Christopher Lauto on his Experience as an Artist


Photo Credits: Christopher Lauto

Mia Baric, Staff Writer

 If you smell coffee in the hallway by the attendance office, it’s probably coming from the art room. Although he hasn’t worked at Smithtown East for long, Mr. Lauto has become a staple figure in the school’s art department, with lots of helpful knowledge to influence and guide his students. He was recently able to offer some insight on his experiences in the world of art, which is incorporated into every aspect of his life, from his hobbies to his career. 


         Starting at a young age, Mr. Lauto had always enjoyed art. “I always liked drawing, and I think that when I was bored as a kid my parents geared me towards more creative outlets as opposed to TV, so I became pretty good at it.” He realized it had become almost like a trait of his and continued to develop it, as he had always loved cartoons and comic books. Around his junior and senior years of high school, he knew that he really wanted to pursue art as a career later in life. But being an artist also comes with its challenges, specifically work-wise. Lauto describes that freelance work is often a hit or miss, with differences in pay ranging from very well to none at all when employers decide to compensate with exposure. “That’s definitely the hardest part”, he reminisces about an early set design job that he enjoyed thoroughly but was not able to keep forever due to the employer’s requirement of a set design union, whose test he was a couple of points shy of passing. Lauto had decided to later pursue a job as an art teacher, due to a secure, steady paycheck when compared to freelance work. He was able to do the art he enjoyed in the end, with the addition of teaching which he also thoroughly enjoys. For those pursuing art as a career as well, Lauto recommends starting to get work as early as possible. “You need to make as many connections and do many internships and as many jobs as you can before you graduate.” Starting work early in high school can be beneficial to kickstarting your future career and building important business relationships. Highlighting that you’re never done growing as an artist he also suggests that you “be a sponge” and only continue to learn how to better your work. A diploma won’t pave the way, artists need to put in the effort.


          Taking a more inspirational turn, Mr. Lauto also mentions some of the artists he most looks up to. “That’s tough, there’s a lot.” He begins by mentioning Frank Frazetta, a fantasy painter from the Eighties. He mentions Caravaggio as well, a classic Renaissance artist. These two inspirations are clearly evident in his own artwork. When creating his own art, he also shares his typical artistic process. He begins with, “Same thing I show you guys what to do….”, jokingly referring to the process he consistently teaches his AP Art classes, taken from his own experience as a freelance artist. Lauto starts with a written list of rough ideas that he then turns into thumbnails attempting to plan out his piece before diving into it. Then comes his sketch, sometimes multiple sketches, leading up to his final drawing. This is the same process he typically uses for his clients too, updating them with each step along the way. Lastly, Mr. Lauto shares his hopes for his artistic career in the future. Prefacing that he would never quit teaching, his number one goal is to finish the graphic novel he has been working on, each page a unique illustration printed with a linoleum carving. He mentions a further dream of his would be to work for ILM and illustrate for Star Wars, mentioning the downsides as well. “I like being able to choose what I get to do,” when in cases like working for ILM, there would be less flexibility. Mr. Lauto also mentions that getting into the Original Art Show Society of Illustrators would also be something nice he’d like to accomplish eventually.

          As such a successful artist and teacher, students at East are eager to see how he continues to develop his work and succeed in the future.