We had the good fortune of connecting with Greg Newbold and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Greg, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think risks are a natural result of being alive. We take risks every day. It’s a risk to get behind the wheel of a car. It’s a risk to eat that shellfish. These days it seems like a risk to even go to the grocery store. So there’s no escaping risks. It becomes a matter of what risks will be the most beneficial. What risks are you willing to take? I will be the first to admit that I am a bit risk averse, and yet I decided to become an artist which may be one of the riskiest careers ever envisioned. And still, I jumped in with both feet with hardly a second thought regarding a backup plan. Let’s just say it was an all in move. I was determined to succeed at my art because there was really no safety net. I simply decided that I would make it work somehow. I was blessed to have a wife willing to navigate the rough times and support my efforts on this journey and celebrate the successes. I couldn’t do it without her. My career is dotted with risks. It’s was a risk to dive into freelance art full time when I got laid off the day after our second child was born. It was a risk to do my first children’s book and every book since. It was a risk to return to graduate school thirteen years later. It was a risk to consider starting over as a gallery artist after a long illustration career. But each risk taken has benefited me creatively and quite often financially. Risk becomes less scary when you have some sort of plan to work toward and some sort of demonstrable skill to push forward with. I had both, though the picture is often fuzzy around the edges. Though the plan has not always been clear, the goal of creating the best art possible has always been there. And I love to create. That’s the thing that keeps me going and the reason I look forward to getting in the studio each day to see what comes out next. Some people are afraid of the risk of putting their soul on the canvas for all to see. One wise mentor of mine sums it up this way. “The only one taking a risk with your art is the canvas.” Just create and let others decide if it’s any good.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been an artist all my life. My earliest memories are of drawing and creating. I knew by around eighth grade that I would somehow become an artist. All my passions drove me toward that goal. It has now been over twenty five years since I took the dive into a full time art career. I have worked for most of the major publishers and national clients over the years including Simon and Schuster, Random House, Scholastic Harper Collins Harcourt, Boy Scouts of America, Federal Express, Heinz Foods, Kleenex, The Wall Street Journal, Sony Pictures and Barnes & Noble. I’ve illustrated a dozen children’s picture books including three that were written by my wife Amy; If Picasso Painted a Snowman, If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur and If Monet Painted a Monster. These books introduce children to the styles of many famous artists by imagining how they might have painted each subject. These books were the most fun I have ever had illustrating picture books because each piece was a challenge. I had to digest what makes each artist unique and then create a piece of art in their style. These books give kids a wonderful introduction to the limitless options one has when creating art and gives them permission to explore and discover art on their own terms without restrictions. These are the books I am most proud of and it warms my heart whenever we get a note from a parent thanking us for what we created.these notes usually include artwork created by kids that our books inspired. Our hope is that these books continue to inspire children to explore art and its limitless possibilities and to do so with no fear. The only piece of art that is truly a failure is the one not expressed.
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.
I live in Utah. I’m a little biased, but if I had a week to road trip with a friend, I would make a loop through the unbelievable natural beauties held in the many state and National Parks that dot our state. Arches, Zion, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase Escalante, Hovenweep, Dead Horse Point, Lake Powell, Goblin Valley and Monument Valley would all be included on the tour. The only problem would be not having enough daylight to see it all and explore these incredible vistas. But I always leave wanting more anyway,, as should be the case with any rewarding adventure. I love hitting historical markers and buildings along the way, eating out of the cooler for lunches and finding the small gem eateries that every town has in the evening. It changes every time, but that’s part of the adventure. We would return footsore but filled with a camera full of memories, and for me, a wealth of new ideas to paint!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thanks to my wife Amy, my family, friends and all that inspire me and make it possible to do what I do. Thanks also to Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona and David Ericson Fine Art in Salt Lake City for championing my work.
all photos courtesy of the artist