Inspiration Found

Inspiration FoundArtist Andy Saczynski doesn’t brush off what others throw awayBy Jennifer Howard

Artist Andy Saczynski does not like to see anything wasted. From the recycled musical instruments and other objects in his painted pieces to what the Destin resident chooses to do with his time, squandering any resource clashes with the larger work-in-progress of how he lives his life.

Saczynski has recently risen to prominence as one of this coast’s most exciting young talents. He describes his artwork as outsider/folk art, the slash hinting broadly that his work is not easily categorized. The “folk art” description is apt due to the artist’s use of color and his penchant for local beach and tropical subjects. The “outsider” moniker works well to define Saczynski’s inclusion of recycled objects, particularly old musical instruments, in his work. Describing his art, he tugs at his short mahogany-colored beard and says, “I turn junk into funk,” then immediately apologizes for answering in a sound byte. “I can take stuff that would probably go to a landfill, make art and people dig it,” he elaborates. “I hate anything going to waste.”

 Andy Saczynski puts some funk into his "junk" art at World Six Gallery in Rosemary Beach. Photo by Scott Holstein

Although Saczynski has a life-long passion for art, it was as recently as March 2010 that the possibility of transitioning from art-as-a-hobby to art-as-a-career became possible. He exhibited some of his work at that year’s Art in the Park event held at the WaterColor resort community on 30A, and immediately claimed a spot among popular local artists. He has continued to participate in various art festivals, even earning the “People’s Choice Award” for his works on exhibit in the 2010 Destin Festival of the Arts a mere five days after the birth of his fifth child.

Saczynski’s family lived around the globe because of his father’s military career but settled in Niceville when he was in the third grade. He and his wife, Lori, were high school sweethearts at Niceville High School. On New Year’s Day 1993, Lori announced that they would one day marry. Saczynski says that at the time he was more into surfing and skating than looking toward the future. But the couple made good on her prediction.

In 2004, seeking inspiration in change, they literally pulled out a map of Florida, closed their eyes and pointed to a spot. Jacksonville was the town under their index fingers, so they packed up and moved. But the change did not particularly do them good. “It was one of the weirdest times in my life,” Saczynski says. “I was wasting my life, not pursuing what I am passionate about.”

It wasn’t long before the couple returned to this area and settled in Destin. Saczynski went into the landscaping business, which he still relies on for some income. “I love the creative side of landscaping, but not mowing,” he says. “I am trying to slowly phase out of landscaping, and figure out how to make [art] work and provide for my family. That’s my goal for this year.”

Artists often have an unconventional way of seeing their surroundings, and Saczynski is no exception. When he returned to the Emerald Coast from Jacksonville, he found he was inspired by the architecture and new development along County Road 30A. The new beach towns that had sprung up in familiar settings intrigued and moved him to create. Rather than decry development, Saczynski discovered an inspirational side.

Some of Saczynski’s best known works include “found” musical instruments, or instruments that have a way of finding him. Musician friends or someone seeing his work at a festival will hand off old guitars or cymbals, and the artist gives them a new life among bright colors and clever presentations. 

He cites music as a main source of his artistic inspiration. Saczynski works in his home’s garage/studio, where he admits he has painted every surface from the walls to the telephone. “I can’t paint without music,” he says. “When I am really focused, I start playing music and really go with it.” Among his inspirational favorites are Soul Life, Michael Franti and Spearhead and reggae.

The young artist has learned a tough lesson about how to best use his time from his father, Jerry, who has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. “My dad didn’t really get to fulfill his dreams,” Saczynski says. “He worked until he was 67; he worked really hard. He says he wants to see me succeed in art before he passes. That’s one of my driving forces.”

Even as he speaks about his life and his work, the artist’s blue eyes seem to look beyond the conversation to his next piece, his next step. Time is not to be wasted. ec