We had the good fortune of connecting with Dominique Montano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dominique, what do you attribute your success to?
I think the past (and hopefully continued!) success has definitely been my ability to be adaptable and approachable with my art. Straying away from just prints and originals and breaking out into different types of products like chalk bags, stickers and hats has allowed me to access more diverse audiences and allow my art to emerge in unconventional settings. By exploring new avenues and activities I have been able to bring my art to new audiences where the market isn’t super saturated. I would always hear comments like ‘i don’t have the wall space’ and that sort of pushed me to make things independent of walls. Making products folks really like and can put anywhere has really helped my work to flourish. Particularly emerging in a college town and being a college student, I understand the financial strains, and wanted to create products that wouldn’t break the bank and be affordable for any person. I think art shouldn’t be exclusive and that anyone should have access; not everything has to be an extraordinarily expensive original. By sourcing my products almost exclusively myself, I have been able to cut costs and keep my margins low, allowing me to profit and offer very affordable prices for anyone that connects with my art and wants a piece of it for themselves. It also creates more of a personal connection with me and my art, even if it’s not an original. My prints being printed and bagged by me, stickers hand cut by me, adds a personal flourish that prevents my art from stagnating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I definitely take my inspiration from my work as a zoologist and animal physiologist. The extraordinary abilities of animals to be adaptable and thrive in environments is a an extreme source of inspiration for me! i love to paint dynamic pieces with bold colors on canvasses that have little to no background so as to put the animal subject in the forefront. I also like to allude to the challenges faced by these species, and the pieces have the subjects fading into the background to represent the declines in population numbers. I appreciate art as a visual medium in order to jumpstart engaging conversations about more in-depth ecological or scientific processes, and to allow the viewer to reflect on the relationship between humans and nature, and our role in its future. Allowing this network between art and science allows for an interesting way to communicate complex topics in a visually appealing manner, and one of the central tenets I try to achieve as a scientist. I donate a portion of proceeds to conservation agencies as well, in an effort to give back. It definitely wasn’t easy to get to where I am! Balancing a masters degree and an art business is a lot of running back and forth! I have had so much support behind me over the years, people that really encouraged me to find a blend between both and a healthy balance so that I can enjoy two of my biggest passions. I think no longer keeping them mutually exclusive and inviting that intersect between art and science definitely has made my career enjoyable and impactful, as well as manageable! Finding local resources so that I can keep my products in house and keep margins low has been extraordinarily helpful in providing art to any community that can want it, and it allows me to make a wide breadth of products that go beyond traditional prints. Asking around and being familiar with my community, always taking a stack of cards to give to whoever may want them, and never being afraid to inquire have definitely been some of my biggest aids in allowing my art to grow beyond my home into the community. I think allowing my own personal inspirations to come through keeps my art novel and intriguing, as well as recognizable, and has helped me establish my foot in a large artistic community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh boy. Let’s talk B.C. (Before Covid). Colorado has so much to offer, and even though I’m in the Front Range of Fort Collins, there is no shortage of things to do! Naturally, a hike up Horsetooth and then some drinks at local breweries like Odell, Funkwerks, New Belgium, or Equinox comes standard. If it’s a week I would definitely want to do a bike and brewery tour, Fort Collins has them everywhere, and you can take the local bike trails to see some of the gorgeous natural areas as well! If it’s summer ,paddleboarding in the reservoir or any one of the sweet local concerts like NewWestFest is a must do. Then maybe some camping up the Poudre, or if they are up for it, some backpacking into some of the wilderness areas. Then to seal the days off a beer and show at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre up the canyon. For food, there are so many food trucks, but my favorites have definitely been The Tramp About, Waffle Lab or Mama Rama. There’s even normally some cool food truck rallys to sample everything! Perhaps a bike ride there or grab some food and then hit the drive-in for sunset and some movies. For food there’s some amazing brick and mortar spots like Silver Grill or Backporch for breakfast, coffee at Mugs or Starry Night, and then excellent dinner options at Los Tarascos, Jax Fish, or even the Mayor of Old Town! Then some excellent nightlife spots at Avo’s, Coopersmith’s or Match ups for pool, and then nightcaps at the Forge or Social for some friendly bars with a unique atmosphere! For fun there’s also the Museum of Discovery, tubing the poudre, or even some fishing or birdwatching in natural areas. No shortage at all!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Gosh, literally everyone! I have friends that help bag prints, set up art tents, offer suggestions, and purchase art! i have local businesses that graciously invite my art in to sell and gain traction, or provide a space for me to come in and get some work done, and the city of Fort Collins has just been extraordinary as a community of support and inspiration. I would absolutely not be where I am today without the efforts of the people around me, and there are just far too many to name. By far my biggest shoutout goes to the wildlife and natural inspirations that serve as the source for my art!