David Gerbstadt: “You are Loved, You are Awesome!”

Artist name: David Gerbstadt

Featured Work 1: Never Give Up Violin Case

In David Gerbstadt’s work, creatures built out of dark outlines and bright colors often throw their arms into the air while exclaiming supportive phrases. Their eyes bulge and their hearts glow. Through a connection with a local music teacher, David Gerbstadt fixes and paints “bashed up” cases and then returns them as gifts to students at a school in Philadelphia.

never give up

Featured Work 2:


The free paint layering and bold brushstrokes give this work intensity and movement. David Gerbstadt’s work has a sense of immediacy and sincerity and seems to still be coming into existence while you view it. A description of this piece from David Gerbstadt’s Facebook page:

“flying bugs and welders…they are expert welders- they can weld jelly doughnuts to rail road tracks… the bugs do not sting or bite…’happy bugs’.”

5 Questions for the Artist:

  1. What is art to you?

“I have not had that question since an art class in college- that was in 1988-9… Hmm… It is art if I say it is art.  Here at “The Art Machine” (the name of my studio) it gets turned on anywhere between 1AM and 3Am when I wake up, fueled with coffee and wild ride of PTSD sleep.”

  1. What did you make in the past, and why?

“I made paintings on anything I could find in the trash- plywood, stretched canvases- whatever. I also found paint and brushes in the trash too; I did that because I saw way too much good art material in the trash to actually go out and buy materials. That kept my costs down and made my profits larger. “

  1. What are you making now, and why?

“After almost 25 years I still pick up stretched canvases and material from the trash, and often come home to ‘art materials’ left on my porch or get a message if I want paint or something…Folks just want me to keep making art full time.”

  1. What are your hopes for the future?

“I don’t live in the future– I live in the moment.  For me life turns on a dime or a bashed up penny found in the street.  I had a plan on Dec. 28, 2007 to get lunch.  I never made it and woke up 9 hours later in the ICU of a hospital.  Today, I am grateful for what I have and don’t have.  I am grateful I am a full time artist for 8 years now.  Art heals me each day.  If it were not for art I surely would not be alive today.  Painting keeps the black dog away.”

  1. Do you want to add anything?

“Never give up, share, be kind, choose joy, you are loved, you are awesome! No excuses just get it done. Thank you Julia – for asking me.”

Background: David Gerbstadt was born and raised in Pennsylvania and always enjoyed working with his hands. He created throughout high school and majored in Art in college. He paints on diverse found materials as well as furniture and also works with fabric. During one era of his life he left art in public places which inspired the film David Was Here which won an award at the Iowa International Film Festival. David was involved in an accident on his bike with a tractor trailer and had to be revived from a lifeless state several times.  This experience inspired his book, One Breath At a Time, which is available on Amazon. He now paints full time, writes children’s books, and participates in mail art with his fans. His work has been featured in Art Matters Magazine and is available in several galleries including the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and through his Facebook page.


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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers



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