Marc Stamas

Artist Q&A with Marc Stamas

A born and raised New Yorker whose work has graced the pages from some of the most respectable outlets from around the world: from fashion, modeling campaigns, catalogs, celebrity, sports, et cetera. Marc’s been a professional photographer for most of his career and his motto is short and sweet, ‘I just want to shoot better tomorrow than I did today.’ But it was around 15 years ago that he moved into art, and I’ve had the pleasure to work with him at one of my galleries. I remember what he wrote in his bio, ‘People call me an Artist. I believe I’m more of a poet paying tribute to Rembrandt; dark, chiaroscuro with the use of my camera and brushes.’ That’s when I realized that he was hiding something about his art, and the pain was quite obvious within his body of work, and every time I would try and get him to open up, he would just walk away almost in tears and whisper, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about the art.’

“Mon Amour”, mixed media, 20 x 27 | 51 x 67 cm, 2010

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

It should be you; you should be focused on you and nothing else. But if you want to know two artists that I can relate to: one is Monet, but Rembrandt is where I hide, where the true artist comes alive.

How did you become a professional artist?

By people believing in my work, my words and discipline. All I ask is to be left alone. Is that asking too much while I do what I do best? But with all of my success it meant nothing to me, while the world around me came crashing down as tragedy has a way that brings out true passion and expression. You start to see things that you’ve never seen before, while pealing the layers of love and scars that represents how far a woman will show her love and protective side for her lover, while maintaining her elegance and grace on the outside. And since that day, I have remained silent and when people ask me about my work, I softly whisper, ‘Do you see what I can’t see?’

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

If you need outside sources to help you create a piece of art. Then to me, you’re not an artist. You should have already seen what it will become before you started. I’ve experienced everything one could imagine in this business of art and photography, and your profession should be one in the same: it has to be a part of you; it should define you, and not by others. This is who I am, and too many times we see these fake personas: people compromising themselves in order to please others to fit the narrative; something they are not, and not being true to oneself. Redundant? Maybe? Harsh? No! I’m a realist! Are you?

Marc Stamas, age five. Photo by Perry Stamas.

How is your work different from everything else out there?

I remember my first review with a New York Times and he wrote, ‘Occasionally, an ongoing series will come along and touch you so deeply that you’ll never be the same.’ In the end, I asked him not to print the article because my work was too painful for those to truly see past the scars, too its true beauty, and that people don’t deserve to see my art nor know who I am. He understood that I was protecting my work, and my own pain. I can respect him for that.

When is a piece finished for you?

When I put away my tools.

What’s different about your current body of work?

Nothing. I’m always consistent, and when I see people leave with tears in their eyes after spending a few minutes discussing my work with them. It somehow makes me happy, but it brings me back to that dark place, that tragic day.

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?

Well, this is a two-part answer. First, being a professional photographer as well as an artist, it allowed me to be surrounded by the likes of fashion designers, models, Hollywood, and the art world. Name them; I was around with those people from a very young age, and if there was a party, I’d be there. But what affected me the most was that the people I covered, I always gave them their privacy and treated them with respect. In return that gave me all the access I needed, and the resources to privately sell my work to those who truly understood me while bypassing art galleries at the time. To my surprise, I was taken back by the number of people who reached out to me to have my work added to their collections.

Second, I had my first gallery showing in New York City, a very respectable gallery and Shepard Fairey was the main event, only for his work to be moved and replaced with mine. That really gave me the confidence and guess who was the gallery manager at the time? If you said Robert Berry, you’re correct. He was quite professional with me, and passionate about the arts while he pointed you in the right direction. On top of that, the gallery owners were as supportive to me as Robert was. Everything and I mean everything moved at the speed of light. Let me share something with you. I was completely blindsided with everything that was going on from the coordination, staging, and the never ending running around. It was so overwhelming that I almost didn’t make it to my opening. I believe we had less than two weeks to put everything together – and someone, cough, cough had to call me and remind me to get my butt down to the gallery. I was like, ‘Was that today?’

“Veil”, mixed media, 24 x 16 in | 60 x 41 cm, 2010

What’s coming up for you?

2021 will have a significant impact for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop what you’re doing, right? All I can say is keep moving forward, and for better or worse, it will never stop me from creating. But I’m wondering as I finish this part of my interview, will you just sit back and make excuses, or get up and do what you love?

 What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

I could say to go figure it out yourself. But this time, I’ll share a few of my experiences. Again, I’m being truthful. You have to be mature and realize that your goal to make this a full-time career that pays the bills will most likely never happen. Can you accept that? But, if you are able to somehow pull this off, then you have to understand the business and be prepared for an uphill battle. Nobody will help you unless you become a commodity, and I fully agree with that because in the end, it’s a business just like anything else. Just try and put yourself in the shoes of a gallery owner. Be honest, be smart, fight for what you want, and be realistic with the path you choose. And the most important thing to remember is that it’s crucial to give back to the next generation of young artists!

Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?

No one. No matter how successful you are or not, I believe that artists are never appreciated, and that every artist that you can imagine ends in tragedy. Can you live with that? It’s pretty discouraging if you ask me.

Tell me one thing that best describes you.

Never regret anything that makes you smile.

“Questions”, mixed media, 24 x 16 in | 60 x 41 cm, 2010

To learn more about Marc and his work, please visit www.ProtectiveLove.com.