IN HIS creative process, Guy Flagg is inspired by just about everything, possessing an innocent love for everything in this world.
Originally from upstate New York and recently back to Savannah after a stint on the west coast, Flagg works in fabrication and likes bringing his drawings and paintings into three dimensions.
His work features unique shapes and bright colors, a very identifiable style that sets him apart.
Flagg is also behind the Tabernacle, an up-and-coming artist studio on Montgomery that will hopefully have screenprinting and fabrication classes.
We caught up with Flagg last week.
1. How do you feel about coming back to Savannah after having been away for so long?
Man, this is such a loaded question! I came back because I was trying to establish my own business and I was about to buy into a shop with a couple guys and knew it would dominate a lot of my time and separate me from my parents a lot. I decided to do it here and be present with my folks.
The community has changed a bit, too. My priorities have shifted quite a bit since I’ve been back. I’ve shifted a lot of the way I interact with this city, which has made me really open up. It’s shutting a lot of doors, but it’s also opening so many, especially in trying to attach myself with a creative community. The way I’ve shifted my focus has opened up a really beautiful part of this town that I wasn’t open to before, and I’m really enjoying it.
My folks in upstate New York worked for civil and social justice organizations. I was involved with after-school programs and art programs my entire life, and I’m plugging into that scene here. Like The Pull Up Savannah where it’s open to everyone but just seeing young entrepreneurs, a lot of people of color trying to do things and create community. It’s fantastic, and I’ve only just begun.
2. Tell me about the art you create.
What I have in the makes is a plethora of large to small beautiful shapes that I got laser cut out of steel and I’m having them bent so they’re wall hanging shapes with a shelf, and they’re powder coated and painted bright colors so they interact with the wall and the space, but they’re now a functional piece of furniture.
My pieces start as experiments on what kind of visual language I’m working with, and then how that then becomes something that could be functional but look really fun and playful at the same time.
If you see these weird shapes and this color palette, this is Guy’s work. I’m trying to create a visual language that is Guy.
I also manage an art space called the Tabernacle; it’s in the former Holy Ghost Tabernacle Church on 60th and Montgomery. I have a screen print studio and risograph printer. The idea of having a print studio and a painting area where I can do a drawing and have a design, and if the shape really resonates with me, I can take the shape to my wood shop and make a shelf or a bench or something, in that same visual language that is just in 3D. And then that object can be interacted with by people.
Since I was little, I was obsessed with architecture. I was always trying to figure out, “Yeah, I draw these things, but what are they going to do in a space?” Taking it from two dimensions, I always see that as a beautiful exercise, but for me it’s not really finished until it becomes something a little more three-dimensional.
3. What are you inspired by?
So many things! It’s everywhere. I focus on the tiniest weirdest things, like walking into a room and maybe I’ll look at the door handle and there’s a weird logo on the bottom of it and I’m like, “What the hell is that?”
It’s the inquisitive mind, playfulness and curiosity, that of a little kid. This world is such an amazing, beautiful place. If you bring that into everything you interact with, everything is unbelievable. It’s just being in awe by bits and pieces.
That’s why I like to take those tiny little things and make them really big, like kid blocks and toys. We don’t have to complicate these things. I really appreciate minimalist art that really hits hard in your heart for some reason. Why does one shape on a piece of paper or in a room feel so good sometimes? Because it’s one thing just demanding your attention for what it is. There’s so much good stuff in this world.
I do get jaded—I get angry, sad, unhappy. I am a man in this world, and I am also fragile. That is something I’m okay with. The less you hide from the feelings of this world, the more you’re okay. It’s being someone who’s present to be like, “Look, you don’t have to be positive right now, and I still want to be your friend.”
4. How much time are you able to spend on creating art?
It’s been a really heavy year. I’m riding the concept of the Field of Dreams: “If I build it, they will come.” My resources, monetarily and time-wise, have really been spent on starting the foundation of creating space to do these things, like my art studio.
Getting the screen printing studio set up, getting the risograph printer, finishing my carpentry and fabrication studio. So when those things are done, then I can just be in them using them.
It’s been a year of trying to find downtime between working and being tired and being emotionally overwhelmed with all the things that have been going on recently to try and carve out time to get all those things done.
I haven’t really painted in a month and a half, but it’ll come. I’ll make time for it again. My cup runneth over of emotions that I would love to pour into pieces of artwork, but there will be a time for that.
I see that things have been moving forward in a really positive direction, but when I’m in it, I just feel like I’m fucking spinning tires.
5. What are your goals?
I want to do more collective art projects. I want to have people submit pieces of work and I want to print zines and publications. I want to do more raffles and be part of more community-based small business organizations and pushing each other to do their stuff, because them being strong makes the group strong.
I want the Tabernacle to be a space where I can run screen printing workshops or things of that nature. I would love to make product out of my wood shop and teach weekend classes.
I like the idea of the creative community just helping each other, the idea of having a small art collective. I feel like people come to this fantastic art school and then they just leave because there aren’t these things here.
I understand maybe there is a creative community, but in other cities it’s a little more polished, so it seems more attractive. Why not make that here?
This is Savannah, this is the creative scene. It’s about people that exist here and the network we create.