Artist of the Month: Collage Artist Derek Gores

Working with bits of paper to create Art with the ‘collage’ technique crosses barriers of accessibility for anyone with the patience to ‘stand back’ and enjoy the image. The never-ending supply of colors and images produced in magazines and flyers that offer themselves for ‘recycling’ can lead to highly personal – and valuable – works of art, as seen in the collages created by Artist Derek Gores.  Gores, who received his BFA from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, has gained national attention for his collage works – recycling magazines, labels, and found materials to create his works on canvas.

In 2010, Gores was named ‘one of the 40 important artists of the New Contemporary Movement’ while in a show at London Miles Gallery in the UK. In 2009, Gores was honored to be one of fifteen artists asked to exhibit at the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, and he was recently commissioned to create 6 new pieces for the recently opened Amway Arena in Orlando, including a 7-foot-tall portrait of basketball super-star Dwight Howard. Having worked as a successful commercial designer and illustrator for 15 years, Gores’ clients include ESPN, Lenny Kravitz, Lucasfilm, Kings of Leon, NASCAR, and a host of famous people and corporations.


Derek Gores

All Summer Long



Gores combines the natural beauty of the human figure, the aesthetic of fashion, the angular design of machinery, and a fearless sense of play into his creations. "I like my pictures to barely come together with teasing little details,” he says. “In the collages, some of the little bits I use are deliberate, but in most I'm trusting randomness to help build an end result more interesting than I could have planned. One friend calls it a 'Zen Narrative.' I'm not interested in heavy concepts. I make something simple and let the parts combine in the head, reacting with any history the viewer brings to the table. When all goes well, I might create a real experience, instead of just a picture of an experience."


Derek Gores

Statuesque Statue



Having recently met up with Derek Gores at a Gallery Opening in Orlando, here are some of the responses the Artist had related to his work:


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started?  Who were your first MAJOR influences?

I started doodling as a kid on the edge of my bed. (Aliens and cars and made-up animals). I drew with my dad during summer vacations on Cape Cod. I went off to RISD quite tight but quickly added the influence of Franz Kline, NC Wyeth, Max Ernst and certainly Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Right out of school I designed shirts for the Grateful Dead … a useful job since they never wanted pictures of the band.


Derek Gores

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic


Derek Gores



Please use your own words to describe your art...

I recycle magazines, maps, labels, hand written notes and anything I can get my hands on to create a new larger image. Much of the stuff has a fashion feel to it. In the fashion sensibility I've found a good home for the abstract design mixed with classic beauty, but in a newer style. I try to create a soft and pulsing figure, but using very angular elements. I hope to create a felt experience, where the figure I depict reflects more than just a frozen moment and teases the viewer with fractured references. I like it when I see very stylish and deliberate people come to a show and turn into kids again as their senses ‘wake up.’ Most of my pictures are of beauty, but beauty built of chaos and mess and discord. I like the end result to be positive, and I always aim for a strong, individual presence in the figure.


Derek Gores

Have it all


Derek Gores

Mystery Rewarded



What happened to first make you think of yourself as an artist?

Somewhere around my 100th storm-trooper I think.


Derek Gores



What inspires you NOW?

Mystery and minimalism and the moment before the moment…. Some of my work is intimate – a figure and her thoughts. Some is about inspiring a crowd like the six Orlando Magic Arena pieces commissioned by Sports and the Arts. I've had the chance to be involved in some bigger social causes too.

Last year I participated in the Manifest Equality show in LA, and later the Re:Form School exhibit in New York. That one was a visual arts statement about how the public school system could improve. I made a 9' x 16' collage of an outer space scene, with children as the astronauts. I collaged the piece, but instead of my usual magazines, I constructed the piece entirely out of drawings of inventions, all drawn by Brevard County school kids. (More than 1,000 drawings in all) I asked them to envision the future, and they drew things like automatic homework robots, a bed that makes itself, and a world-peace blanket! The titles of my pieces always come from phrases I find in the art, and this piece was titled 'My Math Homework Ate My Dog."


Derek Gores


Derek Gores



Where is your favorite place to create art? 

In the studio I share with friends called the EGAD! Art Lab, in Melbourne, Florida. We mix in painting, photography, sculpture, digital, even theatre. The mix of feeling powerful while creating something from nothing... as well as humble while tapping into the universe and history. Bringing in other people either as artists or audience is intoxicating indeed.


Derek Gores


Derek Gores



Describe the “perfect” Derek Gores collage.  Have you achieved it yet?

None are 'perfect' yet, but I always get them somewhere interesting. My favorites are the ones that change the most after my simple plan. I collaborate with the gods of randomness. I love the pieces that confuse the senses.



Creating takes a lot of creative energy.  How do you “re-charge” your batteries?

I run, I daydream about the sea. I take the long way to pick up the mail with my youngest daughter. I listen to Spenser novels on audiobook. I create exploratory photo-shoots and eat peanut m&m's.


Derek Gores


Derek Gores



What’s your fondest hope for the future of your career?

More art, big and small. Access to more eyes, big and small. Maybe a solo show in New York hosted by Steve Martin with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno providing the live soundtrack. Then we go see a play.



How can readers find and purchase your art?

Derek Gores - Fine Art and Design,

In Los Angeles, Thinkspace Gallery:

In Santa Fe, at Lakind Fine Art:

In Sacramento, at Elliott Fouts Gallery:  (show there in the Fall)

In Asbury Park, NJ at Parlor Gallery:

In Tampa, FL at Baisden Gallery-

In Melbourne, FL, find me at EGAD! Art Lab. The next show opens July 15th, 'Data-Moshing'. and follow along on my website and facebook too:

… and I'm working on a show in Barcelona too!


Derek Gores



Want more extraordinary artists? Check out my board:




All photos courtesy and copyright Derek Gores



Author Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators