Artist Spotlight: Troy Dugas

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We are excited to present the talented artist, Troy Dugas! He creates intricate collages made up of recycled materials and vintage product labels. Describing his work and artistic process he says, “Repetition, pattern, precision, and scale are used to distract from the original purpose of the label to advertise. The essential elements of color, shape, and line are utilized in a new way and the altered context of the source material provides new meaning.”  Learn more about Troy and his artwork in the interview below.

Hometown: Duson, Louisiana

Currently Living: Lafayette, Louisiana

When did you start your career in art and what is your training?

At 18 years old I knew I wanted to be an artist. I spent 9 years in school as a very serious and determined art student until eventually graduating from Pratt Institute in 1998 with an MFA.

What did you do after school?

I was also fortunate enough to find creative work that not only allowed me to continue living in the city but provided new skills that I would eventually apply to my own work. I worked for Macy’s in-house label and enjoyed seeing the prints I developed hanging on the racks in the store. I picked up some pretty valuable skills and eventually did freelance work for Old Navy and the Gap.

Tell us about your role as the Lead Designer for Blue’s Clues

After working in fashion, I began working for Nickelodeon Digital Studios on a pre-school kids show called Blue’s Clues. I eventually became a Lead Designer for the show creating playful backgrounds and building characters from scanned textures working between the art team and animation team. I really dived deep into this world, and it certainly has had a long and lasting effect.

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When did you move to Louisiana?

All seemed to be going fine until September 11, 2011. I could see the towers on fire from my apartment window and witnessed their collapse. Going to the city each day was terrifying as I would take the L train under the river and then another train right into Time Square for work. I eventually decided that I had accomplished everything I wanted and more from going to school and living in New York.

In 2002, my partner and I found a sweet little Acadian house on the Vermillion River in a small town outside Lafayette to rent for $400 a month! I was able to get an adjunct position at the University of Louisiana, and never wanted to give up making art, I felt like I began to make the most important work of my career. My art was finally taking root. A solo show in 2003 in Lafayette cemented the work I would continue for the next 14 years.

Describe your artistic process:

Scavenging, collecting, archiving, researching, playing, drawing, designing, cutting, shredding, arranging, glueing, painting, composing, looking, borrowing, rearranging, comparing, scaling, turning, tearing, sanding, layering, isolating, lining, perfecting

Favorite piece you’ve painted to date and why?

The Fayum portrait series from 2012 – 2013 was very exciting for me. I wanted to break away from the geometric abstraction I’d perfected using product labels and to do a series of “portraits” using the same material.

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Fayum Prince part of the Fayum Portrait Series, 2012 – 2013

Describe your aesthetic in three words:

Ancient, futuristic, balances

Who inspires you personally?

My grandmothers

Who inspires you professionally?

Glenn Goldberg, Louise Despont, Benjamin Degen, and Ryan Schneider are artists I really admire.

How much preparation goes into a painting?

Some pieces require making a pieced together pattern that is then transferred to a surface and is very time consuming. The pieces I’m working on currently begin with the surface being covered first with paper material to create an all over pattern. It’s the first step in creating a history of the image that becomes realized.

Favorite location to paint/what is your studio like?

I live in a 1920’s bungalow type house right smack dab in the middle of a highway. It’s like a moat. Even though I am in the middle of town the yard is full of tropical plants, and oak and pecan trees. My partner is a Master Gardner and an all around nature lover who raises hundreds of birds in five aviaries in our back yard. It’s amazing what you can create when you are willing to live where no one else wants to.

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Troy’s backyard in Louisiana

Favorite place to vacation?

New Mexico

What would you be doing if you were not an artist?

I wonder if I could get a job at the post office.

What do you want your audience to know about your work?

I try to take risks in the work however subtle. It’s about discovery for me.

If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?

One of the homeless people I see everyday.

One thing you couldn’t live without?

Acrylic medium

What makes your work unique?

There’s a lot of variety in my work from the materials I use to the images I create. Everything is tied together by the application of those materials and my obsession with shape, pattern, and balance.

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years:

Major grants have always been a great boost professionally, financially, and personally. My goal is to hopefully qualify for a major grant in the next 5 years to help me keep going.

Browse a selection of Troy’s work currently available at the gallery:

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Purple, 30×30

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Don Antonio, 45×45

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Glowing Blue Bloom, 38×48