Derek Gores with model
Miami Beach

Loews Miami Beach Hotel is the perfect place to immerse yourself in all things art during Miami Art Week. Derek Gores – whose distinctive works define our hotel lobby spaces – will be taking over as our Artist in Residence for the week by hosting a number of interactive activations, including our signature event Collage Couture, in which Gores will transform Bar Collins into a living collage.

Before you meet Gores at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel Art Collective from Dec. 4–9, let’s get to know him, shall we? We chatted with the artist about his creative process, insider tips for Art Basel-goers, and what he’s most looking forward to this time around.

How did you get into the art world? Did you always know you wanted this to be your career?

I always knew it would be art, but no idea how I’d get here. I started with doodling “Star Wars” characters as a kid, then went to Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and right out of school I designed T-shirt art for the Grateful Dead. That was a unique blast. I still do some music design work now and then, for Depeche Mode, Van Halen, Deadmau5, Madonna. Ten years ago, I took the leap into fine art, hustled locally and made some ripples near and far. Created some luck with some hot galleries and shows, and it has kept building. I keep it fine art mostly but entertain the occasional cool commission for brands that really get the value of the handmade, one-of-a-kind. Recent fun includes with Adidas, Rinascente, Playboy, Tag Heuer, and certainly Loews!

Derek Gores’ collage murals are featured in Loews Miami Beach Hotel’s lobby.

Describe your style of artwork and your typical process for creating a collage. Any rules or methods that you follow?

I’m considered a Pop Surrealist, or New Contemporary Figurative artist, whatever those mean. I enjoy the Dada movement idea of using things beyond your control or preconceptions, including blind or automatic art techniques. Picking up scraps of paper somewhat randomly and making it work.

My physical process is something like: Take photographs with a model or space or object. Deconstruct them digitally, playing with adding textures. I usually include song lyrics from what I’m listening to, schematics from a favorite toy or guitar, or map of a favorite place. Cover a canvas with magazines, somewhat randomly, with colors and textures that appeal at the moment. Cut up or rip the parts somewhat blindly. Glue my digital parts to the canvas. Add more layers of found details from magazines.

My only rule: Don’t use pictures of the object to make the object; e.g. no hair to make hair. I try to use the opposite as much as possible. Text, landscapes, maps, data. I like a wild micro/macro spatial experience. I work quickly, with both hands, and on several pieces at once to get beyond linear thought.

Mental process: I try to make it a time capsule of the moment, with anything in my ears or on my mind. I try to pay attention to distractions, and let tangents come in. Find the story out in front of me. I think of this as collaborating with the Universe.

How long does it usually take to put a collage piece like the one in our lobby together? 

Generally a couple weeks, but once I’m gluing, they usually happen in just a few intense sessions.

Metallic paint enhances Derek Gores’ collage art in Loews Miami Beach Hotel

Can you walk us through how you customized our lobby mural installations to their South Beach setting?

Well, I started with just the right model, whose name is Summer! Isn’t it always summer in Miami? I layered in maps of South Beach, lots of luscious Miami textures, like the shoes and palms and sparkly things. During the installation, I hand-embellished the work with metallic spray paints… and ahhhh, I just love how the light dances as you move past the murals. I used some stencils of martinis, shoes, diamonds. Perfect match, right?

What other kinds of art styles or mediums do you dabble in?

The collages are mentally and physically tough, but my antidote for that are my wet drawings. I soak paper or gold panels, and do fast figurative pieces using pure chalk and charcoal. A few minutes, tops, usually. They’re expressive, gestural attempts at capturing a minimalist essence. This is the technique I’ll be working with Saturday morning, surrounded by yoga and zen music… ahhh!

Do you have any tips for guests looking to make the most out of Art Basel?

In addition to the big traditional shows, find some surprises. Satellite Art Fair is nicely bizarre. Wander around Wynwood for the walls but also the odd galleries and surely some pop-ups hidden around corners. And, throughout Miami, keep your eyes alert for artists taking over hotel bars, random outdoor spaces, even trunks of cars. The hustle is contagious and you’ll spot worthy experiences.

What are you most looking forward to about Basel this year? 

By doing my artist-in-residence pop-up/takeover at Loews, I’ll have the time to go see other shows myself! That is gold right there.

Art and fashion collide with Derek Gores’ work

Where else can your artwork be found?

During Basel you’ll find my work at Scope with Thinkspace Gallery, and in Wynwood with R House / White Porch Gallery. Maybe some other random spectacle. Like 2″ sticker exhibits on the back of stop signs.

Outside of town, I have my first solo museum exhibit at the Foosaner Art Museum in my hometown of Melbourne, Florida, running through March 23, 2019. I am super proud of the installations and roughly 10 years of work, plus workshops, a fashion show inspired by my work, and more fun through the exhibit’s run. If you can come see it, drop me a line and maybe we can meet up.

Question we should have asked you (and the answer)? 

What goes into your thoughts as you design an exhibit? The room, the space, the building has to be thought of as a piece of art. We make a vibe by mingling all the senses. The art, but also everything else. The sounds, the textures, the air, the drinks, maybe live art and interactive elements, and You. You are the secret ingredient, the wild card. In just the right surprising combinations, we have a shot at making magic. If you feel it, maybe you take a piece home to feel it forever.

See you at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel Art Collective, Dec. 4–9.

Lyssa