American artist Chaz Guest recently caught up with our Senior Contemporary Curator Sarah Howgate.
Could you tell us about your background as an artist and how you started?
Yes, indeed. First, thank you and the National Portrait Gallery for speaking with me. As a little boy, I was drawn to nature and jumbo-sized Crayola crayon boxes. After college, I threw myself into New York City and attended FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). There, I fell in love with the idea of fashion drawing. I was so inspired by the craft that I bought a one-way ticket to Paris in 1987 to pursue a career there. Not too long after my arrival, I landed the cover of Joyce Paris magazine. This led me to collaborate with Christian LaCroix for the magazine. And it was Monsieur LaCroix who encouraged me to begin painting. I eventually returned to New York to pursue painting. In the early days, I practically lived in art supply stores and visited museums every day. Talking with fellow artists in art stores and studying works at MOMA and the Met (for hours on end), is how I honed my craft. I was eventually represented by a gallery in Soho, New York City in 1993.