*This interview is done by Kenneth Jeffrey and Rebecca Daggett*
*This interview is done by Kenneth Jeffrey and Rebecca Daggett*
Your work often holds a narrative – is this something that you consider when you seek out images, or does it develop during the physical production of the work?
Narrative is important to me, I think that's the power of collage, to tell new stories. When I seek out images I grab them pretty intuitively - I find pictures that are compelling to me and I collect a lot of them. Once I have a large database I start to sort them out into different narratives, creating other worlds that are impossible. For me the combination of images creates another dimension where images, people and places can exist together where they weren't able to before. By combining images from the early part of the 20th century with images from the later half of the same century I can collapse time into a single frame. I don't believe that humans have changed much at the core in thousands of years, most of our actions and aesthetics are trends, not linear progression so I try and match up cycles of information to point this out. This of course is all my own fantasy, it's not meant to be rhetoric but I would love to engage the viewer through representation of the past to consider the present so we can steer the future.
I’m also wondering how your experience as a curator affects this sort of selection process?
Since I was a child I've always collected things. For example, I would collect different sugar packages from coffee shops. I found it interesting that there were so many kinds of packages that essentially contained the same thing - sugar. I wanted to collect sameness from diversity. I got into curation out of necessity. Not mine mind you, but for others. Much like when kids play soccer or hockey someone has to be the goalie. It's not the most fun position but it is essential and I was the one willing to take the lead and say "OK this is how we organize things visually" and people were happy for me to take the reigns. It's really a thankless job organizing shows but someone has to do it. I never really though of my self as a curator but more of an artist who could use other people's art to get my ideas across. I try and see the big picture and create smaller worlds within one idea. Anyway, I guess what I mean is that I was never really a curator in a pure sense. It's always just been about collecting and organizing.
How does social media influence your work? good, bad or both?
I like having instant responses to ideas, it helps, understanding of course that an instant response isn't always great but it helps me make small formal decisions. I like knowing what people like. It helps me be a better communicator.
What is your favourite memory?
I have a horrible memory. I don't trust it. I'm not often entranced by nostalgia.
What do you hope to build on and change in the future?
I hope to encourage people to be free.
Your 100 Patrons project (followed by 200 Patrons) is a really interesting concept. I’m curious to know your original motivation behind such a socially dependent project.
The motivation is innovation. I hate the old models and I always want to find new ones. I want a personal connection with people who buy my artwork, the problem with selling through galleries is that I don't often get to meet the buyers - I hate that. I want to share ideas, I want to include everyone. I want to engage people all over the world at any time, I don't want to wait for a physical space. I don't want for a gallery to "allow" me to show there. There are so many gatekeepers in the "art world" - I'd rather build my own castle. I always hear that the art world is so small but I think that's because people keep it small. I want to think bigger. It's not a slight or a "right" way, It's just what I'm into. I take every opportunity I get but I'm not waiting for opportunity.
How did these public art projects develop for you – from an idea into an actual body of work?
I'm not sure. I think everything is just a process of making decisions, completing the task and evaluating the experience. I never understand creative blocks - just make a decision! Even if the idea sucks, do the thing, think about it, make another decision. That process is infinite. For me, making 100-200 pieces is a dream! My only goal is to get up in the morning, make something and share it with somebody. Nothing else matters to me. The body of work is my life and I try to work on that. Everything is a byproduct of that goal.
Whatever works for you, the routine is important. For me it's waking up at 6:30 and going to the gym to play basketball, then I come home, eat and go to the studio. Routine frees you from menial decisions, you can think about the bigger picture when you don't have to think about the small things. Find out what works for you.
Since you're a full time artist, how do you manage your time?
I work 10-4 everyday, sometimes more if I want. But only if I want. If you're putting that much time daily you will never be behind schedule. I'm always ahead of the game because I put in the time. The hardest part of anything is just showing up. Just show up.
Who are your favourite artists?
Hannah Hoch, John Baldessari, Lawrence Weiner, Louise Bourgeois, Rene Magritte, Goya, Warhol, Basquiat, David, Ernst, Hockney - too many too name, I wish I knew more about artists outside the western cannon, I remember going to the National gallery of the Czech Republic and being blown away by the artwork but I can't remember their names, I'm too indoctrinated. Not to undersell the list I have but it seems myopic when I look at it.
Where do you find inspiration?
Life. Life is absurd, every time I think about it I laugh. There's no reason to do anything so I just do what I want.
What purchase is always worth the money?
Generosity, when spend money on those who need it, this creates a feeling of abundance and this will help you out the most.
Does collage influence your life style?
I think it's important to listen. I listen to images. I listen to the image itself and I listen to how it came to be and how it came to me. Is it from a magazine? Is it stolen? Who's history is this? who proliferated this image? Looking at images makes me a better listener and combining them helps me articulate my ideas.
Does your wife give any suggestions or opinions of your work?
I always ask her opinion. she is a genius.
There’s an implication with collage and found images of a past history. How does this factor in to your use of collage as a medium?
Well I think the interesting thing about representations made by humans is that history is really flat. We make the same mistakes with new styles. Past histories are often current problems wearing old clothes. In the future we will have the same challenges but will be confused because it will look different but it will essentially be the same thing all over again.
The first work I saw of yours was part of your Found Photograph series. It was a technique of image distortion that I had never seen before. Can I ask you what influenced you to create collages with such a methodical style, and how this style has developed for you over time?
I find images I like then I make decisions on how to alter them. I try not not attack a different image with the same formula. The challenge of innovation is what excites me, I don't really have a signature "style" because I would hate that. That body of work got a lot of traction and I could have made 1000 of them and maybe built a career of that but once I made enough I didn't want to repeat myself. Each body of work can look similar to itself but eventually I want to move on, try something new. The process is about learning and experiencing, the formal decisions are products of this mindset which to me is the artwork.
Favorite music, books, food, and movies?
I listen to Rap, I like audio books, always non-fiction, I like biographies.
What's your thought on CONTACT festival? What are you excited for?
CONTACT seems cool, I'm excited to share ideas with strangers.
Advice to art students.
Keep your overhead low.
What would you want to say to your past self and your future self?
To my past self: Good job, keep going.
To my future self: Good job, keep going.