Visual artist, actor and filmmaker, Dean Dempsey, has embodied the qualities of an expressionist since his "paint-what-you-feel" exercises as a child. The multi-format creative harnessed that early spark and has continued his innovation in the New York art scene. His 2015 debut feature Candy Apple won the NY Perspectives Award at the Winter Film Awards, and his paintings and photography have been featured in exhibitions throughout the US and Europe. His latest projects include writing and directing a second feature film, Deadman's Barstool, and portraying the lead role in Flasher, currently in post-production.
Read our full interview with Dean below.
MORGENTHAL FREDERICS: What form of personal expression best shapes the way you see the world and the way the world sees you?
DEAN DEMPSEY: Humor. I’m a firm believer that comedy can be rebellious—it’s a tool for survival and making our collective existence a little less shitty.
MF: Your art is an expression told through many different forms. Do you base a project on what medium you want to work with, or does the message inform that decision?
DD: I let the story or concept steer the ship, I’m just a vessel. Sometimes I’m drawn to a specific medium and can’t put it down, but that only works if it’s a catalyst for more ideas. You go into any restaurant and you’ll see the chef is cooking a lot of things at once. That’s how I look at the spectrum of my work. I’m cooking a script on this burner, a painting on the other, and oh shit I burnt the book!
MF: What makes you feel like the most authentic version of yourself?
DD: I don’t bullshit people. Honesty and how we treat other people is our most valuable currency. I never confuse ego with confidence—one will destroy you, the other refines you. I check myself on that everyday.
MF: How do you know when a piece of your work is finished?
DD: In short, when I don’t throw it out and I move on to something else. It’s innate. Something clicks and there is an “ah-ha” moment. But sometimes it doesn’t click, no matter how I cut it. That always sucks, but failure is a part of the process. It’s like telling a joke; you might think it’s brilliant, but if it doesn’t get a laugh it’s back to the drawing board.
MF: What is something that most people may not know about you?
DD: Now why would I divulge such classified information?
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