When one hears of an artist who paints with blood they often picture a peculiar, gothic individual. However, Trevin Prince is very much the opposite. If you saw him in passing you’d think nothing of it. Many people, upon meeting him and learning the source of the blood used in his work, ask “Do you cut yourself?” and are a little surprised by the sensible answer of, “No, I have a phlebotomist draw my blood for me.”
With such a predominate stigma of horror and gore surrounding the concept of blood it isn’t surprising that people envision its darker representations first. It is only natural that we think of blood as a metaphor for the life and death in us—that it absorbs and carries the memories and emotions that make up the total sum of us.
There has been very little out there that displays blood in an optimistic way. Any artist can splatter blood on a canvas and declare their work to be deep and philosophical. Yet very few can employ it to such delicate ends. Because it normally rots and decays, it stands as a reminder of how fragile and temporary we are. Perhaps this very fallibility is the reason we’ve never seen blood used as a medium expressed in a studious, introspective way; it couldn’t last.
It would take a special confluence to let someone paint with the very ink of the heart. It would take a curious scientist, someone who is patient and methodical, capable of testing various chemicals and compounds to see what could preserve this powerful ink. That is where Trevin comes in. It is his humanistic perspective of blood that separates him from other blood artists. He brings a light to a normally darker concept and through calm intricacies breathes life into every painting.
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1990 – 2012
From the time he was first able to hold a crayon in his hand Trevin had a fascination for drawing and coloring. His parents encouraged his love of coloring, but still made sure he spent time playing outside. Like most boys Trevin would explore and wander around his neighborhood at the trailer park. At the age of four he and a group of friends were all gathered in a circle to watch an older brother of one of his friends hit rocks with a golf club that the head had been broken off. Standing too close, Trevin was caught across the forehead with the back swing, the jagged club shaft hitting just above his left eyebrow. He ran home screaming, leaving behind his friends and the older boy frantically apologizing. As he hurried home the blood ran down his face and into his eyes, glazing his site with shades of red. Lying on the sofa with a wet rag over his head that had become more red than white, he quietly reflected on the unsettling site of looking through blood soaked eyes.
During the early part of his elementary school education, Trevin recalls jumping between two picnic tables that had a rope strung up between them, like a hurdle. His foot caught the rope at mid-jump pitching him forward and landing flat on his face. The impact deviated his septum which resulted in three surgeries to correct the problem. The scaring left by these surgeries resulted in numerous nosebleeds for several years. It became a regular occurrence for Trevin to see his own blood. He would gaze into the sink and watch drops of blood fall from his nose. Those drops slowly ran toward the drain forming streaks of red, red-orange, orange and black against the slick surface. Mesmerized by the bright colors before him he paused as he felt another drop leave to join the scene below.
Just before kindergarten Trevin’s family moved their trailer home out of the county and into Logan city. There they lived a short walk from the Willow Park and Zoo where Trevin would often play throughout elementary school.
Drawings from the latter half of Trevin’s elementary school years – 1994
From his first days Trevin had always been the artist of his class. Teachers and classmates would all tell him that he was such a good artist. The constant praise had him convinced he was an artist. That soon changed when he reached the fourth grade. His teacher, Mr. Smith, provided plenty of encouragement, while a new classmate presented a new challenge. A boy named Thomas had transferred to the school and, to Trevin’s surprise, was also a natural artist. In fact he seemed to be a much better artist than Trevin was. This new competition pushed Trevin to work harder at being better than his perceived rival in hopes of reclaiming his title of class artist. Although the results of his hard work weren’t realized in the classroom they did become apparent when he won multiple first, second, and third place awards at the Cache County Fair during multiple years.
“It Could Happen” 1996
Still living in Logan and now attending middle school, Trevin entered a color pencil drawing into the visual arts category of the school’s “Reflections Competition for the Arts.” It was fall of 1996 that he won first place at his school in the competition themed “It could happen.” As a result his entry moved onto the next level of competition where he received the first place award for the Logan City PTA Council Reflections. For the third round of the competition the awards were presented at the Utah State University Kent Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Department. It was a new experience for Trevin, having never been on a university campus before. He felt very small in a giant place. When the awards were presented he received only the second place award which did not qualify him to move on to the next level of the competition. It was still an eventful day which his mother made sure to attend in spite of having worked the grave shift at the hospital the night before and having to leave early for the swing shift that evening.
Drawings from Trevin’s middle school sketchbook – 1995-1997
The recognition at the Reflections competitions gave Trevin’s middle school art teacher Mr. Taggart enough reason to raise his expectations of Trevin’s abilities. His teacher gave him progressively more complex assignments that touched on the introductory curriculum of high school art classes. At the same time Trevin pursued his second interest of science. During this young age he put a lot of consideration into being a veterinarian when he grew up. His interest in science noticeably showed when he received a third place award at the Mount Logan Middle School Science Fair.
Trevin’s drawings from his high school years – 1998-2001
As he began his freshman year at Logan High, Trevin spent time after school helping his father with the construction of their first house. But with his art class being the last one of the day he would often want to stay later to work on his assignments. This became a bit of a struggle as he tried to balance his time spent working on the new house, his academic assignments, and his art assignments. His teacher, Mrs. Judy Smith, focused on the basics including the proper use and techniques of acrylics and oils in painting.
Trevin’s acrylic and oil paintings from his high school years – 1998-2001
Much of his early high school paintings consisted of comic book characters, cartoons, and animals. The acrylic paints worked well and were a welcomed upgrade from the color pencils he had regularly used before. However, there was still a bit of discontent to his paintings as Trevin struggled to achieve a softer blending of the colors with the acrylics. It was when he began using oil paints that he really felt an improvement in his painting skills. Mrs. Smith recommended Trevin when the Health Education classroom was looking for someone to paint the medical symbol in the school colors of crimson and gold on the wall. Trevin collaborated along with another student to accomplish the task.
All of his education in the arts up to this point seemed to be all basics and intro classes. It was when he started taking drawing classes from Mrs. Mandi Sigg that he noticed a big improvement in his abilities under her instruction. She was a younger teacher whose methods paralleled that of college courses. It was in her class that a weeding out of students became more noticeable between those who only took art classes for a lazy little effort course and the students who had real artistic potential.
Having completed biology and anatomy with excellent grades by the latter end of his sophomore year, Trevin began contemplating anesthesiology as a new career choice. With salary figures easily in the six digits, thoughts of never having to worry over financial matters were appealing; along with the prestige of being a doctor, this new choice had its merits. Trevin volunteered for the American Red Cross as part of a school to careers program. During his time as a volunteer he learned about blood collection procedures, CPR techniques, and emergency preparedness programs.
After several months of researching the educational requirements, years in residency, emergency calls, time away from family, and several interviews with practitioners, he concluded that he had more drive and passion for painting though the salary would be variable and commonly turned the phrase “starving artist.”
After the construction of his family’s new home was completed Trevin went about painting on his bedroom walls. He used acrylic paints to render the cartoon and comic book characters he had been so fond of in his youth. The most challenging one that turned out to his satisfaction was of the comic book character Wolverine. He had painted it just above the light switch of his bedroom and was quite proud of it.
Charcoal Drawing of Skeleton Couple – 2001
During his senior year of high school Trevin entered a few of his different projects from various art classes into the school art faire. He received a first, second and third place award in different categories. However, one of his works in particular created quite a stir of controversy. A charcoal drawing he had done for Mrs. Sigg’s class that consisted of a man carrying a woman, rendered primarily as skeletons, with flesh silhouettes that included a breast of the woman and the penis of the man, created a bit of an upset. Despite Mrs. Sigg’s efforts in defending Trevin’s work and arguing for its inclusion the school ultimately decided to have it removed from the exhibition. Trevin was confused as to why his artwork was so offensive when many of the examples in the art history books included the nude figure and were viewed as masterpieces. Regardless of the reasons for the schools decision to remove his work, he was grateful for Mrs. Sigg’s support.
Trevin Prince in basement studio – 2003
Near the end of Trevin’s senior year of high school, his mother, in an effort to further encourage his artistic abilities, enrolled him in the Art Instruction Schools home studies program early in 2001. Three months after graduating from high school, Trevin began his college career. Due to unsatisfactory grades in concurrent enrollment mathematics course from high school, Trevin began his college education on academic probation and could only qualify for unsubsidized loans. After his parents’ divorce, while attending Utah State University, Trevin constructed his first working studio space during 2003 in the basement of his mother’s home. There he created an environment to nurture his creativity and take large steps toward improving his talents.
Up to this point his greatest challenge in subject matter was the human figure. He had always done well with imaginative imagery, animals, cartoons and comic book characters. But his real struggle was in rendering an accurate representation of a person. Therefore he decided to make it the main goal of his college art education to perfect his skills in painting the human figure.
Blood hand print in basement studio – 2003
Another notion he came up with, a bit more out there and unusual, was to do a painting with blood. With no specific idea in mind he first wanted to test the material to see how it would handle. He determined that his first step was to obtain blood to paint with and decided to use his own blood. While attempting to draw from his left forearm with a syringe and needle in his right hand, he ended up blowing through the vein, causing a hematoma that spanned his entire forearm. He used what blood he was able to acquire to make a hand print on the concrete floor of his newly built studio, which he sealed over with floor wax in an effort to preserve the rich color. But to his disappointment, the sealing process proved unsatisfactory. For the time being he put aside the idea of painting with blood and focused just on the figure.
During a family vacation to Disneyland, Trevin had the opportunity to talk one on one with and learn from a couple of Disney animators. Having an admiration for animation all through his youth he was eager to learn more about the process. They taught him about the traditional animation techniques before computers became such a large part of the process. They explained to him how the use of clear celluloid sheets layered over a background painting created a sense of depth to the image and allowed them to focus specifically on the animated characters in the foreground. This, and other animation techniques, later played an important part in Trevin’s own painting process.
Trevin’s work from introductory drawing and photography courses – 2001-2005
After trudging through the first few semesters of general education courses Trevin’s spirits lifted as he began his fine art classes. It came as a welcomed joy as the classes were structured very similar to his high school teacher Mrs. Sigg’s classes. Trevin continually looked forward to his lessons and enjoyed his time on the USU campus. At the beginning of his artistic focus he had yet to determine what emphasis to pursue. As many of his professors assured him, he waited until completion of the introductory courses before declaring his emphasis. It was obvious that he was good in many areas of the fine art program. Ceramics, photography, sculpture and printmaking all came naturally to him. But it was in drawing and painting that he saw his greatest strengths.
Drawings and paintings from Trevin’s early college years – 2001-2005
Although graphic design wasn’t his favorite of the intro classes, he was able to learn a thing or two that he could later use. He even received a commission to design a logo for the Wolf Mountain Kennels Alaskan Malamute Dog Breeders Association. Around this same time, Trevin received a Certificate of Completion for the Fundamentals of Arts from the Art Instruction Schools and was able to transfer some credits to Utah State. Looking back at the Art Instruction Schools program, he realized that the program was better suited for those in a high school class or at a beginner level.
All through college Trevin worked part-time to full-time jobs. As the time of day that his courses were available would change through the semester, so too did his employment have to change when it couldn’t work around his school schedule. For a time, Trevin worked as a cook in the main kitchen at the USU Taggart Student Center. It was there he met his future wife, Sarah Liston. The two got to know each other as Sarah served the food which Trevin prepared. He learned that Sarah was majoring in Biological Engineering and also pursuing a minor in art history. Her educated artistic interests along with a biomedical mentality complimented Trevin’s combination of art and biology and supported the later development of his unique process.
Trevin and Sarah Prince, Salt Lake City Temple – 2006
On January 14, 2006, Trevin and Sarah were married in the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During their honeymoon, they traveled to Paris, France where Trevin sketched and photographed noted places such as the Eifel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House and the Pantheon etc. However, he spent the majority of time in Paris in the Musée d’Orsay and the Denon wing of the Louvre. There Trevin studied the traditional techniques and styles of the old masters.
Dennon Wing, Louvre Museum, Pairs, France – 2006
Upon returning to the United States, Trevin refocused his artistic efforts with a new fire and more actively showed his work in the university exhibitions. In connection with the exhibitions, he volunteered for various committees that helped make the exhibitions possible. By participating in the poster design, advertising and, very importantly, the installation groups, he developed key skills to use when bringing his work to the public.
Displeased with the management and the increased work demand without appropriate pay increase, Trevin quit his job at Dillard’s after obtaining a higher paying job at the La-Z-Boy factory in Tremonton, UT. For this job he drove 30-45 minutes one direction and worked 12 hour shifts four days a week.
Trevin and Sarah’s first house, Logan, UT – 2007
The intense labor later developed minor back and wrists problems, resulting in a shorter endurance time that Trevin could spend painting.
With both Trevin and his wife Sarah working full-time as they went to school, they were able to present a down payment on their first house in the spring of 2007.
Later that fall, he sold intaglio and woodcut prints at the USU annual print sale. The printmaking techniques he learned from Professor Kathy Puzey played a key role in the development of Trevin’s process.
Assorted intaglio and woodcut prints – 2007
Techniques in printmaking required working with a reversed image similar to what he had been told about animation. Trevin grasped this concept and would later integrate it into his paintings by working on the backside of Plexiglas as he painted images in reverse.
The Great Recession officially hit the U.S. in December of 2007. Early signs of economic struggles started to surfaced in Cache Valley during the fall of 2008. As these struggles became more apparent, many companies were faced with the likelihood of downsizing and outsourcing. With this constant threat looming over the La-Z-boy factory, Trevin made a preemptive decision and quit the hand and back aching job for a less labor intense and lower paying job at the RR Donnelly printing factory. A few months later the La-Z-Boy factory was indeed shutdown and outsourced.
While enrolled in an English 2010 class, Trevin found plenty of opportunity to write about the things that weighed increasingly on his mind. He focused his writing efforts on the struggles of becoming a professional artist. His writing reflected on the present situations and questions whether painting was the appropriate career choice that could adequately provide for his family. After much soul searching regarding the reality of being an artist, the so-called “starving artist,” he decided to persevere through the inevitable challenges that would arise.
Sculpture and intaglio prints from Trevin’s mid-college years – 2005-2007
So far he had only ever considered himself an art student and refused to call himself an artist until he sold an original painting for a grand or more. Anyone could certainly paint a picture, but that alone wouldn’t make them an artist. An artist’s work must show talent, be recognized by the public for that talent, and have enough merit to produce income to then further said talent.
Paintings from Trevin’s mid-college years – 2005-2007
Many professors and counselors encouraged their art students to have a second degree in another subject as a back up plan, because of the difficulty that comes with being a full-time artist. Trevin knew he was good at various aspects of the visual arts, but there are plenty of “good” artists out there, he would tell himself. Instead he wanted to be a great artist. He searched deep within himself for what he could be great at and how much he would be willing to give in order to be so.
With his monotonous and repetitive job at RR Donnelley, Trevin found plenty of time to let his mind wander as he searched for the path to take toward becoming an artist. Common themes of a sacrificial artist, giving everything they have for their work, continually came to mind. This metaphor of pouring one’s heart out onto a canvas or selling everything of value to buy just enough materials for one more painting, weighed more and more on his mind.
At first he looked at these themes as ideas for subject matter that he could create with the traditional oil painting methods which he had been studying all through college. Then his anatomy and biology interests kicked in and he thought back to the bloody handprint in his old studio. He thought, “Instead of painting the artist who pours his heart into his work . . . I should be the artist who pours his heart into his work.
Early in the spring of 2008, Trevin’s mother, a registered nurse, drew a unit of his blood for him. She and his younger sister, also a nurse, would regularly draw his blood for him during the years to come. Trevin stored it where the eggs would normally go in the refrigerator and spent his spare time on his blood painting theory with an intense level of dedication that lasted for months. He experimented with different painting surfaces to maximize the effect and tried out different chemicals that would preserve the rich red color of blood along with preventing any flaking. However, most important was finding the correct method that once a painting was completed, the image would be protected to ensure longevity.
Early blood painting experiment – 2008
He documented each material, chemical and process result as they were tested. Even coming up with the proper instrument to paint with was tricky. Initially he had thought to simply continue using the same brushes he had always used with traditional painting. This didn’t work well, however, on the Plexiglas surface. Instead he ended up using a syringe and blunt tip needle to paint with. In addition to being able to apply the blood in an accurately measured method, the tip of the needle acted like a fountain pen which allowed the application of fine lines and detailed areas.
When he reached a point where he felt he could control the material, he produced a couple paintings. Unfortunately, they turned out to be failures. Tossing them aside he resumed, without hesitation, his pursuit toward his artistic goals.
When the fall 2008 semester arrived, Trevin had enrolled in his first Advanced Painting course. This class was designed to allow students full creative control over their assignments and teach them the discipline of self motivation that is crucial to self employed artists. In this class Trevin unveiled for the first time his new blood painting process. Initially his peers were unsure how to comment on his new art, as most did not possess the knowledge of the process or technique required to complete such a project. Instead they analyzed the fundamental aspects of the artwork such as, the composition, the rendering of form, the subject matter and conceptual aspects, etc. Professor Woody Shepherd, despite his phobia of blood offered the most helpful and inspirational advice that ultimately resulted in Trevin’s confirmed decision to continue with this technique.
Trevin’s blood and resin on Plexiglas paintings – 2008-2010
His professors and classmates were able to give insights and ideas that he hadn’t thought of during the early development stages of his work. Trevin learned of other artists who had used blood as a medium. Much of the subject matter that these other artists produced was unfavorable to Trevin’s perspective of the material. Still, it reassured him that even though he wasn’t the first artist to paint with blood, he could still be the first to paint with it in a way contrary to these other artists who focused on the raw, controversial, and darker aspects of blood.
When learning about his new blood paintings Trevin’s Aunt Lesley, a nurse who does her own pyro-engraving artwork part-time, recommends that he apply to display his work in some arts festivals as she had done. The first festival he applied for was in his home town called Summerfest. However, when the jurors of the Logan based festival heard that Trevin’s work was done with blood; his application was rejected for being deemed too disturbing to be displayed at Summerfest. This rejection was quickly forgotten when he receive the welcome news of being accepted for an arts festival in the state’s capitol of Salt Lake City.
In addition to his academic support, Trevin was thrilled to learn of the Body Worlds exhibit on display in Salt Lake City, UT at the Leonardo Science, Technology, and Art Museum, that he had read about during his blood experiments. There he saw first hand the results of the plastination process developed by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens. Thousands of people gathered at this unique exhibition of human bodies and body parts preserved and presented artistically. From what he witnessed at Body Worlds, Trevin felt confident that he could find a place in the world for his own unique art.
Utah Arts Festival – 2009
With the economy still struggling in the early part of 2009, Trevin’s wife Sarah searched and gained new employment but again had to accepted a salary lower than her previous job. That same summer Trevin found success in his first major public display of his artwork, outside the walls of the university, at the annual Utah Arts Festival located in the state’s capitol of Salt Lake City. His unconventional work was quickly noticed and received much interest as something new and controversial. There were a wide range of opinions regarding his blood based work. A few were disgusted by the visceral reaction they had to the work. Some saw it as nothing more than a kitsch continuation of the shock art of the 70’s. While many more found it to be fascinating and inspiring. Even the skeptics that came to Trevin’s booth at the festival were surprised by the results they found. When reading about the blood work in the state newspapers they had expected to find a bunch of splatter and drip paintings devoid of any real talent. Instead they witnessed a refinement to the medium that gave them pause to not only reflect on the paintings but ponder over the challenge of producing such work out of a temperamental medium. The public interest was both fed and grew from the multiple interviews by the newspapers, radio and state news channels reporting on the creativity and technique used to produce such unexpectedly beautiful art.
Through the first half of the festival, Trevin sold a few of his smaller original paintings as well as several prints. Surprised by all of the attention his work had received, Trevin was grateful to find that the smaller paintings and prints he had sold had been enough to cover all of his costs for participating in the arts festival. But it was when he sold a larger painting Katie Jo to a University of Utah graduate student that Trevin felt a great change in his artistic path. It was on that week in June that Trevin no longer thought of himself as just an art student but an actual artist.
Just after the Utah Arts Festival, Trevin was invited to display his work in a combined exhibition of local emerging artists at the (a)perture Gallery in Salt Lake City. Even though the painting he had exhibited at the gallery didn’t sell, he was happy when a small painting he’d just recently finished was purchased by a private collector.
With a new sense of confidence in his artwork, Trevin decided to attend several other art festivals, but in order to do so required taking time off from work and missing a few of his university classes. With his wife by his side, he attended the arts festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico and found it to be very different from his experience at the Utah Arts Festival. In Albuquerque no one had read anything about his work in the papers and being out of state was not give the local artist support he had in his home state. Although many still praised his ambition and talent, there seemed to be more outspoken individuals who were appalled by his work. He and his wife returned home disappointed but hopeful for the next festival in Sacramento, California. Unfamiliar with the art scene in California, Trevin assumed that the state capitols would be the best place to show his work. A day before he had to leave for Sacramento he was informed by the HR department at his job that his time off request had been denied and that he could not take any more time off for the rest of the year. With anxiety and determination he quit his job without notice and headed to Sacramento. There he found the event organized in a vast convention center. He was kindly welcomed and greatly praised by fellow exhibitors and patrons, but it became quickly apparent that there was a much larger presence of craft work in this festival than fine art. Admirers of his work recommend that he try the Bay Area and suggested several galleries in San Francisco that his art could do well at. Again they returned home without a single painting or print sold. Plus the added expense of gas and hotel stays had put a strain on their already uncertain financial situation. His travels to the arts festival in Scottsdale, Arizona also prove to be unsuccessful.
Trevin’s work from life drawing classes – 2008-2009
Between each trip to the various arts festivals, he continued his education with classes in figure painting and life drawing. His Professor Scott Foster fine-tuned Trevin’s skills in drawing and painting the nude figure and what had once been his biggest struggle now became his greatest strength. Under Professor Foster’s guidance Trevin’s ability to render faces and the human form showed vast improvements as he grew to better understand the bone and muscle structure within the body. Trevin attributed much of his artistic grow to Professor Foster and still to this day consults with Scott about his work.
After the three disappointingly unsuccessful arts festivals located out of state, Trevin was grateful to receive a commission from a private collector. For this painting he did a portrait of a horse done with horse blood. The blood was provided by the collector who had it drawn from one of her own horses. Although it was similar to work with the horse’s blood was lighter than his own blood that he had been accustom to. As a result it took extra coats and layering to create the darker tones in the painting.
During the fall of 2009, Trevin entered his painting Against The Wind in the Utah State University Undergraduate Art Exhibition in Logan. For the first time after multiple years of university exhibitions, he received an award for his work—first place. Around this same time he participated in an online exhibition, Art (Raw) 2009 International Juried Competition by iFontis based in Columbus, Ohio and received fifth place.
After the let down from the Scottsdale art festival, Trevin quickly found a job working at Kohl’s retail store unloading freight. The minimum wage job was able to make due while he looked for something to provide better income. Trevin and Sarah were hit with a heavy blow when they lost all their investments in the stock market and the last of their savings was put towards their mortgage. With no other option Trevin took a job at a local treadmill factory. Every morning his shift began at 5:30 am and by the end of each work day he’d come home with aching hands from the intense manual labor. In addition, on the days where he had to work alongside a poorly vented arch wielding robot arm, he would come home with dried blood caked on his upper lip from the constant nose bleeds. Although the pay was very good he started to weigh the effects of the damage that would continue to befall his hands were he to remain employed there.
In January 2010, it came as a great relief when Trevin received his largest commission to date. A local doctor, wishing to have the painting done in his own blood, had Trevin paint a depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with a few orthopedic additions. This commission was the catalyst that led Trevin to quit his grueling job at the treadmill factory and pursue his dream of becoming a full-time professional artist.
During his last semester at Utah State, Trevin exhibited several of his works in the Senior Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition while at the same time he submitted a couple of his other paintings to two separate exhibitions at the Brooklyn Arts Library in New York.
Trevin’s onsite paintings from Germany and blood painting vier Kugeln im Ausland – 2010
Despite all their efforts, the effects of their financial hard ship had taken its toll. Trevin and Sarah had no choice but to sell their house at a loss and through the generosity of Trevin’s grandmother, move into the basement of the home his own mother had grown up in. His new studio space was shared with the laundry room on the main floor of his grandmother’s home. In need of money to buy more supplies to continue with his artwork, Trevin sold his car leaving them with only his wife’s twenty year old Pontiac.
With the remaining funds from his scholarship, Trevin traveled to Germany during the early summer of 2010 for a study abroad program under the direction of Professor Christopher Terry. Professor Terry played an important role in providing Trevin with the proper direction and in helping him with the conceptual aspects of his work.
Top of the Reichstag Building, Berlin, Germany – 2010
The program was very helpful in creating the opportunity to do in depth studies of the art located in the cities of Berlin, Essen, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Munster as well as many other small cities and areas in Germany. One artist that captivated Trevin was Kathe Kollwitz, whose art was mostly in black and white and clearly depicted the less fortunate, victims of poverty who suffered from both hunger and the effects of World War II. Though much of the curriculum for the study abroad courses was on landscape and architectural based work, Trevin still found a way to keep working with the human figure for his subject matter by using the dear friends he had made during the program as his models. Rebecca, Emily, Russ and Trevin went everywhere together during their study abroad. Even after they all returned home Rebecca and Emily continued to model for him. Trevin, along with some of the other art students, organized a figure drawing session during their free days in Essen.
Utah Arts Festival – 2010
A week after returning home from his study abroad, Trevin exhibited his work for the second time at the Utah Arts Festival. This time he received Best of Show for the outstanding collection of exhibited art, which entitled him to return the next year with all fees waived. During the latter part of the summer, Trevin reached a milestone as he graduated from Utah State University and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in painting and drawing.
Rebecca, Trevin, and Emily at the “Sketches from the Ruhr” group exhibition – 2010
That coming fall, Trevin was gladly busy with three different exhibitions. The first was a group exhibition of all the students who had been in the study abroad program. Straying from the work everyone had done in Germany, he decided to exhibit a blood painting he had done after returning home titled vier Kugeln im Ausland which depicted him along with some of his closest friends from their time in Germany. The title translates into “four scoops abroad,” referring to the four of them and their ice-cream fueled adventures during the study abroad program. The second exhibition of his work was in conjunction with the Academy of Performing Arts’ production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The play was being performed in the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah. Trevin was invited to exhibit his work along the aisles and the front lobby. Although he preferred not to directly associate his paintings with Halloween related themes, the general public always seemed to take extra interest in his work around that time of year.
“BloodWorks” solo exhibition – 2010
Third was his first official solo exhibition entitled BloodWorks. His friend and fellow art alumni Jonathan Ribera, co-owner of the Logan Arthouse and Cinema, supported Trevin’s work and graciously offered to display his art in the Logan Arthouse gallery space. Many of his friends, family, and neighbors all came to the opening reception. Some traveling two hours from Salt Lake City up to Logan for the BloodWorks exhibition.
Wonderful news came when Sarah was able to get a job at Thermo Fisher Scientific working in Quality Control. Not only was the job great for her career path, but she was fortunate enough to be hired two semesters before the completion of her required Engineering degree.
During the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Trevin’s temporary agent offered many suggestions for improving the business end of Trevin’s artwork. Along with his ample advice he arranged multiple unconventional exhibitions of Trevin’s work. One was at a private residence in Salt Lake City; another was a display along the walls of the Sports Mall in Murray, Utah, as well as the Sanctuary Day Spa at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City. Even though these events didn’t go quite as well as had been hoped for they still drew a few small crowds and put Trevin’s work out there for the public.
Through word of mouth, and a long chain of someone hearing from someone who heard from someone, Trevin was contacted by a gallery in New York City. They expressed an interest in his work and encouraged him to submit an application for consideration of representation. A few months later he received welcome news that his work had been chosen to be represented by the Agora Gallery in New York. The gallery’s operation methods were a bit different from what Trevin had known. This particular gallery had representation fees alongside the standard commission fee. The opportunity to have his work displayed in New York City was so exciting that he accepted the terms of their one year representation.
Notwithstanding his graduation the previous fall, Trevin still participated in the university Art Guild’s activities. One such activity was their spring break trip to San Francisco. Many art students and alumni pooled together to charter a bus and share rooms in a hotel. The group would visit museums and galleries as they wandered around the bay area for a week. Leading the group was Trevin’s friend, fellow artist and model, Sarah Jane. Also in the group was his friend Emily from the Germany study abroad as well as Brandt, Holly, and others.
Trevin and Marta with USU Art Guild in San Francisco, CA – 2011 (photo credit – Aly Johnson)
While in San Francisco, Trevin took the opportunity to approach several galleries about his work. Some were polite, taking his business card and explaining their submission policies; while others were rude and refused to hear anything about his work. During the spring break, Trevin became acquainted with the younger sister of one of his fellow art alumni. Marta had an intellectual mind with a love for art. Years earlier she had purchased one of Trevin’s small test paintings at the University art auction. Later Marta would be a frequent model and inspiration for Trevin’s work.
Nikki, Sarah Jane, and Trevin at USU Graduation Ceremony – 2011
During the first week of May 2011, Trevin’s wife Sarah graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Engineering. Since the university budget only allowed for one graduation ceremony a year, Trevin was able to attend the same ceremony as Sarah while receiving his degree. Along with the pleasure of graduating with his wife Trevin was also able to graduate along side many of his friends.
In dire need of supplies and materials to continue painting, Trevin spent his free time selling anything of value that he was willing to part with. This included many items from his childhood like his comic books, Star Wars collections, and other toys; along with furniture, appliances, books, and DVD’s. With a few items selling here and there over the course of several months, he was able to raise enough money to keep painting during that time.
Trevin’s paintings of blood and resin on Plexiglas – 2010-2011
That summer, Trevin participated for the third time in the Utah Arts Festival. Having established his name and unique medium in the Salt Lake area, many people came to the festival specifically looking for his work. He was blessed with a very successful week of selling his paintings and prints. As a result this made it possible for Trevin to take advantage of another opportunity. His previous efforts in San Francisco had paid off when he was contacted by a gallery located just a block from the Museum of Modern Art. Gallery 4N5 seemed similar in their representation agreements as the Agora Gallery in New York. However, this San Francisco gallery had a much lower representation fee. So again with the opportunity to exhibit his work in a major art city he enthusiastically agrees to the terms of representation. Trevin quickly went about constructing custom shipping crates to send his work to San Francisco. With the help of his family the two crates were lugged to the shipping company where they were sent off to the gallery.
The fallowing week Trevin and Sarah left on an LDS church history and American history trip. Spending a month on the road in a chartered bus, they learned more in depth the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints alongside the history and founding of the United States. During their free time in Washington D.C. they took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art. There was much time for pause and reflection as the group visited Mormon memorials in various states, the monuments and memorials in D.C., as well as the new memorial at Ground Zero in New York City. They made a lot of friends during the month long history trip. One named Lindsay, would later be a model and supporter of Trevin’s work.
Upon their return home Trevin and Sarah were met with misfortune as a mudslide had occurred in the back yard of his grandmother’s home. One third of the yard was caked with clay and mud. The fence of the back property had been knocked down. A constant trickle of water coming from the hillside brought silt and clay down next to the east side of the house. It would take a year and a half before all the mess would be cleaned up, the yard restored, and the fences replaced.
Things just kept getting worse as Trevin had excitedly prepared two of his smaller paintings for shipment to a buyer that had seen his website and contacted him online. After sending a cashier’s check there was a mix up on the amount as the payment had been far too high. In an effort to be honest and helpful, Trevin quickly wired the money back to the sender only to find out a couple hours later from his bank that the check was fraudulent and he had been scammed. A painful lesson was learned that day, but Trevin was able to spare his mother, wife, and other family members when the same type of scam was tried on them by online buyers and sellers.
During his modeling sessions with Marta, Trevin learned that her older sister, who Trevin had been classmates with a few years ago in college, was interested in modeling as well. Johanna brought new inspiration to Trevin’s work with her experience in ballet and as an artist herself she had a great sense of how to pose for another artist.
In fall 2011, Trevin displayed his work in a group exhibition located in a new gallery in Logan City named the Logan Fine Art Gallery. While attending the opening reception he was a little disappointed that his own works, as well as paintings by his friend Holly Cobb, were displayed on forest green dividers between the main gallery walls. Both Trevin and Holly were unhappy to see their paintings hung below eye level in this manner. They concluded that Logan was still lacking a decent art scene as the majority of the art in the city was landscape, western, and religious art.
In an effort to further support and aid Trevin in his artistic process, Sarah gets her certification in phlebotomy. With his wife able to draw his blood whenever he needed Trevin could continue painting with fewer delays.
“By Invitation Only SLC, UT” – 2011 (photo credit – Carrie Butler)
Once again as October approached, people started taking an increased interest in Trevin’s work. One individual in particular named Justin Kinnaird contacted Trevin about exhibiting his work alongside a private dinner party event called By Invitation Only SLC. This exclusive dining party circulated throughout different unique locations in the Salt Lake City area and included different guest artists and chefs at each event. Although it was Halloween themed, Trevin was pleased to see the formal setting that his work was displayed around. The costumed crowd attending the event listened intently to the small speech he gave about his work just before dinner was served. In addition to enjoying a wonderful meal, he was also interviewed by the state news channel, KSL 5News, about his unique work. As the main dinner wound down and the after party began, Trevin and Sarah graciously thanked their host as they had to make the two hour drive back to their home in Logan.
The beginning of 2012 had a busy start as Trevin hurried to finish building the crates for shipping his paintings to New York City. The group exhibition titled “Figuratively Speaking” was scheduled to be on display from mid January to mid February. The cost of shipping his heavy work that far across country was high, but he held his hopes even higher that his work would do well in the Big Apple.
Around that same time Trevin and Sarah receive welcome news when Sarah became pregnant with their first child. This forthcoming change in their lives caused Trevin to reevaluate some of his process as he looked for a way to cut expenses to save up for their expectant child and to also remove and reduce certain chemicals in his work. Instead of pouring the resin for his paintings in the garage he got a new shed placed out in front of the house to contain and distance any fumes from the resin.
Trevin’s artwork at the “Figuratively Speaking” group exhibition in NYC – 2012
At the end of the Figuratively Speaking exhibition, Trevin regretfully had his unsold paintings shipped back home. The expense for the so-called opportunity in a New York gallery was not worth it. In hindsight he wished he had been told of galleries such as this that were commonly referred to as “vanity” or “vulture” galleries as they prey on the hopes of aspiring artists. He also removed his work from the gallery in San Francisco, even though it was a much more affordable fee for representation; he wanted no further association with galleries such as these. It wasn’t until he received an art newsletter containing an article opposed to those types of galleries that Trevin became aware of the ill-favored situation he was in. The article went on to describe how many of these vulture galleries set their priorities on bringing in new artist so they can profit from the representation fees and in turn put forth little effort to actually sell the artwork. Not only were galleries such as these harmful financially to already struggling artists, but artwork associated with vulture galleries was looked down upon by the vast majority of collectors.
During the colder months of the year it was more difficult for Trevin to paint as the resin required much warmer temperatures in order to set properly. So he took the opportunity to repeatedly donate plasma. With the time he would normally spend painting Trevin went about writing as well. While on the long bus rides of the church history trip, he had written a couple summaries for story ideas. He utilized the chilly months near the end of winter and beginning of spring to write a novel to coincide with a series of paintings he had been planning. All summer long Trevin spent his time developing a new technique while still using blood as his main medium. He produced a series of thirty paintings corresponding with the book he had written.
In an effort to save money Trevin decided to forgo the Utah Arts Festival that summer, but was glad to receive news that the same people who organized the arts festival had agreed to exhibit his work in their gallery space that fall. Even though he wasn’t participating in the Utah Arts Festival that year, he and Sarah still attended the event. It was refreshing to be able to attend as visitors and observe rather that work in their usual booth spaces.
As fall approached Trevin prepared a room in his grandmother’s house to be a nursery. During the last week of September, Trevin and Sarah’s lives hit a milestone with the arrival of their first born son, Théoden.
Opening reception of “Hemolution” solo exhibition – 2012
Their son’s birth was quickly followed by Trevin’s largest solo exhibition to date that following October. He had titled it Hemolution as it was to be a retrospective of his work over the previous four years showing the evolution of his hemoglobin based technique. He anxiously prepared everything for the upcoming show: had post cards printed, online invitations sent out, framing some of the preliminary drawings he had done. Then, out of nowhere, about two weeks before the show was to be installed, Trevin received a legal threat from the attorney of a New York blood artist, demanding that he change the title of his upcoming show, Hemolution. The other artist’s claim was that since he himself had done a few exhibitions that began with the prefix hemo, he thought he had common law trademark (unregistered) of every possible word (even made up words) beginning with the prefix hemo. Before responding, Trevin sought advice from his professors and his attorney. After diligently researching the legal specifications of trademarks, he determined that he was at no fault and refused to change the titled of his upcoming show nor would he ever refrain from using the prefix hemo in connection with his work.
During the legal spat it became apparent how much of a hypocrite this New York blood artist was as he himself had just recently used the exact title Blood Works for two exhibitions. For years Trevin had regularly used Blood Works in connection with his artwork. After multiple emails and phone calls between attorneys, the New York artist decided to drop the issue. Since the prefix hemo was being used to describe the artwork it could never be trademarked by either artist in that situation. “The United States Trademark Act (TMA) does not allow registration of trademarks that describe the products or services offered. A term is descriptive of goods or services within the meaning of the TMA §2(e)(1) when it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic or features that directly conveys information about the nature, function, purpose or use of the good or services.”
As a final note, the New York blood artist left further proof of his insolence by making cutting remarks about Trevin and his aspirations as an artist. Appalled by the arrogance of his new rival, Trevin immediately started planning new exhibitions where he would display his greater skill; one exhibition to be titled with the prefix hemo.
After winning the legal argument, Trevin was free to focus on his solo exhibition without further interruption. The opening reception had a great turnout as large groups of people show up in varied waves. The state news channel, FOX13, came by the gallery for an interview with Trevin and the admirers of his work.
After the reception had ended, while Trevin was driving back home to his wife and son, the transmission in his wife’s twenty year old Pontiac went out. He was barely able to get the vehicle home before it died, leaving them without a vehicle. Fortunately Sarah was still on maternity leave so they had some time to try and find a new vehicle. Trevin had to rent a car in order to pick up his paintings when his solo exhibition was over. It took all of their savings, but they were able to come up with a suitable replacement. The new used car was in need of some work before it could be driven. During that time Sarah had to take the bus to work, and while she was home Trevin would get groceries on his bicycle. Just in time for the holidays the car was made drivable, thanks to family and neighbors who helped to repair, paint, and put it back together.
 In re Abcor Development Corp., 588 F.2d 811, 200 USPQ 215, 217-18 (CCPA 1978).