Based in his Tribeca studio in New York City, artist Scooter LaForge has a way of cultivating beauty and love through his eclectic works of art.

Now more than ever, he believes the world needs to be filled with culture, color, and uniqueness, never shying away from bold iconic imagery or quirky randomness. LaForge has also developed a painted clothing collection that has achieved worldwide success, celebrating an electric nature and love of art. Using his art as confessional for his experiences, LaForge evokes a whole range of emotions.

You grew up in a family of artists because your mother is a singer-songwriter and your father is a painter. How did this artistic background inspire you? How do you translate this inspiration onto your work?

Scooter LaForge: When I was a child, we had a lot of beautiful paintings hanging around the house, and I looked at them all the time. My parents were friends with many artists, so I was exposed to singers, dancers, and painters since I was very young. My mom had beautiful art books. We had Georgia O’Keeffe prints from the Santa Fe Opera. All these notions stayed in my head, inspiring me to be an artist.

 Future Self Portrait #7 Oil on Canvas 16x20 2017 Future Self Portrait #7 Oil on Canvas 16x20 2017

Future Self Portrait #7
Oil on Canvas

What is the conceptual content of your artwork? What words would you use to describe your works?

Scooter LaForge: Above all, I would say my work is painterly. I am inspired by the old masters, seen through the filter of a child’s eye. My paintings take a cue from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Goya, and El Greco, applying an emphasis on texture and color to images from my day-to-day—I’m a conduit for the energy that surrounds me.

You stated that your works are like a confessional of your life. Please, can you tell us more about this?

Scooter LaForge: I paint about my life and what is going on around me. I paint a lot of my friends’ portraits. I can remember one painting which tells the story of getting into a fight with my lover. If I am happy, the painting will reflect that. I pour myself onto the canvas. I am simply channeling what is happening.

Scooter LaForge by Johnny Rozsa

Credits: Johnny Rozsa

You launched a clothing line that is very popular with celebrities. It has been worn by Madonna and Beyoncé. Do you think that fashion is art? And do you believe that art can be an inspiration in the retail industry?

Scooter LaForge: Yes, because the retail industry is so formula-driven. You have fast-fashion retailers that produce thousands of the same t shirt design. People want unique garments. This is why I think my painted clothes are so popular. People want to feel individual, to have something that is their own. If I buy a t shirt at a fast-fashion store and I see other people wearing it, I won’t want to wear it again. I like one of a kind clothes. I am grateful to have celebrities wear my clothes. A big part of it happens because I work with a very good friend of mine, Patricia Field. We’ve launched a collective called Artfashion, and I am one of eight artists she promotes. The enterprise has been quite successful. For her work in The Devil Wears Prada, Pat was nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design. She’s a New York icon. We get along and work really well together.

When people view your artwork, how do you want them to feel?

Scooter LaForge: I don’t really explain my paintings. As long as the audience has a reaction, as long as my artwork evokes a feeling, I’m happy. One day I was carrying a painting down the street, and one lady told her friend how ugly it was. I was fine with that because at least they had a reaction. I accept criticism because I can learn from it. I am thrilled with any sort of feedback.

What is the piece of artwork you most identify with?

Scooter LaForge: I identify with all of my art because it is a reflection of my emotions. Sometimes I paint very simply, sometimes I go for a more elaborate approach. All of the paintings express aspects of me. I put 100% of myself in my art.

What do you believe creates value in art?

Scooter LaForge: This is a question that has been asked for centuries. Sometimes I look at paintings I like, such as Picasso’s, and I think there is no difference in merit between his work and the work of other artists. Still, his painting are worth millions. I do not know whether the value resides in notoriety, or in the fact that he painted for so many years. I guess it depends on gallery owners and collectors. There are many talented painters.

And how do you see art evolving in the digital era with social media?

Scooter LaForge: Social media is a powerful tool for artists; they can even sell their work online without the help of a gallery. I have sold works all over the world using social media and have also gotten amazing job opportunities as a result. Learning how to market yourself online is important.

Scooter LaForge

Credits:   Johnny Rozsa

What are you most proud of in your achievements: fashion or art? And what is the career achievement you are most proud of?

Scooter LaForge: They are equal to me. I love fashion and painting on clothes. It makes me really happy to see people wearing my garments. When Beyoncé wore my painted trench coat, I looked at the pictures online. She looked so happy wearing the coat; that left a warm place in my heart. I would say my paintings on canvas and garments are one and the same. I’ve had highs and lows in my art career. I would not define a peak moment. You have moments and then move on to the next one. When I have art shows, I am planning things ahead. Many artists have exhibits and get depressed after the opening. I don’t experience this, because I keep the wave going by arranging for other projects in the future. These projects are stepping stones in my career. I’m happy as long as I keep going. I’ve been doing well and working very hard. It’s challenging to be an artist. There are hundreds in New York trying to get ahead. I feel fortunate because I can make a living by being creative. I have a beautiful studio in Tribeca where I go to paint. I am so grateful for this and for being able to inspire people. Those are definite highlights.

 It's Ok 16x20 Oil on Canvas with stuffed animal 2017

It’s Ok
Oil on Canvas with stuffed animal

Being an artist, what is your personal outlook in life?

Scooter LaForge: I like to send out an honest expression into the world. I think this is a great time for art. Where there is confusion, anger, and war, artists can underline issues and offer alternatives. Now is the time for us to promote our work and get it out there. I’ve never been busier in my life—people are more responsive. Throughout history, challenging times have strengthened artistic expression. As artists, our output is both a reflection and commentary of our times.

Pictures by Johnny Rozsa and Patricia Field

New York

Tribeca, New York, NY, USA