At Home With: Stew Frick, artist and fashion designer | At Home With ... | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

At Home With: Stew Frick, artist and fashion designer

click to enlarge At Home With: Stew Frick, artist and fashion designer
Photo: Stew Frick
Stew Frick with their roommate's cat
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today, it's artist and fashion designer Stew Frick, of Sweet Tooth Customization.

What has your day-to-day routine been like in quarantine?
Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a work-from-home job, so I get up in the morning, and spend a solid portion of the day in Zoom meetings. After work, I’ve been working on renovations in an apartment I’m moving into, then I’ll come home and paint in the late evening. Usually, around 9 p.m. to midnight, [I'm] working on smaller projects. [Before] bed, I spend most of my time on Twitter, finding new bail funds or organizations to donate to (especially considering I still have a job). I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, staying in to paint and whatnot, so it’s kind of a more extreme version of my normal routine, with more anxiety and donating money and anger.

What's something you would normally be doing on a summer day that you can't right now?
Going to a show! I love the local music in Pittsburgh, so missing the warm nights of seeing Sierra Sellers, Clara Kent, or INEZ performing has been the biggest thing that I miss. Along with that, [not] going out into the world and seeing all the friends and acquaintances that I mostly know via the local music/art scene has been really sad. All those people that you don’t necessarily hang out with, but always run into at a show and hug and catch up on your lives while being drowned out by the music — that’s a big thing I miss.

People are getting more creative with their masks, and making them into more of a fashion statement. Have you experimented with pandemic fashion in that way at all? Do you have any favorite mask designers?
I’ve actually been a lot less fashionable during the pandemic, aside from playing dress-up at home here and there. My favorite mask designer is Knotzland for sure, and Nisha [Blackwell], who owns Knotzland, actually gave me a lesson in sewing my own masks (although truthfully, I never got the hang of it). But hopefully soon, I’ll start making my own fun masks, but up to now they’ve really been more utilitarian than anything.

Is there any music, movies, or other art you've newly discovered in quarantine?
Three things come to mind! First is the Mort Garson album Plantasia which is an amazing synth album made to be played for plants! I don’t have many plants, but it’s incredibly soothing and fun for human listening too. The other thing is a bit weirder, but I’m a huge true crime nerd, so I’ve been watching a lot of serial killer documentaries and found a bunch of rare ones on YouTube, so I’ve been watching those while I paint. Lastly, I’ve picked up some books from NoName’s Book Club, namely Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis, and have been setting aside time each week to have more productive reading time.

Has the pandemic, or anything else happening in the world, affected the kind of pieces you make?
I think the pandemic has helped me slow down a bit and make more relaxed pieces. Last year, I was always working in a flurry — preparing a gallery show, a runway show, and commissions simultaneously. Because there’s less commitment and pressure to my art right now, I’ve been focusing on more easygoing pieces that I’m developing and practicing for larger collections. My big focus right now has been creature creation and lettering — I want to start making a collection of comic-esque creatures and monsters of my own design. I’ve mostly been practicing with real animals, and of those mostly in the ocean/water. Oarfish, trout, nautilus, squid, that kinda thing.

What's a charity or organization you would recommend donating to right now?
SteelSmilingPGH! I’m currently donating 50% of any art I sell to them, and they’re doing amazing work in mental health access, education, and support.