photos courtesy russ wright

Russ Wright spent many years as a graphic designer, but currently he’s obsessed with wood pallets.

This artist’s work started evolving in the 1960s, when, he says, “watching the world literally transform from black and white to color was, in a word, a trip.” (photo courtesy Russ Wright)

Why throw them out when you can turn them into art? Wright paints old campers and other objects on pallets. He also paints vehicles on metal and then cuts them out to mount on pallets.

H+G: What is your favorite thing about creating art?
Wright: Mostly the thought process. Is what I envision possible to replicate to others?

H+G: What is your greatest challenge about creating art?
Wright: I would say time and motivation. I can have every tool, material and inspiration, but for me it comes down to getting in the mindset too often. But once a brush connects to the surface, there’s no turning back—the energy does find a natural flow.

Russ Wright likes to create “visual timestamps for things that will disappear.” (photo courtesy Russ Wright)

H+G: What inspires you?
Wright: I find music to be very inspirational, because I’m using and taking another important human sense—hearing—to draw in a creative force that in many ways complements what I as an artist creates. I started listening to classical music in my early teens. The music we grow up with strikes a cord with us in so many ways; unconsciously, music shifts our emotions and feelings. I know it affects my mood as I paint.

H+G: What terrifies you?
Wright: Other than our current political climate, nothing.

H+G: Why are you drawn to pallets?
Wright: I was stuck in a canvas rut. I live in an industrial neighborhood, where pallets are plentiful, and pretty much free. My first pallet I painted two years ago—a Colorado flag—got such a positive reaction from people. The bonus also being it’s a simple upcycling task. My focus is to find unique pallets that have some character, and to think outside the box when it comes to subject matter. I have always trusted my instincts to try and draw an audience to familiar images or subjects that take them to a simpler era in their lives. People connect to things that visually take them back, nostalgically.

photo courtesy Russ Wright

H+G: What artists do you admire?
Wright: I was always drawn to album cover art. I listen to vinyl music when I paint, so artists like Roger Dean, who did the album cover art for the rock band Yes, was always at the forefront for me as a teen. And the creative genius of Storm Thorgerson, who founded (the graphic art group) Hipgnosis, which did so many great album covers in the ’60s and ’70s, most notably for Pink Floyd—and also fueled my passion for the art of M.C. Escher and Dong Kingman.

H+G: What is your favorite pastime?
Wright: Enjoying a movie at a classic old theater—and if I can enjoy it with my daughter, it’s heaven.

H+G: What do you want your art to say?
Wright: Remembrance. Things change so fast in our world and society. If anything, I want what I create to be a visual timestamp for things that will disappear. I like painting things from the last mid-century era, which was hip and cool and colorful, and in some ways, futuristic. I like trying to recapture that feeling.

View Russ Wright’s latest works on Instagram @AArtistroadtrip. His travels and adventures can be viewed on YouTube at www.AmericanArtistRoadTrip.com.