Checking in with Patrick Costello


What were you doing when we called?

Eating lunch at Five Guys. They have a vegetarian option that I sometimes crave.

Hardly starving: In his art Patrick Costello reflects nature’s bounty, including everything from free standing structures to canned foods (pictured).

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just started drawing a positive for a large screenprint I’m going to do, and then I’m also printing shirts, trying to get ready for the holiday craft fairs. Last but not least, there’s a project that I’m working on in the longer term, that I’m applying for grants for now. Me and my friend Meg are going to walk from Tacoma, Washington, to San Francisco, California, canning food with people along the way. 


Tell us about your day job.

I am one-sixth of a collectively owned business called C’ville Foodscapes. We design, install and make frame vegetable gardens for people. I also do odds jobs to make ends meet.


What’s your first artistic memory?

I think my first artistic memory was actually performative. When I was younger I did a lot of drawing, I liked to draw horses and design—do you remember “Care Bears”? How they had little designs on their bellies? I would draw lots of little circular designs that I could tape on my belly. 


If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who and why?

I think I would like to have dinner with César Chávez, the farm labor organizer who did lots of organizing in California. I hope one day to be the artist version of him, in that he was such an effective organizer and he worked with farm laborers. I’d like to have a life based in creativity, and growing food and community organizing.


Item you’d splurge on?

Fancy cheese. 


Do you have any superstitions about your art?

I decide what I’m going to make, or think about what I’m going to make, and then go for it, and hope nothing goes wrong. I’ve had experiences with structures I’ve built falling apart mid-show, so I have nervous moments when I’m making a structure because I don’t want it to fall on anyone.


What is a concert, exhibit or show that has recently inspired you?

I’d say the Sharon Van Etten show at the Tea Bazaar. I saw that right before I started working on all the work for my show at the Garage, and I was like, “Oh, man. I just want to make art,” because she’s so talented. I also recently saw Allyson Mellberg-Taylor’s show in Brooklyn. It’s always inspiring to see my friends are making art that awesome.


Favorite artist outside your medium?

Somebody like Kathleen Hanna of Le Tigre. I like that she has done so many things in her career, worked with so many interesting people and continued to make awesome music the whole time. I also like that there’s a political awareness in her work.


Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?

Avery Lawrence. We have some ideas for screenprinted garden installation stuff. We want to make this installation where we can grow food and screenprint the planters. Maybe there would be a performative element to it. We both like to make masks, so we talked about having these kind of masked characters interact in a performance piece.


What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

My honest answer would be that I don’t think about failing, I just assume I’m going to mess up a bunch and do it anyway. If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would probably be in a band on tour.

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