Adrian Susnea Litman is an artist known for his intricate abstract sculptures that marry fine art with wind catchers, creating stunning visuals for anyone who is fortunate whoosh to come upon one of his large-scale public pieces.
Adrian started to make art as a child in the Art Design and Restoration studio that his father owned. In 1963, he was accepted in the Fine Arts High School N. Tonitza in Bucharest, Romania, where he studied art techniques including drawing, painting, graphics, engraving, sculpture, fresco, mosaic and ceramics. He went on to attend the University of Bucharest Art Institute, graduating in 1974 with a Master’s degree in Graphic Arts Design. In 1980, Adrian relocated to California where he worked as a Graphic Designer and Art Director in the San Francisco Bay Area. He retired in 2002 and started Adrian Litman Art & Design Studio. Since then, he has created an eclectic body of commissioned art pieces for Civic Public Art, Corporate and private clients, including custom paintings, murals, frescoes, mosaics, sculptures, stained glass panels, fountains and wall treatments, all of which facilitate the harmonious integration of art with architecture.
Adrian recently discussed his life and work via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did your childhood impact your creativity?
Adrian Susnea Litman (ASL): I was born and grew up in a family of artists. My dad studied sculpture and decorative design in a school of arts and trades around 1933-1936 and worked in an antique furniture restoration company for a number of years. After WW II he started his own restoration studio and worked successfully even under the communist regime in Romania. My mom, who was trained as a nurse, quit her job and assisted my dad in managing the many restoration projects he was working on. As a little kid I did not have toys since such things and food were very scarce. Being surrounded by various art materials in my dad’s studio, I started to create my own toys and various decorative objects. Progressively I started to paint small still natures and landscapes and got encouragement from my dad’s artist friends.
MM: How did you discover your love for art and how did that lead you into your role as a sculptor?
ASL: In my last year in Junior High, I went on a school trip to the Village Museum located in the outskirts of Bucharest. The museum occupied a few acres of bucolic landscape with houses from various parts of Romania, beautifully decorated and furnished in the specific styles of each region. I liked it so much that the next day and the week after, I got in the bus and went to the museum instead of going to school. Every day I created a number of watercolor landscapes with the houses I liked the most. After about a week, the school contacted my parents to find out why I was missing school. My mom took me to school and in the principal’s office, surrounded by teachers, I was shaking and waiting for punishment. I told them the truth and they wanted to see my paintings. I went back home, pulled the watercolors from under the bed and brought them to school. There were about 30 of them, about 12″x18″ in size that I laid on the big table. There were a few minutes of silence with the teachers looking at my paintings followed by the principal saying: “This student has to go to an art school next year.” At that moment, my future as an artist was sealed. After graduating junior high, I passed the test and got accepted into the High School of fine arts. After High School graduation I was accepted in the Fine Arts Institute of Bucharest, graduating with a master’s degree in Graphic Arts. After relocating to the US, I worked in the Graphics and advertising field until 2003 when I quit the corporate job and started my Art and design studio, creating an eclectic body of commissioned art pieces for Civic Public Art, Corporate and private clients, including custom paintings, murals, frescoes, mosaics, sculptures, stained glass panels, fountains and wall treatments, all of which facilitate the harmonious integration of art with architecture.
I don’t see myself as a sculptor in particular since I work in a variety of media as well. I always wanted to create larger sculptures but the lack of adequate space in my Silicon Valley residence, prevented it. In 2012 my wife retired and we moved to Sonoma wine country on a larger house with an art studio surrendered by one acre of land that allowed me to work on larger pieces and have enough space for storage.
MM: What is it about kinetic (moving) art that is so compelling to you?
ASL: Designing kinetic sculptures is in part a result of the many public art calls requiring that type of artwork. Since I started to create such designs, the intricacies and challenges became interesting and appealing to me and very stimulating based on the people’s reaction when viewing my work.
MM: You grew up in Romania and moved to America as an adult. So, what are the biggest differences in the art industries between Romania and the United States?
ASL: This is a difficult question to answer because while I was studying art back home, I didn’t know what was really going on in the US. After moving to the US, I was busy and challenged with learning the language and performing in my job, not having the time to research and understand the art industry. Only a few years before I quit my corporate job, I started to go to art gallery openings and get more information about arts in the US which I found to be very diverse and complex.
MM: How did you manage to get your work shown in public venues?
ASL: After I quit my job, I contacted a few art galleries and showed some of my paintings. I was accepted in two galleries in Carmel and St. Helena, CA. Selling art in galleries did not provide a steady income and I was trying to figure out how to get commissioned work. With the help of an architect friend, I got exposure to private clients and housing developers, resulting in sales and the first public art project. With little to show on my portfolio, I started to apply to smaller public art projects and in a short period of time received a number of commissions. Slowly I received more and bigger commissioned projects.
MM: What have been the highlights of your career as an artist?
ASL: I would say that the public art projects I completed in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021and 2022 are the most significant so far in terms of size and budgets.
MM: What have been some of the most memorable tidbits of feedback that you’ve received about your work?
ASL: I heard many times people saying that my work is beautiful and entertaining. I find myself being happy and satisfied creating beautiful designs and less inclined in producing experimental and meaningless artwork. I understand the value of innovation and pushing the boundaries but as a result I see too often a lot of cold, detached and senseless art creations.
MM: How do you envision your artwork evolving over the next ten years?
ASL: I hope I can create a few good pieces in every media I work with and infuse a more refined spiritual aspect in every piece that can convey the message of doing “GOOD” in this world.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
ASL: I would like to thank you, Meagan, for liking my artwork and letting the readers of your article know about me and my work.
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To learn more about Adrian’s artwork, visit his official website: www.adrian-susnea-litman.com