Troy DeRose Plays Nice in Colorado Springs

Playing Nice by Troy DeRose

Troy DeRose is a local Colorado Springs painter and graphic designer. Liz and I LOVE his work and are thrilled to feature an interview with Troy.

Definitely check out what Troy says about “limits” in question 3, and see some more great photos of his work after the break.


Playing Nice by Troy DeRose
Playing Nice by Troy DeRose

1.) Tell us something about your process of creating your paintings:

My process is typically the first thing people ask me about when they first encounter my work. I will attempt to describe it as best I can without getting into all the intricate steps that are involved. Basically my art begins on the computer where I manipulate found photos and design the piece in Photoshop. Once the piece is designed I create templates for the colored underpainting (shapes and text) and a full size print out of the black and white images. I use the templates as a guide to do the underpainting portion and once that is dry I overlay the black and white images to the canvas using a photo transfer technique. After the photo transfer is complete I go back in with charcoal and paint to fill in the images until I feel happy with it.

The Closers by Troy DeRose
The Closers by Troy DeRose
Troy DeRose
Artist and part-time model; Troy DeRose

2.) Who is an inspiration to you? Who influences your work?

I am influenced from two different sides of art, fine art/art history and graphic design/illustration. On the fine art side, when I was studying painting in college I was really inspired by both the Dada and surrealist movements in art. I loved the ways that Dali and Magritte used transparency in their work to let one image turn into another. I am also really drawn to a lot of the pop artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstien, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Barbara Kruger. This particular show I admit that I did look a lot at Barbara Kruger. I had decided to limit my color palette to red, grey and black and it immediately made me think of her. I think their work is probably more of an obvious influence since I use a lot of imagery from before 1970.

On the design side I am really influenced by some young designers and illustrators who are starting to get some recognition: Alex Varanese, Frank Chimero, Jason Munn, and Mark Weaver are some of my favorites.

It's Alright Ma I'm Only Sighing by Troy DeRose

3.) You have a solo show opening soon, what should we know about it?

Yes, my solo show, Playing Nice, opens on November 12 and runs through December 3 at Modbo in Colorado Springs. For this show I was thinking a lot about motivation and more specifically motivations that lie just beneath the surface. I was interested in pointing out and poking fun at the duality between our hidden motivations and the control we try to maintain in the facade we present to the outside world, or how we “play nice.” In order to mimic this control I decided to put some restrictions on myself so I decided that all of this work would be on a square canvas and that I would limit myself to four colors. It’s funny because I actually really enjoyed the restrictions. I found that it freed me up to think more about the composition and the message of each piece.

Will You Still Be Here When This is Necessary by Troy DeRose
Will You Still Be Here When This is Necessary by Troy DeRose

4.) Who are a few of your favorite musicians?

Whenever I hear this question it always reminds me of 5 or 6 years ago, when people still used Myspace, and you would look at their list of favorite bands and it was like they took their whole itunes library and pasted every artist they had ever listened to so they could feel all cool and diverse. I was totally one of those people…

But I digress, lately I have been listening to the new albums from Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, Broken Bells and Local Natives. While I was working on my show an older band, The Dismemberment Plan, sneaked back into my playlist. They are a very strange and frenetic band that somehow fit perfectly while I was working diligently to get this show finished.

Self Portrait by Troy DeRose
Self Portrait by Troy DeRose

5.) What do you do when you feel stuck or un-inspired?

I usually do one of two things: I beat my head against the wall and continue to push through things in the hope that something will break, that usually doesn’t work though so I walk away for a bit, take a break, go for a walk, read something, or work on some other more mundane task that I may need to get done. Inspiration is such a mysterious thing and when it’s not there it’s really hard to force it into being. I usually find that if I can clear my mind for a bit inspiration returns to me and I can continue where I left off and things usually fall into place. One of the other things I try to think about and practice is to continue to be curious. I feel like God created me to be a pretty curious creature, I’m always looking to see how something is made or what font someone is using in a design. Sometimes I forget that about myself and I get all consumed in what I’m doing and stuck in my little bubble and I find that’s usually the prelude to feeling stuck.

6.) Any shameless self-promotions? websites? other ventures/side-projects?

Well, I have online portfolio of my work at I am having a bunch of giclee prints made of my work for my show that will be for sale at Modbo as well as on Etsy. I know this is like bad marketing to tell someone about something and then tell them to wait for it but my Etsy store doesn’t have anything right now and probably won’t until my show goes up and I can come up for air. I would recommend as you are reading this to just go ahead and put a reminder in your calendar to check it out around Thanksgiving and buy a print for everyone you love for Christmas, I should have everything up for sale by then. Lastly, come to my show!!

Some Call it Music but I Call it Noise by Troy DeRose
Some Call it Music but I Call it Noise by Troy DeRose

(Liz and I own a print of this one, and it’s awesome!)

7.) What do you love?

I love being around creative endeavors whether they are visual art, music, movies, theatre. I just get all giddy when I get the opportunity to see people trying something they are passionate about.

Most of all though, I love my wife.

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