Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I moved to Chicago to study design at Columbia College Chicago in 2003 from a small town about an hour north of Detroit. I thought about studying in Detroit but everyone told me that if I did I would end up working in the automotive industry which I wasn't at all interested in. So Chicago was the next big city, just far enough to be away for school, but close enough to easily make a weekend trip back home to see my family. I've never looked back, honestly. I do miss my family, but I consider Chicago home. I love this city.
You are very involved in your local community. What's the art + design scene like in Chicago?
Extremely supportive. People are so open and kind here. Seeing good people making great work all around you can be a bit overwhelming, but once you realize that those same people are down to swing by with a six-pack and show you how to properly matte your artwork or even share their contacts in another city you might be traveling to, that's where the true love is here. The people in Chicago make this city worth staying in. Recently I've heard a larger national and international dialog about Chicago, especially in the tech and investment worlds. Seeing this conversation evolve, even in the past 6 months or so has been really intriguing. There are some interesting initiatives and investments coming to the city in the coming years. I have a feeling that this wider interest in Chicago will give the art and design community a whole new market for growth and opportunity in the coming years. It's an exciting time to be here.
You are quite the collector of ephemera and paper goods if I remember correctly. Do these things make their way into your work or are they more for inspiration?
I've been collecting paper for more that a decade now. It's a disgusting habit. Show fliers, concert wristbands, valet parking tickets, doorknob hung fliers and anything else brightly colored or interestingly patterned. My partner, Margot, walks around the house constantly asking, "Is this Art or garbage?" My mom and dad are the same way. My dad recently gave me a box from the 70's that contained every receipt he ever got while working on his motorcycle. Why did he keep all those receipts decades after the bike was gone, and why do I continue to keep them? I have no idea. I find these seemingly menial items that unintentionally document a history of some sort really interesting. Most of the paper I collect is just taped in my sketchbook or filed away in some semi-arbitrary place and doesn't make it into my work, but it does influence it. There was a time when I was using a lot of the paper I collected in my collage work. Mostly paper with handwriting on it and images from women's magazines of the 40's and 50's. Now I use that same paper as a reference for color palettes and shapes rather than using an image of a mechanical pencil or a jello mold right off the page. I've recently wanted to make my work more welcoming of different interpretations and removing all recognizable imagery helps to keep the works ambiguous.
Can you tell us a bit about this series?
These pieces are part of a larger investigation that I have been developing for about a year now. It started when The Art Dossier asked me to put together a body of work to show at the Affordable Art Fair (which happened a few weeks ago). This was the catalyst for some new experiments which merged my screen printing practice and cut paper works. As I said before, I had made a lot of work using appropriated imagery for a while, but more recently I've found it very restricting. I wanted to work larger and potentially start thinking about sculptural work, but the materials weren't facilitating that. All the while I'd been doing these really small shape and color studies that had been getting more and more sparse over the years. So I started referencing and appropriating parts from those smaller studies to create larger works on paper and panel. This is the work you are seeing now. Lately I've felt it my job as an artist to create a more engaged viewing process that doesn't start and end on the page. Having flat shapes and colors that imitate everyday objects, moments and memories makes for an interesting conversation between the viewer and the work. My intent is for the work to feel strangely familiar, almost like meeting someone for the first time and they have the same name as your best friend so you have this burst of associations fly into your mind as they introduce themselves.
You've been involved in many projects (according to Beautiful/Decay more than 30 projects over 2 years). Is there one that you are most proud of?
This might be the hardest question anyone has ever asked me. More and more I've seen my work as one large practice rather than individual projects so it's hard to single anything out. I am quite proud of this new body of artwork. More so than normal. Something about it feels so comfortable, and I've been super fortunate in that other people seem to enjoy it as well. Honestly, I tend to be more proud of people rather than projects. Most recently, nothing has made me prouder than seeing two of my great friends, Adi Goodrich and Will Bryant, win the ADC Young Guns Award this year. I've seen both of their work progress over the past 6 or 7 years and I'm so honored to be even a small part of their growth.
What gets you going each day?
I'm not much of a morning person, but being an independent artist and designer helps. I enjoy the variation. Most often the things that get me moving in the morning are a cup of coffee, a good tune and a short bike ride to some nearby place that I happen to be calling my studio that day.