Local New Jersey artist Margalit Romano developed a passion for art as a baby. After growing up in Brooklyn, New York, and studying at Brooklyn College, that passion never faded. Now, a few years out of college and a resident of Southern New Jersey, Romano has turned her passion into a career. Her innovative and dynamic portfolio encompasses a wide array of styles and series, each displaying the emotive and vivid wirings of her artistic mind.
Romano is described as a contemporary abstract artist. She works with multiple mediums and offers a number of products, all available on her website. Her work is vibrant and unique, and fans of hers can purchase anything from stunning prints to creative, functional artwork.
Romano has even done major projects outside of her studio. At Long Branch’s The Juice Theory – a vegan and traditional American eatery known for its juices and smoothies – Romano is responsible for the establishment’s lively and comforting atmosphere. She painted the interior, and provided the mural works, throw pillows and even the chairs.
Recently, Romano did an installation at Jersey Shore Medical Center and has also worked with the Ezra Abraham To Life Foundation, an organization with several missions, one of which is putting teen lounges in hospitals to provide teens with a space where they can spend time and connect with like-minded individuals of the same age.
Best of NJ had the opportunity to interview Margalit Romano, where she talked about her artwork, influences, career and much more.
Best of NJ: When did you first develop an interest in art?
Margalit Romano: I was really always interested in the “visual,” and my mother actually recently reminded me that, as a toddler, growing up in Coney Island, Brooklyn, I would sit by the beach for hours and mix the water with the sand and make patterns in the sand. And that’s what I would do while everyone else was digging holes and building sand castles. So my interest in art has always been peeking through—it has always been there.
Once I went to college, I studied art history, and I really developed a strong appreciation for art. And after I graduated, I started to play around with my own materials and my own style. I’m self-taught and didn’t take fine arts in college just because it was too structured for me. I’m the type of person who just likes to explore and mess around, and that’s what I did.
BONJ: Was it during your time at Brooklyn College that you thought you might want to pursue a profession in art?
Romano: I guess after I graduated was when I decided that I really wanted to paint every day. But I didn’t really get that chance until I started posting my work on social media. I didn’t even know if anything would sell. But then I got one order and then another order, and then it just happened like that.
BONJ: How would you say that your style has changed over time?
Romano: I’ve been officially doing this for five years, and I moved to New Jersey four years ago. I think that now living with nature, which is much different from the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, I find that I have more of an inspiration with my surroundings. So I think that shows in my more recent series and pieces.
BONJ: How would you define your current style?
Romano: I would define my current style as “mixed media abstract.” It’s a little hard to define it because different series can be put into different categories.
BONJ: You have a very dynamic, stunning portfolio encompassing a variety of mediums. What are some of your favorite mediums to work with?
Romano: My favorites are definitely wood and acrylic paint. I can manipulate [acrylic paint] in a bunch of different ways, so I really like that. Whether it’s watercolor or a mixture, I am able to get the full range with this one type of paint.
BONJ: A very popular art-form nowadays is functional art, something you definitely have much experience with. What sort of pieces of functional art have you created?
Romano: I’ve done a few different things. So, any of my artwork can be reprinted on coffee mugs and cell phone cases and laptop covers and all of that. And then – something that I’ve started doing more recently – I’ve made these platters, like cheese boards and bread boards, that can be used every day. Each one is handmade; they’re all different; and they are still representative of my general style, but they’re things that you can actually use and not just look at and walk by.
I’m really into those functional pieces because it’s a form of art that people can incorporate into their lives every single day.
BONJ: So you grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and for the past four years, you have been living in New Jersey. How has living in these areas influenced your artwork?
Romano: Growing up in Brooklyn, there was a whole different range of people, and there’s a mix of everything and everyone and all different cultures and all different styles, and that all has stayed with me in my artwork even today, because I’m drawn to different styles and different colors; I don’t just stick to one way of doing things. I like to mix it up. So I think that influence is there.
After moving here, there’s a big nature element. I love that infusion of color and nature. It’s very relaxed here, I love it. And those aspects are really reflected in my artwork positively.
BONJ: We currently live in an era when technology has completely taken over our lives. In what ways has technology affected your artwork and the way you create pieces?
Romano: It affects the way I create pieces in two ways. With the flora series in particular, I created that series and that mixture of texture because, when you see that texture in front of you, you see the movements, and it’s real and tangible. The first thing people ask when they see it is, “Can I touch it?” And I encourage people to touch the artwork in that particular series because I made it for that reason. I want it to be interactive, in a way. And that’s something you can’t get with digital pieces, where people are just flipping through their phones looking at art. So people like that aspect of the series; it’s something that’s affected, and possibly better liked, because of the regular use of technology.
The second way is with some of my other pieces where I play around with technology, and I use technology to my advantage, because a lot of my prints are available on canvas and mugs and cell phone cases and other things. So since I can take a photo of my original painting and put the image on something else, technology has really affected my profession in that way. More pieces are widely available at a more affordable price than what an original would be.
BONJ: Who are some of your favorite artists?
Romano: That is the hardest question to answer [laughs]. It’s hard to pick a favorite. But it’s not so much [an artist’s] work, but rather the way they worked and made a name for themselves that influences me. With Jackson Pollock working on the floor instead of on an easel, that I find interesting. The way they create art, or the way they work with mistakes, things like that really inspire me. (Jean-Michel) Basquiat showing that graffiti is not just someone messing around on a wall and turning that into its own genre, things like that really stand out to me.
BONJ: Countless artists find influences in art-forms outside of drawings, paintings, sculptures, etc. Many find influences in musicians, writers, poets and even actors. Who are some of your favorite “non-artist” artists?
Romano: I think… Madonna, because she keeps reinventing herself over and over and over again. And Tim Burton, definitely. He is one of my biggest inspirations, because he has such a distinct style. He’s a visionary; he’s amazing. I love him.
I also have a different soundtrack for different styles of work, so I’ll listen to anything from Jay-Z to Blink-182. And I’ve definitely taken some inspiration from them, as well.
BONJ: What advice would you give young artists who are looking to follow the same path as you?
Romano: Don’t give up. Don’t let people tell you you can’t do something.
I actually went to a retrospective on Tim Burton at the Met a few years ago, and they said that one of his teachers when he was growing up told him that one of his drawings wasn’t good and that it wasn’t art and that he wasn’t going to get anywhere. So don’t ever let stuff like that stick in your head, because you need to keep on pushing through. We all go through that – I even still go through it sometimes – where we’re unsure whether we’ll be able to do something. The best advice is: Just push through, and you’ll succeed.
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- Hero (Top) Feature Image (& Additional Images): © Margalit Romano