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Studio Visit - Michael DeSutter -  Original & Limited Edition Art at Tappan

Studio Visit - Michael DeSutter

Studio Visit - Michael DeSutter


Studio Visit with Michael DeSutter

Whilst in our Los Angeles residency program, we sat down with mixed media artist Michael DeSutter to talk about his practice and learn a little more about his fascination with movement, both physically and metaphorically. 


Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist…  


I’m an artist working primarily in collage based in Brooklyn, NY. I think I’ve always been an artist. When I was much younger I expressed myself through intricate abstract line drawings in my sketch pads. When it came time to choose a “career path” I was discouraged from choosing art as “that’s not a good way to provide” :) . But after years of having traditional days jobs I knew I was still missing something. Over past 4 years I’ve been on a course to correct that path.



Describe your work in three words...


Fluid movements… evolving


What does your creative process look like?


My process runs in parallel paths. Since I work primarily with magazines I’m always flipping through stacks of magazines clipping out pieces I think I could use or even things that catch my eye that I have no idea what i’ll do with them. That often happens with no theme or idea, though sometimes the idea comes first and then I start hunting for particular clippings. It’s usually now after having piles of clippings around the studio that the ideas and themes come forward. When not clipping I try to read as much as I can. Often times concepts I want to explore come out of something I’ve read or a song lyric that really speaks to a personal experience I’ve had.  

Studio Philosophy

"I have one rule: I don’t clean up at the end of the day. Why have a studio if I have to straighten up after I’m done working?"


Where do you draw inspiration from?


I draw inspiration from everywhere. Working in the abstract I find that there are two channels of inspiration for me. The first is purely aesthetic, I’m inspired by the sights of the city around me, the plastic caught in trees, the tarp covering a construction site, the waving flags that adorn so many buildings. The second channel of inspiration comes from personal experiences and what I read. I’m always trying to understand why I’m fascinated by banality and what it means about the experiences i’m going through.



Movement is such a fundamental theme in your work. Is this something that you explore outside of your artistic practice as a larger philosophy?  


Movement is everything. I see my journey through life as movement along a path. I learn new things everyday that inform my next day, year, decade. To me that’s what is so exciting. I believe it’s important to take first steps even if you’re unsure of what you’re doing or how it will go, you’ll learn from them and that’s something you’ll be able to take with you the rest of your life. Momentum requires movement.



How did you find your way to collage and mixed media art? What other mediums have you worked with?


Collage started as an intimate exploration of the past. My grandfather left me stacks of magazines. I wanted to consume all the information in them. Cutting up a photograph has always felt like an intimate experience to me. I see all the lines and details that I probably would have missed flipping through the pages. I think it’s possible that making art from these original stacks of magazines made me feel connected to my grandfather.  My background is actually in photography. I still enjoy the feeling I get shooting film.



Where does your source material usually come from?


One disadvantage of the big city is that it’s hard to find affordable materials. I find most of my true materials in the midwest when I visit my family in Indiana. That or the occasional weekend trip outside of NYC in search of material.



What is your approach to using color?


Color has always been a major part of my work, but I’ve never felt all that comfortable with it. In that past most of my focus was on the movement in the clippings I connected with little regard for the palette. For my latest series made during my Tappan residency in LA, I wanted to focus on the individual pieces that my larger moments are created from. It then made a lot of sense to me to juxtapose these pieces against colorful backgrounds. Also I’m sure coming from a dreary NYC winter to all that LA sunshine and colors got in there somewhere :)



Conversely, for your Movement in White series, how did you work with the absence of color? What different themes or ideas were you able to explore when looking at form without the filter of color?


A lot of the movements I filmed around NYC at the time were monochromatic, usually a piece of plastic, or a tarp. There seemed such an elegance because of this simplicity even though often it was garbage stuck on a fence or tree. I wanted this simplicity in my own work to allow all the focus to be placed on the movement itself.

About Michael Desutter

DeSutter creates hand cut collages that explore movement through the formal qualities of high fashion photography and everyday imagery.


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We invite you to explore our curated collection of abstract artworks by Tappan artists.


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About Michael DeSutter

Michael DeSutter is a mixed media artist now living and working in Denver, CO. His hand cut collages utilize a plethora of vintage source material, varying from high fashion photography to everyday imagery. Conceptually, his body of work is concentrated around the theme of movement, both physically and metaphorically, propelling his work to evolve around this thematic common thread. DeSutter attended Purdue University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Photography.



“My love of collage is the result of a desire to understand the world of my grandfather and to intimately investigate another place and time. I deconstruct imagery from the past, much like a mechanic disassembles an engine, to understand how it functions. By re-assembling these pieces in new ways, I create a new visual world that exists between his past and my present. My visual identity lives at the cross section of two predominant interests: the human experience and how we process information.


The desire to work with vintage print material is born out of a quest to understand the human experience. Decades old magazines, newspapers and notebooks are filled with human interest pieces that will never be recorded alongside more significant historical events. The past is ripe with stories of individuals and cultures who underwent similar paradigm shifts to what we experience today; one can imagine the first telephone was met with the same skepticism and awe as the first iPhone.


Following the release of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, I became fascinated with the idea that our brains analyzes information using one of two systems: 1) Autopilot, which is fast, intuitive and rooted in emotions and 2) Intentional, which is used when we need to process more complex ideas. To make things as easy as possible, we continually try to move information over to System 1, which requires less effort to process. This is how we can read a misspelled word and still understand the writer’s original intention; we jump to conclusions. I enjoy challenging this predisposition by connecting similar lines between clippings and creating movement which, at first glimpse, appears far more seamless than it really is.”



2003, BS, Art Studies with a Concentration in Photography, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN



2017, Brooklyn vs. Sydney II, Chinatown Soup, New York, NY

2017, Direct Message, Ground Floor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2016, Cut&Taste, Chinatown Soup, New York, NY

2016, Vitamin C, Rabbithole Studios, Brooklyn, NY

2016, Paper Cuts 2, Alameda, CA

2016, The International Weird Collage Show, Barcelona, SP

2016, Unstable Portals, Brooklyn, NY

2016, CUTPASTE3, Santa Ana, CA

2016, Hanafuda Project, Ace Hotel, New York, NY

2015, Al-soqi & DeSutter, Thrive Okapi, Thrive, Brooklyn, NY

2015, Community54 - Ave B, Manhattan, NY

2015, Brooklyn Vs. London, Something in the Attic, Carousel Gallery, London, UK

2015, Bushwick Open Studios, Troutman Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2015, Brooklyn Collage Collective, Dateline Gallery, Denver, CO

2015, Cut & Paste, Sugarlift, Brooklyn, NY

2015, The War of Art, Safari Gallery, Soho, NY

2015, #NoFilter, Safari Gallery, Soho, NY

2015, Group Show, Greenpoint Gallery, Greenpoint NY