Anticipating the release of our first ever collaboration, a limited edition throw blanket with Phoenix artists the Fortoul Brothers, we chatted with Gabriel Fortoul about their approach to art, design for the throw blanket, and how they Wake Up Better®.
How would you define art? How would you define your art?
I (Gabriel) believe that art has the ability to change the world. I believe that art is one of the essentials of life. I believe that art has a way of documenting history. In our case, we always chose to portray the positive imagery of life. Sometimes, we forget the beauty. We hope it reawakens the youthful energy we had as children. We hope to help you see all the gifts that mother earth has laid out for us.
What motivates your art?
Over the years, we have developed a style that addresses questions that have always preoccupied humanity. The purpose of life, living in harmony with ourselves, our fellow human beings, nature, and the invisible forces that shape our reality.
Our style is both abstract and a symbolic depiction of the cycles of life. Our art encourages a return to a sense of purpose in a world grown disenchantingly materialistic. We recognize that behind the physical world lies a spiritual reality.
How would you describe the T&N + Fortoul Brothers design to someone seeing it for the first time?
This art evokes a sense of mystery within the dream world. It shows the process of regeneration that we all experience during the sleep cycles and the ability to break through the limitations of the daily illusion of reality when at total rest.
Why did you decide to partner with us, Tuft & Needle?
We were introduced to T&N in various ways through a couple of articles when we moved back to Arizona. Anytime I come across the two founders’ dynamics, it reminds me of me and my brother, and the fine line you have to walk with balance and harmony with each other. That was the initial connection. As we got to know you guys better, we knew the billboards and the space on Grand Ave., and I liked the idea of collaborating and planting roots on Grand Ave.
And sleep—it’s very important—another essential. It gives one the opportunity to heal, regenerate and meditate, to start anew. For us, it was a comfortable topic to work with. It’s challenging because you could do a million things with it visually, but we use it as a source of inspiration. With everything we do, we hope to get it out to as many people as possible to bring joy and peace to people to make a small change, we hope to create major change.
You are originally from New Jersey, but, coming from native Phoenicians, your work has a truly “Phoenix” feel to it. How does being based in Phoenix affect your art? Are you inspired by the desert?
Well, I’d like to think the work is universal. Someone like yourself in Phoenix would see the desert in it. Someone from somewhere else would see their land in it. The desert is a very special place, and we are only beginning to tap into. At this point, we’ve been here 10-12 years off and on. When we moved to Arizona originally, we decided to work as fine artists. We went back to New York for a few years and were able to channel that energy. When we came back, we decided to work together as the Fortoul Brothers. We’re here for a reason. Being here, we are inspired by the land, the people that were here before, and the people that are here now.
So at T&N, we are all about sleep, obviously, so we have to know what you do to help yourselves Wake Up Better®?
We need to sleep better. Getting into a good schedule is very important, and I think I wake up better when I get up with the sun, which is the natural cycle for all beings, and when the sun comes up it is time to awaken and be warmed by the sun. The other important thing would be to get up in the morning, and use that moment to meditate and to continue the transition from unconscious to conscious and smooth out that transition. So not going right to the phone, but to try to really understand the lesson of that sleep or absorb the journey/experiences you had while sleeping.
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