Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it’s also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re wondering just what constitutes art, that’s the beauty of it; it’s up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Austin Picinich: I’ve been an avid painter since the age of seven. Now 16, I merge realism with my imagination and add bright colors to make my paintings pop. My favorite medium is acrylic on canvas, and I love the vibrancy of the colors with acrylics. I especially love painting on a large scale, with my largest piece to date being a 12-foot long by 4-foot tall tropical triptych!
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I believe the key to producing good artwork is having fun in the process of making it. I really enjoy painting, and I have fun with everything from capturing the tiniest details to painting larger skies or backgrounds. I love acrylic paint because it dries so quickly. This allows me to continuously go over with more layers — with each new layer adding more detail and depth!
To watch time-lapse videos on the process of a few of my paintings, check out www.austinsart.net/videos.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
I’ve always enjoyed attending local art festivals since I was very young. I started going up to talk to artists to hear the stories behind the artists and their visions. Talking to artists made learning about art so much fun and made me want to dive deeper into my own art.
I’ve been inspired by Seattle’s art scene with incredible local muralists such as Ryan Henry Ward, who I got to meet and see in action this past year. More recently, I was lucky enough to get to meet one of my favorite artists, Michael Birawer, at his gallery in downtown Seattle. Both Ward and Birawer are huge inspirations for me in how they use vibrant colors and large scale to make their paintings come to life.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
Most of my paintings have been commissions, so I’ve had a wide range of subjects from beach scenes to wildlife to cityscapes. The real upside of this diversity is I’ve broadened my skillset as I’ve tackled new challenges. The one thing that I consistently incorporate in all of my paintings is a vibrant color palette. So regardless of what I’m painting, I like to bring it to life with my signature pop of bright colors.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
I painted a 12-foot long “Tropical Triptych” tri-panel canvas painting as a commission. It was a huge undertaking — not only in size but because it also took nine months to complete! This was a really fun piece challenging me to paint at a scale I had not done before. It was also fun designing the scene to cohesively work across three panels — yet each panel to still be standalone pieces at the same time.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Two years ago, when I was 14, I applied to have my own booth at a local art festival. However, one of the requirements is that you must have a business license and collect sales tax. So at 14, I jumped into entrepreneurship and officially founded my art business, Austin’s Awesome Art. A recent turning point for me was when a teacher at Juanita High School in Kirkland suggested I join DECA, a club for students interested in business. In January 2021, I entered a DECA competition where I developed a 20-page Business Growth Plan for my art business. My Business Growth Plan ultimately won 1st place in Washington State and 4th place in International Competition!
Creating a Business Growth Plan for my art business pushed me to set goals for myself, such as getting my art into more local shops. My art is currently hung or sold in more than 30 local shops, an increase from just four shops 12 months ago at the beginning of 2021. I also set a goal to participate in more local art festivals, and over the past year, I participated in nine art festivals, including Everett Fresh Paint Festival and Kirkland Summerfest, to name a few of my favorites.
Creating a Business Growth Plan was a key part to helping me bring my goals to life.
If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
My website, www.austinsart.net, or my Instagram @austins.awesome.art and Facebook, Austin’s Awesome Art. You can also visit my online Etsy shop, AustinsAwesomeArtCo.
My art is currently carried in more 30 Puget Sound area galleries, retail shops and local businesses — varying from paintings on the walls to my prints or cards being sold. You can check out the full list of local shops where you can find my art at www.austinsart.net/art-in-public.
I also have a current showing of 27 pieces hung at the Bryant Corner Café in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. The show is organized by SLR Curated, an incredible local organization connecting artists with local businesses.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I’m currently in the process of designing a 62-foot exterior wall mural I’ll be painting on the side of SPUD Fish & Chips in Kirkland. My goal for the “Save our Salmon” Mural is to use public art to raise awareness for salmon sustainability in Juanita Creek and other local salmon-spawning streams.
I’m partnering with the University of Washington’s North Lake Washington SalmonWatchers Program to incorporate salmon education in the mural. I’ll also be working with the Seattle-based nonprofit Urban ArtWorks to host a Community Paint Day for the mural in Spring 2022, where we hope to get more than 60 community volunteers involved to help paint my design onto the wall.
You can learn more about the Save Our Salmon Mural at www.austinsart.net/news/spudmural.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
While I’m not a coffee drinker myself, I’ve had my art up in a few coffee shops, and I love any coffee shop with lots of art on the walls! So I’d definitely say a cup of coffee with a side of art to look at is always the way to go. West Seattle Grounds, Third Culture Coffee Bellevue, Walnut Street Coffee Edmonds and Issaquah Coffee Co are some of my local favorites for their great art!