Forest Stearns, Draw Everywhere

Forest Stearns is a force of nature; his email is draweverywhere at gmail, for crying out loud. “Animals of California”, a presentation of Forest’s drawings and paintings, will be premiering on Saturday night at Zza’s Wine Bar. Being fresh off the Playa, I am sure Forest will be his high-octane self. I can’t wait to hang out with him again.

Obi: By way of biography, where do you come from and what is your art training? Have you always been a drawer? What has been your experience in showing your work?

Forest: I was born the only child of artistically adventurous parents in the vast jungle of the Sierra Nevada. Spending a lifetime with drawing tool in hand, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I came by my passion for art naturally, growing up in the home studio of my mother Dianne Stearns. With a prolific artist and teacher as a mother, I was empirically educated in the daily life of the fine artist. My father Ron also bestowed in the focus and attention of a craftsman as an expert builder of fine cabinetry. Between very supportive parents and a strong peer group, I was primed for my first steps into the art world.

From AA degrees at Columbia Junior College to a BFA at Humboldt State University, my fine art bloomed to a prolific explosion of productive creative works. Empire Squared, a monstrous art group, was founded in my Humboldt apartment and grew in to a full-blown art gallery and workspace. It became a non-profit community organization of over 30 contributing members and continues to have monthly art shows. By participating in and curating over 80 months of exhibitions in and out of Humboldt County, my professional connections turned a corner to the commercial side of art. Building a diverse client list from the likes of Amoeba, Warner Bros, Tower Records, Universal, and Four Letters Clothing made me want to develop my talents with a first-class art education. After graduating from Humboldt State University and spending a semester abroad in Greece, I spent my time doing commercial work, sharing graffiti/street art and teaching art at Arcata Arts Institute. Humboldt County has a glass ceiling and one freelance job really made the difference in my career, illustrating multimedia watercolors for a children’s book The Wonderful Adventures of Ozzie the Sea Otter.  I was so inspired by the production of a children’s book that I decided to attend graduate school for illustration at the Academy of Art University in 2007.

Obi: What projects have you been involved in lately and what’s coming up next?

Forest: It has been a year since I graduated with honors from a Masters of Fine Art program at the Academy of Art University, and I have been on the exhilarated art hustle every day since class ended. I am fully immersed in illustrating books, making toys, designing clothing, doing live art, and producing fine art shows. I am just back this week from painting many large murals for Burning Man at Black Rock City. Last month I was flown down to the Pacific Fest in OC to represent Deviant Art by painting a huge live art piece. I am currently working as Art Director and Head Illustrator for Fatbol Clothing company out of Humboldt, among other freelance illustration jobs. My future moves are to continue to develop my client base, talent, and epic adventures in art so I can do the type of work I love the most for the clients who will pay and appreciate it the most. DRAWEVERYWHERE, always. Between projects, I am always willing to have adventures, enjoy a good meal with laughing friends, and be the embodiment of DRAWEVERYWHERE.

Obi: What about these animals? Where did the inspiration come from for the book?

Forest: Animals of California – a series of painted illustrations anthropomorphizing selected animals of California, to be released as a set of children’s books. Viewers are drawn in by the fun, contemporary style, which gives distinct personality to each animal. The set of painted animal characters depict the diversity of California’s geographic regions and wildlife. The inspiration for the project came from my upbringing in the mountains. I was constantly out exploring the woods and found inspiration in the local fauna for artworks. Working in the children’s books vein in graduate school I noticed that most kids in the city where I had moved had no connection to their natural surroundings. By using multiple media, the illustrations are accessible to a variety of viewers, all with the intention of entertaining and educating the viewers both young and old, this work encourages a consideration of animals and a deeper connection to the natural world.

Zza’s is at 550 Grand Ave. Oakland. We will be there from 6pm to 9pm on Sat, Sept 17th. Saturday. Any more questions? call or text me: obi kaufmann 925.951-7501

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