Interview and video by Jessica Burgess Posted on October21, 2015
I AM A PAINTER
The sort of painting that I do is absolutely influenced by pop art and fashion, particularly fashion photography. Nick Cave is a big inspiration for me, he does the suits made out of all kinds of things. So when I’m looking at my figures, I try to think of objects surrounding them, not so much representational things. I see my work as this elegant dance of color and form.
I absolutely see these as moving. I feel like the viewer traps the figure in this little moment where the shapes are transforming, all the time. Eventually, I’d like to do some sort of animation. Like a little .gif, can you make a fine art .gif? [laughs]
THE FEMALE FIGURE
I’ve chosen to work with women, because I find the female form to be beautiful. I don't set out to say anything particular about women, however I don't want to misrepresent them or overly sexualize them. I don’t think that representing sexuality in art is a bad thing. Sex is a big part of a lot of peoples art, but for me right now it’s not. I try to treat them with a sort of modesty. It’s about designing this figure within the scene. It's similar to fashion in that these figures are more like models or even mannequin’s… I don’t want this taken way out of context, because I don't consider them to be objects. I just want them to maintain this tranquil quality. The composition and non-representational shapes are more of the focus for me right now.
I started in illustration, I graduated from Ringling Collage of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida in 2007. Straight from there I jumped into comics, mainly cover illustration and I got very bored of it. I started pushing my own aesthetic on a lot of the covers I was doing. Some companies reacted well to it, and others didn’t like it, so I just got rid of those companies. It was still not as fulfilling as a white wall gallery. It was an easy decision, but monetarily speaking it was difficult to just dive into fine art.
Full-time, that’s all I do is paint. A lot of my friends don't think it’s a job, but it’s more of a job then they have! I’m here at six in the morning and I’m leaving at nine or ten at night. I do like to take long breaks in between shows. There will be a few weeks when I just don't do anything, but then it’s back to the grindstone.
So it starts with a model, the model goes into the computer, I go through and find inspiration in the pose. A lot of times I’ll Frankenstein stuff, like ‘I like her head, and her hands here,’ and I’ll put it all together. Then it goes to paper, so I’ll sketch from the photo. Then the sketches go back into the computer, and then there is a whole bunch of techniques that I do from there. Sometimes I’ll digitally color the whole thing. Sometimes I wont do anything, it just depends on the piece. Then from there, it goes to a larger canvas. Then once I paint everything, I shoot that and it goes back into the computer. So its this back and forth from digital to traditional.
PAINTING WITH TECHNOLOGY
A lot people think it’s cheating, but when you’re an illustrator or a fine art artist you do sketches, color studies, and value studies. I can do all that digitally. It’s a full digital mock up. We need to get rid of cheating from our vocabulary. I wish Alphonse Mucha was alive now. He was incredible, he is probably one of my biggest influences in art. I feel like if he was alive, Photoshop would be his favorite tool… I’m probably going to get so much hate mail from this statement [laughs].
Another thing that I find really ridiculous, but funny; is that I do use so much technology in my work, because when I started college I had never even used a computer. I didn't have an email. On the first day, my teacher told us to log on, and I didn't even know what that meant [laughs]. Thats was 2003, and now it’s such an integral part of my work.
I started doing this peel away aesthetic. It’s almost more of a visual question for myself and my art: is it more abstract or am I more of a figure painter? I wanted to push the relationship between the parts and separate them in a bit more dramatic way. I also want to show that the work has dimensional aspects to it. In some pieces I actually glue on pieces of plastic, but the viewer would never really know that. There is one painting in particular where the plastic is falling off and underneath the figure you’re seeing abstract work. That’s kind of where my head’s at right now. I see sculpture in my future so this feels kind of like the middle ground to that.
CONSIDERING YOUR AUDIENCE
Being an artist you constantly want to create, and for me I always want to step out of the box, always. BUT you’ve established a look, and your buyers want that look so you paint around your style. If you want to switch it up, then you slowly integrate new aesthetics into your work. It’s almost sort of training your audience to like what you like…. [laughs].
I don’t know if thats how other fine artists think, this is so new to me. I know being an ex-illustrator, I was always working for a client. It would be in your own aesthetic, but it was always for someone else. For gallery art, it’s different. As I’m diving into it I realize, you still have to appease your market in a way.
Social media in general is great for art. I don't really use it socially, I pretty much just use it as another website. I don't like to share a lot of personal stuff, or even opinions. It should be all about the work. A really cool thing about Instagram and social media, is that you get to see your audience, because before you had no idea. It gives you a really good idea of what kind of people respond to different things.
Alphonse Mucha, James Jean, Coby Whitmore, 60’s illustrations, Nick Cave.
LA - NYC
LA seems to have bigger street art scene and New York is more abstract, which leaves me right in the middle. You could say I’m a middle American artist [laughs]. It was a goal to get to New York. I’ve been here for seven years now, but I’m not necessarily sure you need to be in a metropolitan area to be discovered now. You have social media and the internet that can really boost your value and awareness. I get a lot of inspiration here, but it’s a struggle. It’s this weird relationship, but I keep coming back.