April 16th, 2020

Jylian Gustlin, “Equus JD 3 with Dave Gustlin,” mixed media, 48″ x 72″ SOLD

By Veronica Vale

This winter, Jylian Gustlin‘s exhibition featured a very special collaborator: her brother, Dave. Jylian and Dave Gustlin — a fine art painter in his own right — collaborated in the studio to create three dynamic horse paintings for her December exhibition, proving that talent runs in the family.

If this sibling collaboration weren’t inspiring enough, Jylian Gustlin‘s sister Deborah, who happens to also be an instructor of fine arts at Gavilan College, published a coffee table book this past year on Jylian Gustlin‘s work, featuring an impressive foreword by activist and musical legend Joan Baez, we might add (“Diamonds and Rust” only happens to be one of my all-time favorite songs, so I’m not geeking out or anything…).

Witnessing the uplifting success of the Gustlin family’s collaborations and their apparent, and shared passion for the arts, we were inspired to learn more about their process. So we spoke with our beloved Gallery MAR artist, Jylian Gustlin, to get her thoughts on how to successfully collaborate with other artists… especially when those artist just so happen to be family.

Dave Gustlin painting in the studio alongside his daughter, Kira, and friend, Joan Baez

Gallery MAR: What inspired your sibling collaboration in your latest Gallery MAR exhibition “Collective Humanity”?

Jylian Gustlin: My brother, Dave, and I have always wanted to collaborate on a painting and we both love horses. It was a natural progression and we decided to go big.

Jylian Gustlin, “Equus JD 4 with Dave Gustlin,” mixed media, 48″ x 72″

Gallery MAR: In what ways did you collaborate with your brother, Dave, for that exhibition? What was that experience like and how did it differ from your traditional approach to painting and exhibition preparation?

JG: We had to agree on a horse to paint and once it was decided we just started painting. Colors ebbed and flowed until we had a cohesive background. We then began on the horse and it was not finished until we both agreed. Usually I work alone in my studio and I get to decide all colors and finishes. The experience was wonderful, and I love working with my brother. It was like a dance.

Gallery MAR: Last year, your sister published a coffee table book on you and your work. Could you tell us a little bit more about the creation of this book?  In what ways did you assist with its creation?

Jylian Gustlin: The book begins with an introduction on how my career in art started, up to today. It’s divided into the three main types of my art: Figures, Fibonacci, and Entropy. I had asked her to write the book because she teaches art history and has written numerous textbooks. I provided the pictures and some anecdotal stories.

A still frame from a video of Jylian Gustlin and her nephew, Zach, collaborating on a fun art swing

Gallery MAR: Recently, you shared with us a fun video of a swing painting project with your nephew, Zach. How did that idea come about and have you used the end results of the experiment in any of your artwork?

Jylian Gustlin: My nephew was working for us during the summers he was in college. I thought it would be a blast if we could make him a human paint brush. We placed a large piece of canvas and gave him a brush with paint while we swung him around. The canvas was cut up and used in my paintings.

Gallery MAR: What do you most enjoy about collaborating with others? What do you most enjoy about collaborating with family specifically? 

Jylian Gustlin: My family is my life and we are all very close. I love working with them under many circumstances. For instance, when my nieces come over, we paint outside on the grass. My brother comes over a few times a month to paint for the day and it is some very special sibling bonding time. 

Jylian Gustlin, “Equus JD 2 with Dave Gustlin,” mixed media, 60″ x 48″

Gallery MAR: What’s the greatest challenge when it comes to collaborating with others (especially with family)?

Jylian Gustlin: Keeping on track! And sometimes deciding on color is a conversation I would not have on my own. 

Gallery MAR: How does collaboration alter and/or influence your approach to art making? Would you recommend it to other artists?

Jylian Gustlin: I think every artist should collaborate with other artists, if nothing else, you can share ideas and sometimes pick up a new method. I always look forward to the days I have other artists in my studio, however, I love my studio when I have it to myself. 


We would like to extend a warm thank you to Jylian Gustlin for this interview and to her family for all of the of the lovely collaboration.