We sat down with curator Zach Tutor in preparation for the upcoming Fifth Annual Supersonic Invitational. Get a look inside his curatorial process through our interview with him below.
Additionally, stay tuned for the opening of the Fifth Annual Supersonic Invitational on January 9th, 2016! You can RSVP HERE.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up, and where do you live and work now?
Hey everyone, my name is Zach Tutor and I was born and still live in a place called Oxford, Mississippi. I live next door to the house I grew up in. I spent most of my childhood playing outside, making movies, daydreaming and getting in trouble at school. Now I spend my time between blogging, artwork and traveling.
You are currently an artist and curator, but what first got you interested in art?
Fortunately for me I was lucky enough to be born into an incredibly artistic household. I hear my friends telling stories about their childhoods and mine was just so different. I don't think there's been a day of my life where I wasn't around art or thinking about art. My father is also a full time painter, which helped. I wanted to be a serious film maker throughout my teenage years and then a songwriter in my early twenties, but throughout my entire life I've been able to draw and have been obsessed with looking at art. My parents allowed me so much freedom to do what I wanted growing up (probably too much) and what I would always choose is something artistic. So maybe it's just in my blood.
For those that don't know, could you explain a bit about Supersonic Art?
Supersonic Art was originally created in March of 2008 as a personal blog but as time went along I realized I was posting mostly art. Then, on my first trip out to San Francisco in early 2009, I was blown away by the amounts of galleries and art on every corner. I realized I need to be sharing the art I was finding on the Internet more seriously and when I got back dedicated Supersonic to doing just that. I try to chronicle New Contemporary Art as closely as possible, a movement I define as a generation of artists who have been exposed to endless aesthetic inspiration via the Internet and society's onslaught of visual ephemera. It's lead to a sort of artistic area in limbo of everything the art world has ever seen. And it's just beginning, which is really exciting. To be documenting it at its infancy. It's like seeing or being part of something grow up. I love it.
How do you feel Supersonic Art has grown? What are some milestones that stand out to you since you started it in 2008? When did you realize that Supersonic Art had become a major blog in the new contemporary art scene?
Honestly I still wonder if it is or not because it's so unbelievable to me how much it's grown. A few days ago I got an email from Tumblr saying that Supersonic was one of the most popular blogs in 2015 out of all of Tumblr which is somewhere north of 500 million blogs. I don't really understand it all. As of writing this Supersonic has over 538,000 subscribers on Tumblr. That's an unfathomable number to me. I remember when I had 1,000 followers and that seemed like the world.
Some milestones were such things as being asked to write for Hi-Fructose, then Juxtapoz. Then curating Juxtapoz's website for a week. Being invited to Pow Wow Hawaii. Meeting all of my artistic idols and making some incredible friends... But I think the most important, or the most special one to me was being asked to do the first annual Supersonic Invitational. I think that changed my life forever.
When finding an artist to “exhibit” on the Supersonic Art blog what do you look for in their work? Where do you find out about new artists or shows to post about?
I spend around 10 hours a day looking for art and making posts. I look for well done art that speaks in it's own voice. I keep up with a number of galleries who are generally awesome about emailing me for upcoming shows. I really, really love finding new artists that no one has discovered and spend a lot of time seeking ones out like that.
Supersonic Art expanded beyond the online forum, and into the gallery setting in 2011. What excites you most about the Supersonic Art Invitational group shows?
To me the Supersonic shows are a physical form of the blog. And that's extremely important, seeing art in person. A screen will always be a wall. There's a different emotional response to experiencing these amazing works of art in person. And as an artist myself, it also allows me to learn. I've learned so much from the past 5 years. It's always an absolutely brand new experience every time. An adventure really. And adventures are the best things in life.
This is the fifth year of the Supersonic Art show, what sets this year’s show apart? What can we look forward to?
Well, this year is sort of a mega-show. I wanted to go all out because of it being the 5th anniversary. There's 77 artists on the roster which means the gallery will be filled to the brim with art. And I think that's a great metaphor for the times we exist in. Here, in physical form, is the visual ocean that is our online world. But these are the best artists out there, 77 of them. So it will be an ocean of pure visual ecstasy. A true celebration of our current generation's art.
You must be exposed to so many artists and new work, but If you had to pick, who are some new, up-and-coming artists you are most excited by recently?
A few in this show are Hongmin Lee, Kip Omolade, Michael Howard... I always try to include a good number of up-and-coming artists in this show. There's a number of incredible new, young artists out there though. I wish I could do a show of only artists that have never done a show. That would be fun.
As both an artist yourself, and a curator for such a popular online blog, do you have any sage advice for younger, aspiring artists?
Discipline is key. It's the most difficult thing in the world to learn and the easiest thing in the world to do. Creating every day means you'll be learning every day. And don't listen to anybody's advice. Hahaha, but really. Your heart's pretty good at telling you what's right, I promise. You just have to be brave enough to listen to it and then make sure you make yourself do that.
What are you looking forward to in 2016? Any exciting projects or events coming up?
I'm looking forward to heading to Pow Wow Hawaii again! Which I think is maybe the most important art event currently happening. And I think Supersonic is going to finally start selling t-shirts and stuff. And maybe some YouTube things? I definitely want to expand Supersonic's horizons in 2016 further than ever.
Interview by Jess Suttner
Photos by Shaun Roberts