Standing in a workshop, Vince Veazey gazed thoughtfully at his newest stencil-based creation, periodically adjusting pieces of tape here and there.
The phrase “I LOVE IT BUT MY FRIENDS WILL WONDER WHY IT’S NOT SYMMETRICAL” was sprawled out on a long table, waiting to be affixed to a nearby wooden board. The text-based series, Designer Lingo, evolved from Veazey’s day-job as framing manager at William Campbell Contemporary Art. When he isn’t framing paintings, he’s installing pieces from the Arlington Heights-based gallery in homes and businesses across North Texas.
While installing work, he jokingly says that he’s “just the help,” he said. “I’m holding up different pieces” while the interior designer and homeowner discuss which paintings will work for that space.
Inevitably, there’s a phrase that becomes the deciding factor on whether [the customer] will “marry or divorce” the piece, Veazey said.
It’s that often humorous moment that spurs Veazey to write down the verbal exchange. He keeps his well-worn notebook nearby to scribble down conversations about art purchases. He then distills the phrases to capture their essences.
“There’s a composition to” these works, he said. “When you start laying it out, you don’t want anything to be distracting. I take some words out, like ‘really.’ The final words need to take you” directly to the point.
After experimenting with canvas, Veazey eventually settled on wooden boards because of their superior adhesive properties. The creations begin with a backdrop of faded, random letters. Veazey said the symbols represent the “background noise” of chatter. Stenciling on the catchphrase is the final step. The tone and intention of the words shape the formal elements in Veazey’s works. “IN A WEAK MOMENT I BOUGHT THIS” is subdued and understated, for example, while “IT HAS THE POP THIS ROOM NEEDS” has vibrant colors.
Veazey, who left his hometown of Tyler several years ago to experience what the professional art world could offer, acknowledges the sardonic humor that pervades his new series.
“My college art professor told us that it wasn’t our job to make art to match the sofa,” Veazey said. “I said the same thing as a teacher, [but art] often moves into homes to match furniture. I’m making paintings about the pieces that match the sofa.”
Veazey’s works have been slowly but steadily selling. He said most of his customers find him via Instagram (@vinceveazey). His most recent showing was as a guest artist for an artist/chef mixer event organized by the local artist-run nonprofit Art Tooth (of which I am also a member).
Ariel Davis, Art Tooth community outreach director, said she first noticed Veazey’s new artistic direction through Instagram earlier this year. She felt he was a good fit for the mixer event because his works “interact [with guests well] in the an intimate private home setting.
“As someone who [also] worked in galleries for a long time,” she continued, “I could really relate to his work. His work is brave, because he is drawing from actual experience working with collectors and interior designers, which brings into acute light the reality of the way most people interact with artwork in general.”
Word about Veazey’s new projects is spreading. He said two prominent local artists have already approached him about a collaborative show in the future.
“They want to take some of the phrases I use and have that [superimposed] on top” of their works, Veazey said. “They feel my phrases reveal what their work is about.”
The best feedback is seeing people engage with his text-based artworks, he added. He hopes his creations will all find homes where they can act as conversation starters — and possibly spur thoughtful discussions on the commercial aspects of fine art.
“I’m having fun with it,” Veazey said. The interior designers “are enjoying it too. Some designers ask what I’m working on, and I’ll reply that I [paint] phrases that I hear interior designers say. They smile because they know they say some interesting things.”