15 Minutes with Portia de Rossi


Portia de Rossi is on a mission to revolutionize both the production and purchase processes of painting with the launch of General Public. The actor and activist recently started the venture with the goal of transforming the art world through SynographTM, an innovative 3-D printing technology that reproduces paintings with the same texture of the original brush stroke. Here she shares with us more on the company’s philosophy and how it will empower both the artist and the consumer.

What inspired you to launch General Public?

I created General Public because I wanted to bridge the gap between the decorative and fine art markets. Although many folks have an appreciation of art and would like to own works by good artists, not everyone wants to learn about the art market or they find collecting—and the galleries—intimidating. We developed a print technology, called a SynographTM, which creates an almost identical reproduction of the original painting—complete with texture. The SynographTM provides an alternative to collecting paintings and the flat poster-like print. This proprietary technology and our professional curation is how we bridge the gap.

What is your selection process for the artists?

I work with art advisors and educated painters who know more than I do about an artist’s technical proficiency. I have chosen a variety of artists who I love, admire and want to introduce the best selection of their work to consumers. The artists who join the General Public collective tend to be bold, defiant and forward-thinking. We print works by Sarah Bird, Seb Sweatman, Alexandra Rose, Peter Halasz, Paul van Rij and Koen Lybaert, just to name a few.

Why do you feel it’s important for the design community to embrace the mission of General Public?

General Public’s motto is “Support artists, not art.” I think it is important for the design community to support artists because as an artist myself, I have watched every other art form use technology to cut out the middleman, democratize art and empower the artist. For example, the printing press and the internet have revolutionized writing; the phonograph and the MP3 have forever changed music. And yet painters’ careers are still controlled by gallerists. I want painters to have the ability to sell editions of their paintings to maximize their profitability. I also want people who really appreciate these artists to be able to own and enjoy their works as the artist intended them to be enjoyed.

Will SynographTM technology eventually be available to artists outside of the business?

It’s my hope that the SynographTM will replace all current forms of printing. We are currently working on a plug-and-play solution to share with the fine-art printing industry.

How do you hope this will change the art world? 

I hope the technology changes the way we look at art. A novel isn’t any less brilliant because there are thousands of copies in circulation. My goal is that it shakes up the antiquated idea that scarcity is how we should value art. It should be valuable because it’s good, not because it’s rare.

Who currently is your favorite visual artist?  Wade Guyton.

If you could meet one artist (dead or alive) who would it be? Jenny Saville. 

If you weren’t an actor or an artist you would be?

The founder and CEO of General Public. I quit acting in order to run the company.

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