sculptures. I plan to continue a few of my current ideas for a group show i got invited to be part of in a museum in San Antonio in 2014. My gallery in Arizona is Gebert Contemporary and i will continue to work with them while living i’m in Los Angeles.

For more information visit:

Fausto Fernandez, "Demographic Fabric of America"
Fausto Fernandez, “Demographic Fabric of America”