We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary V. Lett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gary V., can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The business that I engage in, I’ve been doing so from childhood, although, through the years I’ve acquired additional skills. As a kid, drawing and painting were my passions, and through years I developed skills in ceramics, mold making, and computer graphics just to list the profitable ones!
Sign painting was the first art related type of work that I was paid to do. Although, the first signage I remember painting was the word “Rat,” on what seem to have been be a discarded half of an oil drum that I used as a garage to cover my non-motorized Go-Cart made of two-by-four studs. And as an eighth grader my uncle, Don, hired me to paint the name of his Gospel group, “The Mighty Tones of Joy”, on the tail end of their 64 Grand Prix touring vehicle. That started my work for hire at a tender age. As a kid I never worried about not making money, because whenever I needed it, I relied on my sign painting skills to supply my needs. Therefore, in reality, I’ve always had an art business. Wherever I went, my business went with me! In the 1980’s I started my own graphic arts business as a result of freelancing during my full-time employment with World Vision, US.
It was after leaving the graphic arts business, my primary occupation, when I decided to become a working artist within the fine art world. Aging is the main factor that helped push me to work harder towards my passion of fine art. Presently I teach art, do commissions, graphics, and answer Request For Proposals /RFP’s.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My form of art is not pigeonholed. The use of this verb is not to be condescending to any artist, but used rather to show that my art forms and media use, over my career, have been diverse.
There are many successful artists: monetarily and in popularity, who’s career have been based on a continuous style and medium. Whereas, not every work that I produce shouts… art made by, Gary V. Lett!
The fact that I enjoy working with my hands translate into my art making, in which, I am physical there as well. Therefore, my energy contribute to my need to work in mediums that require movement and exhorting it. So much so, that I said to a fiend: “when I work on projects that extends for months at a time and which require constant movement, I shed weight.” It appeared that she didn’t believe me, because, it was after I had installed in ceramic tile mural, and she saw me, she said, “You do lose weight after your major projects, don’t you!”
We all know the phase, “Goal Setting,” as part of the lexicon for all high achievers. In 2010, I set a goal of putting on a one-man art show featuring 12 ceramic biblical sculptures in the year 2012, and so I did! Although the show was a financial bust, I’m still proud that it happened in spite of living off a very meager income over those two plus years!
It was my graphic art profession and not my fine art that I raised and provided a living to support my family. My wife, Lisha, of 42 years, was receiving a small disability insurance payment and remained as a stay at home mother over the course of our two son’s formal education. Financially, it was very rough for us. I did various odd jobs in addition to graphic freelance and other art related projects just to make ends meet! Lisha, held the home front down while I went out to bring home the beacon, and she was the type to cook it too!
I am art and art is me; from how I dress, prepare a meal, organize our home, and more. Although I work in various art mediums and styles, one thing people say once they realize that it is my work, “I can believe that, Gary, did it”! There is a certain quality and aesthetics that people pick up on. In all my work I strive for excellence.
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.
Here in southern California there are so many places to enjoy, and when and where I decide to visit depends on the season, For all guests that I have, I do what they like. If it’s winter and they like to ski are visit the snow, we’d have to drive about 35 minutes North to Mt High ski resort for the day; If it’s the desert they like, would drive just under 50 minutes East to Palm Springs for a day of shopping and dinner. Or, if they like the ocean we would drive an hour and half minutes West to Santa Barbra and stop in on some quaint communities and window shop and have dinner on the pier. And every vacation near, Tinsel Town, comes with a trip to Holly Wood and Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive. If they want to, we’ll do Disneyland, it’s only 25 minutes South.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I recognize, acknowledge, and accept the very presence of a Higher Power within everything and everybody: some call it God, Mother Nature, the Man upstairs, etc. I refer to it as, The Most High, and genderless!
My parents were not educated people, and did not push for their children to become such. From childhood on through my formal education, they never discouraged my interest in art, and they would always refer to me as the artist of the family. Unlike many of the children that I’ve had the pleasure to teach art as extra curriculum, up until High School, I gain my training through regular school courses, friends, and personal development.
As a very active and concerned parent in the overall education of our sons’, Vincent and Victor and Lisha’s two youngest siblings, when I think back on my elementary school days, I do so with mixed emotions! As a recognizable artistic child, my teachers may have encouraged that gifting and passion to the detriment to my academic acumen. In assessing, over the years, my struggle with spelling and writing I wonder if I would be better at both if my teachers had pushed or encouraged me more in those areas? I admit, I had a stubbornness about me, maybe letting me do more art projects and less academics ways their ways keeping me inline and controlled?
In spite of where I am in all things relative to my life, I must recognize, Mrs. Frederick, my sixth-grade teacher for pulling my reins of stubbornness into submission! As a class leader: a good example or not, my peers followed my lead, and Mrs. Frederick knew it! She got the entire class to write more by stopping me from doing any drawing unless I wrote about all that I draw. What she had done was turn us all into illustrators. And by her doing so, I won the sixth-grade book writing contest. My winning prize was the book, “Where Wield Things Are”.
So, in hindsight, I wonder if less art and more academics, early on, would have help positioned my families’ life better?
Third-in-line, I must acknowledge my High School art teacher, Mr. Finch for pushing to not only be the best possible artist, but a caring and compassionate human being. And forth, the Upward Bond program for exposing me to higher education program at various colleges and the experiences to see what life as like in beautiful scenic locations such as Yosemite and the beaches.
You can find me at:
Facebook: Gary Lett