Interview with artist Dave Choate

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Dave Choate, a very talented artist.

I don’t exactly remember when and how I discovered his Twitter account but I remember as it was yesterday I thought “wow, just… wow”. I love his style and I wanted to interview him and share his work with you all.

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Bo Jackson (artwork by Dave Choate)

(NOTE: you can find the Italian version of this interview here

Raiders Italia: Who is Dave Choate?

Dave Choate: I’m a self taught Artist who started his painting career in his early 40’s. Previously I sold residential real estate and it allowed me the time to pursue my hobby as a painter. When the economy crashed in 2008 I had only completed 5 or 6 paintings and I wasn’t sure if I could survive on painting alone as I really didn’t personally know any painters who did it more than as a hobby like myself. Fortunately with some hard work, skipping meals, and sacrifice I was able to squeak out a modest living. I played sports in college, but I wasn’t a stellar athlete. I think like most young boys I would have liked to have been a professional athlete, but when you’re naturally slow and can’t jump you don’t have much of a chance – at least not in most sports. I’m a big fan of grunge music and idolize Kurt Cobain.

RI: How old are you, and where do you live?

DC: I’m 48 and I live near New Haven, Connecticut.

RI: What do you do for a living? Are you a full-time artist?

DC: I’m a Fine Artist with a concentration on portraits.

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Artist Dave Choate with his Ken Stabler’s portrait. (Photo: Dave Choate)

RI: You are self taught and you haven’t attended an art school. When did you start drawing and why?

DC: I was always the best artist in my class since the 1st grade. It was never really something that I felt I could do full time. I went to college to study Finance and it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I discovered one of my classmates was a working Artist.

RI: Which artists have inspired or influenced you the most?

DC: Norman Rockwell, Picasso, and David Levine.

RI: You are very active on social media and it seems that when something unusual/interesting/funny happens you have a painting ready in a very short time. I’m thinking of the Ken Bone’s portrait (the man in the red sweater who asked a question during the second 2016 United States Presidential Election Debate) or the Johnny “Billy Vegas” Manziel’s portrait. It’s something similar to what a newspaper cartoonist would do. What’s the thought process behind it? How do you choose the subject of your painting?

DC: For an Artist exposure is very important. Maybe 1 out of 1,000 people have an art budget of $1,000 or more. So when I see someone trending such as Ken Bone or Johnny Manziel, I will take a few hours to create a painting of that person and will post it on Twitter in hopes that it gets hundreds if not thousands of retweets. In theory, millions of people have seen my work as a result and it didn’t cost me a penny in advertising.

RI: Why did you choose acrylic as your medium?

DC: My friend who I mentioned earlier was an acrylic painter and I just followed his path. I like that acrylic dries quickly as I don’t have the patience to wait for oil to dry.

RI: What is the most challenging part about working with acrylics?

DC: I’ve never worked with oil so I can’t really compare.

RI: Do you exclusively work with acrylics on canvas or do you also do digital drawings?

DC: I hate digital art. It looks so plastic and is boring to the eyes. It’s the auto tunes of visual arts. It’s awful.

RI: What’s the creation process like? Do you come across a photo and think “I wanna do a painting based on this photo” or it’s the other way around “I wanna paint a portrait of ‘X’, let’s find a photo”?

DC: It’s probably both. I have hundreds of people I’d like to paint so if I happen to come across a photo online or in a magazine that strikes me I will find myself painting it within a few minutes. At the same time I have to eat and keep the lights on so I’ll choose someone that I feel I could sell rather easily.

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Lyle Alzado (artwork by Dave Choate)

RI: How long does it take to make one of these portraits?

DC: If everything goes well I can do up to 2 or 3 portraits in a day.

RI: Do you do anything in particular to seal your art?

DC: I varnish the paintings.

RI: How has your style changed over the years?

DC: There’s a bit more blending involved now than in the past. My earlier paintings look a bit more cubist/cubism than they do today. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I used to experiment a lot more years ago which resulted in a lot of wasted hours, but every now and again I’d create something really cool by accident. That’s something I need to do more of today.

RI: How do you digitize your paintings?

DC: Some I have scanned, but most I photograph with a Canon 40D SLR camera. From there I edit it in Photoshop to get the colors as close to the colors of the painting.

RI: Have you ever been approached by an athlete who asked for a portrait?

DC: No.

RI: Have you ever exhibited your artwork?

DC: I’ve been so busy painting over the years that I really haven’t pursued producing a show or getting in a gallery. My buyers are the upper class and it’s easy enough to find them on Twitter that I wouldn’t have to spend thousands renting a space or giving away half of my money to a gallery.

RI: What’s your favorite art work? Why?

DC:  Of my own? Probably my Eddie Murray piece because after years of struggling it was the first painting where I was able to take what I had in my imagination and put it on the canvas.

RI: What’s been your greatest artistic success?

DC: I struggle with what is and isn’t success. Every day that I don’t have to work a real job is a successful day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a job being an artist as it requires an incredible amount of hyper focus and that alone is draining. You also have to deal with the frustration of the work not coming out the way you had planned – which is constant. The key is to have faith that everything will work out if you keep plugging along – which is a major challenge if you’ve never created a painting that you considered good and a reason why many people with artistic ability quit before they get to that good painting.

RI: What is your dream project?

DC: I’ve always been a fan of Sports Illustrated. It’d be cool to be on the cover.

RI: I know you are an avid sports fan. What’s your favorite sport? What’s your favorite team?

DC: I’m a big football fan and I love the Oakland Raiders.

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Khalil Mack (artwork by Dave Choate)

RI: What are your favorite players (you can name former or current players)?

DC:  My favourite player as a kid was Dave Casper of the Oakland Raiders.

RI: Which are your favorite and least favorite NFL uniforms?

DC: The Miami Dolphins uniform is my favourite and my least favourite is the Cleveland Browns. Orange and brown is a terrible color combination and that helmet is lame.

RI: Do you collect jerseys, or any other sports-related stuff?

DC:  I collected baseball cards a few years back and still keep my eye on it from a distance from time to time.

RI: Anything to add?

DC: You can buy prints of my art at choateshop.com.

My Grandfather, Stanley Mazzabufi was born in Ascoli, Italy.

Thanks for the great questions.

RI: Thank you very much for your time, Dave!

You can find Dave Choate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and here’s his website.

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