LA-based artist Grey Coutts is both versatile and passionate in his many artforms. From graphic design, video, abstract and collage, the young artist explores the inner psyche and flow of energy through a myriad of canvases. We wanted to learn more about the artist’s process and the importance of his work.
"Footing", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
When you start a project, do you always have an idea in mind of how it will look in the end? Or, is it a process that takes on a life of its own as it takes shape?
Most of the time when I'm working with collage, I just grab my stack of magazines and blindly jump into the process. Flipping through the pages, I start to cut out objects and colors that I like. Sometimes magic happens. It’s about being inspired by the current moment, seeing what it brings and what I can do with it.
If some of the cutouts don’t make it into my current works, I save the ones I think are special in a little flat box. For example, the leg in the collage “Footing” traveled with me for five years before finding its home. I think it’s funny how I can find value in some random leg and carry it cross-courtly to three different cities until it finally had its time to shine.
"Escape", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
What goes through your mind when creating a collage piece?
Usually, to make college I have to be in a calm state. That is the complete opposite for when I paint. I need to be seated for a long period of time, which can be hard for me. I'd say that when I am in the process of making college I am curious, excited and at peace.
"Unseent", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
Describe that process for me.
I feel free when I’m flipping and ripping papers. Or finding objects on the street that only I see value in. It’s about pulling a lot of random objects and bringing them together to make something new and meaningful.
"Secret", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
Are you ever surprised with the final outcome?
I'm not sure surprised is the word I would use. But I am usually satisfied when things work out.
Sometimes you work for hours and nothing happens. So, it is a great feeling to be in the flow, creatively exploring and actually producing quality work. That’s what an artist hopes for.
"Self Portrait, 2020", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
Is there one piece you feel especially connected to?
Yes. the collage that I’ve included for this interview titled “Self Portrait.” I remember making this collage right at the start of the quarantine. I was in a really relaxed state working in my bedroom and the creativity was just flowing out of me. When I finished, I took a step back and it felt like I was looking into a mirror. This happens sometimes. It's rare but when I get that feeling I know that the piece is extra special.
You may look at the collage and say, “how the hell is that a self-portrait?” But at that time in 2020 it depicted my current state and also a few things I was searching for, and still in search of today. Cryptic I know.
"Camouflage Love", 7in x 10in, by Artist Grey Coutts
You often explore mental health, spirituality and energy in your work. I know this is a delicate subject. especially after the year we’ve all had. Did you find that your work took on a whole new meaning and importance this past year?
I was very productive during the pandemic. I was able to explore and focus on new mediums and my classic ones. I think the pandemic influenced my work by making me go within myself more. Spending a lot of time with myself allowed me to create some pieces that reflected my inner state. You can see from the body of work shown that I dive into the topics of love, meditation, grounding and the feeling of unnoticed.
When do you find you are most creatively inspired?
I wish there was an easy answer to this question. All the pieces I’m showcasing for this interview were made right when quarantine hit. I think what inspired them was the fact that I was confined to a single space. The stress of the world was at an all-time high, yet I was gratefully content in my house. I think it allowed me to get into the zone. My creativity is triggered by all types of emotion.
If you could create a piece for anyone in the world, who would that be? and why? What would it look like?
Really random, but I’ve always wanted to make a piece for Miley Cyrus. It would be a mixed media painting. I feel like she is a free spirit and loves the weird and bright colors. The painting would be full of color, random eyeballs and some collage elements. There are plenty of other people, but she came to mind first.