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.”