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Artist Patrick Arrasmith talks about how he moved to Brooklyn...

READERSVOICE.COM: How did the scholarship from the Society of Illustrators come about, that inspired the move from California to Brooklyn?

PATRICK ARRASMITH: They have a national contest every year. It might be international now. Students submit their work from all over and some members of the SI come to NYC to judge. I flew out from the San Francisco area to get my scholarship and took my portfolio around to see a few places like the NYTimes. I started getting work from them and decided to move on out to the East Coast.

RV: Did you know anyone in Brooklyn and what steps did you take when you arrived, to establish a home and life in general?

PA: I barely knew anyone, just friends of friends. But that was enough to get a place with some roommates, and a couple silly jobs putting closets up in peoples’ fancy apartments and bad restaurant work.

RV: Your scratchboard technique is something I hadn’t heard of before, but I really like the fantasy and the contrasts and detail. Were you sort of taking the etchings and engravings of old and making them fit the modern era?

PA: Yeah, I was first introduced to the woodcut/wood engraving look from seeing MC Escher posters in high school. From there I found a book full of Gustave Dore wood engravings and when I was fully into the scratchboard medium I was in New York and found out about Franklin Booth who was a pen and ink artist imitating the wood engraving style. All of these guys were a big influence on my work as well as many others.

RV: Do you still live in Brooklyn and do you tend to hang around 16th Street, and what other parts of the city do you travel to in the course of your working day or days off?

PA: I’m still in Brooklyn but my wife, son, dog and I are off to the Hudson Valley very soon to see if we can hack living upstate NY. But before I got my dog (who needs way too much exercise) one of the places I used to go that was very inspirational was Greenwood Cemetery. It’s not far from me and it’s so beautiful. It’s been used as a backdrop for a good amount of movies. Sounds creepy to hike around, like I would goth myself up and burn black candles, but it’s actually an amazing place with lots of famous historical people buried there and the plants and trees they have cultivated are gorgeous. It was the inspiration for Central Park.
To crudely approximate what I imagine the thought process was, it was that people kept coming there for picnics and strolls, so they said why don’t we make one of these without all the dead people.

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– copyright Simon Sandall