Cool People With Dogs: Paint-by-Number Artist Trey Speegle
In his vintage paint-by-number and mixed media paintings, artist Trey Speegle explores themes of hope, longing, and transformation by using affirmations and wordplay. I was introduced to Trey's work when he had a home collection for Anthropologie going and instantly fell in love with the combination of highbrow and lowbrow and with his inspiring wit.
I recently purchased my first Speegle piece, and have since then been lucky enough to become friends with him via the Internet. Not only is he amazingly talented with a resume that includes designing art for publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair and Us Weekly, he is also one of the kindest and most interesting artists I have ever interviewed. He is also a wonderful doggy dad to a Brussels Griffon, Lamonte, and was awesome enough to answer all our questions about his favorite pup:
Dogster: Where did Lamonte come from?
Trey: My ex, Roswell Hamrick, and I got Lamonte seven years ago from a breeder in upstate New York. He was insanely cute, more like a toy than a puppy. We share custody of him now.
I think that is remarkable, especially considering that divorce is so prevalent that most exes can't even have amicable agreements involving human kids. How does that work out?
It works great. Lamonte kept us friends after we split as we were both so crazy about him, there was no way one of us would give up custody.
Even when we lived together, though, we had separate places in NYC near each other, as well as a place upstate, land in a lake community, and a small guesthouse, so Lamonte is used to multiple locations and going back and forth ... this is normal for him. He has no anxiety about leaving one to go to the other. He's excited to see who he hasn't been with.
I'm an artist and Roswell works in film, so we spend a LOT of time with him. He goes to my gallery [and] on film sets and he travels well ... [We say] "Get in your box" and he's ready to go!
When we first got Lamonte, I was the art director for Us Weekly, so I took him to be photographed in the studio. Later, I worked at OK! and Radar magazines and he appeared in those magazines. Scott is a well-known dog portraitist (he just did a series of dog watercolors that were featured on West Elm housewares) ... he's done the Target bulldog, Isaac Mizrahi's dog, etc. I am crazy about his painting of Lamonte.
I use vintage paint-by-number as inspiration in my own work, and I used a shot of Lamonte in the only piece I've ever created from scratch, but it was never finished.
Lamonte is an excellent studio dog. When I have work lying on the floor, as I often do, he ALWAYS walks around it, never on it.
What are your favorite traits of the Brussels Griffon breed?
Brussels are just the best. First of all, that face! After 7 years, I still haven't gotten over it. And everyone THINKS their breed is intelligent, but I really think he is quite sharp. He understands a lot of words and seems to be clued in to what is going on around him.
They only want to hang out with you 24-7, which is like most dogs, I guess. They travel well and they have a beautiful coat. By the way, we've never cut his hair or washed him with shampoo. He gets a towelette bath every so often, but otherwise, no smell. I was told dogs don't need baths and washing off the natural oils made them get dirty, so we've never bathed him.
Does Lamonte have any annoying or quirky traits or habits, or is he just as perfect as he looks?
He's pretty perfect, actually, but he does bark. Upstate, I live in a converted barn and Roswell has a converted church, so he is used to big spaces in the country with surrounding property to protect.
In New York City, I live in a ground-floor apartment with a street entrance and I park right in front of my door. So I've come to realize that when we are upstate, if anyone comes on the property, like an electrician or UPS or just a friend, he naturally barks. In Manhattan, when I open my door, he thinks I own the street and that I know EVERYONE walking by -- so he barks at dogs and people on the sidewalk in front of the apartment. Other than the barking, he's very well-trained, well-behaved -- a real little gentleman.
Do you have any other pets?
No, although I have considered getting another Brussels so when Lamonte is away, I have the company and he has a buddy when he returns -- but what if they aren't as good as Lamonte?
What else would you like Dogster readers to know about your pup?
I would say I've learned that if you don't train the dog, they train you. He stays in my loft bed for 12-plus hours at night and except going to the edge to get a drink of water, he is perfectly behaved. He has adjusted to my schedule and locations, and understands my routines ... they ALL like routine.
Also, I would recommend not breaking up, but I think sharing custody of a dog is a great arrangement for busy people. Roswell travels for film often and I travel for exhibits, and we are always certain that Lamonte is happy and well cared for when we do.
What is next for you? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes, a lot. Jonathan Adler shows my works on paper and smaller works in the U.S. and he's just opened in London, so I've having an exhibit there in May, showing at Pulse Art Fair in New York also in May, working on some retail collaborations and a large mural commission for an UWS townhouse. I have a solo show in Chelsea at Benrimon Contemporary in September -- so I'd better stop talking about dogs and get busy painting!
Thank you so much for letting us meet Lamonte and inviting us into your world, Trey!