Gary Faigin

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Gary Faigin is an American artist, author, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Gage Academy of Art, Seattle.[1]


Gary Faigin was born on September 17, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan. His parents were both teachers. As a college student during the Vietnam War, Faigin dropped out of the Residential College at the University of Michigan to travel to San Francisco to participate in the communal movement, at its high point in the early 1970s.

In 1976, determined to train as a realist artist, he hitchhiked from the West Coast to New York City specifically to study with famed anatomist, Robert Beverly Hale, at the Art Students League of New York. He remained a student at the League for four years, focusing on figure drawing, anatomy, and perspective. In addition, he pursued art studies part-time at the National Academy of Design, School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design.

In 1979, Faigin travelled to Paris where he spent a year studying at the famed École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He currently resides in Seattle with his wife Pamela Belyea (m. 1976) and two children (b. 1991 and 1996).


Upon the retirement of Hale in 1983, Faigin was asked to teach his Figure Drawing class at the League, a program he presented continuously over the next decade. Concurrently, he taught Perspective and Portrait Drawing at the newly founded New York Academy of Art, the National Academy School of Design, the School of Visual Art and Parsons School of Design. He opened his own studio in Hells Kitchen and began personal work focused on self-portraits and still lifes.

Cause and Effect, Gary Faigin, Oil on Canvas, 2002, 36"x60", Private Collection

In the summer of 1984, Faigin began a ten-year summer residence in Santa Fe, NM, a locale that afforded him exposure to the burgeoning realist painting scene of the Southwest. His works included pastel landscapes and printing making with shows at the Frank Croft and the Realist Art Galleries.

In 1989, Faigin and his wife decided to open a summer art school in Santa Fe; the next summer saw the launch of the “Academy of Realist Art” at St. John’s College with two sessions and 44 students. That school grew into the current year-round Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.[2][3] Faigin currently serves as Artistic Director of Gage,[4] as well as leading annual Gage art tours to European and American museums, and teaching painting and drawing. A 2005 photo by Thomas Struth captured Faigin lecturing in front of Las Meninas at the Prado to a group of Gage tour participants.

In 1990, Faigin's The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression was published.[5] It is now in its 17th printing and has also been published in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Russian, and Korean. While the book is employed by artists, it is also popular with digital animators, cartoonists, portrait artists, forensic artists, puppeteers, actors, and art directors, as well as psychologists and plastic surgeons; in the extra features of Shrek, The Artist's Guide is seen in several shots during interviews. In 2010, Faigin and Barbara Mones, the Creative Director of the Computer Animation Lab[6] at the University of Washington, organized an interdisciplinary research team to explore the way human expressions are interpreted on stylized (i.e. animated) faces.

The Frye Art Museum in Seattle presented a retrospective exhibition of Faigin's work in 2001.[7][8] The show included work from the "Moving Pictures" still life series, as well as the "City of Billboard" series.[9] Another ongoing series of paintings have featured houses in peril, a sort of foreshadowing of the mortgage crisis of 2008.[10] In 2006, Faigin's Seattle studio was featured in the first public demonstration of Microsoft's Photosynth using the details in his paintings and drawings to show off its high-resolution capabilities. He was nominated for a Neddy Award in 2009.[11] In 2012, Faigin completed a 16-foot mural[12] for Temple Beth Am in Seattle on the subject of the festivals of the Jewish year.

From 2001-2012, Faigin had a monthly spot as an art critic on the KUOW-FM radio station in Seattle.[13] and also posted monthly reviews on the Seattle arts website[14] Currently his reviews appear every month in the Seattle Times. Through the Gage Academy, he has hosted an artist interview series called ArtTalk, some of which appear on the Seattle Channel.[15]

In 2015 Faigin joined the Founding Board of the new Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds, where is he is on the Executive Committee.[16] He was also made an Artist Fellow of the Rainier Club.[17]

Faigin was formerly represented by Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle's Pioneer Square.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2008-11-01. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Tarzan, Deloris (1992-01-16). "Entertainment & the Arts | The Timing Was Right For Artists Belyea, Faigin | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  3. ^ Tarzan, Deloris (1992-10-04). "Entertainment & the Arts | Learning To See - Lesson One Is To Forget What You Think Things Look Like - Including Yourself | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  4. ^ Graves, Jen (2007-04-26). "Art School Confidential - Visual Art". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  5. ^ Gary Faigin. The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression. ISBN 9780823016280.
  6. ^ "Barbara Mones Website". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  7. ^ Josslin, Victoria (2001-07-25). "Faigin's fabulous fruit show his skills as art historian". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  8. ^ "Gary Faigin". YouTube. 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Gimme (back) Shelter: Art for the housing crisis - Seattle Arts News and Reviews". 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-08-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Birth is a Beginning - Gary Faigin Mural". YouTube. 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-11-01. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2008-11-09. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "An Evening With: Roger Shimomura with Gary Faigin". 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  16. ^ "Cascadia Art Museum in Seattle, WA | Company Info & Reviews". 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  17. ^ "The Rainier Review" (PDF). June 2015. Retrieved 2016-09-15.

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