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Exploring Life & Business with William Engel

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Engel.  

Hi William, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started with Art School in St Paul, MN then went to Design School in NYC, and then Architecture school in NYC. Began to sell my work through the Friends Gallery at the Mpls Institute of Art. Also started to teach in the 1980s at the New York School of Interior Design where I currently teach Advanced Color online in the MFA and BFA Programs. I had a studio in Chelsea Art District in NYC until this year and decided to permanently moved it to Hillcrest in San Diego. I do commissioned works of art for designers and architects on the East and West Coasts such as Mark Stocker Design here in San Diego, as well as numerous firms in NYC. My clients have included the late Whitney Houston and prominent installations in NYC including Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle on Central Park and the Grad Center of the New York School of Interior Design., I have had three shows in the Chelsea Art District in NYC with Skoto Gallery. One of the best galleries in Chelsea in my humble opinion! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Definite struggling at times with maintaining an even income throughout the years. Sometimes I would get flooded with work and commissions and other times, the economy and design business would be slow. The studio rent, which is very high in NYC would always be calling! It seems the hardest part is always hanging in there and being resourceful and productive with getting the images of work out into the world. Many artists are not taught the “business” of art and pricing to keep your door open and the materials coming in. At times you have to be creative with what you use in terms of mediums and materiality. Keeping focused and positive is something I had to meditate on throughout the years. I have been lucky or rather fortunate to meet so many good designers through my position as a faculty member at the New York School of Interior Design. They understood my work on a professional level and were able to sell it to their clients at a Professional price. That is key to my business and longevity. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Artist?
I have two different styles if you will in my portfolio to show new clients through my website,, and with my current work at @williamengelnyc at Instagram. This has been key to my business and longevity. I have paintings that are made in oil through layers of pour colors, sometimes 12 pours at a time that emulates the sea, sky, or land. And opposite that, I have more abstract Single large pours of color that deal specifically with the size and shape of a large canvas. My clients tend to strongly like one or the other of these images or directions that the art implies. I like to do both. In fact, throughout my career, I swing from doing more realistic interpretations of the landscape and use that experience to inform my more abstract works. They become more landscapes of the mind. What could be more abstract than looking up at the shapes and colors of the sky in CA?! I just finished a diptych of a begonia plant and now will move into something that is more abstract and less objectified. I work on canvas or paper, and I work in Oil, French acrylics, and or watercolor. Color is key in all my work and studio. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
To hang in there and have faith that what you do is ok and good! Keep focused and not get sidetracked. Do things that stimulate you and invite you to learn more about what it is you do! I am a music director and organist at First Lutheran downtown San Diego and that music experience stays with me and through me as I work in the studio on my art throughout the week. A lot of people tell me my work is lyrical. 

Contact Info:

Image credits, Jeremy Silva glass sculpture, Skoto Gallery

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