Dirk Guidry, a Lafayette-based artist specializing in large-scale abstract art, live events, and mural paintings, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss his journey in becoming an artist who has evolved into a business entrepreneur.
A native of Galliano, Louisiana, Dirk graduated in 2012 from UL – Lafayette in Fine Arts with a concentration in painting. As a child who always enjoyed art, he was encouraged by family and teachers to cultivate his creativity in the talented and gifted program. He remembered fondly his first commissioned piece: he was hired to draw a portrait of his teacher’s daughter for $5.00.
Dirk entered UL-Lafayette thinking he wanted to be a computer animator or storyboard artist. But the process of rendering the art was all about the final product and that didn’t sit well, so he says he “fell into painting.”
“The late Allen Jones served as a beloved professor and mentor of Dirk, and he “still hears him every day” as he works in the studio. Professor Jones had a nurturing and subtle style as he delivered his critiques, and he would let the students figure out for themselves how to improve upon their work. Dirk says, “He used to touch my paintings sometimes. One time before the critique I made sure the paint was still wet because I knew he was going to touch it. And sure enough, he hit the wet part with his pinky and he was taken aback because he never wanted to mess up anyone’s painting. Needless to say, he never touched my paintings again!”
Upon graduation, Dirk didn’t really know how to get started as a professional artist. So, he worked multiple jobs in the service industry, and of course, at Painting With A Twist, while he showed his art at a few shows.
He had a lucky break early on when his cousin was getting married and asked him if he knew about the “live wedding paintings” being done in New Orleans. He didn’t know anything about it but agreed to do the job. This gig led to another, and after a few years, Dirk became well-known for his live event paintings and is in high demand these days. He says, “Even though it’s about 8 to 9 hours of straight painting, it still feels like 10 minutes. I blink and it’s over.”
Dirk now averages about 35 live events per year. “That’s basically my day job.” The live event work affords him the opportunity to earn enough to do what he calls his ‘studio work,’ the opportunity to craft large abstract pieces of art, as well as to have the opportunity to take time off. He has been hired to travel for an event as far away as Cabo San Lucas and gets a good deal of work in Florida and Texas.
The tough part about being an artist is having to have tough skin and learn to handle rejection. Dirk has always wanted to be selected as the Festival International Visual Artist and has applied every year for several years. He jokes that along with those rejections he also filed many others in his “We regret to inform you” email folder.
Yet Dirk persisted, and in this 36th year Festival is to be celebrated, he was named the 2022 Official Visual Artist and will produce the collectible festival poster and pin. His official work will be revealed on February 20, 2022, from 3 to 5 pm, at Warehouse 535, at the Festival’s Official Kickoff Party. Tickets are only $10 and include live music by Bucks and a Louisiana Fish Fry.
The piece submitted by Dirk Guidry to the Festival judges was a 4 by 5-foot self-portrait with large brush strokes. He will be onsite at Festival with his own booth offering a portrait series of accompanying pieces based upon the original work.
Dirk is also becoming well-known as a mural artist. His first commission was “Bayou Sunset” for the Wyndham Garden Inn on Pinhook Road. He recently completed the “100 Years of Baking” mural for Evangeline Maid Bread. “Deep Rooted” for CrossFit Acadiana on Cypress Street in downtown Lafayette is another large work that inspires passersby.
Creatives typically aren’t taught the business side of creating their art and sustaining their livelihoods. Learning how to keep books, price your work, and write grants are all essential to keeping a roof over your head if you want to build a professional life as an artist. Successful artists have multiple outlets for revenue, such as workshops, illustrating books, painting murals, live event paintings, art fairs, and designing pins. Dirk has been fortunate to have mentors that counseled him along the way. “I feel fortunate to have figured out this riddle. It’s important to realize your value. Accept that there’s a business side to it. It’s 50/50….art and business.”
Dirk Guidry has a studio at 113 Clinton Street, Lafayette LA and is available to meet by appointment. To learn more about Dirk his work, please visit https://www.dirkguidry.com/
Discover Lafayette congratulates Dirk for being selected as Festival International 2020 Official Visual Artist! We look forward to more great achievements as this young artist’s outstanding career unfolds!!