“Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” is a year-long painting-a-day project that documents the internal and external ups and downs of our shared everyday experiences by exploring concepts such as purpose, love, faith, ego, relationships, sex, dependency, and genuine (but hard-earned) happiness. Every day in 2014 I thoughtfully ideated, sketched and painted an original conceptual painting. Each new work was virtually exhibited every morning via social media (Instagram @scottpatt) and 100 Limited Edition archival prints of each piece are available here on scottpatt.com. Over 365 days, I created 369 paintings and thousands of ideas in over 800 pages of 7 sketchbooks.
On June, 25th, 2015 “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” culminated in a socially curated physical exhibition at Winston Wächter Fine Art in NYC informed via “likes”, print purchases and favorites from throughout the year long project. Over 150 original paintings were on view as well as larger works inspired by the project and two new sculpture series. A commemorative book documenting the story and chronology of all 369 pieces was created. for more information contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview with Scott Patt
Bigger Smaller Funnier. Even the name evokes irony and sarcasm. What does it mean to you? And what is this project to you - in your simplest of terms.
“Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” literally came from a wall inside a footwear factory in China. In this one factory we would develop at there were these inspirational quotes written on the walls of the building to inspire the workers. Some were about innovation, some about craft and then there was this one wall that just said, Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. Lost in translation... 12 years later, last November I pulled out the photo of that wall one night and stared at it for a while. It made total sense to me...Thatʼs what I needed in my life... Bigger, doing more of what I desire to do and making things more meaningful. Smaller, doing less of what I donʼt want to do and cutting out the shit and Funnier, simply laughing and smiling more. Not only did it become the title for the project but it became the grounding principle behind the project and a bit of a daily mantra when I make new pieces.
The undertaking of a-piece-a-day project is quite ambitious. Why such a principle in this project and how has that process and effort been for you and your work?
The short answer is to do something Bigger. Smaller. Funnier! I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something, meaningful, worth sharing and ridiculous. I wanted to make a massive body of work/sketches/ideas that reflect every day life, something that could be shared/exhibited in new ways, that could connect on a larger scale and do it in a (reasonably) intelligent way. But I needed it to be epic. I wanted a quest that would stir shit up, push me and help guide me to more meaningful work.
I kept thinking back to the crazy time I entered a bodybuilding contest when I was 19 to help me lose weight. I dieted and trained like a beast twice a day for an entire year to get ready for that show. There is no such thing as partial commitment when youʼre about walk through a curtain to pose (practically) naked in front of a crowd of strangers, but I did it. I lost 100lbs in one year through insane hard work and I competed in the show in an electric blue trunks while posing to “Still loving you” by the Scorpions. I needed that kind of ridiculous in my life.
Having a rare sneak peak of your sketchbook for this project - describe the thoughts and effort, the frustration or inspiration found in there - an undeniable work in itself - produced well before the finished pieces we see.
Yes, the sketchbooks are pretty inspiring unto themselves. Theyʼre unintentionally pretty in that they are a beautiful mess of verbiage, color and visual ramblings. I could see how theyʼd be perceived to be a bit mad out of context.
As far as the process behind the books, Iʼve always been a bit of a collector so itʼs second nature for me to take photos of things that inspire me, or pick up ephemera that connects to some deeper meaning in my life. Or simply overhearing parts of a conversation, words out of context can be very poetic and powerful. Iʼm always jotting things down into my phone or on scraps of paper. Iʼm always collecting and working on something. The sketchbooks are a bit of a chicken and egg scenario where sometimes a concept or idea happens before an image and visa versa. But regardless Iʼm always looking for some kind of payoff for the viewer, something to change my/their day and make me/them think. I get a lot of joy out of the visual and verbal relationship between things, as well as the interplay and rhythm between words.
Usually two to three times a week Iʼll sit down and cull together my scraps and ideas into my sketchbooks. Iʼve got active lists of ideas that havenʼt fully maturated yet and certain images I want to use but donʼt know where or how just yet. Sometimes, Iʼll also just sit down and write out things that have been important to me on a particular day or week. Just regular stuff, things about relationships, the news, family, fears, loves, holidays, whatever, the things we all experience the things we all can relate to. Occasionally during this process I get stuck on a word and just canʼt let it go. One time I was out in Desert in California and just got stuck on the word “Desert” and the family of words it travels with and what they mean to each other. I repeated the word so much it became lyrical and ended up making a song about the desert and desserts which ended up into a couple pieces.
Usually Iʼll sit on ideas for a bit, but when Iʼve got some roughs that I enjoy I turn them into paintings. Each piece is the same size, roughly 4.25” x 3”, I chose that size because itʼs a dynamic proportion and itʼd be reasonable to execute a lot of them. It was really important to me when I started the project that my work be
less perfect. Iʼve done a lot of fetish finish art, pieces with absolutely pristine surfaces, high gloss, which I love but I wanted to approach this from a less precious place and treat the pieces as sketches, works in progress. In some ways I am letting people into a very intimate part of the process I normally donʼt like to share because the ideas are not fully finished. Itʼs not only opened me up to taking more risks but itʼs becoming a great mechanism for vetting ideas for future collections.
Seems obvious in hindsight, but whatʼs been an evolutionary revelation for me about the project is that Art is in the living. Without our experiences in life there is nothing to create or express. Itʼs the epic adventures to new places or mundane trips to the store where it happens. Not in the studio. To me the studio is the refinery for the great things that happen in our lives and things we want to share with the world. Iʼve used the studio as a shelter in the past and this is a behavior I desire to change. The content for the project revolves around how we connect to the world, each other, the things around ourselves. We all have this in common. We all might do it differently as individuals but there are common themes and ideas that we all relate to and thatʼs what matters. The Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. things!
Is this work conceived as an true album of work; with each piece integral to the fore and later ones - where a story is being formed and each piece is a page? Or is this simply happenstance inspired from the mood or events of the day?
Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. reads as a true album in that itʼs a selectively curated year of independent thoughts, experiences, memories, and happenings. Each week I very purposefully choose what pieces are selected for each day based on the day of the week it is. For example, Monday is usually a ball buster so Iʼll put something up to help inspire myself and others or give ʻem a good laugh to get the week going. Wednesdays are usually about getting over the proverbial “hump”. Fridayʼs require a little something to inspire the weekend, where as a Saturday and Sunday can be more contemplative depending. Regardless of the day of the week, there is always a story, even if itʼs a couple words there is a reason behind each piece. Many of them relate to really important moments in my life or things that have happened to me. Iʼve got a lot of trust for people so that naivety has gotten me into some pretty interesting situations wherever Iʼve gone but it makes for some pretty great stories.
Can you recount a few of your personal favorites in the collection thus far - whether in the finished piece or the process to get there?
LOVERS LOVING LOVERS LOVE –who doesnʼt love getting love.
YOU ARE THE ONE – I love this simple yet empowering saying, Iʼve been doing pieces with it for years. No oneʼs gonna do it for you!
CAMO MAKES IT COOL – Itʼs ironic.
STAY WILD - Who doesnʼt like bushy palm trees. Great magazine btw.
THOUGHT LEADER - because I know a lot of dicks
GOD IS LOVE - because itʼs so charged with meaning and people get so passionate about it. For me it redefines God and makes it more universal. Thatʼs important.
ME X ME – this oneʼs funny to me because of the partnership and collab world I use to be a part of. I love a good collaboration.
TO DO LIST,START A BRAND (START A BAND) – just funny. Every post art grads plan.
HIGH WASTED PANTS – high waisted pants are gross. Horribly unflattering to a woman. This is my protest.
FUCK YOU IʼM NOT SENSITIVE – Because I am.
RELAX – I love it because sometimes relaxation can be so unattainable.
SH.....IT – It was a great piece for the moment. There was (and still is) a lot of horrible stuff going on in the world. Seemed like the simplest expression for a messed up time. And I got to pay homage to the Electric Company.
THIS IS ART HISTORY – Our cultural metabolic rate is so fast that after youʼve seen something for a split second and itʼs gone in the feed. Itʼs history. Saw it. Itʼs over.
And of course I love BIGGER. SMALLER. FUNNIER.
A detour from your typically refined, bold and inquisitive gallery exhibitions - Bigger. Smaller. Funnier is clearly an accessible Limited Edition (100) Print Collection with pieces offered at $25.
Why the conscience shift in medium as well as approachability? And, has this specific facet of the project, its sociability, even inspired the work or evolved Scott Patt the artist - how so?
Yes, the democratization art for this project was a huge consideration for me. I spent almost 20 years as a designer (footwear, brand, apparel) working for greats like Giorgio Armani, Nike, and Converse. I was a part of a instigation of Sneaker Culture at Nike in the early 2000ʻs. As the Global Creative Director of footwear for Converse I created the largest sneaker collaboration project ever at with the 1HUND(RED) Artists program. As well, Iʼve had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing and wonderful creatives of our time. That
experience was amazing for many reasons but one of the greatest things about that job was coming to understand the concept of democracy in regards to the things we purchase or attach ourselves to. Next to Coca Cola the Chuck Taylor All Star Sneaker is probably one of the most democratically consumed objects on our planet. Whatʼs special about the Chuck is that the counter culture rebelliousness that product stands for is accessible to everyone. Everyone can go out and get a piece of “fuck you” at a reasonable $50 to make it what they want. Or if they want something more exclusive for their sensibilities they can go out and get the super limited edition “X”. Itʼs high and low business and everyone can play! I love this! Artists have been pioneering this business model for the last 20 years and opportunities are only broadening as digital commercial networks continue to arise. Itʼs a great compliment to the Gallery system where artists can grow their base introducing new people to their work through accessible price points and still create limited larger works and projects for patrons and gallery partners, etc. Itʼs simply about creating a well-rounded business model as an artist.
The idea of democracy is equally important in relation to the growth of an artistʼs community and support network. I had been thinking a lot about how as an artist I can spend 4-6 months getting ready for a show, in a studio, alone. Then have an opening for one night where if your lucky a couple hundred people see the work and then for the next 30 days you get the occasional local, tourist and the clientele of the gallery. Thatʼs amazing but it isnʼt tapping into the full potential of what new media can do in regards to building connectivity with other artists, fans, patrons, new galleries, etc. I loved the idea that Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. could be a living gallery that starts socially via Instagram and Facebook, as well as digitally on scottpatt.com. And what is typically the first life for work within the gallery will be Bigger. Smaller. Funnierʼs second life, when itʼs viewed in a physical environment in conjunction with new larger works stemming from the over 365 sketches throughout the year. Itʼs building momentum!
With over 100 pieces behind you - and still 100+ to go - how does your personal artistic fortitude, ongoing enthusiasm and even stamina come into play?
Ha. Every week my stamina and fortitude gets challenged with the project. Itʼs exhausting! Itʼs a funny (haha and ironic) thing in that I made up the project so how can I complain about it. Yeah, itʼs a lot of work but the reward has been great. Every day I learn something new about myself, my process, my relationships, my confidence or lack of confidence, everything! The most challenging piece isnʼt necessarily the art but itʼs the ideas. Each piece is introspective and has a story. So thatʼs 365 stories to conceptualize, write and create. But I just try to take them one at a time and parallel them with the days Iʼm living and the experiences Iʼm having.
Another huge factor is my wife, Lisa DeJohn. Sheʼs an amazing artist, whoʼs work is super smart and fun so she gets it. Sheʼs my biggest fan and supporter. Sheʼs always there to look at sketches and bounce ideas off of. Without her Iʼm sure I would let some real turds out the door. She letʼs me know when Iʼm smellinʼ my own shit. Her support is pretty tireless!
This is an undertaking to say the least. On day 366 - what happens, speaking for the project and for yourself?
On day 366 I will not be posting anything. I will not be thinking about ideas for posts. I will not be sharpening pencils, drawing in sketch books, filling up brush jars, taping off paintings, over-thinking things or bothering my wife with ideas.
On day 367 Iʼm going to start prepping for my 2015 Summer NYC exhibition of the Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. works. Thatʼll includes a book documenting the project and process. As well, Iʼm working on a collection of larger works and sculptures from the program. The good news is thereʼs no shortage of ideas to work with. Ultimately, the thing Iʼm most excited about was the goal from the start, to do something Bigger. Smaller. and Funnier. Thatʼs happening.