in the fall of 2015, i was asked to be a featured artist in a new underground periodical (Fine Print) created by Folktale Records guru, Chistopher Payne. of course, i was thrilled, mostly because i had never been featured in an interview of any kind before, and loved the idea of sharing my views and opinions about art/life/and love. the process for the interview went back and forth for over a month, and a lot of material surfaced. when the deadline hit and it was time to fit the interview into Fine Print, a lot of the Q and A got scrapped due to lack of space, and left aside. i asked Chris if i could post the interview, in it’s entirety here on my website, and he happily agreed. here now, i present to you, that interview in full. i posted it on my site because i believe that a lot of what i had to say still lies true to my philosophies even today. enjoy.
Where are you from?
I’m a Cali kid, born and bred. that’s it for the geographic answer. as far as evolution goes, I’m not too far off from the same place you and your readers are all from. i’ve seen the bridge made from analog to digital. i’ve seen the pacification of mankind’s attention span, and am watching it spiral out of control. i’ve grown through a smattering of palettes throughout the centuries, from rustic earth tones, to pinks, to purples, to day-glow, to whatever happened in the 90’s. and i guess a slight return back to earth tones. right?
When did you first start making art and what inspired you to do so?
i like to believe that every living thing has the ability to visually reason or not reason with ones perception of the world. this means at best, art is being created up until the moment an individual decides to pull that plug. we take in information every second of everyday, and i love to believe that in every second, art is in one way or another manifesting itself through thought patterns or solidified into concrete materialization. simply put, living is both the doing and the inspiration. when a being decides they can no longer fathom the continuous funneling of creative waves, they cease to become artists.
Did you go to school for art or is it something picked up on your own?
i took classes in grade school because it was mandatory. a natural day to day expectation i had. in high school, you were given the choice to take extra curriculative classes if you wanted. i had no idea that art was something that could become an actual career. nobody told me. so i side-stepped art and took other classes that varied in different mediums and disciplines. i was trying to reach out and learn multiple practices of craft. that trait has followed me and haunted me my entire life. only now, in this point in my life, am i actually buckling down and forcing my creative path to remain on one singular course.
What other artists do you admire and why?
you mean, which artists do i steal from? i like to believe that i’ve worked very hard to dig, study, discover and research the vast collective of creative geniuses that without their existence i wouldn’t be holding an ink pen. it is these creative workhorses i hold very close to my creative bosom, and do so with much pride and protection. now, throughout the years, perhaps their immediate influence has waned slightly in order to make way for more of my own pure creative extractions, but they remain as influence and the law nonetheless.
Where do you find inspiration for you work?
inspiration as a vehicle remains the same no matter the transition i may find myself in. the portrait. i am completely at the mercy and whim of the portrait. it is the final execution of a stalwart presentation. it echoes royalty. it demands respect. it calls for attention. the portrait is as old as time. it does not age. or die. i look to the portrait as one looks to the book of rules. it gives me clarity of sight and peace of mind. there are many, many variables of visual execution. i always come back to the portrait. it rules currency. it introduces us to our past. my obsession with the portrait may very well carry me to my grave.
What singular course do you feel like your creative path is following?
i will say, there is a course set that i definitely feel is real. as far as following it goes, i would rather refer to the process as more forging a path. as i forge this path i seem to be on, i become more aware of what options i have. to go in one direction or another. the forging is very time consuming and very calculated. in my previous 10 year art cycle, i spent a lot more time following, not forging…and it ended with me being very disappointed with what the art world had to offer up. when all was said and done, i came to the realization that it would be more beneficial if i focused on reinventing myself and concentrate on letting this decision become the singular coarse.
I know you have worked in oil paint, block printing, and other practices, though
your more recent work focuses on ink drawings. Why did you decide to stick with this format and how does it differ from making work using other methods?
i have to refer back to my previous art cycle. i had made a conscious decision that i would fully immerse myself in the process of making as much art as i had time for, and in that period, i made art with anything and everything i could get my hands on. it was a long experience, and along the way i made paintings with oil, acrylic, stencils, letraset, collage, spray paint, stamps, xerox transfers, ink, stains, tar, and anything similar. every step of the way i was trying to figure out how to bring as many elements into one piece as possible. it took nearly the entire cycle for this to finally happen. when those paintings finally manifested themselves through my hand, it was then time to stop. time to quit. time to move on.
as i now enter this new art cycle, i have a mental rolodex of all previous mediums and executions at my fingertips, and in this new art cycle, i have decided upon ink and paper as my beginning springboard. ink and paper were some of the very first mediums i ever used to express myself in a bigger and more profound way. as this cycle begins, i made a decision to try and start at my biographical beginnings in hopes that i might have a very clear objective and vision as to what i want from myself and from the universe.
As well as making visual art you have played in a number of bands, how do those creative endeavors differ from one another and do you feel like they have had an influence on each other?
music and art work off of each other. that’s my belief. but art and music also couldn’t be more different. it’s a wonderful dance they do with each other. i think the production of music triggers different parts of the human consciousness through an auditory sense, and art appeases other synapses in that consciousness that sound and music cannot. i always made it a point to play music loudly in my previous cycle because i wanted the vibrations to penetrate the artwork as much as possible. these days, i mostly prefer to work in silence. i can hear my thoughts. i can hear the pen nibs scratch the surface of the paper. it’s primal. and very gratifying.
and yes, i do make music these days. but it’s a ritual process. it’s of a very different nature, and has very little to do with my visual art. people may disagree with that statement, but i find great joy and curiosity in that space. in the long run it’s really not for me to say.
Your work is largely portrait based, which you say you admire for it timelessness, though you often give your portraits a twist, adding things like an extra eye or simply doing them on unconventional material such as luggage tags, what is your reason for doing this?
i occasionally add extra eyes to a particular composition to express my own spirituality. i am a firm believer in meditation and reaching out to the universe in order to tap into the larger collective pool of vibrations and energies.
i occasionally draw hats and crowns floating or perched lovingly atop their heads. i’ve worn hats my entire life, but in these older years of mine i’ve come to realize that it may be me realizing my struggles with agoraphobia.
the wardrobe tags signify the importance of fashion, which is something i’ve appreciated since childhood. the art i make is how i try to look when i walk the streets. every day. it’s very important to me that the art be a direct reflection of me.
there is also an abundance of numerology in my works. letters and punctuation symbols. i record numbers that are imbedded into my personal life and use them to lay out a much broader and larger picture. the numbers and letters mean something on their own, but they also run the responsibility of entertaining a lifelong code whose meaning will have to lay at the hands of those that reside on this earth after my time.
What is your creative process like, do you have a finished product in mind when you start a new piece or do you let the work form itself along the way?
i spent almost 4 years visualizing my artworks before i ever put pen to paper. before i even knew i would actually be using pen and paper. you see, quitting the ritual of making art for a long period of time was one of the smartest decisions i could have made as an artist. it made me step out of myself for a long time and allowed me the ability to conceptualize every single step i was to make when the time came to make art again. i’d spend weeks just thinking about the meaning of my art. my own inner meaning. thinking about mediums. thinking about paper sizes. paper thicknesses. inks, colors, symbols, eyes or no eyes. tie patterns. background shapes, line qualities, cross hatch patterns. 4 years of just thinking about the art in my head. if i was to make art again, i wanted to know what i was doing it for. reasons that were important to me and to my loving family.
almost every single piece i make to this day has been calculated and thought about already. i do not deviate from my formula. this makes the art flow smoothly with little time for struggle or second guessing. i spend the short amount of time i am afforded each day to make art by simply getting the lines down. getting the faces down. the hair, the suits, and the ties. i’ve imagined it all so many times over, and now i feel myself being the ultimate generator for waves of thought and visuals of humanity.
During the four years you quit making art what other things were you working on or doing with your life?
to be quite honest with you, all i really wanted to do for that initial period of time was just be a really, really good father. it no longer became about me anymore. it wasn’t important that i was out storming the castle everyday, making a statement to the larger world, leaving my mark on the walls of the rat race streets. that romantic vision of owning the city had to make way for bringing a new child into the world. i had to swallow a big pill. my time to make a difference had come and gone. i realized it was time to give a new life the chance to hear great music, see wonderful sights, know what a fucking Narwhal is. so that’s what i did. i let myself enjoy fatherhood. the artworks i create play second fiddle to my wonderful and awesome family.
After you returned from your hiatus what was the first piece of art you made and what was the experience like?
i bought a sketchbook one day and just started there. i wasn’t going to be painting anytime soon, so i picked up a bunch of grey markers, a black technical pen, a pencil, an eraser, and that was it. i remember parking my car way up top a street in my hood, under a very big, shady oak tree. i rolled the windows down, turned the ignition off. my daughter was snoozing in the back seat, and i just went for it. the first drawing was an abomination. the second one was rendered from a dream i had had the night before. it was baby steps, you know? i had to learn how to crawl again. it took about a year. but it happened.
Who were your subjects for the portraits you’ve given us for this issue of Fine Print and how did you choose them?
the subject is paying respect in a holy manner to the trifecta of rotational vinyl disc speeds. 33, 45, and 78. i regularly make a point of allowing these numbers into my compositions. this fine rag of yours is one that coincides with vinyl and i thought it would be a great podium to pay my respects.
When making a portrait do you work with a live model, from a photograph, or some other method?
i prefer to perceive my visual information as flat as possible. that includes both the actual resource as well as the emotion, or more importantly, the lack of emotion. i like it flat, black and white, plain, insipid, and void of anything that would hinder a persons ability to interpret the art by a particular emotion the observer has at that moment. it’s almost performance art in a strange way. the drawing is what you want it to be. it is who you say it is.
Do your subjects typically see your portraits when you are finished with them?
not typically, no. i would prefer to not be present in the case a person should come into contact with a piece related to them. me knowing how a person feels about my artwork and my interpretation of them is a hindrance in the process of the actual art being able to survive on it’s own. i have nurtured the drawing, fed it, and gave it wings once i push it out of the nest. it is no longer up to me to be involved in that process. what someone tells me about my art is secondary to the actual art itself. i never want to be a backseat driver when i should be letting the work drive.
Has one of your subjects ever reacted to a portrait in a manner that you think is noteworthy? If so can you describe their reaction?