Category Archives: New Media

Interview Artist Spotlight with Drew Wittig

Drew Wittig is an artist. He is currently living in Brooklyn and working as a designer in New York City.

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“My friends, do you guess to what solitude we ascend? I must learn that the dregs of my thought, my dreams, are the speech of my soul. I must carry them in my heart, and go back and forth over them in my mind, like the words of the person dearest to me. Dreams are the guiding words of the soul.”                                                                                                   – Carl Jung

Rae: Now let’s begin our journey into Drew’s world.

Rae: Recently, I was introduced into your art pieces. I felt a connection to the art that you are making. What is your work about and what inspired you to start on it?

Drew: My work is mostly about self-discovery, trying to uncover images that are buried like old relics of the sea.

I remember that feeling when I first started in this automatic style, where it felt like I was in the stream of consciousness. I was pulling images from another place. I know now that place to be deep within my soul. It was like I was watching these images leave my hand, out of the pen onto the surface, and seeing them for the first time was a real trip.

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Rae: When did you first become interested in art?

Drew: My mom is an artist and when I was growing up she would have me help her finish paintings and drawings. She was very helpful and supportive. It gave me the confidence to view myself as an artist from a very early age. I guess, I’ve always been interested in art.

Rae: Who or what do you turn to on uninspiring days?

Drew: Having a range of different mediums within reach. For instance, I got myself a nice point and shoot camera last year and I’ve been shooting about a roll of film a week. The photography has really balanced me out. If I’m feeling uninspired I know I need to do something physical too, like hit the gym or go for a run. That can really shake things up. My wife is amazing and when I’m feeling especially useless she’ll always know what to say to make me feel better.

Rae: What does art mean to you?

Drew: It means everything to me, it’s vital to my mental health.

Rae: How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

Drew: In my recent work, I am exploring the psyche as an internal space, a landscape. The content is created through chance and action. I’m trying to uncover these archetypes, the treasures of my soul.

Rae: You’ve expressed you’ve been reading the out-of-body book? Can you express how this relates to your art?

Drew: When I was about 12 or 13, I was in my room working on a still life, using pencil and one of those conte crayons.

I was so focused on the shading, the next thing I knew I was floating above myself in my room. I was there just watching myself drawing, then I was above my house, looking down at it. Then, I was further up and I could see the park down the street. I realized how high up I was and got scared and then I went right back into my body. I remember waking up and seeing that the drawing was finished and that an hour or so had gone by. It was my first out-of-body experience and had a very profound impact on my life.

Rae: What do you hope to communicate through your work?

Drew: I try to make work that is sincere and built upon a spiritual foundation.

I never try to say what the image means to me or what its all about, I think its important for the viewer to make their own conclusions. If they see something they identify with and talk about it, that is when I feel it’s successful.

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Rae: Describe the process within yourself when creating new pieces. Do you have a ritual that you start with?

Drew: Sure, the ritual is almost always the same. Make some marks onto the surface, try to hallucinate some sort of reality within those marks and set about trying to explain it. I try to do all this without questioning it, kind of like “oh, there’s a figure, it’s a man and here’s a hand, he’s reaching for something,” and just go with it, until the images start taking shape. When I’m creating new pieces it always feel cathartic, like the image needed to come out. When I can let the process be as natural as possible, it works best.

Rae: What are your favorite materials to work/create with?

Drew: Watercolor & Pen, and Oil on canvas.

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Rae: What colors/shapes/subjects speak to you the most?

Drew: I’ve always had a thing for reds and blues mixed together- it feels intense when I use those colors, it really speaks to me. The shapes and figures come out as people or faces and they all have different expressions and limbs and it all seems to connect in some way.

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Rae: Any upcoming new projects in progress?

Drew: Yes, actually, I’ve been meaning to finish this process project. I did a series of watercolor paintings and then scanned them into the computer. Then I took the paintings and went over them with pen. Then I scanned that image back into the computer. What I envision is a book or a zine where the spread shows the image before on the left and the finished piece on the right.

Rae: What do you think about collaborations with other artists?

Drew: I’m all for it. Almost 7 years ago, I did a collaborative oil painting with artist, Ivan Bridges and the result was transformative. I still look at that painting and it gets me fired up every time. We were both meditating a lot and we’d sit before each session. The times when we were working on that piece were great.

Rae: Lastly, what type of music or bands are you listening to right now while making your pieces?

Drew: All that chill shoe-gaze stuff. My wife hates it, she’s always trying to get me to play R&B and hip-hop, but I’m a sucker for ambient stuff. Some old Kaki King, El Ten Eleven, The Books, Future Islands, old Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Mogwai, Ducktails, stuff like that. At the Drive-In really gets me going too, though I think it’s good to have a few albums on deck that you know will set the tone.

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Rae: Exactly, I agree about setting the tone.

Thank you very much for the interview Drew. Hope to see you more in the future!

Click here to check out Drew’s website WITTIG-ART.COM

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Interview with Artist Spotlight: Michael C. Hsiung

Michael C. Hsiung is an artist based in Los Angeles, Ca. His simple line illustrations are narrative with mythological subjects and a hint of humor within it.

4782_95536208516_4290469_n “So far, so good, so what!” from Megadeth album. One of my favorite quotes which I’ve been trying to incorporate in my life since I was like 15.

Rae: Now let’s begin with the interview. Thanks for being with us today Michael.

Michael: No problem Rae. Thanks for having me.

Rae: So, I’ve been seeing your artwork for some time now. It is interesting to me that your artwork is influenced by comics, mythology, cryptozoology, and tied to simple humorous moments?

Michael: Totally! I’ve been interested in all those things since I was a child, and when I first started making work….I found myself gravitating towards things like unicorns, centaurs, and stuff like that. My style probably is some what reminiscent of comics, which I collected as a kid, mixed in with my weird spasmy personality.

Hsiung---mermanbattle copy

Rae: I really like and appreciate the patterns and line work in your pieces. What is your favorite medium that you like to work with? Why?

Michael: My favorite medium is ink, though I’ve only started recently to really try and utilize the ink and brush combo. It’s my favorite medium in pen form, but that’s mainly because I’m more comfortable controlling it like a pencil. Also, it allows me to lean on the paper and draw endlessly. I originally started with Micron pens which were something given to me by my sister’s boyfriend Scott. I wasn’t really familiar with art materials when I started, and he recommended to me a blue pencil, micron pens, and stuff like that.

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Rae: Has expectations with your art changed over the years? If so, how?

Michael: Definitely, I try to use more color, focus more on composition, and incorporate patterning in my works than I did before. I also have worked on my characters and narrative a bit more, hopefully making them more interesting and humorous.

Finally, I think too that I’ve also learned to relax a bit more when making stuff and allowing more room for error. When I was first making art, lots of my stuff was pretty raw, crooked and more narrative. I’m just trying to tighten up those parts of it and draw less crooked obese people with 3 fingers.

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Rae: What do you like most about being an artist based in Los Angeles?

Michael: I think the thing I like the most about being an artist based in Los Angeles is that the culture and folks out here really appreciate art because they themselves are doing something creative, albeit music or film.

It seems like art is tied to every event out here too. There’s also so many galleries and great museums here that you’ll never get bored as an artist.

Hsiung--riot copy

Rae: Describe your process for creating your artworks?

Michael: Depending if I already have an idea of what it is I want to draw, I usually start by sketching various shapes until something forms- bodies, bears, and stuff like that. After sketching, I will usually start to figure out the details like outfits and accessories. Then I’ll use a pen or brush to start outlining and filling in. Then at the end, I might add a bit of red here and there.

7. HSIUNG_JETTY_SHIRT copyRae: What inspires you to continue making art?

Michael: What really inspires me to continue making art is the people who enjoy it, the works of other artists, the friendships that making art brings, and the satisfaction that expression brings me.

Rae: You are also in the “Human Pyramids Artist Collective.” What is unique about this art collective?

Michael: The Human Pyramids Artist Collective is unique in the sense that it involves international artists/friendships. the collective began as a way for lots of these artists who live in Spain, Ireland, or France to get their stuff out there with folks in the United States.

Rae: How do you feel about collaboration in relation to other artists?

Michael: I enjoy collaborations between artists, though I think there’s something to be said about finding the right match. Some collaborations work really well; while others don’t quite work or come out how I’d imagine. Plus, whenever I get works from other artists to collaborate on I’m really nervous about messing them up.

While I know the nature of collaboration is messing up, you’ve gotta see some of these beauties folks send to me!

Rae: Any artists you would like to collaborate with in the future? Who?

Michael: Gosh so many I can think of….honestly! I’ve been meaning to collaborate with artist Eric McHenry for some time, but everything he sends me is just too nice for me to add too, and I end up keeping them.

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Rae: What advice can you give others who want to pursue art?

Michael: My best advice is to make art, have fun, and stick with it. Just because you’re not getting shows or known, if you keep working on it, it’ll happen.

Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If you mess up an eye, then put an eye patch on it!

Rae: Which cities have you lived in? Traveled to?

Michael: I’ve lived in San Jose, Ca for quite a few years. I attended SJSU and got an English degree but remained there several years after. I’ve traveled to Taiwan, Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, Prague, France, Morocco, and various states in the US like New York, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Rae: Any amazing favorite gallery you love in Los Angeles?

Michael: I have to say that I really like Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City and THIS,LA in Highland Park, both for different reasons. Both galleries put on great shows and have great folks running them.

Rae: How do you recharge when your creativity hits the wall?

Michael: I usually try and spend time with friends and my wife, Rachel. I read, watch movies, and pretty much do anything else than draw.

Doesn’t always help, but I find that stepping away till the point you start freaking out having not made something usually helps. Museums are great too, I just need to go to them more often.

Rae: Any inspiring book at the moment for you?

Michael: I’ve been finishing a trilogy by Bernard Cornwell based on the Arthurian legends which I find really inspiring. Filled with great details on battle, pagan rituals, and stuff like that.

Rae: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Michael: Hmmm….I’m so easily excited, so I have to say some of my most exciting moments as an artist have been just seeing my stuff in books and etc. Most recently one of my prints donned the background of that film For A Good Time Call, which was pretty cool!

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Rae: Music is a huge influence in art making sometimes, any music you have been listening to lately?

Michael: I’ve been listening to a mix of rock and heavier stuff, but I think YES is always on the turntable not to mention stuff like Om and Thrones.

Rae: Any new upcoming projects that you are working on currently?

Michael: Well, I’m really excited to participate in the upcoming Supersonic Electronic Invitational 2 in SF this January as well as 2013 summer group show called Tonight We Fight, curated by Luke Pelletier at New Image Art.

Rae: Thanks for the interview Michael. Look forward to seeing more in the future. Keep it going!

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Check Michael out at:

My Twitter

My Flickr

My Facebook

My Tumblr

Instagram@michaelchsiung

My Website

Artist Feature: Jason Jaworski

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Interview with Artist: Jason Jaworski

Rae: So tell me your story.

Jason: I’m just a small town girl living in a lonely world.

Rae: At what age did you decide you were going to be serious about art?

Jason: When Biggie and Tupac died. I think everything got real serious after that.

Rae: Haha… now tell me about your zine, “Sprinkles, Sparkles, and Kankles.” How did you get the name? 

Jason: I had just moved to New York. This was 5 or 6 years ago. I didn’t know anyone or anything and was broke beyond shit. I was working at an archive of a well-known photographer at the time, dealing with numerous museums and estates. Including the Dali Fundacio, the TATE Modern, and the MoMA.

Every day I would ride the train a little more than an hour north to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and be transported to this strange bubble of wealth and magic. In the evenings, without money or company, I would walk down Manhattan taking pictures and jotting down notes, trying to find food and take in as much as I could. Sort of like a sponge. When I got back to my apartment near Coney Island I would write and work off of everything I’d consumed. Regurgitating everything I had seen and absorbed.

That was in 2007. The same year I had befriended a woman who lived in the Dakota building on 72nd Street. We met through a mail-art project I had started. It involved sending letters I wrote to random addresses. An artist I met at my work, Donna Ferrato, had a show opening on the East Side. I invited the woman from the Dakota to go with me.

We walked up and down Fifth Avenue on one of those magical nights where the ebb and flow of the city seems to work concurrently with one’s own feelings.

It was getting late. We walked back across the park, towards the West Side. It started to rain. While beginning to hold her hand, she said the exact same thing I was thinking- how everything, in the rain, at the right moment, with the right light, can cause things to sparkle.

Rewind two decades. I’m a child. My mom, an immigrant, implants in my head the word “sprinkles” in association with rainfall. 2007: I’m walking in the park again with the woman in the rain. Sprinkles. And the sparkles that go along with it. Upon arriving at the woman’s house we were joined by a group of her friends.  Suddenly, before me were an enormous amount of kankles. Belonging to men and women alike.

That night, I walked back to my apartment near Coney Island as the sun rose. I sat down and jotted three words quickly: Sprinkles, Sparkles, Kankles.

They sort of fell into each other. And described a personal moment in time while also being humorous, something I very much liked. The name sort of stuck and I’ve been making zines and other things inspired by those impressions ever since.

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when creating a new piece? And how do you decide the medium, since you do all kinds of art?

Jason: I’ve always had problems sleeping, either sleeping too much or not enough. When I’m alone, hungry and at my most tired is when I work the best, usually right before the sun comes up until 1 or 2pm. Sort of from about 2am to 2pm. A nice 12 hours. My friend Rhode calls it the Vampire Schedule.

Process wise, I kind of just put everything I’m working with in front of me. And sort of overwork till there’s too much, and then deconstruct everything from there.

It’s like constructing the tallest building in the world then realizing you just wanted a small house. Reusing and re-appropriating all the previous materials. Like compressing a large wad of coal into a diamond.

As for medium, each one dictates to me when to work with it. I don’t steal anymore. I used to when I was younger. But I’ve stopped completely since then. Since I don’t have much, I work with whatever is around me, and with whatever new tools I acquire. So it’s usually what’s around me that decides how I work and interact with it.

Rae: I really love your process of documentation. You’re very meticulous. And I mean that in a good way.

Jason: I’ve always thought I was gonna die young. I don’t want to forget anyone or anything that I’ve been or have come in contact with, no matter how much I run away. And just as a photograph can contain within its image the details of a moment, I’m just trying to catch as much as I can with as much as I can.

Rae: Would you say you challenge society’s normal mode of thinking with your work?

Jason: There’s this Jackie Chan movie called Who Am I. The whole movie is pretty amazing. I haven’t seen it since I was a little kid though, so by now it might be awful. Throughout the whole movie there’s all of this amazing stuff going on. I think at one point he slides down a building and fights some guys in wooden shoes. Amazing. The only bad part of the movie, from what I remember, is when he gets up on a ledge and screams the title of the movie to the world: “Whoooooooo aaaammmmmmm I?!”

That’s all a side exposition leading to this- I don’t really ever try to question what I’m doing, or who it’s for. I don’t really think of society, either as a challenge or an entity. The same way a flower or plant doesn’t really think of people. The two just sort of coexist and somehow indirectly inform the other. It’s not that I’m ignorant. It’s more that I’m arrogant enough to think that I can ignore society. Without having to conform to whatever norm is floating around right now

Rae: Do you predetermine meaning or does it arrive later in your work?

Jason: I feel like anyone can make anything mean something. From a can of soup, to an empty frame, to a blank black canvas shared between three friends. I can only inject myself and my own meaning into something, so that it speaks to me.  If it ends up speaking to someone else then that is all the more reason to continue.

For me, sometimes the end will come before the beginning of something I’m working on. So I’ll work my way towards that end.

Although, more often than not, that end changes. I used to see everything I did as an exorcism of whatever ailed me at the moment. A sort of therapy. But I don’t really think about it that much anymore.

I just know that everything I do, and attach my name to, means something to me. Because only I could have done it- as good or as bad as it is. People always judge everything and everyone around them. That’s the sad way that we associate things with one another. But no one judges me and my actions more than me.

So it’s sort of like this interview- do I choose to be serious and pose a question? Or do I answer with whatever comes into my head? Or do I pretend to be happy when I’m sad or whatever it is? The meaning of something is derived from its core. And whether it’s a piece of plastic or a novel, everything has a core. Some just burn brighter than others.

Rae: Do you leave the conversation open ended in your art work or is your work more of a controlled study of conversation? For example, when starting a work, do you feel you are designing an experimental study that leads to a hypothesis or do you leave it open to move in any direction?

Jason: I think my real answer to this question would be much too long and kind of incoherent. The short of it is that I just don’t really care. Not in a “fuck you” type of way. It’s just that my thoughts never really collide with those questions while I’m working. I just need to do what I do and I’m doing it. It’s as simple as that.

Rae: Looks like you’ve been very productive. How many hours a day do you create?

Jason: Sometimes I’ll work 48 hours straight. Sometimes I’ll work 48 minutes. It usually depends on my mood and the amount of information I’ve absorbed. It’s impossible to describe without sounding like a douche. But I create when I can. Not when the time is available. But when I am mentally able to do so. I harness whatever is around me. That said, Mr. Miller once wrote, “Whenever you can’t create, you can always work.” So I always do.

Each object, whether tangible or not, each creation, comes from work. You can’t really get away from it. So, I can have thoughts and ideas and dreams, but if they aren’t actuated and acted upon they stay as dreams. It takes work to do something. So more than creating it is a process of working.

I would love to just lay in bed all day and think of all the amazing things I could and should do. But there comes a point when you have to get out of the covers and go outside. And turn all the notes and ideas, in whatever pad or notebook, into actualities. Otherwise they’re just dreams and ideas that never came to be. It’s sort of like masturbation. And, while that might be ok sometimes, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Rae: What do you consistently draw inspiration from?

Jason: Cities and their structure. And how that structure integrates a place and its people. The repetition of images alongside one another. Jenny. Friends and strangers. (I’m kind of just typing down everything that’s coming to my head.) Burritos are inspirational at certain moments. A hug. Views from an airplane window. A high five from Rhode.

Rae: Any books that you’ve been reading that have taken your breath away? Inspired your projects.

Jason: Ever since I got it a few years ago, there’s no book I go back to reread and look over more than Memories of a Dog.

Rae: When you’ve got a creative block, how do you get yourself out of it?

Jason: Work.

Rae: Heard you’ve lived in many different cities. Which cities inspired you most and why?

Jason: The past few years have afforded me the ability to have a sort of irregular square formation of living in this country. Being homeless and going from Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York to Miami, with little spurts of scenery in Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Mexico.

Out of all of those places, I feel most at home in New York but each one gives its own inspiration in some way. San Francisco will always remind me of my sister and the sometimes frustrating, but always incredible and inspirational, relationship I’m grateful and glad to have with her. Miami is a sort of bounce house for me.

Having some of the most talented and good-spirited friends I know of, Los Angeles is like an unorganized playground of a place where the rides don’t too often work. But when they do it’s worth it. And New York, always my home even if I don’t have a home there, has everything I could hate and hope for all in one place.

Rae: Any upcoming new projects in progress that we can look forward to seeing soon? Any shows or traveling on your calendar this year?

Jason: I’m planning a show with my friend Sasha Grey in the near future. And I’m organizing and exhibiting a photo project and documentary I created while going out to Japan a week after the earthquake last year. And I’m working on a series of books which should hopefully start to trickle out at the end of this year along with a few other goodies.

Rae: Sounds great to check out! And you’ve done some collaborations with other artists in the past, but what motivates you to connect and build relationships through the art making process?

Jason: Some things require more than one person to get done and any moment or opportunity to be able to work with one of my friends is a welcome one.

Rae: Any artists that you would be happy to collaborate within the near future?

Jason: More friends or talented strangers.

Rae: What do you like most about the art surrounding you in San Francisco/bay area?

Jason: Lulu and Nae Nae, Tranny Karaoke night at Aunt Charlie’s. The homeless guy that pulled out his tooth and gave it to my sister. Evan, Amanda, Chelsea’s flannel. Matt, Nisan, Raymond Brown, Keiko, Ray, Austin, Pardee, Monica and Harrison. Green Apple, Kayo, Los Coyotes’ buy one get one free Wednesday burrito special. The guy who screams “you got a quarter” to people on the street. And everyone and everything that hates or hugs me.

Rae: What type of music or bands are you listening to right now if any?

Jason: I’m responding to these questions at this moment while listening to a group of songs I heard while falling in love with my friend at a goth party. I don’t know if that’s embarrassing, honest, or both.

Rae: Finally, what has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Jason: Buying my parents dinner and paying more than “just the tip”.

Rae: This wraps up the interview. Thank you, Jason! Gonna definitely be seeing your work around I’m sure!

Jason: Thanks.

Check out his website: Jason Jaworski

The images throughout this interview are from Jason’s recent photo project documenting cities along with vernacular images and found photographs.

Artist Focus: Interview with John Felix Arnold III

Portrait by Eric Palozzolo from Past From the Blast @ Kitsch Gallery

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

Interview with artist John Felix Arnold III

Rae: Now let’s begin with the interview, nice to have you with us today….Tell me about your work? What does it symbolize for you personally?

John Felix: Man, that’s a very complex question. My work keeps me alive on a lot of levels, that’s the root of it.

Without creating things I would probably spontaneously combust or wither away into nothingness so therefore it represents life to me. It keeps me moving forward and allows me the opportunity to bring something I deem to be positive to the world.

Art has always come naturally to me. Speaking and asking questions through visualization is something that happens through me. I find joy in its creation and those that search to be around art. When I am really involved, it’s almost as if I am not the sole energy making it, but I am more of a conduit for something much larger than myself aiding me in making a contribution to the future. I could go on and on about my influences, inspiration, conceptual framework, technique, evolution, and what not.

But what I am explaining here, while it may come off as sounding vague, is the spiritual essence of why I do this. It represents a spiritual connectivity.

To me what I make represents my personal dialogue with the world. It demonstrates gratitude for the life I have through pain and pleasure, through the mundane and the monumental. On a basic level, I am creating exhibitions that aim to make the viewer feel as though they are walking into a life size graphic novel set in a post-apocalyptic future world. This being said, anyone who has ever read, Blade of the Immortal, Akira, Sandman, Elektra Assassin, or any graphic novel knows that works in print like these are created out of a need to understand our place in the bigger picture.

Capriquarius 5'x4' Mixed Media on Wood Panel

Rae: Looks like you are an artist of all trades…what is your most favorite medium at the moment right now?

John Felix: The medium I am having the most fun with right now, aside from the conceptual nature is basically mixing all of the disciplines I enjoy into one explosive element. It is definitely the construction of the large panels I am using for my paintings as of late.

My favorite part right now of the process is taking all of the found wood and then organizing it and setting it piece by piece into these beautiful, rectangular, debris, and tapestries. They are like these amazing organic real life 3-D design pieces that hold years of stories and experiences in every single piece of found material. Creating these as a vehicle to begin painting with, is really an awesome experience.

Event Elation 4'x8' Mixed Media on Wood Panel

Rae: What role would you say an artist has in society?

John Felix: That’s a great question, one which I don’t think enough people really give a lot of thought to, I mean people call Drake an artist right? (laughter) To me an artist’s role in society is to inspire dialogue, pose questions, and be fearless in developing their voice as a part of, and as an observer of society.

                                                                                                                

An artist’s role is to be an intense and integral member of society while at the same time having the ability to look at it from outside and comment on it so as to inspire dialogue within it, that hopefully aims to advance it in a positive light.

Artists are like chefs, we stir a bunch of things up and then serve it to the people to give them something to sustain a part of themselves, to think about, and evoke emotions and reactions.

Rae: I certainly agree with that! How has your practice changed over time?

John Felix: I recently found drawings I did as an infant, before I had any concept of survival in the face of societies expectations, fitting in, before I had any idea that so much of our world is run off of fear, status, image, and the cult of personality. The drawings were fun, fearless, and beautiful. For years I concentrated so hard on technique and developing an acceptable style and coping with a world that I felt alienated from, that I felt like I lost pieces of myself and wasn’t really living.

Now my practice really lies in reaching back into this childhood fearlessness within concepts that I confront as an adult armed with an arsenal of techniques, discipline, and design knowledge that informs a very organic style that is now evolving all on its own accord. After a very crazy life thus far, I get to appreciate years of really rigorous technical practice (that kept me focused in some dark moments) which have become a perfect companion for the free flowing energy that I now get to experience when I’m making art.

Lady of the Lake 5'x4' Mixed Media on Wood Panel

Rae: What themes do you pursue within your artwork?

John Felix: The main theme I am pursuing at present is exploring an idea of what people and certain archetypes will be and do in the face of an inevitable reset of human society.

I guess it really boils down to examining the rate at which we as a society are consuming limited resources around us. Creating multitudes of things which we really do not need, which in turn consume us spiritually, physically, emotionally, pretty much across the board, to perpetuate a system which turns the great majority its members into “self-sacrificing parasites.” 

Christopher Burch, whom I am showing with in New York in March, gets the credit for that term. It happens to fit the work I am doing as well as his and many others at the moment. Other themes examined in my work as well are: lose of control, creating things which consume us, spirituality or lack there of within society, love, what it means to be strong, how to move forward into the future, shelter, how things that are deemed “necessary for survival” will change once the world as we know it now ceases to be, you know light hearted stuff (laughter again).

Rae: Any books that inspire you at the moment, if any?

John Felix: Actually yes. Mirrors, by Eduardo Galeano, is really inspiring at the moment. It is a large companion of short paragraph pieces dealing with historical figures and questions throughout the history of civilization, which have shaped the world as we know it, and aims to get the viewer to really question their own intentions so as to gain some sort of insight into a positive way to move ahead.

Rae: Wow, I’ve got to look into that book, sounds fascinating! What do you love most about being an artist based in the bay area?

John Felix: People in the bay area simply love art, enjoy art, and support art in a variety of ways. The Bay Area is currently a great pool of creativity and freedom of expression for obvious historical reasons and thanks to an amazing history of forerunners. Where else can you run into Emory Douglas, Barry McGee, and Monica Canilao all in the same day.

The Bay is one of the most diverse parts of the world in terms of race, culture, spiritual practice, sexuality, academia, philosophy, technology, politics, and of course the arts.

It is the home of two of the oldest and most important art institutions I know of, SFAI and CCA. It has been called the birthplace of lowbrow art, has an amazing graffiti history, lots of pride behind its local art makers and movements. There are wildly different art movements happening right here right now in the Mission, the Tenderloin, and the greater Oakland area. I love the art community here and the commitment that so many artists have to continually challenge themselves and those around them.

Rae: Having studied at two different art schools in your lifetime? What attracted you most about the programs?

John Felix:Pratt is an oasis of imagination, incredible technical instruction, historical accomplishments in the arts, rigorous training, and amazing professors in one of the most amazing and craziest fucking parts of the world.

It is a home to a variety of disciplines. Something about having alot of disciplines, enabled us to engage one another on a daily basis. We dealt with professors that hold no punches and are not afraid to rip you a new one, if you don’t demonstrate that which is necessary to make it, this creates a great atmosphere.

The program I was in was just designed extremely well, and I benefited more than I could have asked for from it. It prepared me for things to come. We had a pretty epic class, in my department while I was there. Also they gave me more money than any other NYC school to make my home there.

SFAI’s prestige in the arts community, the fact that I won a pretty large scholarship, their history and print making facilities were pretty attractive. SF seemed like a great choice, and working w/ Tim Berry in the Print Making Department was a big pull! After a year though I really didn’t feel that it was the right place for me to be at, so I dropped out and saved myself from going pretty deeply into debt. I might move back to Brooklyn someday, we’ll see.

Rae: Any upcoming projects you’ve been working on at the moment? Could you talk about what you are trying to achieve with them?

John Felix: I have “The Love of All Above” Saturday February 4th at Queens Nails Projects in San Francisco. It is a continuation of my series of installation environmental pieces that act as an altar and a place to give praise as well as a stage and a vehicle for performers to engage the audience.

A Conversation with Charles Mingus About the Inevitable End of the World 8'x3' Mixed Media on Wood Panel Assemblage

A Conversation with Coltrane About the State of Spirituality 8'x3' Mixed Media on Wood Panel Assemblage

I am working musical performers Cassettes Won’t Listen, Bisco Smith, Grimace and Turnbull Green all from the Daylight Curfew Crew. Also performing will be Kool Kid Kreyola and a husband and wife duo called Him Downstairs. I am trying to create an installation environment that exist in the world of “Unstoppable Tomorrow”.

I want people to feel like they are part of a night of rituals and ceremony through art and music inside of this post apocalyptic setting that hopefully takes them out of their normal daily humdrum.

I want to create an environment where I can not only exhibit my new installation and painting work within the installation setting, but also engage performers to work within it, and collaborate with the environment.This I hope, will make the audience feel more part of the piece and the imaginary of all these concepts, disciplines, and personalities.

Then Christopher Burch and I are off to Brooklyn, NY for our March 1rst opening at an amazing space called Littlefield NYC, which will consist of drawings exploring this idea of societies “self sacrificing parasites”. Ninjasonik and Ken South Rock will also be performing at the opening of that show. Then it’s a solo show at Old Crow in Oakland in July. I am incredibly excited about this due to the fact that I get the whole space to explore by myself! Then back to Japan, to go on tour and do live painting with the band Ken South Rock. Pretty busy.

Rae: Any other artists you would love to collaborate with in the future?

John Felix: David Ellis, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Katsuhiro Otomo, and I wish I could go back in time and work with Hokusai and Yoshitoshi!

Rae: Any amazing galleries you love in the bay area?

John Felix: I was part of the Luggage Store’s “In the Moment” group exhibition this past November. I love and have loved the Luggage Store since I first found out about it when I moved here in 2006. There are a lot of amazing galleries here, they all seem to have their own distinctive voice and place and there are a handful I would like to work with for specific projects. I definitely have to say that my favorite gallery to work with thus far, who has also really been a pleasure to build with and evolve with is Old Crow in Oakland.

Rae: Music or bands inspiring you right now. Go.

John Felix: These cats Main Atrakionz out of Oakland are sick. I know everyone is saying Odd Future these days. Dipset all day. I just found the J Dilla Rough Drafts cd at Amoeba for like 10 bucks, that is a really sick one. The Ghost in the Shell soundtrack, Stand Alone Complex. The Akira Soundtrack. Japanther and Ninjasonik no doubt. Daylight Curfew, Kool Kid Kreyola, been listening to some Indonesian Rhythmic Recordings lately. Japanese Koto Drums all day. Always have my early nineties Hip Hop that I grew up with on speed dial. Rediscovered some At the Drive In recently. Been listening to Charles Mingus and Coltrane a lot.

Rae: More inspiration… more! What was your most inspiring moment as an artist so far?

John Felix: Definitely having “Past from the Blast” at Kitsch in the Mission last March (2011) with Japanther finally happened. In the middle of the show I looked out into the crowd and the world went into slow motion for me as I saw over 200 kids going absolutely ape shit inside of my art installation while Japanther rocked out on an altar platform/stage that was the focal point of the installation I built for the show. That was rad! They were rocking the universe inside of my artwork man.

Rae: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

John Felix:

Don’t overdo it man. You don’t have to feel like you have to carry the world on your shoulders. Do what you can because that shit will kill you and you won’t be any good to anybody.

Rae: Thank you John Felix Arnold III! Your future art shows are a must-check- out!!!!

Shouts TWNY, 57, IPD, 138, Dirty Durham, Old Crow, Big Sheikh Deluxe, Faetm, Brooklyn, The Elite

Links to check out this artist: artist website, wordpress blog, tumblr site, facebook, Daylight Curfew Creative Collection, Art Now SF

Gallery Spotlight: Interview with Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery

Located in the heart of Oakland, Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery is a hotspot within the art community, popularized mainly through word of mouth. I heard about it myself from other art students, and have been attending art shows here since 2010, which always blow my mind.

Art openings happen every month on 2nd Saturdays. The Old Crow Gallery, at 362 Grand Ave. in Oakland, CA offers a space to the public for monthly art exhibits by emerging and seasoned artists.

Check out my interview of the Old Crow gang below.

Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery

  • Notables who have shown or performed in the Old Crow Gallery include: Chor Boogie, Jet Martinez, Gaia, Robert Bowen, John Casey, Lauren Napolitano, Shrine, Krescent Carasso, Shawn Whisenant, John Felix Arnold III, Megan Kimber, David Young V, Black Diamond Shining, Lupo Avanti, Optimist, Kristin Farr, Parskid, Poesia, Feral Child, Deuce 7, Christopher Burch, Henry Gunderson, Kid Yellow, Mario Ayala, Jordan Quintero, ATWA, Spencer Keeton Cunningham, Kool Kid Kreyola, Smear, Micheal Kershnar, Jeff Meadows, Jurne, Japanther, Jessica Jenkins Ocotheca, Troung Tran, Amina Slor.

Old Crow Talk

Interview with tattoo artist Philip Milic and curator Terry Addison.

Rae: So, let’s start. Tell me about your unique tattoo shop and its second life as an art gallery.

Philip of Old Crow: In the initial planning, having a communal space and tattoo shop was always my vision, for the most part. A few things have changed, but the gallery part has stayed the same.

Terry of Old Crow: Well, I began showing Philip’s artwork around late 2007, after becoming familiar with his tattooing. At the time, I felt like he was creating gallery ready artwork that stood on it’s own, aside from his already heavily collected tattooing. Philip was in the final stages of opening the shop when we met, and had asked me to help him do an art show to go along with the shop opening.

Old Crow Tattoo and Gallery is divided into 2 large spaces…In the first room our gallery invites you into the tattoo shop which is in a separate larger room.

Pretty much, the minute I saw the space I knew it could be something dope. Since that day, I’ve dedicated all the time I possibly can to having those walls tell stories & hold memories for the people that view them.

Artist: Andrew Luck

Personally, I really enjoy the melding of the two worlds in one. Art galleries move at a much different pace than tattoo shops. Having both in the same space, we’re able to have a constant energy that not only exhibits artwork, but also creates artwork on a day to day basis.

Rae: Philip, How did you come up with the name of the shop?

Philip of Old Crow: My father is an old Croatian man, so it’s dedicated to him, the “Old Cro”.

Rae: Now, as for the tattoos, Philip… What got you interested in that business?

Philip of Old Crow: Not business!!!  Now that’s real talk.

When I started tattooing I was young & didn’t care about the money.

I was 17, living in my friend’s parents’ garage, opening up the tattoo studio I was apprenticing at after school. The shop was open from 12:30 pm-ish till 12am-ish every night. And I was there not for the money, but because it ached in every inch of my bones if I wasn’t there.

Rae: How long have you been in the tattoo business?

Philip of Old Crow: I’ve been a tattoo artist for 16 years, and now that I own a shop, I’ve only been in the business part of it for 2 years.

Rae: What would you say is your favorite part of your job?

Philip of Old Crow: Tattooing.

Rae: So, do you still enjoy the job after all these years?

Philip of Old Crow: 16 years later it still keeps me up at night. It really is like a little virus that my mind will never cure from, and I’m very thankful for this.

I hope to be that old guy that just can’t stop even if someone has to hold my arms to do it.

Feather Tattoo by Philip Millic

Rae: Any particular tattoo artists out there that you guys are inspired by and would like to work with someday?

Philip of Old Crow: Marcus Pacheco, I got to work with him a few years and fully regret not paying more attention when I did. Being young and not really knowing what’s real in front of you. I also have great appreciation for Scott Silvia, Juan Puente, Dan Dringenburg, and Seth Ciferri… all masters at what they do.

Rae: If a customer were to walk in and give you free reign over what was to be put on them, what could that customer expect from you?

Philip of Old Crow: A swastika blooming flowers in the center, would be a vajra and underneath in script it would say, hard to kill. And if you all don’t know the true meaning of the swastika, you all should look it up and educate yourself.

Rae: Do you feel that the tattoo industry is still very stereotyped?

Philip of Old Crow: I hope so.

Rae: Where do you see the tattoo industry in 5 years?

Philip of Old Crow: Wearing oxygen masks. No, I hope a few bandwagon jumpers fall off and stop doing shitty tattoos. But I think most of folks that are sticking to some of the older ideas will prevail over all the technological shit and bull shit TV programming that they’re trying to implement. The beauty of this craft is that you can still buy everything you need in the USA. Everything is hand crafted from the drawing, to the machine, to the formation of the needles, etc.

Rae: Any words of wisdom for the tattoo artists/business owners of the future?

Philip of Old Crow: Don’t do it. Become a graphic designer or a DJ, or grow pot, or be a Facebook model.

Rae: Any upcoming projects for yourself, Philip?

Philip of Old Crow: In a year, I’ll do something big. As of now, staying focused on the present.

Art Opening Nights

Rae: Next, onto the gallery questions. What is your favorite part of creating art exhibitions?

Terry of Old Crow: Right now, I’m really into the process of bringing an exhibition to life from the curatorial idea all the way thru the show’s closing. For me, conceptualizing exhibitions and coming up with the theme’s direction is so important. That’s something I really pay attention and get stoked on.

Rae: Is there some kind of philosophy behind Old Crow’s curatorial process? What kind of artists are you drawn to? How do you go about finding artists to show their work at the gallery?

Terry of Old Crow: Yeah there’s definitely a philosophy… I’m looking to create gallery moments that change from month to month. Hoping that if a person were able to come to every show in one year they would be able to really make sense of my curatorial choices as a whole.

Almost every month at least one person comes to the gallery and says this is their favorite show.

That month I’m curating for them. With them in mind. I also enjoy creating and being part of an artistic environment for people to engage with. Working within Philip’s shop gives the space a certain shanty mysticism that only working with an artist like Philip can bring. I’m trying to curate month to month, season to season, and honestly year to year, in terms of actual shows themselves.

Artist: John Felix Arnold III

I grew up within the New England hardcore scene. Brought up around dudes that skated all day before they’d paint graffiti all night. And heads that listened to Big L on the way to see a Strife concert. Living in Rhode Island helped expose me to lots of great art and music experiences early on. Which pretty much sums up the direction of my curating, a lil hiphop and a lil hardcore.

As I’ve been working at Old Crow, I’ve learned to curate with more restraint. Focus on beauty, subtlety, essence, and grace. Instead of just overwhelming the viewer with imagery and/or message.

Over the years, I’ve been able to grow with some of the artist’s I’ve shown. The friendships I’ve gained with artists over time has influenced curating and much more. I started a small art collective when in my early twenties with friends I met after spending sometime in the Bay. In 2005 or so, around age 25, I started curating independently and showing some of the same artists’ work I do today at Old Crow.

That being said, I also really enjoy showing artist’s from outside of California as well. I’m constantly hoping to bring someone or something to the table while I have a chance, while truly trying to push the work of those close to me.

Rae: What would you say is an advantage for the gallery of being located in Oakland?

Philip of Old Crow:

Oakland? Oakland’s pride is deep. The culture is rich, the weather is perfect. Lots of that LA face/Oakland booty thing is great too.

Terry of Old Crow: Oakland is rad, just that alone is first. I love the SF art scene and think it has a vibrant history. I’ve learned so much about curating by just living in SF and being able to visit all these high quality spaces. When Philip asked me to curate at Old Crow, I felt like I showed up on my own lil art island.

While there’s so much going on in Oakland, I feel like it’s a perfect time for the type of thing we are trying to present. Which is something that nurtures Oakland but shows the beauty of outward to inspiration and energy.

"Oaktown Art"

Rae: Is there anything lacking in today’s arts you would like to see more of?

Terry of Old Crow: Lacking, I don’t know. I’m really more into what I can do better within the space I curate. One thing if any, I think sometimes there’s not enough risk taking in pushing artists or discovering artists that stylistically fit what you may be trying to exhibit.

If we all as gallery directors/curators all did the proper research, I’m sure more artists would be showing within the SF/Bay Area alone. Then again, so many galleries are killing it and are really presenting beautiful exhibitions. So I think it’s more based on what your looking for more the art community at large.

Street Artists are getting kinda silly right now. Respect to the real writers out there, the ones that actually paint.

Rae: What really differentiates the Old Crow Gallery from the others out there?

Terry of Old Crow: Besides that we’re also a tattoo shop, and the face that there’s an alter in the gallery that never moves. The walls aren’t white all the way to the ceiling, there’s lots of things. I think people enjoy the really diverse grouping of artists that exhibit here. I think that is one of the best things about this space and what we are giving to Oakland.

Artists: John Casey, Obi Kaufmann, Nathaniel Parsons and Dave Higgins

Rae: Any particular artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Terry of Old Crow: Ummm, I really really really like Jane Alexander’s work. Eric Eaton is really great and seems like an honest good dude. Cris Cleen over in NYC @ Saved is creating a narrative w/ his paintings that I’d like to see explored in a gallery setting. MR Jago work is fantastic. I’m really interested in showing an artist named Reader’s work as well.

Rae: What attracted me most about your tattoo shop, has been the art show openings and word of mouth of friends who’ve gotten tattoo work by you guys. I’ve been to a few gallery shows since 2010 and was always blown away by the Artists’ work shown here!!! Amazing!!! Any favorite Artists that have shown here previously that has inspired you guys?

Artist: Shrine

Philip of Old Crow: Robert Bowen, Robert Burden, Optimist, and Shrine. This question is kinda silly cause if I didn’t get inspiration from it all, I would be sleeping. So really, I pull inspiration from everyone that has shown, even those I didn’t like so much.

Terry of Old Crow: The Poesia show was really amazing. I think it served as a re-introduction to the gallery artist he is today. Optimist paints super good. Shrine’s show was beautiful. John Felix is the future.

Artists: Jurne and Vulcan

Artist: Brett Flaningan

Lauren Napolitano is such a multi-talented artist, she’s epic and curated better shows than I have in my own gallery, also was part of one of the most exciting shows we had this year. Lauren, Spencer Keeton Cunningham, Kool Kid Kreyola, Andrew Luck, and Brett Flaningan were able to put together one of the most cohesive shows we’ve ever had.

I brought Megan Kimber’s work to gallery this year and that was rad. Krescent Carrasso is one of my favorite painters, that being said, she hasn’t let me hang any of her paintings yet, but there’s still time anyway. Marcus Pacheco and Vulcan took part in this year’s “Stant Tall pt. II” and that was pretty amazing to have 2 legends from different worlds take part in one exhibition.

Artists: Ken Davis and Optimist "Stand Tall pt.II"

Rae: You guys give a lot to the community through showcasing works of emerging artists. 

Terry of Old Crow: Getting the chance to create an impression in one person’s mind is really dope. Whether it’s on a buyer’s wall and in a viewer’s memory.

Art starts cycles for people. It gets the brain working outside of oneself, outside the day to day norm.

I hope people walk into Old Crow and feel there’s a vibe to the shop. That same vibe which is present in the style of work that we exhibit and produce. Being part of Old Crow and its constant outpouring of art has been pretty awesome. For a new gallery, I think we’ve done some things that people have been able to really enjoy within the art community.

Rae: Any words of wisdom for the creatives out there?

Terry of Old Crow:

Listen to Rick Ross while you make artwork… Hustle Hard, home skillet. And tell stories with your art.

Artist: Optimist

Rae: Any upcoming projects for Old Crow Gallery in the future you are excited about? New exhibitions in line?

Terry of Old Crow: Tweenz in Feb, Ink to Abstract in March w/ Shawn Whisenant, Robert Bowen, Poesia, Weirdo, and Jessica Jenkins, Pre-Vinylite Society in May, April’s show “Entrophy w/ Mario Ayala & Vibrata Chromodoris,” June we’ll be showing JAE54 and Chez, John Felix Arnold III has a solo show in June which is gonna be crackin’. Stand Tall 3’s in August. Out calendar for next year is really fun….I can’t wait to see these shows come to life, epic.

Rae: Any final words?

Terry of Old Crow: We out here. Shouts out to all my IPG’s and BG’s, Awake Click Stand Up. Metro, I see you. I wanna thank Philip for allowing me to work within the Old Crow Family. Espirit d’ Escalier.

Rae: Thank you for the interview Old Crow. Looking forward to seeing more art happenings in the future!

Links-

Check these birds out at: http://www.oldcrowtattoo.com/

Check out Philip Milic’s interview video w/ Vimby: 4598

Artist Feature: Erlin Geffrard aka Kool Kid Kreyola

“My name is Erlin Geffrard aka Kreyola Kid and bitch I paint!” – Erlin

Rae: Let’s begin, do you have an alias?

Erlin: In a way yes, I have a project named “kool kid kreyola” which is an art persona that I create work under

Rae: Tell us about your artwork? Do you challenge the world’s thinking with the art that you make?

Erlin: umm wtf….that is a lot of pressure…the world could suck it man, I am creating work for fun!

Rae: How many hours a day do you create?

Erlin: Depends on the day. I stay painting, I don’t focus on the time, I just paint.

Rae: What is your most favorite medium at the moment right now?

Erlin: Booty? I paint on butts….it’s fun!

Rae: Is there anything you consistently draw inspiration from?

Erlin: I love ancient art all over the world: Egyptians, Nubians, Mayas

Rae: Any books you’ve been reading at the moment that has been inspiring towards your artworks?

Erlin: Hero With A Thousand Faces, and The Alchemist

Rae: How do you recharge when your creativity hits the wall?

Erlin: I hit the crack pipe jk. I just relax the mental and go back to the basics!

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when you are creating a new piece?

Erlin: Shit, I just keep it nasty like I get it wet, then I put it in, ya feel me!

Rae: Yeah, I understand how that process is. Any upcoming new projects, shows, or travels?

Erlin: I got a show coming up at the Luggage Store Art Gallery! Feb 9, 2012.

Rae: Nice! Looking forward to that! What percentage of your work is collaboration vs. say, interactive? Or are the terms in your work interchangeable?

Erlin: Awww man like 50%- me, 50% colab i think more community art projects are the future. Less ego art world b.s., more rainbow togetherness…I worked with Spencer Keeton, Rye Purvis, Moe, Triple Mike the Shooter, D-nice, Quin Arnason, Quinn Arneson, Camus revel, the list goes on dude

Rae: Studying at SFAI, what have you learned most about there?

Erlin: no comment

Rae: Which cities have you lived in?

Erlin: I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida and then moved to sf, dats all!

Rae: Any artists you would love to collaborate with in the near future?

Erlin: R. Kelly, and John Baldessari

Rae: What do you like most about the art in San Francisco?

Erlin: The growing interest in new artists. I feel like their eyes are on us now.

Rae: Favorite place traveled? Why?

Erlin: my dreams cuz I travel nonstop

Rae: Has your art style changed at all during the years?

Erlin: kinda

Rae: Working on any new series of work?

Erlin: yeah um urban hieroglyphs

Rae: If you were to stop making art, what would you replace it with?

Erlin: pimping

Rae: Any artists that you admire, that influences your work?

Erlin: Spencer Keeton

Rae: What type of music or bands are you listening to right now?

Erlin: Whale Cries

Rae: Finally, What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Erlin: smoking out with Carlos Villa

Rae: Thanks for the interview Erlin, looking forward to seeing more of your works in the upcoming future.

Check out Kool Kid Kreyola’s website: http://bitchipaint.com/

Interview with Featured Artist: Ivan Bridges

“I just had the most beautiful dream; I was out there, over the Grand Canyon, in the sky. Out there in the universe. Dark, but there were stars. It was like we were in bed at night, talking in the dark. But somehow above the world as well, in the dark. We laid down, the two of us, on what felt like the sky and went to sleep. On a clear surface that was totally invisible. In the dream, I also met an older lady and I threw up a little bit inside her mouth, like a bird, and she liked it. A video camera is what I saw at the end of my dream.” – Ivan

Rae: Tell me about your artwork, what does it represent for you personally?

Ivan: I really identify with Duchamp when he says that all of art making is an urge, and the thing that just can’t be explained any more than that. I do see it fundamentally as an urge, so personally it represents to me some type of obsessive urge, maybe destructive? Maybe not. It’s hard to tell, you know, but I’ve never been able to quit so much, so it seems to put it in it’s place as an urge.

Rae: Can you recall a memory of when you first started making art? How did you start being serious about it?

Ivan: I’ve always been interested in drawing. I remember one of my teachers in elementary school saying to me that she hoped I’d never stop drawing. I wrote a poem too when I was very young and it was being read in the auditorium of the school during some kind of rally. I don’t remember much about it, but they picked my poem somehow. I remembered being both embarrassed and also deeply connected to that moment of hearing it spoken.

Rae: What do you love most about being an artist living in San Francisco?

Ivan: I love walking around at night thinking to myself as I look up at all the lights on inside the rooms I pass, maybe south of market or on Polk street, thinking to myself as I see the high ceilings and shadows cast what possibilities all these spaces have. I keep imagining different lives I’d live in each one of these open windows I pass in China town, the clothes hanging out the window, I imagine a room with a subject, a painting, a camera, a typewriter, I see it all.

Rae: Which cities have you lived in? Traveled to?

Ivan: I’ve lived in London, I grew up in New Orleans, I have a second life in Costa Rica with my father. I’ve seen Rome, Florence, Madrid, and spent a week inside an old convent with my cousin in Siena.

Rae: Having been in class with you at SFAI, I know that you grew up in New Orleans. How do you think living there had influenced you in your art making?

Ivan: New Orleans is a dark place. And I remember I used to walk to school before the sun rose and then standing in that schoolyard looking at the large brick building I’d always hear these crows cawing. It’s also a religious place, that elementary school was named Holy Name of Jesus. Being originally born in Portland, Oregon and then transplanted to New Orleans at eight years old to live for the next ten years in this religious school system had a deep effect on me. I became obsessed in my own way with the symbolism of the church, only to find when as I got older that my own relationship to that symbolism was somehow not okay with the specific dogma of the church. I eventually broke with the identification as a Christian probably when I was eleven or twelve years old, but that experience has deeply shaped my inner life.

Rae: Studying at San Francisco Art Institute, who was an influential teacher of yours? What did he/she teach you most about?

Ivan: Rob Halpern, the class was called “The Dead and the Living, paranormal messages in literary texts,” and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been the same again. Well, English classes have had that effect on me and I just don’t see how engaging deeply with literature or theory could not affect ones life deeply. But to talk about a few of the things I learned, the notebook being a primitive technology is one, also that I can grieve while reading. I learned that with Primo Levy.

Rae: What about their program, attracted you to go to SFAI?

Ivan: The idea that you can’t teach art.

Rae: Has your style changed at all through the years?

Ivan: yes, sometimes it’s the limits or constraints that keep me changing. For example, I used to be very hung up on the idea that for me, painting or art making had to do with oil painting. And it was when I had the lucky opportunity to be invited into a shared studio situation that I was unable to paint in oil, the times I was allowed in were infrequent at best and the time in this studio was filled with my supposed partner talking to me more about the news than what would inspire me to paint. It’s one of those experiences that sounds amazing, beautiful studio great location, but there is a catch, all my oils are going to be locked up most of the time leaving me to have to find another outlet. It ended up that I started using watercolor, as a way to cope with this, and that became my primary medium, which I use today. I’m actually going through that same process right now where all my watercolor stuff is in another studio, this time it’s my own, and I’ve been thinking about writing instead! Maybe renting an art studio for me is a great way to discard a medium.

Rae: Speaking of motivation, is there anything or anyone that exceptionally inspires your artwork at the moment?

Ivan: Proust, and Georges Bataille, both of these writers exhibit a type of freedom in their prose, a pure unfolding deeply provocative material that dwells below the surface. I think, of the human experience. It’s given me a little bit of extra courage to move more deeply into my own hidden drives or fears about what might come up if I really push myself to show what I’m terrified to show in my art.

Rae: Any other artists you would love to collaborate with in the future?

Ivan: Sophie Calle, Nalini Malini

Rae: Describe your process for creating a new piece and what sorts of materials you prefer to use?

Ivan: I love to collage; I also like taking pictures, writing, video. It’s funny someone told me recently that the foe artists have a hand in everything, so I guess I’m not a real artist then.

Rae: Any amazing gallery that you love in the bay area?

Ivan: Honestly, I’m not too familiar with galleries in the Bay area, but I do love certain bookstores, the Green Apple is one, I think of it as a type of church. I also love Forest Books on 16th street; The Ocean is a great place to go as well on a foggy day or night.

Rae: When is your most creative….time of day?

Ivan: It’s either early in the morning or late at night, but I think creativity is such a mystery really. None of this stuff really makes any sense does it, but I do think it’s important to remember where you are when you get ideas. For me I walk late at night through soma or up Polk Street. I also have a couch in a room where stacks of books cover the walls; I lay there and think as well.

Rae: What inspires you to continue making art?

Ivan: I just can’t imagine not doing it. I would say that for me it’s a matter of psychological health.

Rae: Could you talk about your latest series of work and what you are trying to achieve with them?

Ivan: My latest project is a video; these are some of the initial ideas around it:

  • I wanted to crawl up into the smell in the hallway, it reminded me of the bath with Terri, I peed in it and she saw and asked me if I did, I said no. Millaudon Street New Orleans, I’m 17. I miss it, those mornings. But tonight is something new. I’ve painted. Terri is gone. She’s the one I can’t seem to get over. But they weren’t exactly days of roses and I feel the green sunlight of a photograph I know well, I don’t remember the day but the photograph for sure. I also remember that porch, waiting for the night to begin. At night we took drugs and in the day we waited. I lived for most of it like that but oh I never knew her all that well and besides she never even loved me. I’ve never known anyone all that well except for artists, ones who are dead who I can think about. This primitive notebook, I can feel it opening to me, take me in your arms. I want to give all of myself, good and bad.

Rae: Any good advice you want to give to other artists?

Ivan: Don’t give up. Unfortunately it may take people a long time to realize the value in what you are doing. You have to see it yourself, and you have that be the sole guide for why you continue.

Rae: What type of music or bands are you listening to right now while making your pieces?

Ivan: ????

Rae: Tell us about new upcoming projects, solo/group shows, or trips you are working on.

Ivan: I’m working on publishing a talk Marcel Duchamp gave in San Francisco in 1949; also I’m currently writing for video work.

Rae: Finally, what do you do for fun? How do you relax?

Ivan: I go somewhere once a week with myself, it’s my way of taking care of myself. Almost always, I try to avoid it but all of my best ideas have come on these excursions. The idea is to have a good time and not work when I’m out on these excursions, and also I can’t bring anyone with me, it’s like tagging along with you and your Dad’s new girlfriend. It’s a way to reconnect with what I enjoy.

Rae: Last one. Favorite quote?

Ivan: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” – Goethe

Rae: Thank you for the interview Ivan.

Here is Ivan’s performance video:


ivanbridges.com underconstruction…..e-mail at ivbridges@gmail.com for any inquiry at the moment

Ivan Bridges is an artist based in San Francisco, Ca.