Gavin Troy is a downtown-based artist who moved to Tucson after he graduated from ASU back in the good ol' days—the '90s. He says he definitely prefers life in the Old Pueblo.
What drew you to Tucson?
I love Tucson, for sure. I used to come down in the '80s for skateboarding and stuff and I just liked the vibe. I grew up in Tempe but [Tucson] has just such a great arts community and I just love the vibe here.
Did you go to ASU, then, since you're from Tempe?
I went to ASU. I studied fine arts—I got my degree in inter-media, or mixed-media is what they call it now, I think. After I graduated, I started showing my work in coffee shops and I've been in some galleries, but I just love showing in coffee shops. I started showing up [in Tempe], but I would also show here starting in the '90s. What originally got you into the arts?
In reflection, now, I feel like I've always been a creative person and it kind of started with skateboarding, for sure. Skateboarding and woodshop in high school—just wanting to build things and make things. So, from skateboarding, we were making our own ramps and taking pictures of all that. So all that, it just kind of naturally progressed into a painting, visual outlet.
So skateboarding was kind of your first art? Yeah, I think so. When you're on a skateboard, you're drawing a line basically while you're riding on your skateboard. You're always entering into new areas. The same thing happens when I'm working on my art. Either drawing lines or just going into new landscapes—its uncharted territory. It also requires a lot of letting go of mental activity. With skateboarding, if you think about a trick too hard, you sometimes don't get it. But if you just let go, you'll get it. And the same thing happens for me with painting. I just try to let go as much as I can too.
Do you have any other gigs?
I do teach little kids, too. I love that, it's not full-time or anything—I teach at the Museum of Art a couple days a week. The other days I do tours from an art-making element. The rest of the time, thankfully, I'm super thankful I'm able to work in the studio and show my work and somewhat survive off of it.
Well, the word "job" is kind of like life, for me. I just redefined it for myself. From the moment we're born, we're always working. Our bodies are working, constantly. I just adopted that theory—the job is life, I'm a student for life and I'm just confidently working. Being creative is just part of the whole thing
Have you ever had times where you've struggled financially?
I try not to subscribe to that. I mean, sure, there's rough times, but there's rough times when you're working a full-time job or something you're not really into. I've always felt like I don't need much to survive. I'm happy just being here, working. It's a gift, really, to be able to do that. Times can get hard, but it doesn't take much [for me].
So do you mostly show your art in coffee shops?
Pretty much. I've been represented by galleries before, but right now, I've loved showing in coffee shops. I get to connect with people who might not see art anywhere. And they're like "I don't really know much about art, but I love what you're doing." It's art for the people, more. And being able to watch and observe and see how they interact with it—Caffé Lucé, it's tough, because people are so focused on their work. So when you called me, I was like "Cool, someone's looking."
Any upcoming exhibitions?
I'm showing at Hotel Congress in the lobby in June. I'm looking forward to that. I'm working on those paintings right now and the theme—the loose theme—is the desert ocean. It's kind of a combination because here I feel like I'm in the desert but I'm kind of by the ocean. It may be a variety of works, though. I don't really know. I have a bunch of works I'm gonna put up there but I'm not quite sure.
And the Open Studio—I'll have my studio open for that in May. My studio is right above BICAS.
What do you like about Tucson's artist community?
I think the artist community here is great. It's really focused as far as the downtown area, and that's one of the reasons that brought me here. It's just a really tight community and everyone is super supportive and there's usually lots of opportunity to work with people if you want.
I just think being creative in many different forms is a valuable thing in life, and that's why I love teaching with kids—just to have them be creative. I think if everyone were captured to some form of creativity more, the world would be a much better place to be.