We had the good fortune of connecting with Galen Gibson-Cornell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Galen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My dream has always been to make a living creating my own artwork. No boss- just me doing my thing, and able to live a comfortable, modest, and exciting life because of it. I didn’t think it was possible even coming out of graduate school, which was very discouraging. But thanks to a fortunate series of events and a great and supportive community of artists, friends, and fellow hustlers out here in Philadelphia, I began to see a path towards sustainability as an artist, and what you can visualize you can do…
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m interested in everyday “low” materials. Street posters and paper that build up and litter the walls of many of the world’s cities. They are sort of a “dazzling junk” – coming in hot and fading quickly into dumpsters and landfills. I try to slow them down and figure them out – I collect scraps of paper from walls, and then in my studio I spend enormous amounts of time and energy slicing, weaving, and reanimating these scraps of paper trash into (hopefully) very captivating and interesting compositions. I think somehow it’s a perfect form of self actualization for me. In some ways I’m a curious and quiet observer of the world, so I explore cities alone and try to learn. But I’m also spirited and loud and complicated, and I think that’s the power of my work. The things I make appear studious and thoughtful, and at the same time they pop out with stunning color and optically frazzled pattern. I’m basically trying to create moments of pure communication between the parts of you and me that like things subconsciously. If I can improve your life for a hot second with something I’ve done, then I feel my best.
My path to this moment has been a really rigorous one. It’s unbelievebly hard to scratch out a living making artwork, or really anything else that doesn’t have beaten path already in front of it. But I believe that if I can be both honest and generous in what I do, then I’m adding something purely positive to the world, and that’s a path that’s worth trailblazing…
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friend was visiting me here in Philadelphia I would start us out at my home base – the famed Globe Dye Works – an old factory building that is refurbished and home to around 40 small businesses and creative families. It’s a gem, and full of cool people and interesting stories. I’d crack a wine bottle from my modest collection and we’d explore the building and stopping for snacks with my pals in the building. Then I’d honestly just take them on a segmented walking tour of the city! I love quite a few of the various neighborhoods, and all of them have good restaurants and things to see. That’s always my jam in a city – just divide things up and see it all!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Stacey Lee Webber and Joseph Leroux, artists and my Gallerists at Bertrand Productions. They are a true Power Couple, and they make the world go around in our corner of NE Philadelphia. I’m really indebted to them because they were my connection to this vibrant community of makers and artists that I’ve managed to fit very nicely into. They are so helpful and supportive, and are constantly scheming ways to make everyone’s lives better. On top of that, they are dear friends, and they are a blast to wine and dine with.
Other: https://www.bertrandproductions.com My Gallery website and Online Shop.
I’m the photographer for these. We can mention that Bertrand Productions is the gallery in the Installation shots