Greg Carter has a unique artistic vision often only be found in the fringes of the underground art scene. And living in an region that is steeping in hometown sensibilities, his artistic presence can sometimes seem downright alien. But in the best ways. Don’t think for a moment that he just specializes in the bizarre and the grotesque, though there’s plenty of that, but at its heart the relentless pursuit of his vision has yielded many examples of his diverse sense of humor and the indulgences of his childlike heart.
When I asked him about his vast range of concepts and choices of mediums in our recent interview he simply said he was easily “bored.” and “That total engagement is something that I demand of myself, and when I cannot deliver that I know it is time for me to be doing something else where that will happen.”
That said, since Greg’s career has already had a series of significant creative arks, let’s stay focused on much of his early-to-mid-career artwork. Not only because I personally love this time frame, but more of his current projects can already be found online.
In the article from Alternating Crimes 1, Greg Carter’s work at the time were described as “Greg’s images are no doubt influenced by his extensive training in fine art, making his images somewhat idiosyncratic for this new medium. ‘On one level a spoof of science-fiction and technophilic world views, (Carter’s work) is often so esoteric in its tone that you’re not quite sure what it all means’ (quoted from Magellan’s Internet Guide). To help in interpretation Greg has included the stories he develops when creating the work, as the image evolves the story evolves, co-dependent on each other for meaning, and they may or may not be of use to you in interpreting this work for your-self. The works in this portfolio are studies for digital paintings, all done in scratchboard, a very non-hip traditional medium. The works all explore the expressionist premise that the civility of any social interaction ‘is a skintight veneer that is easily scratched, revealing a less than pleasant true nature’. Exploring the depths of the adult world, he returns again and again to the issues of equality domination, and conformity. But most often, his characters battle with the vague sense of a menace that is beyond one’s control. ‘Putting a face on that specter is at the root of my images.’”
You’ll notice reaching past this early period, while the creative spirit remains intact, predictably, his choice of subjects and mediums continued to evolve. For the following years you can see how the work becomes more focused on exploring the corners of the digital realm and fine tuning his stylistic approach. During this time, I see a fairly broad journey through what seems like a meandering of approaches that quickly begin to culminate into the next ark of work. Aspects of Greg’s art could be described as being humorous, colorful, highly stylized and applied using a plethora of digital and real-world mediums.
I believe you can also see during this same period some influence from doing work-for-hire creative. Considering his relentless pursuit of creative expansion, it’s not surprising he would say in our interview that “I found myself being asked to do versions of: ‘the worker breaking out of the cubicle’, ‘technology challenging the worker’, etc. over and over and over. This is not a scenario that I am that interested in depicting week in and week out.”
I’d say the commercial world’s loss is the art world’s gain. But it does appear that those efforts did have real world results, as a series of high profile projects on a local level was followed by a series of solo gallery shows that have made him a sought out artist in our region. If you want to see what I mean don’t shy away from his newer work.
One of the projects that I recently discovered, with some delight, is Greg’s dive into the world of sequential art in his book “The Unwanted Guest.” The original synopsis reads “A fantastic journey through an imaginative world where all creatures grow, great and small, and wild and a little nervous. When Amy’s farm is accosted by an unwanted visitor, Stinky P, she must deal out “pest control”, or others will take harsher measures to eliminate Stinky P.”
While it does not seem to reference anywhere that this as a kid’s book, and perhaps purposefully, considering some of it’s adult themes, the narrative style and simply-structured plot does enhance the notion that it is Greg’s exact intent. I won’t give anything away, but it was a fun read laced some dark concepts, and a must for anyone that is a fan of adult-themed kid’s book. That said there is nothing about it that would be strictly prohibitive for older kids to see or experience. Especially those made of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.
I know I do. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Greg.