Emboss Magazine Interview

The following is my Interview from the Winter 2017 Issue of Emboss Magazine, highlighting my work practice and what drives me to create it. Take a read!

How did you get your start?

I’ve been creating in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Exhibitions of my artwork came shortly after high school and I always enjoyed people’s reactions to my work. My career, so far, has spanned from photography to horror makeup and effects for films, to painting and 3-D sculptural work. I realized at a very young age that when I had certain ideas for projects, I needed to get them out and make them a reality. It’s been a process to go from the inception of the idea to the planning process to execution. I wasn’t always great at finishing what I started, but I’ve learned how to work through an idea to completion.

How would you describe your style? How has it evolved during your career?

My style has always had a tinge of the macabre. I grew up in a household where classic horror films and Halloween was part of our normal day-to-day life. I have memories of working haunted houses with my parents and sister, and even taking field trips in grade school to my house during Halloween to see my parent’s decorations. So, because of this background, I drew upon the influences of Universal monsters and Stephen King films. I would say the evolution of my work has been to find a happy balance between the horrific, the beautiful and the nostalgic.

My approach has become a lot more streamlined in recent years. I come up with a concept for a personal piece or for a group exhibition theme, find a model to photograph for it, create the
composition in Adobe Photoshop and finally, paint from the reference image. Sometimes my concepts or ideas are personal, and sometimes it’s derived from an overall thematic element. I love the idea that the finished piece is a bit of a collaboration between myself and those involved.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I mostly find inspiration in the world around me and the idea that art can help shape your
surroundings, so I try to take it all in. From street art, illustration, comic books, films, music, and as much art as I can soak up. Music is something that has inspired me consistently- it has the power to change moods and minds. Films have played a huge part aesthetically, and street art keeps me locally grounded to wherever I call home.

I’ve found that the “controlled drip” is something I love to do. There’s something very chaotic and peaceful watching paint uncontrollable drip everywhere. I’ve always felt a kinship to animals (mostly cats, ravens and crows) so I portray them often in my work.

What has been your biggest art faux-pas?

In my 20’s, I worked for Frank Frazetta’s son, Billy, at his costume shop- Frazetta’s Fantasy
Costumes in East Stroudsburg, PA. Through almost eight years of working there I got to know
Mr.Frazetta before he passed away and got to see an enormous amount of his original work in
person. At the time, I enjoyed just hearing stories and talking camera and photo talk with him, but in hindsight, I should have asked more about his techniques and process.

Have you ever experienced a creative rut? If so, how did you overcome it?

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had a creative block, but I would say that I go through periods of time in my life where my focus is on a very specific medium or technique. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, I had a photography business for a decade, and kept a creative twist with what I called my “Phantasmatography.” At a certain point I realized I wanted to get my hands dirty again and pick up the paintbrush after not painting for years. I’ve been painting ever since. I realized there was a connection I felt when working on paintings and three dimensional projects. So, I wouldn’t call those years of non-painting as creative ruts, just more of a shifting of focus.

Is there a piece you are most proud of? Why that particular piece?

The piece I’m most proud of is “The Sinking Siren.” It’s the largest piece (excluding murals and
backdrop work) I’ve put down on canvas, or in this case- an Ampersand Gessobord. I worked on this piece during the time I was training to be the lead artist at Madame Tussauds San Francisco. The process of learning realistic skin painting techniques was maddening, so I would leave work and go to the studio to paint my own water-bogged version of skin texture. The girl in the piece started facing upright, which gave it a more hopeful feeling. The more I worked on it, the more I realized she was actually sinking. The other elements took shape after that realization.

What risks have you taken with your work or for your work?

In Pennsylvania, I had a client base for my photography and a network of friends and family. I had always had an interest in the San Francisco art scene, so I embarked on a journey to become immersed in the culture of one of the most creative metropolitan areas in the country. Sonia sold her car, we sold most of our belongings, strapped our clothes to the roof of my Honda Civic that was slowly dying, and drove over 3,000 miles with no jobs and no place to officially live.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the arts today?

One of the most important issues facing the arts today is funding for creative arts centers and housing for artists to incubate their talents. In a city like San Francisco, we’re faced with major gentrification issues, where the artists and lower income creative talents are being forced out of their work spaces and houses to make room for people willing to pay astronomical prices for brand new condos. This, unfortunately, leaves them picking up the scraps from those more fortunate. The sad part is, a main reason they’re moving into this city is because of the creative culture, the beautiful architecture and the creativity the city was built on. I am absolutely a transplant, only moving here less than two years ago, but I have truly embraced every part of what this city has to offer, and immersed myself into this incredible art community. I know a fair amount of people who are fighting to help keep these creative spaces alive, even in the face of the terribly tragic Oakland Ghost Ship fire. Their tireless efforts absolutely inspire hope for the future of the arts.

Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events?

I’ll have work in a group exhibit titled “Best in Show” at Art Attack SF. This show will be the first in their new space in the Castro district.

Is there something you are currently working on that you can share with us?

In the next few months, I’ll be working on some very large paintings from photo reference of my friend Mary, with some creepy and meaningful objects and elements! Very excited to be working on something that isn’t group themed.

Tell us your best joke!

Two hams don’t make a right. You’d have to eat dinner with my dad to fully appreciate that.

What song is your current obsession or what music do you listen to when creating your art?

One of my current favorite in-your-face get-sh*t-done motivational songs is Chevelle’s “Shot From A Cannon.”

Do you have a favourite quote?

One of my favorite quotes came from a friend who told me, “If you’re not making enemies, you’re doing something wrong.”


It's ok to not feel connected

The popular things. What's trending. That obscure film that only a handful of people saw, but so did this very intriguing person you just met. You neglected to watch it because you were doing other things. That one band, you know... That band that everyone loves. They're local, but they're going places. How have you not heard of them? Oh, and that visual artist... The technique, the style, the execution that artist has graced us with. That one artist that everyone knows their name. He does all those..... ya know..... designs. Duh. Oh, that art. Of course I know that art. That name though. I didn't know THAT name belonged to THAT art. I never learned the name because I was too busy looking at their art. 


I know you've met those people. The ones that want to "wow" you with their incredible photographic memory of that very specific artist or moment or film or album that you should [obviously] know. And then, when there's hesitation in your voice of knowing exactly who they're speaking of, they say, "tell me you know______'s work! How can you not know?!?" In that condescending, "I'm obviously more cultured than you" way that some people undoubtedly have rehearsed in front of a mirror to make sure they can squeeze the most embarrassment out of you when delivering it. 

Let me be frank here in saying that, it is OK to not know EVERYTHING that EVERYONE  in the world knows. Maybe you grew up in a home without a television (count your blessings). Maybe you had a difficult childhood and weren't allowed to buy those albums or watch those movies. Maybe your family was poor and you grew up moving from house to house and couldn't even make friends, let alone pay attention to pop culture and trends. Maybe Pop Culture and trends is not important to you. I'm just going to put this out there and say--

Don't let those people talk down to you. Don't let those people make you feel like you missed out on such an important cultural phenomenon that you surely can't even be from this generation. You have your interests, and your interests are amazing. To you. And maybe, just maybe- to no one else. And that is perfectly fine. 

The Truth.

This is the truth.  These are my beliefs.

I need passion in my life. I want to live and feel.

I believe in existing in a world where there are cosmic things at play. A world that has deeper meaning and purpose.  

i want to breathe in the air around me and know that I need it. 

Instead of just breathing, I want my blood to circulate and flow to make me feel alive with even the most mundane of tasks. 

i don't subscribe to everyday rules and monotonous things. I want to wake up tomorrow and do something that was different from today. I want to BE different. This is not always possible.

There is a huge part of me that feels connected to the Earth, but another part of me that knows I am not as connected as others, and never will be. I try to pretend that I am one of those people, but deep down, I don't think I will ever be someone who lies in the grass shoeless and naked. One of those people that is free enough to strip down and feel the cool air rush over my body and be one with nature, like the animals we are. I am too dependent on comfort within the world I've built for myself, not that unknown wilderness. People who are free in that way have always intrigued me. I'm drawn to that different level of comfort. 

I've just come to the realization that I've probably been employed at so many places in my life because I've always been looking for my purpose. In the end, what matters most? 

I do not believe in one supreme being, one creator. I believe in energy and the magnitude of emotion.  

I believe music helps to bring you to a better place. Or to save you from your own thoughts and enter into another's. 

i believe in dancing until you sweat. And sweating until you're out of breath. I believe that feeling rhythm is as important as creating it. I believe in connecting with others around you while moving to the same sounds. 

I want my children to know my life's work.  

There is no rule book to life, because everyone's reality is different. Everyone needs different things for different reasons and not all rules apply to everyone. 

If I were to die today, I feel like I have not accomplished what I've needed to. I'm also not quite sure I will ever feel like I have.

i wish to leave behind a legacy. I want future generations to remember me by the things I've done.  

Ive always been told I am moody and emotional. It's reactionary, yes, but I also call it being alive and not on a default setting. I want to feel like I've assessed a situation and reacted the way I felt in that moment. I know I'm not always right but at least I thought about it and did or said something. I can't be numb to things, to pretend like it doesn't bother me. 

I am on a bus and a girl has a t-shirt that says, "Find what you love and let it kill you." Yes. 

 There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I know this because I've been accused of being arrogant while I was trying  to simply be a confident young man. I am [mostly] sure of my self-worth and I am sure I have a lot to contribute to this life and this world. I have recently come to terms with the fact that I will always be misconstrued as arrogant if I maintain the same level of confidence that I have been. I am still searching for the answer to whether or not I should deal with the misinterpretation of who I am or change for the betterment of me, which may change how others see me.

The answer is always change. 


The Murray Invitational- Live Painting Event!

I had the distinct pleasure of live painting two new pieces this past weekend at The Murray Invitational (A Bill Murray art show!) at an awesome venue very close by to our studio. The venue was called the Public Works, and it was my first time there! This was the second event I live painted at for Ezra Croft and Julia Croft, two amazing event coordinators and all around cool people (First time was at Oddville in 2015!)! I even got a brief mention on The San Francisco Chronicle about my live painting setup. The two pieces came about because I was chatting with Ezra, and mentioning how I really thought every iconic Murray scene would be taken, and he said he thought I should do a mashup! What a great idea! I was talking to Sonia about that, and she came up with the name "Bill Purray!" YES. So, Bill Purray and Bill Furray came to be! I also had an idea to make a third- "Bill Curray," and put him in a Golden State Warriors uniform. Ran out of time for that, though!

Had a great time! Met some cool people and saw some cool art! Check it out! All of the other art pictured here are other submissions from the show, and I didn't get everyone's name, but all credit for all other pieces belong solely to the artists! Nice job, artists!