I suppose my creative process is an accumulation of my lived experiences coming out through whatever weird filter my brain puts on things haha! Everything from a youth spent skateboarding and doing graffiti to my current love for rock climbing and train monikers comes into the work I create. Every trip to California with my wife and son, every museum or play my parents took me to as a kid, every beer at the river with friends.. all those things go into the work I create. But no rituals haha.. who’s got time for all that?!?
2. Art often reflects personal experiences and emotions. How does your own life and background influence your work?
I’m heavily impacted by spending a year in jail for graffiti, by hikes to White Oak Canyon waterfall with my parents when I was a kid (then taking my own son there as a parent), by Saturday afternoons spent sleeping in with my wife when we were in our twenties. Growing up watching Saturday morning cartoons, being mesmerized by Bob Ross, seeing REVS wheat pastes and rollers in late 90’s Manhattan.. these and countless other influences have stuck with me and affect the work I make.
3. Many artists face challenges and breakthroughs in their careers. Can you share a particularly challenging moment in your artistic journey and how you overcame it?
Lately, I’ve taken to saying, “If it was easy, everyone could do it.” Growth requires adversity. While going to jail for almost a year for graffiti was not a fun experience, it taught me that setbacks are temporary, and hardships make you stronger. Life is a war of attrition and so is making it as an artist. Just because one person (or many people haha) don’t like what you do, that doesn’t mean they’re right. I think the hardest challenge in general is developing an artistic voice that is uniquely your own. For me that just took a long time and cranking out loooots of work. You have to trust your own intuition and eventually you’ll land on what comes out of you naturally and honestly.
4. Your choice of medium can greatly impact the message and aesthetics of your art. What draws you to your chosen medium, and how does it enhance your artistic expression?
I thoroughly enjoy working across all sorts of mediums.. welded aluminum and large-scale public art has been my focus over the past few years. But I love being able to translate the same style, imagery, and ideas across everything from massive sculptures and murals on the sides of buildings to delicate laser cuts or scribbled drawings on the sides of freight trains. To me, an artist’s hand/voice/flow will be evident in whatever they create.
5. Art has the power to provoke thought and inspire change. Are there social or political themes that you explore in your work, and what impact do you hope it has on your audience?
With most of my work, I simply aim to spark joy. There’s a lot of negativity in the world, and if I can bring just a little bit of happiness to folks then I feel like I’m serving my purpose in life. That being said, my work has always been a way to process all sides of life, so while my work might include political ideas or be drawn from a place of darkness, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything at this point in my life.
6. Collaboration in the art world can lead to exciting outcomes. Have you ever collaborated with other artists or creative professionals, and how did it influence your artistic vision?
Some of my most rewarding projects have come from collaborating with friends. One of my oldest friends, Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs, is someone I grew up skateboarding with, then writing graffiti with, and now traveling the country and painting with occasionally. We always get into adventures and get to pretend we’re still fifteen year old hooligans. Sometimes the collaborations with other artists are challenging, sometimes they’re basically just an excuse to hang out and do a bunch of drugs and see what comes out. I love this life.
7. Artistic styles often evolve over time. How has your style transformed throughout your career, and what motivated these changes?
On one hand I think my style has changed dramatically over the years, and then I’ll look at something I drew when I was ten and realize that my way of seeing the world has always been exactly the same and that I’m still basically a kid in wonder at the world.
8. The art market and industry can be challenging to navigate. What strategies have you found effective in promoting your work and connecting with collectors and audiences?
It can absolutely be a challenge to figure out how to position yourself to promote your work without being desperate, without giving into pressures of what might be the most commercially successful path, and without losing your soul. So far, I’ve found the traditional gallery method of representation to be outdated and unnecessary. I’m sure there are gallerists out there worth their weight in gold, but I haven’t found that to be the case in my experience. In general, I think success in the arts is like success in most aspects of life.. show up on time, communicate clearly and honestly, do what you say you’re going to do, and don’t be a prick.
9. Many artists find inspiration in the work of others. Are there artists or artworks that have profoundly influenced your creative journey, and if so, how?
I don’t look to other artists for specific inspiration, but I’ve undoubtably been influenced by a wide variety of things. Japanese woodblock landscapes, the MSK graffiti crew, Jonathan Meader’s fantastical screen prints that my parents had in the house when I was growing up, Calder’s massive mobiles, Mark di Suvero’s towering steel sculptures and his acknowledgment of how minuscule they are when compared to actual architectural marvels such as bridges. Music is honestly the biggest influence on my work. I love a lot of music very deeply. I feel it far more than any painting or mural or sculpture has ever made me feel. In no particular order here are a few musicians I love: Warren Zevon, Freddie Foxxx, Old 97’s, David Bowie, Lil Ugly Mane, Pat the Bunny, Warzone, Drive-By Truckers, Dan Deacon, Weakerthans, the Bug, Tim Barry!!
10. Art has the potential to create a lasting impact. Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve with your art, and what legacy do you aspire to leave behind?
Sometimes I think it's disgusting and pretentious to think in such grandiose terms as “your legacy.” But as any kid who has ever left their name in wet concrete, or carved their initials into a picnic table can attest, the impulse to leave a mark (literally or figuratively) on the world is very real, and very deep within us. It’s part of the genetic code that drives any species to reproduce. Finding a healthy way to express that can be challenging (or at least has been for most of my life so far). As to my “legacy” in the arts, that’s for someone else to figure out after I’m dead and gone. I’d say my thoughts are best summed up by a line in the song, “A Glorious Shipwreck,” by Pat the Bunny. It goes like this: “Since we’ll all return to dirt, let’s bring some stories for the worms.” I’m not trying to die without a bunch more scars.