Scent as Art

Saskia Wilson-Brown of the Institute for Art and Olfaction has taught workshops at the Getty, inspired by the art and exhibitions on view.

She brings an experimental approach to the field of perfumery, inspired by the belief that scent can and should be used as a contemporary art medium—but that it first needs to be understood as a valid creative medium within a broader historical context.

To her, inspiration is “an initially unremarkable experience that triggers action—often months or even years later.”

Read more about Saskia on The Iris >>

The Spirit Blooms

my name is: Simon Toparovsky

i make art: Sculptures and installations

Simon Toparovsky focuses on narrative art. His sculptures begin with wax, clay, found objects, plants, textiles and metals. In Los Angeles, he’s particularly well known for his cast bronze crucifix for the main altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which was consecrated in 2002.

In this #GettyInspired video, Simon tells us how he found a beautiful parallel between his sculpture The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and a leaf in a newly acquired illuminated manuscript in the Getty Museum’s collection.

Throughout our time with Simon at his home studio, he often spoke of emotion and feeling. “My work shows a Sebastian without a head,” he told us, “it’s not about thought anymore. It’s about devotion and courage.” This sums up Simon and his work perfectly.

Connect with Simon Toparovsky


Be Free, Be Big

Reina Hidalgo and Asiel Hardison have been collaborating for 13 years—and dancing almost as long as they’ve been walking. Today they’re professional dancers, teachers, choreographers, and TV producers; Asiel is Lady Gaga’s dance captain, and you may have seen Reina on stage with Rihanna, Pink, or Missy Elliott.

They didn’t choose dance; it chose them. “I was always that one little kid dancing at parties and my mom was like, ‘we need to put her in something‘,” says Reina. Today their creative process “starts with the music inspiring an emotion from your body,” says Asiel. The space of the Getty enhances the process by inspiring them to “be free and big.”

Peek inside Reina and Asiel’s dance studio and take in the Getty air and landscape with them in this #GettyInspired video.

Connect with Reina Hidalgo

Twitter: @REINAHIDALGO521 | Instagram: @reinahidalgo521 | Website:

Connect with Asiel Hardison

Twitter: @asielhardison | Instagram: @asielhardison

Inspiration from Nature

my name is: Sarah Ferone

i make: Illustrations (and tend a backyard garden!)

what inspires me about the getty is: I do a lot of editorial illustration and some food illustration as well. I look at nature a lot to get inspiration from form and texture and color. We’re [Sarah and her partner, Casey] also novice backyard gardeners. We have a friend who does gardening professionally so she’s opened our eyes to what’s out there and introduced us to the names of things and interesting plants, pointing out stuff that we might have overlooked. When I come to gardens, now, I feel like I’ve got a bigger perspective and recognize and appreciate more.

to me, inspiration is: Inspiration is starting to see connections between things and seeing something in a new light, either by encountering something new that I’ve never seen before that kind of makes me go, “Wow, that’s incredible,” or even seeing something old with fresh eyes. This is my second time here at the museum and I love seeing the paintings again and coming out to the garden in a different season, seeing things in a new light.

I feel like every time you approach it, you have a different mindset and perspective or things reveal their different character to you.

All of a sudden, something connects in your head and you’re like, “How did that happen? And now I have to get it out. Got to sketch or write that down.”

Inspiration from Above

my name is: Virginia Hein

i make: Drawings, paintings and sketches, though I can’t always separate those things. Most all of my personal work is done on location…since several years ago my work left the confines of the studio. I love the focused attention of observing a place, and everything that makes it distinct, as well as the immediacy and the unpredictability of observing and drawing life as it happens.

i’m sharing: A watercolor panorama of the Getty Center.

what inspires me about the getty: Aside from the fact that the Getty has had some truly wonderful shows, like the recent Turner and Andrea del Sarto exhibitions, I am always inspired by the site itself.

Taking the tram up the hill feels like I’m approaching a marble temple high on a hill with that marvelous 360° view (I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way). The grounds, garden and buildings with their sculptural light are always a pleasure to wander (and sketch!).

I’ve always appreciated that the Getty maintains a gallery dedicated to drawing, where I’ve seen so many inspiring master drawings.

to me, inspiration is: I love that the word that means something that moves one to create—is the same word as the act of breathing in. When I have really been inspired in my life (as when I was moved to begin a daily practice of drawing on location), it was as if a window was suddenly opened, and fresh air came pouring in.

The imagination is fueled and new possibilities seem to appear. Creative fuel and breathing seem to me to be equally necessary to sustain life.

Create Your Own Fun

my name is: Maz Jobrani

i make: Comedy

You might know Maz Jobrani as the star of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, co-host of the podcast Minivan Men, or author of the book I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV. A comedian, Maz moved from Tehran to California when he was six years old. Today he spends a lot of time writing jokes about his kids—how much he loves them, and how much they drive him crazy.

Maz doesn’t wait around for inspiration to strike. “Part of inspiration is to create fun stuff for myself,” he told us. When he visits the Getty, Maz is particularly drawn to the views of L.A. “If I’m feeling down or if I’m feeling uninspired, seeing the view I feel like, ‘Oh wow, no matter what, someone’s experiencing something similar to me,’ and it inspires me to keep going.”

Maz invited #GettyInspired to his standup show at the Laugh Factory, then took a walk with us at the Getty Center.

Architecture with a Purpose

my name is: Gabbi Sun

i make: Designs for architectural spaces and buildings

what inspires me about the getty: The Getty continues to be a constant architectural favorite and a case study that I find myself returning to often for inspiration. I admire Richard Meier’s work for its ever so simple, clean, detailed, and well-lit characteristics.

I remember back in high school when I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be and what I wanted to study in college. My English honors class went on a tour of the Getty Museum and it was actually the first building I set foot in that made me truly realize that I wanted to pursue architecture. I knew I wanted to go into a creative field since I was that girl who loved to paint, do d.i.y. projects, and constantly rearrange my parents’ furniture. I was always trying to find a way to make things better in my own way. So seeing a large-scale project like the Getty, I was in awe that someone had designed every little detail in the building and each framed view had a purpose behind it.

Now as an architectural designer I find myself challenged to educate clients to appreciate well-designed architectural spaces. I often say a well-designed space is one that feels very comfortable, one that inspires you, and serves the purpose of its use. It’s hard to understand this concept by looking at pretty images on the internet and requires one to really physically experience a space. The Getty is the perfect example of just that and I always encourage clients, friends, and family to make the trip to admire the architecture and how it showcases the art beautifully.

to me, inspiration is: Inspiration is that light bulb above our heads where we are suddenly brought to a state of mind of being totally present with our ideas and moved to take them apart and create new ones. These moments of inspirational pause are sparked by who knows what…for me it’s listening to other creative people explain their design process, going on a walk around the city and discovering new things, getting to be in historic and new buildings, listening to a ridiculously good song, being humbled by people’s actions, and/or even watching the sun’s path and understanding life’s existence!



Be Brave

my name is: Iris Liu Wang

i make: Experiments with art and fashion

i’m sharing: I made the black and white tearing above, as I was inspired by the word “museum.” Museums are custodians of the stories of many people, from many places, and to reflect that I ripped up paper and reconstructed a whole image from many pieces.

Art and experience are very connected for me. Even my artwork is about fusion and experiment. I’m always looking for new things and I’m always curious to see how I can change things in different ways.

to me, inspiration is: Inspiration for me is something that is emotional, risky, and fun. My work has always experimented with risk. If you’re looking for inspiration, my advice would be—be open-minded, think of something that seems impossible to do. And go find things that give you strong emotions. Don’t limit yourself. Be brave.

Finding Nature in L.A.

my name is: Omar Brownson

i make: Change

Omar Brownson is the executive director of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit that is working with Frank Gehry to transform the river into a place that brings nature and people together. “Inspiration is the art of dreaming,” Omar told us, “and then actually making that dream a reality.”

Omar grew up on a Native American reservation in Washington State, and his family’s move to urban L.A. came as a shock. “L.A. was this very forbidding place. All of a sudden, I could only run to the end of the block.” He enjoys being high atop the Getty Center hill, he told #GettyInspired, and finding quiet moments in Robert Irwin’s Central Garden—a spot that offers a dramatic contrast with the urban maze of L.A. “To have both of those in the same place is a gift.”

I Talk to Rembrandt

my name is: F. Scott Hess

i make: Paintings

F. Scott Hess is a Los Angeles painter who works with traditional materials—oil paint and egg tempera—and takes inspiration from the techniques of European painters of centuries past. He paints the human figure with a style that’s been called “an unusual blend of old master technique with a generous dollop of surrealism.”

F. Scott told us he’s particularly drawn to Rembrandt:

“When I’m in a museums all over the world [and] I see a Rembrandt, I tend to end up talking to those paintings, and I don’t do that with a lot of paintings. I’d like to say that I’m talking to the people in his paintings, but really I’m talking to Rembrandt. And I’m actually saying, you know, ‘Oh man, I can’t believe this is that good.’ I’m mumbling under my breath, and people around me probably think I’m crazy.”

#GettyInspired visited F. Scott at his studio and then took a walk with him to see Rembrandt paintings at the Museum.

The Artist’s Hand

If you’ve ever driven down Hollywood Boulevard, you’ve probably passed right by Graham Chaffee’s tattoo shop. Graham designs his own tattoos, paints, and draws comics. He also finds inspiration in all kinds of art. We met Graham on Instagram when he shared his beautiful sketches of an 18th-century sculpture with us.

When Graham visits museums, he makes an emotional connection to artists who lived centuries ago. “When you can see the artist’s hand in the work, you make a visceral connection to what you’re doing,” he says. “it makes the art less remote, more touchable.” One of his favorites is a painted wood statue of a saint at the Getty, carved in the late 1600s.

Peek inside Graham’s cool Hollywood shop and visit the Getty galleries with him in this #GettyInspired video.