Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I was born in California and I like to think that is where I am from, but honestly my family moved when i was young. I moved a few times while I was growing up and then when i was on my own, well, I've lived all over. Right now I have been living close to some of my family in Cedar Rapids, Ia, but I don't feel this is the end of the line by any means.
How did you get your start as an artist?
There are so many variables to how that came about. The short of it was that I had been working a boring job and started painting through the nights and I couldn't stop. All of the sudden, life's barriers seemed to be stretched. I felt like I could do anything I wanted. The more that I studied art, the more I discovered that I just had to do everything and learn everything. I got so consumed and now being an "artist" is just more the person that I am. It's something that I have to do to feel healthy and feel like I can contribute to the world.
Do you think not going to art school gives you a fresher, more open perspective on art making?
I'm not sure. I really don't know what I would have done in art school. The big thing for me is that I do very much believe in education, I have just made my own. We live in a time where where that is possible. For me, I try to always be making a lot of art and that is a big way of how I learn. Experimentation gives way to progress. I do study everyday, and I do wish that I could have experienced certain aspects of art school but if a person is honestly and truly going a certain direction, sometimes there can be different paths of getting there. One benefit to being self taught is that you have to want it, because there is no one, such as a teacher, pushing you to do art and so if it's not in you, you won't do it. That helps me know where I stand because I am investing in a self initiated way.
What draws you to portraits?
I have a deep interest in human condition. Art is for people and is always in some way about people. So sometimes it's most efficient to communicate certain subjects, ideas, and views through the direct image of people. Plus I love how we look and make ourselves look. It's so rich to me.
The faces in these works are treated very differently than the hair and other details. What's your process for these pieces?
I stretch paper and then lay down some water where i want to drop ink into it. When I put ink onto the wet paper I have a certain control but I want it to take it's own shape. This is essential to these pieces because it balances everything in the contrast of abstract to realism, the contrast of who we really are with who we concretely present ourselves to be.
Starbucks cups and iPhones pop up in many of the paintings. Do those items have symbolic meaning for you?
Well, these are poplar cultural items that can be easily identifiable to so many people. I want them to make people feel that immediate connection, but also while experiencing a sense of irony at the same time. Almost like that connection isn't free, it comes with a price of realizing the irony that so many people would connect with those things. I'm trying to inject a dialogue of our culture. We drink coffee to keep ourselves going when we don't have natural desire to do something, rather than tasting the coffee that is so enjoyable. Another example is when we use iPhones to capture images making ourselves "look" like we are doing something, more than actually enjoying those experiences.
Who needs em (detail)
How did you settle on blue hair? It is an odd detail but works so well.
I discovered doing the blue as I was experimenting for these six pieces. I actually wanted to do some of them with different colors but that blue was really captivating me so i couldn't escape doing them all that way. I felt it helped with the balance of beauty and meaningfulness of these pieces.
It has begun (detail)