“The day is very elastic, and yet it’s structured,” says artist Geoff McFetridge, as he gives me a tour of his studio, located in the Atwater neighborhood of Los Angeles, near Silver Lake. He moved into this two-story building ten years ago, and with the help of architect Barbara Bestor, transformed it into a light-filled comfortable space. “A guy was living here with ten cats when I found it,” he says. “Barbara cut four big squares into the sides of the building, creating windows, and one big square in the floor to better connect the two levels.” The renovation included removing walls and providing access to the adjacent parking lot, where Geoff works on large canvases.
The studio’s best light is in the painting room, where Geoff creates canvases in layers, using a high-volume low-pressure (HVLP) spray gun for dark colors, and a brush for lighter ones. With each layer, he can tell if the piece is holding together. If it starts to look detached, it’s because of the colors, and he has to start over. “Errors happen in the planning,” he says.
In addition to painting, Geoff has designed fabrics, wallpapers, films, clothing, books and toys. “I really have only a few ideas but they can be applied to many different mediums.” To afford himself the freedom to do anything, he calls himself a graphic designer. “Even at the beginning of my career, I wanted to create a way of working that was really diverse.”
As part of his creative process, Geoff invites people, so to speak, into his studio, and his social channel of choice is Instagram. “Sharing my work online has been a big change for me,” he says. “I can share things that previously only my assistant and I saw before. It helps people understand my work, and it’s more truthful than a static website.”
The people in his paintings are drawn mostly from memory but he admits that the women all have an essence of his wife, who he sketches when they’re sitting on the beach. “As I’m drawing people, I’m trying to figure out what they’re thinking about,” he says. And yet, while there’s emotional content in his work, he also sees these figures as logos. They’re familiar but not specific, similar to how a letter or number might be. “The figures are blobby, with boxy haircuts and flat shoes, and they often have no faces. There’s a point of disappearance and legibility that I like playing with.”
“In my work I’m trying to find a sort of clarity,” says Geoff. “I’m trying to capture unattainable thoughts, things that can’t be captured any other way but through drawing.” His work is inward-looking but it also feels familiar, suggesting that this talented artist is tapping into something that’s unspoken but universal.