INTERVIEW with TODD CASEY
WHERE ARE YOU LIVING?
I live in Redding, CT with my wife Gina, and my daughter Scarlet.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?
WHAT IS A LITTLE KNOWN FACT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
I have a BFA in Communication Design with a concentration in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art & Design. I am one class away from finishing my MA in Fine Art from the Academy of Art University. I was originally going for an MFA in Animation but switched to Fine Art.
I wanted to fulfill my mom's dreams and play professional Basketball when I was a kid. She abandoned a career in basketball to raise our family. My dreams got a reality check as the Celitcs weren't going to draft a 6'1 center who averaged about 1 points and 4 rebounds per game (still waiting for the call). I played football and basketball in High School and our football team won the state tournament so I have a huge Super Bowl ring.
YOU ACTIVELY TEACH ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ONLINE, AND HAVE WRITTEN 2 BOOKS, (“THE ART OF STILL LIFE” and “THE OIL PAINTER'S HANDBOOK”), BUT YOU HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS THAT DIDN'T NECESSARILY PROVIDE SUCH A PATH. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THAT?
I was born and raised in Lowell Massachusetts which is a very blue collar city in Northern Massachusetts (bordering New Hampshire). My Dad didn't graduate high school and my mom went to community college for a semester so there was no clear path of what to do after high school.
I decided to apply for college in what seemed like a very far away city, Boston Massachusetts. My teacher in high school went to Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) and so I applied. My family encouraged me to forego the sports career and to follow something I was naturally talented in, art. I convinced my brother to go with me and in the fall of 1997, we both started college at MassArt.
At MassArt we took foundation classes that gave a broad spectrum of art so that the students could stay open minded before choosing what to go into. I was told in my reviews that I didn't have a great sense of drawing or color and that I should focus on a 3D major like industrial design or architecture. I ended up going into Illustration to learn how to draw and work on color but unfortunately Colleges don't really teach either of those two things (most). In 2005, I enrolled in Graduate school for animation at the Academy of Art University (AAU), in San Francisco CA.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY INTO THE FINE ARTS?
"Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell
In Graduate school I took a class called Heads and Hands with Warren Chang. This encounter changed my life. He and I would chat about Norman Rockwell and illustrators that we both loved and I told him of my desire to always want to paint like that. To tell stories with my art. He mentioned that I should look up the work of Jacob Collins and Max Ginsburg (and many other artists). After a year at AAU, I was unsure if I wanted to finish the degree and took time off so I headed back East to live with my family in MA.
I decided to quit graduate school so I made a plan with a friend and did a cross country trip from NY to SF to clean out my apartment. On this trip, we decided to visit artists in their studio that we admired. We visited the studios of Thomas Fluharty, Gary Kelley, Eric Tiemmens, Warren Chang, Scott Robertson, Syd Mead, Mark English, Brent Watkinson, and C.F. Payne. The last stop was NYC where we shared an apartment while I looked up all the names that these artists mentioned and pondered my future.
'We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. '” - Joseph Campbell.
Two of the artists that were frequently mentioned were Jacob Collins and Max Ginsburg. I emailed with them and began studying with Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier from 2007-2010 and privately with Max Ginsburg in his studio and at the Art Students League of New York. After I finished studying with these two artists, I got a job at Ralph Lauren (RL) full time as a Graphic Designer in 2011. This allowed me to work through all of the training by painting at night time while offering job security during the day.
In 2016, I decided to quit my job at RL and go full time painting. I felt the need to go all in on the art career but I had no clear path of where to go. I remember signing up to be an Uber Driver so I could get some income while I painted. Fortunately, things fell into place and I never had to take that job. I began teaching online and in person while painting for a show at Rehs Gallery in NYC.
This is when my career began to go places. In 2018, I proposed the book The Art of Still Life to Monacelli Studio. The book was accepted and released in 2020. It is now a best seller. This paved the way for me to write a second book which comes out in October titled The Oil Painters Color Handbook. The next book I'll write will probably be about drawing.
FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR BOOKS HAS BEEN INCREDIBLY POSITIVE. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THEM?
When I began teaching I was asked what book I recommended on still life painting. The motivation for writing the first book is the lack of a comprehensive still life book for students. So I decided to write one on all of the concepts an artist must master: setting up your studio, what to paint, composition, light, drawing, color and modeling form. The book concludes with a comprehensive step by step on putting all these concepts together in a painting.
Each one of these concepts can be elaborated on and made in their own book (which may happen). Therefore I chose to write the follow up is the color book.
In The Oil Painters Color Handbook, I tried to address all of the things that a student will need when approaching color: The Language of Color, Color Wheels, Pigments, Palettes, Color Mixing, Visual Harmony, Light, and Painting Techniques. This book was launched in October 2022, and is now available for purchase.
DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING SHOWS?
Yes I do! My editor for my two books is a gentleman by the name of James Waller. James wrote a book titled Drinkology that has sold over 70k copies worldwide. We decided to collaborate on a book project "Cocktails, A Still Life", where he wrote the stories and cocktail recipes while I did the paintings.
We brought another writer into the mix, Christine Sismondo, who has written extensively on alcohol. The book was released this past August. A show of these paintings (and more) is slated for sometime in 2023 at Rehs Gallery. More information about the book can be found here.
IF SOMEONE WANTED TO TAKE CLASSES WITH YOU OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR WORK, WHERE SHOULD THEY GO?
I love to teach and help students achieve their goals. I teach several online classes and workshops, as well as in person workshops throughout the US. My work can be found at Rehs Gallery in New York City and Simie Maryles Gallery in Provincetown. You can also find me on Patreon which is more of an access to a video library, through instagram and tiktok @toddmcasey or my website:
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK ART WITH US TODD!
Of course, thank you for having me.