I’d never been to LA before “Dude, Monsters!” haha It was probably a little overly ambitious. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Not to many of my friends were into the same art/music as me. So I always had to get on the internet to find bands/artists that spoke to me. When I started making art, I’d email all the artists I liked, talk to them, and trade art. When I started curating shows, I just asked them to get involved. While the internet has the potential to connect the entire world, it has a way of pushing us apart. I’d done a few shows in Chicago and decided I wanted to do a show in LA and meet up with a bunch of the artists I’d been talking to. It was nice to bring a community that started on the internet into the real world and have a bunch of fun!
There are a ton of different things that pushed me in the direction that moving in, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater. I was 7 or 8 years old when I first played it. That’s when I got really into skateboarding and punk. Skateboarding trains kids to be creative. A lot of people will look at a handrail and only see a handrail. Skateboarders look at handrails and see possibilities. They’re taking something that already exists, combining it with their own ideas, and creating something new. That’s what art is all about. The game was a perfect world where everything was yours and you could do whatever you wanted. It’s soundtrack blew my mind. The songs created a hyper-teenage world. A place with no parents, no rules, no limits, just fun. That game created a paradise. I believed in it. Once I got old enough to realize that the world was nothing like that, I got really angry and destructive. I felt cheated. I was getting kicked out of school, destroying other people’s property, and just breaking stuff. Recently, I’ve decided that I’m tired of eating away at a world I don’t fit into. Through curating shows, supporting other artists, creating community, and making art, I’m building the world I want to be a part of.
I was using the skeletons in Hawaiian shirts to talk about people who overwork themselves and say “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” I have a bunch of new subjects I’m working with, but right now, I loves alligators. To me, they’re the last dinosaur. They watched all of their dinosaur friends fade away and didn’t seem to notice. If you see an alligator in a zoo, it doesn’t notice anything outside of itself until it’s feeding time. I see a lot of people living life the same way: just living paycheck to paycheck and waiting on the next meal. That’s why I paint most of them with their eyes closed.
It was crazy. haha I broke my arm that Summer. So I wasn’t able to make any art. Three days after that, the Peanut Gallery asked me to do the show. I wrote the whole record while my arm was still broken. So when I was finally able to make art again, I used the album as a blueprint for the show. I made all the paintings in North Carolina with a lot of help from friends, family, and my girlfriend. I did the pinball machine when I got to Chicago. I used it as a sort of summary of the whole show. In the past, I would have looked at my art, music, and social practice as being separate, but now, I see it all as one thing.
Stuff I liked when I was a kid that I’m still into:
Artists: Jim Phillips, Vernon Courtland Johnson, Marc McKee, Klasky-Csupo, and a ton of other stuff.
TV/Movies: Rocket Power, Grind, Little Monsters, Good Burger, KABLAM.
Music: NOFX, Less Than Jake, Screeching Weasel, The Ramones, Lagwagon, The Offspring, etc.
What do you want to do with your work in the future, and is there anyone with whom you would be stoked to work with?
I want to continue doing shows and building communities. I’ll start working on another solo show sometime soon. I want it to be more installation driven. That way I can create an environment.
And most of my friends are my favorite artists right now. So I would love to work with some musicians and skateboarders. Maybe some film-makers or animators?