We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurence Gartel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurence, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
I started an Art form that did not exist. In 1975 I discovered Digital Art at Media Study/ Buffalo working with video Art Nam June Park. I never turned back. I used technology to make Art and permeated industries. I pushed part a million, make that two million rejections. I never took no for an answer. My work consequence had been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and in the permanent collections of the Bibliothque National Paris, Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
At this time I am writing the definitive encyclopedia of my career.: GARTEL FIFTY YEARS OF DIGITAL ART. It will be three volumes, 500 pages per book. I am scanning every piece of paper, every slide, negative, every CD and every disk on a variety of media. My career as the “Father of Digital Art ” from inception has been indefatigable. Every plaque, award, and every piece of Art from my first crayon drawing, charcoal sketch to my first day working with analog computers at Media Study/Buffalo with Nam June Park. People know my highlights: First Digital Art Cover for Forbes Magazine, ABSOLUT GARTEL commission for Absolut Vodka, Monaco International Film Festival, NASA MMS launch, release of the Tesla Electric Art Roadster for Elon Musk, Feature of the 113th NY International Auto Show, Oslo Motor Show Norway and the Official Art for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards There is so much ground to cover that a major publishing endeavor needed to take place.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ha. What a great question. Fortunately I reside in South Florida, the vacation capital of the world. That one week trip and time off may have to extend another week. So much to do. Ft Lauderdale is the “Venice” of America. The New River is now lined with multi million dollar condos and most of it has been developed in the last couple of years. Its a great bike ride passing boat slips and then seeing megayachts in the water. Outdoor cafes have been built which lead way to magnificent views along with a few choice rooftop bars. The center street of Las Ola’s Boulevard is lined with every kind of cuisine to suit any palette. This is all just a “short” 2 mile walk (or bike ride) to the famous Ft Lauderdale Beach which singer Connie Francis made famous with her song “Where the Boys are” in 1956. People have been flocking to this beach during spring break for decades. On the beach there are great hotels, many clubs, great for chilling out during the day and partying at night. This is just the local area. Thirty minutes away (in moderate traffic) is the famous South Beach. It is the ultimate international playground. The beautiful people come to enjoy the small boutique hotels and small independent stores. Great for walking and people watching..The great walking street of famous Lincoln Road has enough stores and restaurants to keep your your senses engaged. The former Versace Mansion has become a bit of a tourist destination for curiosity seekers. Versace brought his class and style to a quiet retirement area and he made it boom with fashion, Art and culture. Speaking of Art, across the intracoastal is another area called Wynwood. This is another developed area of warehouses that has been converted to high rises and literally turning into another city. It was the graffiti Art capital of the world and Miami Art Week hosted many Art Fairs in large tents. The warehouses were converted to Art galleries . Next door is the area called the Design District with designer boutiques you would find by the Spanish Steps in Rome Italy or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Because of the Florida vibe it is very laid back *albeit Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys can be seen on every corner. I could be writing endlessly about South Florida. A five hour drive South will take you to the end of the line and the southern most point of America which is Key West. Author Earnest Hemingway made Key West his home and it is shear paradise. The sunset is one of the greatest in the world. Total and complete chill vibe where it feels like life itself with its hustle and bustle has come to a halt. Take a walk on Duvall Street with its Art galleries and restaurants serving seafood the best in the world. With a bottle of Fireball in your hand you will just want to jump into a kayak and never go back to real life again. Some don’t. They just enjoy natures beauty. I could go on and on crossing i-75 which is called Alligator Alley to western Florida; Marco Island and Naples . A different kind of relaxed vibe of the everglades and white powder sandy beaches. I am going to need a part two or become a tour guide. I love South Florida.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Recognition goes out to my parents. My mother told me I was great, and I believed her. My mother would never lie. So I told other people I was great. It spread from there. I was an only child and my parents had me several years after they were married. My dad would always buy me lots of gifts. I always felt I was both his son and his daughter.. My dad was a fashionista so he always bought me great clothing. I was definitely loved. That adoration lead to confidence.