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Fashion statement

Photos by Dan Bishop

November 2014

"Clothing is the shell that reveals the inner world of the wearer."

It may be a favorite dress, a lettermanís jacket, the band T-shirt that represents your youth ó in any case, itís a significant piece of clothing that is so much more than just material.

Riverwest artist Todd Mrozinski knows the feeling exactly. His quote above is why he paints clothes, producing custom-made canvasses of beloved articles of clothing.

"Itís like a personality comes through the clothing almost more than if I were to paint a portrait of a face," he says. "Emotion can be painted just as well in the collar of a shirt as it can be in the darkness of an eye. These paintings capture the emotional landscape of human existence that everyone wears and experiences in smears and drips and piles of paint."

Mrozinski believes his clients understand that clothing is a container of essence and really showcases the personality. "When (the article of clothing) is positioned on a canvas just right, it can really resonate the essence of that person," he says.

He has done more than 50 clothing portraits, with each taking between 10 and 20 hours to complete. Fees range from $400 to $2,000 per canvas.

Mrozinski likes to spend time with his clients when they deliver their special articles of clothing to his studio to absorb some of their personalities. "Itís fun to get to know people and interact with them before and after the process," he says. Then itís on to working with the clothing. "I find I have to listen to what and how it wants to be painted."

Big challenges are subjects with intricate fabric patterns. He compares it to painting skin. "But all in all, the painting really flows out easily," he says.

Mrozinski has been painting clothing for 15 years. His first clothing portrait was his own set of boxer shorts. The Fond du Lac native came to Milwaukee to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and has been here ever since. From his studio, Mrozinski paints full time. Besides clothing, he produces portraits, landscapes and even tuffets. Heís especially proud of his shadow paintings. In that process, a light is projected onto the subject, with the shadow landing on the canvas. The shadow is traced and Mrozinski creates the painting from the tracing.

"Like clothing," he says, "the essence of the person comes through with shadows."




This story ran in the November 2014 issue of: