Photo by Brianna Jenkins
FRANK PALETTA: Master Peace
FRANK PALETTA is an art director, photographer, painter & designer. From art directing at NIKE for five years, to consulting, to personal projects, his life is his masterpiece. All of Frank’s work is infused with his warmth and unique vision. He is an inspiration to all who collaborate with him.
Interview by Jaime Ellison
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TURN YOUR FULL ATTENTION TO ART?
My aunts and my uncle Robert, the three of them were artists. I would go over to my grandparents house and just be amazed by how well they could draw and paint. For as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an artist. And I have had such strong admiration and respect for them that it’s been hard to even call myself an artist.
SO, IT WAS AN EASY DECISION?
I was lucky to have the art influence, but on the other hand my dad and grandfather were all famous surgeons. They were like superheroes to me. And they groomed me to be a doctor.
I loved art though, and I was ashamed of myself for not following in my dad’s footsteps. But now I try to draw strength from them, from how hard they worked, and I try to apply that to my craft: Lots of integrity, hard work, no excuses. If art is what I’m going to be doing, then I need to work really really really really hard at it. And be fearless.
DO YOU THINK THAT AN EARLY ARTISTIC INFLUENCE IS NECESSARY TO SPRING SOMEONE INTO IT?
I don’t think people necessarily have to be groomed to be artists. Just have a strong curiosity and imagination. Be a dreamer and a lover and a feeler. Be smart and inquisitive. Enjoy telling stories.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE TRYING TO BREAK INTO A MORE ARTISTIC CAREER?
I don’t see things so much as career-oriented. I see it as more life-oriented. Creative individuals all have an extraordinary opportunity to have their life be their masterpiece. To live our lives in a way that it becomes a performance. I love my life. It’s hard, but I live it in a way that I think is really creative; it’s contrary to most every single person I’ve ever met. But it’s a performance and it’s what I’m most proud of. The audience is not so important. It’s more about the collaboration with the audience, which is all the people I come into contact with.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT OBSESSION?
I’m obsessed with taking portraits, with people, with human experiences. I live in an extremely rough part of Oakland, CA and through a variety of experiences, I established friendships with characters who live in gnarly circumstances.
It’s launched me into this “Native Sons & Daughters” concept… Wild souls that have been banished from society and forgotten about, who really don’t have any choices other than survival. And the hunger and zest for life these people have in them is really huge, and that’s what I’ve been compelled to capture.
© Frank Paletta
These days, there are all these Oakland kids who come by to walk my dog Capone, and I’ve started taking photos of them. One of the little girls took a photo of me and Capone. And I really hate having my picture taken. But I showed her how to use my camera, and she took one of the best pictures anybody has ever taken of me. Those experiences are art.
© Frank Paletta
Published: January 30th, 2012