Featured Artists,  Vendor Voices

Ampersand’s Featured Artist: Garron J Barrett

Garron J Barrett did what some can only dream of. He quit his full-time job to become an artist. The Atlanta-based Pastelbord artist went from public accounting to applied arts. When he discovered his childhood passion for art was not going away, he took the leap.

We caught up with Garron and found out how he found his way back to his first love. With simple colors yet complex and detailed paintings, this up-and-coming artist is proving to be unstoppable.

Did you always know you were supposed to be an artist? How old were you when you first noticed the passion?

Yes, I started drawing at five years old. I collected comic books and the pages inspired me to create art of my own. Drawing was so natural to me. I wanted to create and nothing else mattered.

You were actually accepted into art school and decided to take the “safe” route with a business degree. Was there an exact moment that you realized the cubicle life was not  fulfilling enough or did it happen over time?

Not attending art school was the most difficult decision I’ve made. At the time, $100k+ for private art school was overwhelming. A business degree was not only less expensive but seemed to be more practical. Fast-forward, I secured a job in public accounting, and on the surface, everything was going well until one day I came across a book titled The Artist’s Way—A Course In Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self by Julia Cameron. While going through the course—I picked up my pencil, dusted off my childhood sketchbook, and drew one of my old favorite comic book characters. After all the years, I hadn’t missed a step. In fact, I improved tremendously without practice. My gift never left and the time came to nurture it properly.

Did your love of art ever make its way into your finance job?

Absolutely! A key part of finance is presenting information. I was able to create engaging visualizations for colleagues and clients. 

Contemporary Equity is a podcast that you host to educate emerging artists and new collectors. How did that get started?

I wanted to leverage my financial background to help the arts community participate in the growing creative economy. I was attempting to bridge the gap between creative and business. Starting a podcast was feasible to broadly share my unique perspective. Hopefully, artists are becoming more business savvy and collectors are more informed.

When you first started painting again, you weren’t planning on becoming a portrait painter. How did this evolve?

Surprisingly, an old friend reached out to me to do a portrait. She sent a photo and I visited the art store to select pastels for her skin tone, eyes and hair. A few hours later, I had the right blend of pigments to match her features. The process of drawing and blending the pastels to her likeness was so satisfying, I wanted to keep going. I began receiving portrait requests on social media immediately after sharing my work.

If you could paint a portrait of any person, who would it be?

Anyone that trusts me to capture them in a portrait is significant. I would love to collaborate with someone who will challenge me to grow.

Who has been your most meaningful portrait so far?

The portrait of a very special woman. She noticed my work and asked, “When are you going to do mine?” I worked on a portrait quietly and I surprised her with it on her birthday.

How did you first discover Ampersand Pastelbord? How has it changed your artwork?

I discovered Pastelbord while exploring pastel pencils, soft pastels and PanPastels. Pastelbord is much easier to work on than paper. I’m able to blend countless layers to bring out the features in my subjects. I can use the Pastelbord color as the background, which saves time. The best part is it’s easy to maneuver. Pastelbord has dramatically improved my process.

Garron, a natural-born artist, began crafting works of art at a very young age. Even though he was accepted into art school, he decided to study accounting, which led him to a top-ranked firm (PwC). The experience allowed him to develop comprehensive business acumen but he knew he didn’t belong. He had to be true to himself and return to the artist within, The Original Garron. Follow Garron on Instagram and check out his website.

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