Interview: Alex Merto

Occasionally my internet meanderings trickle over to my email and I find myself casually writing an artist or designer just to say something along the lines of daaaaang your work is fantastic. Such is the case with the multi-talented creative-champ Alex Merto, and the hand-drawn window installation he did for DWR (more on that in a minute). It about made me jump out of my chair! Alex was was kind enough to indulge my curiosities with a short interview, which aside from being a generally cool dude, makes him el primo since it’s the first one I’ve posted on Pitch!

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Margot: What’s your general day like? Are you in the freelance or the full-time camp? Or, do you have studio or workspace? Is it chaos or organized?

Alex: I work/live in a chaotic/organized one man studio/bedroom.

M: What was the first art you remember making? How old were you?

A: I think the first art I can remember making is drawings for my older brothers homework assignments. I used to really love to draw when I was little and used to wait for the sunday paper and redraw all the comics that were in there. I had to be around 9.

M: Favorite candy from childhood?

I can’t really say I have a favorite candy from childhood. But I’m obsessed with mint chocolate chip ice cream. My mom used to make me a mint chocolate chip Ninja Turtle ice cream cake for my birthday. I’ve tried to get her to do it over the past couple years but I think she lost the turtle baking pan.

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M: Some favorite blogs/websites/mags/zines/art books?

DotDotDot, Newwork Magazine, Audience Magazine, F.R. David, Fucking Good Art, It’s Nice That, ThemThangs, and the store called The Thing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

M: Can you talk about your art school experience? What impact did it have on your process? Any thing you’d do over?

A: Overall my school experience was amazing. Growing up I hated school. I used to think that I was just going to drop out of school and not go to college. I had no idea what I wanted to do. But going to SVA totally changed the way I felt about it. They have some amazing teachers who I was luckily enough to take that had a huge impact on me; Peter Buchanan Smith, James Victore, Richard Mehl and Paul Sahre to name a few. They’re all very smart and so different which I think gave me a pretty good rounded idea of what design is what and it can be. If I had to do anything over… I’m not sure I would. I know that my portfolio needs more corporate looking work but I also know that I have a whole life ahead of me for that. I’m looking forward to the future.

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“This is the way I feel about home. When I am close to it it’s hard to see but when I am away from it I get a real view of it.”

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M: Let’s talk about the DWR piece. Um, can I just say what the hell dude! Let me get this straight, it’s drawn by hand? How did this project get started, did you draw it all yourself? How long is it on display, where’s it going after?

A: Haha yes it is all drawn by hand. I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I got a little in over my head. I thought I would just be able to go and knock it out in 2 days. But it ended up taking me 5 long days. Luckily I did have some friends there at different points to help me get through it. And sadly to say, it’s already gone! I just went by the other day to check it out again, and it was all washed off. I couldn’t believe it. I was a little heartbroken. I knew that it was only going to be up for a month but it seemed like I had just finished putting it up. [Ed note: It’s not such a sad story, Alex assures me, as DWR is putting this piece on the cover of their next catalog too. Also, Alex just had to spiff up the place before Mike Perry’s hands grace the window next. Pretty impressed with DWR for enlisting such top-notch talents!]

M: Your work seems to toe that increasingly delicate line between fine art & design, do you differentiate between the two? I also noticed some of your own photography in your design work, do you consider yourself a photographer as well?

A: I think I just try and incorporate as much of everything that I can do on my own. I really like learning as much as I can about anything that I am working with and photography is definitely one of them.

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M: What else would you be doing if you could do anything you wanted?

A: I would really just like to record music and pass it out under a fictitious name.

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M: Got any exciting new/upcoming work?

A: Currently working on more personal work and also trying to form a studio with a few close friends so we can do more exciting work for other people!

Friends you’d like to plug?

A: Eric Ku, Steven Attardo, Tristan Ellis, Bon Duke, James Hughes

Thanks again, Alex! This was a total blast.

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