Table Of Contents August 2011
8 Adam Miller 22 Ian Sanity 36 Adam Oâ€™Day 50 Raodee 64 Sarah Potter
2 Abstraks August 2011
The Ultimate Zombie App! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zombie-bomb!/id448617609?ls=1&mt=8
Kevin Hebb Zoe Hyde David Showalter Jr. Darius Loftis Carina Wine
Pete Cosmos Darius Loftis
Tom Bennett Jess Clark Meroe
4 Abstraks August 2011
August 2011 Abstraks 5
Adam 8 Miller Interview by Darius Loftis Photograph by Tom Bennett
Darius: At what age did you really start getting into art? Adam: As far back as I can remember I was making art. One of my earlier childhood memories was from sometime before the first grade. My grandmother gave me one of those old “Art Instruction Schools” ads from a magazine where you had to draw the cowboy, pirate or turtle picture. I would draw one of them and got pretty excited when my drawings matched the ones in the ads. A light bulb went off and I scrambled for my stack of Batman and Spiderman comics. I immediately started drawing them.Yet again the drawings matched and I never looked back. I was trapped at a very young age (laughs) I had pretty much no chance from the beginning. I was doomed to be an artist. D: Can you describe the kind art work that you produce? A: Well, I’ve always had an interest in comic books, but in High school I branched out to draw different things. When I got into college I sort of realized I was right in the middle of the talent pool. In high school I was “the kid that can draw”, but in college everybody is the kid that can draw. On the first day of class you hang your work on the wall and realize you’re in the middle of the pack. That realization encouraged me to try new things. During the process I found and fell in love with photography, eventually declaring it as my major. I stayed with photo through college until my final review junior year. The teachers there thought my photography work was “too commercial” for their fine arts based photography program. Instead, they said my illustration work was some of the strongest they had seen and encouraged me to become an Illustrator. I had been taking illustration courses as electives all through school because I loved them. The heads of the illustration department had been trying to bring me over to the dark side for a while so it all just fell into place. I switched majors and dove in. I never left photography though, photo is essential to what I do. All of my work begins with photography. It always starts with an image. Then I work on top of and around a mix of found images and my own photographs. As far as mediums- almost anything water based is fair game.
10 Abstraks August 2011
From obvious things like water colors, inks and acrylics to odder ingredients like white out, coffee and spray paint. In the end, my pieces always include photography, drawing, painting and collage. The short, boring answer is “mixedmedia” D: What artists inspire you? What genres of art do you identify with? A: One of my favorite artists is Alphonse Mucha, he was the father of the art nouveau movement. He did a lot of decorative illustration work with a strong sense of design. He used patterns, elaborate borders and smooth, flowing line work. He loved the female form and was one of the first real “commercial” artists. From the comic book world, it would be guys like Dave McKean, Tim Bradstreet and Ashley Wood. All bring a true fine art sensibility to comics. All use or have used photographic elements in their work. That group (amongst others) tend to work in non-traditional ways and make ground breaking art for comics.You’ll see some references from them in my work for sure….I’m just way worse than those guys (laughs) D:You’re an artist from Massachusetts, and you’re currently traveling to different parts of the country for work and conventions. What’s your experience with other cities and other art scenes? A: Well, I’ll say New England can be pretty tough. Outside of Boston [towns surrounding Boston] the art scene is very traditional. There’s tons of nautical stuff, landscapes and still lifes, I have nothing against that, it’s just not very progressive. In my opinion it’s very traditional. Unfortunately, if you really want to get plugged into things, you’re better off going to a big city, and that could mean L.A. or New York. Honestly, but for the exception of a chosen few, making a living making art is a struggle wherever you live. As I’m traveling around I’m kind of feeling that it’s a little stuffy in New England. Even if you go to one of the smaller major cities like Philly the whole city is blanketed in murals. They have a thing called the Mural Arts Program, and every other building you see is a giant piece of art work.You don’t get that in Boston, you get
sports. I love sports too (laughs) you’ll never find a bigger Celtics fan than yours truly, but art is really not at the forefront of the consciousness of the city, at least not in a way that is so easily identified. D: I know you’re really busy creating for comic books, but do you still get any free time for personal work? Possibly going back to more fine art and gallery work? A:You know, I really miss it because I haven’t just been doing comics for two years, but specifically zombies for two years. I haven’t drawn anything but a zombie in forever (laughs) so I don’t even know where to begin anymore. But if you do anything too much for too long you’re bound to get burned out. I’m not super sick of it or anything, I still enjoy it but I am anxious to see what will happen when I go back [to galleries]. I’m starting to see that my comic work is a lot more polished then when I started. It’d be nice to see if I bring any of that back to the fine arts. Do I have any set plans to go back to doing it? No, not at all. I’m just too busy with the ZombieBomb! book and Terminal Press. I’m not just drawing, I’m also their creative director, which is ideally the path I’d like to follow. Those skills are an asset to further a career in art. To make a viable living in anything art related is like a nightmare. I tell kids who show me their portfolio to follow their heart, but also do something that can help you make a viable living. I believe that it’s still possible to do both. D:You mentioned earlier that you can’t be in art for the money and that it’s a hustle and grind. A: That should be the title of the article “Hustle and Grind” (laughs). I know people who think I really need to chill out. They say I need to slow down or that I need a vacation. I know they’re just looking out for me, but my father once told me that the reward for doing more- is doing more. I can’t complain about not being able to do art, and then complain about doing art. So, I’m just gonna shut up and do more art. I was talking with my girlfriend Cheri, who’s really super supportive, and she said, “I know you’re going to do this because of how hard you’re working”. The unfortunate reality of this shit though, is it doesn’t really matter. I know that if I don’t work hard I won’t get it, that I know for sure, but I could kill myself for 2-3 years and still not get it. That’s just the truth of it. I can build these great skill sets, and unless I find the
right opening for those skills, I’m going to have to get a boring ass job somewhere and I’ll lose my mind. I know dozens of guys who kill themselves for art, and not even to get payed, but just to get their name on a book- just to get published by anyone who will publish them. There’s no other industry that I can think of where guys kill themselves for the opportunity to work for free. It’s crazy and I’m as guilty as any of them. That’s why I’m really focused on the role of art directing and project managing. It’s still art related and it’s also a marketable commodity. But who am I kidding? I’d hang one of my paintings on the underside of a broken down car if I thought the mechanic would see it.You just gotta keep going every day and do the best you can do. D: Do you have a preference to work on a larger or smaller scale? A: Generally I work pretty small and my pieces don’t get much bigger than 8x24 [inches]. Everything is very detail oriented. I realized once I got out of school the more I worked, the smaller my work got. I used to work looser using broad color fields and big strokes, but the more I started to paint and draw I got tighter, tighter and tighter. Like, I’ll use the tip of an exacto blade to dot a highlight on an eyeball… I think I need to relax a little (laughs) D: Are there any specific mediums that you would like to experiment with? A: Good question. I was messing with Photoshop for a bit and was excited by how intuitive it was, it made me realize how much I really want to get more into that world. That’s something that I don’t use but I would like to use more of. In terms of traditional mediums there is a process called encaustic, which deals with waxes and colored waxes. I have no clue how to do it but every time I see it I always wonder if I can pull it off. And I’d like to do more work with transfers. D: What’s it like out in San Diego for Comic Con? A: It’s crazy. Basically San Diego Comic Con is the super bowl for our industry. It’s literally the largest pop culture event on the planet. People come from all over the globe to come to this thing.You have heavy hitters and A-listers from Hollywood, comics, TV, music and video games all
August 2011 Abstraks 13
under one roof.You could get your shit looked at by marvel, or by a movie studio.You might be a legendary artist, an undiscovered talent, or just a dude who’s dressed like a dinosaur. I think even if you’re not into comics or popular arts, everybody should go just once to see. But the trip to Comic Con can be an expensive one and when you’re out there you go a million miles an hour.You get back to your hotel room at night, eat a burrito then pass out. Last year I was basically narcoleptic after the types of days we were putting in. After doing the con for the first time I was like this is nuts, I don’t know how people do it, yet we do it every year (laughs)
A: ZombieBomb! was co-created by myself and Rich Woodall. I’ve known Rich for years and we met through
the local convention scene. I asked him what he thought of doing a zombie anthology, and he liked the idea. We’re big on variety and quality. My buddy Rich is from more of a traditional comics background. My background is more based in fine art. The thought is I’d bring some fine art to comics and he’d bring some comic book to fine art. It’s worked out really well and it’s been a big project for us and terminal Press. We have a collection of anthologies and so far we’ve done 5 on our way to our 6th and final issue. There are guys from Marvel, Image, DC, fine artists, illustrators, no namers, up and comers all doing zombies. If you pick up an issue it could be gross, funny, romantic, action-packed or just plain scary.You can get stuff that looks like it might have been drawn for a comic in the 60’s, painted for a gallery, or even something you’ve never seen in your life. We have a Youtube channel with film maker Tom Bennett called Zombie Bomb TV. We have almost
Page 16: “Neighborhood” Page 17: “Zombie Bomb! Cover”
Page 18: “Zombie Bomb! cover” Page 20: “Day of the Dead”
D: Talk about your current project: ZombieBomb!
18 Abstraks August 2011
200,000 views for our videos which is crazy to me. The fact that there are that many people interested in looking at what we’re doing is pretty amazing. It’s just about two guys trying to make it with comic books and zombies. D: What are your future plans from here on out and do you have any closing thoughts? A: We just debuted our Zombie Bomb App for the iPad which is doing well. We’re wrapping up ZombieBomb! with issue 6 in October, just in time for Halloween. I plan on staying on in my role as creative director with Terminal Press. We have several other projects lined up including a heavy metal western, a series of ZombieBomb one-shots titled “ZombieBomb Presents” As well as licensed projects for Nulcear Blast Records. Aside from that I just want to get better. I want to be a better art director, a better artist and a better communicator. That may sound kind of cliché but it’s the truth. My philosophy in life is to always fight the good fight, and be a good person. Whatever comes after that should work itself out just fine. Contact: email@example.com Zombie Bomb! App (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zombie-bomb!/ id448617609?ls=1&mt=8) Zombie Bomb! (http://terminalpress.com/index.php/comics/zombies. html/)
August 2011 Abstraks 21
Ian 22 Sanity Interview by David Showalter Jr. Photograph by Jess Clark
Ian Sanity is quite possibly the most sane and harmless loon I have had the pleasure of meeting. He lives in his own fantasy world. His imagination and creativity are on a trip to beyond Pluto and back. After being mummified for thousands of years and recently uncovered by the Smithsonian he has come to visit us and share his stories with Abstraks readers. Hundreds of slain dragons in his wake and socially anxious, Ian is his own unique character. Or is he? Ian and I met together over a pitcher of beer (That’s right. We were drinking.) to discuss his artwork. David Showalter: The question I’m dying to ask you is: Who is this signature character?
inspired by anything not real. I’m still waiting for my super power to show itself in a time of great need.
Ian Sanity: I’ve been trying to get away from the signature character. I was feeling really pigeon-holed by it. I’ve always had severe problems with drawing faces. I started doing this character to basically compensate. This is maybe about 5 or 6 years ago. I was in art school. My major was Illustration. I was doing a lot of “illustrate this article. It’s about a kid at a beach.” I was like this is nothing like what I want to do. Why not a kid being swallowed by an octopus owl with a cool mask? Obviously, I have to learn to draw humans. It was partly my own fault. I didn’t care about school. I developed this character because it was my easy way to do a face. I was able to reproduce the iconic head in mass production. Everybody recognizes it. I developed the head and plastered it all over. From that point, I took a step back and I was like: “Reproduction is reproduction. That’s not art.” That’s when I really started to get into canvases. I’m really trying to hone my skills before I get deep into street art.
DS: How would you classify yourself as an artist?
DS: Who is Ian Sanity? IS: I’m more of a thinker. What really drives Ian Sanity is that I want to wow people. I want people to walk down the street and be dumbfounded. I’m an art junkie. I’m a guy who can’t escape art, but doesn’t want to. If I could take art in pill form, I would. I’m a dude who wants to create some stuff. I love fantasy and science fiction. A lot of my online stuff is me acting out of my love for this stuff. Look out for my tweets on full moons. I am my surroundings. I am influenced by everything that is around me. I’m
24 Abstraks August 2011
IS: I want to be a professional artist, but I don’t want to sell out. I want to be known as a street artist. I’m a workaholic. I’m up for any task. I’m a painter. I’m a sculptor. I’m a plumber. I’m a light technician. I want to be doing stuff all the time. I don’t know how to put it in a cool way. I’m crazy about art. All types, anything creative I’m crazy about. I guess Renaissance Man, but it’s not Renaissance times. Is there new era way of saying Renaissance? DS: Like nouveau Renaissance? Or Renaissance: the Next Generation? IS: Neo Renaissance. I want to excel at everything I do, whether it be dabbling in music, cooking, painting, sculpture, or anything. I just want to do the best that I can do.
“Every new painting is my best painting; every new piece of art is my best piece of art. I hate to disappoint. I’m incredibly generous. Generosity is my weakness, but my strength. “
DS: In the scope of what you do as an artist, what are your strengths and weaknesses? IS: I’m not really so introspective when it comes to my art. I don’t do anything badly. Does everything well! [We laugh] I have a pretty good design sense. I’m really good at Photoshop. I’ve been using Photoshop since I was 13. I’ve recently learned that I can compose my paintings on Photoshop, print them out large, and then mount them on canvas. This is a game changer. Now, it doesn’t matter that I can’t draw faces. I’ll just steal one off the internet. [We laugh] I work really hard. I’m a perfectionist which Is a strength and weakness. What I do means a lot to me.
30 Abstraks August 2011
I hope it means a lot to other people. Every new painting is my best painting; every new piece of art is my best piece of art. I hate to disappoint. I’m incredibly generous. Generosity is my weakness, but my strength. I do a lot of work for free, which I shouldn’t be doing. I am reliable. If you ask me for a flier you have it two days later. I’m really awkward. I don’t have the greatest people skills. I am terrible at communication. I’ve gotten better. I have a lot of social anxiety. I’m not good around new people. My biggest obstacle is communicating with people. I don’t blame anybody but me. I’m an introverted person. It’s been a big transition for me going from scared little kid to responsible adult professional. I know that I’m not going to go
anywhere unless I get over my insecurities. DS: Where do you come from? How did you get to this point? IS: I went to a $15,000 a year private school in Maryland. Shirt and tie. While I was in high school, I was an outcast. I was painting my fingernails and wearing makeup sometimes. I just wanted to be myself. There was this place right across the street from the high school called Woods. I was the coolest kid there. I was really awesome among the freaks. I started getting into the creative life style at that time. My wardrobe was what I was creating. I have
really funny photos from my past. One of my respites was going to art class. I really focused in on art. I was getting really deep into every art form. It dawned on me. Maybe I should go to art school. I went to Delaware College of Art and Design. I got my associates degree in Illustration. I came to Boston as a last resort. I went to the Arts Institute of Boston. I didnâ€™t really want to be in Boston. I wanted to go to school with friends in Philadelphia. I got rejected. It really sucked. I was pretty pissed. I finally got to Boston and I became more introspective. I was a worrywart. It wasnâ€™t until Boston I became more laid back and relaxed. It was pretty much six months after college when I started being Ian Sanity.
August 2011 Abstraks 31
DS: What is your creative process? What do you do and how long does it take you?
lot of client work. I sneak my agenda into everything I do. There’s no way I’m not putting my name on it.
IS: It depends on what we’re talking about. I can do fliers fast. If I’m having a show, my paintings are the most important thing in the world. A painting could take anywhere from ten hours to a hundred. My creative process is pretty much this: come up with an idea, sketch it out, start painting it on a canvas, paint over it, think of a new idea, paint over that, draw something else, think it’s kind of cool, paint it, paint over that. My process has kind of changed because of Photoshop. It’s a lot cheaper. What I do now is compose everything in Photoshop. I’m creating a digital collage. It will include typography and slight background elements. I have a pen tablet so I can literally just draw on the computer. I’ll trace it and I’ll have a really nice line drawing. Then I’ll color in different shapes. I’ve almost found the perfect method for me. I’ve had lack of confidence in my drawing ability. I’ve gotten over that point where I’m just tracing. Tracing something doesn’t diminish your skill. I’m still turning a photo into a line drawing. There’s still skill there. I print that out huge and I’ll wheat paste that right onto a canvas. Then I color the thing in and I add little elements like tags and doodles. I have clear contact paper that I’ll lay over the whole canvas and I’ll cut it. I’ll use different shapes and that becomes a stencil. I can now add shading and texture with spray paint which gets you really nice gradients.You can go from black to blue in a small amount of space. It allows me to shade everything perfectly. I use this stuff called Envirotech as a gloss. A piece is resolved when it’s shiny. Now, I feel confident in what I do. Now, I know for sure I’ve done things right. I know my proportions are correct. I know my lines are where they should be. I do not doubt my paintings.
DS: What important lessons have you learned?
DS: Do you make art for yourself or others? Or is it both? IS: My commission work is different from my personal work. They are starting to come together. For a long time there was a separation between what I was doing for myself and what I was doing for clients. When I do things for myself I paint it. When I do things for other people generally it’s Photoshop, unless otherwise requested. Client work tends to be Photoshop because they want it fast. I’ve had paintings commissioned. A lot of times I do animal portraits. I will work on anything that somebody asks me to. I have formal training in almost all media. It’s definitely both. I definitely make my art for me, but I do a
32 Abstraks August 2011
IS: I’ve learned to be humble. I attempt to be humble. I’ve known cocky artists and I hear all the shit people say about them behind their back. I don’t want to be that guy.You can’t think you’re above anyone else. Throughout my life, I’ve had a huge problem with procrastination. I’ve learned not to procrastinate. I would love to get to the point where I don’t procrastinate at all. Another thing is I know it takes a long time to make a dent in the art world. I’m trying to be incredibly patient. I have no problem taking criticism. If someone thinks your art work sucks ask them why it sucks. It’s really important for me to know why my artwork is disliked. DS: What kinds of chances do you take? IS: I don’t make my art for people to understand. I’m not out have you look at a painting and get some profound idea. There’s nothing profound about my art work. It’s a bunch of brain vomit. Hebleh. That’s a good onomatopoeia right there. My biggest risk is that I don’t have a theme, or I do have a theme, I don’t have a point.You can look at my artwork and say it is total bullshit and I would be like, you are right. DS: What would you like to do that you have not done? IS: I haven’t had a solo gallery show. A gallery show where every wall, I am in charge of; every inch of space I am in charge of. If I could have two months off and be in a gallery for two months creating the space and then have a gallery show. That is the ultimate goal for me. I want a no holds barred gallery show. If I get that I’ll be a happy man. Or to find somewhere secluded out in the street where I could do that. Like some back alley, maybe, that's got a gate and I'll decorate the whole alley. Then one day I'll tear down the gate and I'll be like 'Here's my street gallery'. Nobody has ever really seen everything I can do. It would mean so much to me to be able to do whatever I wanted in a gallery or anywhere.
DS: What is your support system like? Who is in your life that is important to you? IS: Senior year of school my Mom died of cancer. My Mom kept me going through high school. She didn’t care what I looked like. She didn’t care what I was doing. She wanted me to be me. My wife, Meg. She doesn’t get mad at me when I destroy the apartment with paint. She is perfect. She is my support system. There’s this guy Sol 9. He’s my best friend in the entire world. He was my best man. He’s one of the most talented cats I know. We really play off each other. We’ll try and outdo each other. I want to do better than him. He’s so motivational. DS: Describe the personal importance of art to you. IS: I might go sane if I didn’t have art. I don’t know what I would do without art. Without art there would be no world. I’m addicted to art. If I can’t express myself I don’t want to exist. I feel that everything is art. I want to see color everywhere. I want to see expression everywhere. DS: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers? Any words of wisdom? IS: Man up! DS: What does that mean? IS: I say that to myself. If you have dreams and you are not achieving them, you are not manning up. If you have a desire that you’re not acting on, then you’re not manning up. If you want to be a visual artist you should be creating or at least thinking about art. When I’m sitting on the couch and I don’t have a sketch book in my hand I feel guilty. I think that mediocrity is bullshit. Mediocrity is why nobody is walking down streets paved with gold.You can’t sit around and wait for your fate to happen. Fate is what you make it. There’s a lot of work involved but you’ve got to do it. If you really want something you need to go get it. Once I started trying to get what I wanted, things started falling into place. Contact information: Website: imightbeinsane.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @imightbeinsane Facebook: Ian Sanity
August 2011 Abstraks 35
Adam 36 Oâ€™Day Interview by Carina Wine
At 516 East Second Street is The Distillery, a converted rum factory now producing a different spirit. The fourth floor of the Distillery is where I am meeting Adam O’Day, a resident artist who lives and works in the historic building. As I climb up to his loft, I enter a remarkable space. When young poets and painters dream of living in a space that houses both themselves and their workspaces, they envision a space like Adam’s to work, eat and play in. Adam’s space is part studio, part studio apartment, and part gallery. On the top floor of The Distillery, Adam’s loft is composed of evocatively weathered hardwood floors, a high ceiling and superb views of the city. Paintings hang on the bare brick walls and glassware winks in the sunlight of the kitchenette. The Gustave Flaubert quote, "Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work." could have been written about Adam O’Day. Adam greets me graciously although I’m an hour late. He gives me glass of water with a coaster featuring one of his paintings. It is a cityscape of Jersey City, running with ink and flame colors. “You can keep that,” he says. Cities, nameless and otherwise, are a heavy feature of his work and life. He was born in Tennessee, but soon after moved to Pennsylvania. Seven years in Michigan followed, where he largely grew up. Next was Atlanta where he weathered high school and then received an art scholarship to Corcoran Collage of Art + Design in D.C. Adam left D.C when his surroundings made him miserable.
can feel like a dorm has spilled onto the city. He grins as he looks around his loft, “I got the best one.” Adam displays his paintings on a large wall where he has installed track lighting onto the exposed beams to give this slice of his studio a gallery feel. The colors of his work are vivid and engrossing, never harsh. I ask him how he would describe his style: “I would say it is more Expressionistic then Impressionist. Everyone knows about impressionist painters, they made little dots of color look like objects. I take pictures of places but then I put them away, and don’t look at them. I want my work to look more like a memory or a dream of that place.” And they do. A building’s outline is actually a paint runnel. Adam’s skies are eruptions of color and texture. The light from a streetlamp may overwhelm a skyline, trapping the buildings within the frame. We look at a painting he did to celebrate the aborted rapture: towers lined in red light hovering in the clouds. “I deal with post-apocalyptic themes a lot. After the rapture never happened I did the same painting but turned the buildings into escape pods. I put it on my website and it sold in two days.” A large conference table workspace has been cleared for our interview by Adam’s live-in muse, Megan. She keeps the artistic clutter at bay, in the loft as well as on the canvas. “I know when a painting is done when she says I should stop. I’m actually pretty messy, but Megan cleans.” Their relationship is an evolving collaboration, which makes him a better artist, and Adam wants all of his collaborations to be that successful.
“Our dorms were on the George Washington campus. Not the best place for Art students. We lived literally next to the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by beautiful architecture, but the city would empty out at the end of the day. There was nothing for me to do. I walked a lot.” On his walls there are renderings of New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Chicago, and many of Boston, but no paintings of D.C’s distinctive monuments.
The most important parts of Adam’s life and artistic process seem to be founded in successful collaborations. His greatest influences right now are his artistic peers. “Many artists who sell right now, their paintings are being bought by other artists. I show with a lot of fellow artists and we love to take elements of each other’s work and then use our own take on it. The next time we show we see what the other has done. It is a form of compliment, it’s endearing.”
After leaving Corcoran he lived briefly in Atlanta again before transferring to The Art Institute of Boston where he graduated with a BFA in Illustration and Design 2005. Adam was elated to get the space in The Distillery after paying his dues on the grubby side of Lower Allston for five years. We talked about Allston’s streets; at times it
“My work is more like a living diary, then things I’ve seen or come into contact with. “
Page 39: “A Warm day in Kenmore” 30x40” Mixed Media Page 40: “Expirements” 40x30”, Mixed Media
Page 41: Harborside, 40x30”, Mixed Media Page 42: Brooklyn_Bridge, 48x36”, Mixed Media Collage,
38 Abstraks August 2011
A few outright collaborations exist on his walls, primarily with an artist called KDonz who attaches wriggly creatures to Adam’s cities and castles. One still incomplete piece is a painted particleboard backlit though a hundred holes oozing “gooby” monster parts and light. “I love collaborating, and I want to do more of it. This one is not done yet, but I feel like in order to do some of these it is not enough to say it’s by ‘Adam and KDonz’. I need to remove myself entirely. We need to create a separate entity, a separate artistic entity to do it right. We can make a disgusting man baby together.” Adam’s cityscapes encompass a lot more places than he has been to as a result of collaborations with his friends and fans of his work. “A lot of times I’ll have someone who is an amateur photographer who will give me a photo. They’ll say, ‘I think you should paint this’, and so I paint off of someone else’s photograph. I had a friend who took Page 43: “Rendezvous” 12x48” Mixed Media Page 44: “Days of Ruin” 54x36”, Mixed Media
42 Abstraks August 2011
a bunch of photos of New York of this great storm either coming or going, and that is when I started painting NYC a little more heavily.” “Sometimes people tag me off of Facebook with photos while they are traveling:’ Hey, Adam, paint this!’ And I do.” “My work is more like a living diary, then things I’ve seen or come into contact with. The way I see it is it is probably more of someone’s crazy acid trip. Generally what attracts me is very high contrast light and dark. I like dirty, powerful lighting and extreme perspectives. I’ll grab onto neon orange in the sunset and use that one color, and then exaggerate it. The next thing you know I’ve made a fictional landscape that is still recognizable.” “For shows, I try to make sure it is a proper series. I line everything up so it looks good together. I buy the paint; Page 45: “Paris, The River Seine” 36x24”, Mixed Media
buy the stretchers and canvas for an entire theme of continuity.” Adam also welcomes the reactions his art brings from its viewers. Initial reactions of disagreement or disquiet can turn into moments where artists can open up possibilities to different viewpoints. “A woman recently told me she had given up painting when she was an artist and art teacher in the 70’s. Teaching art, well, she started to hate her job. I gave her my post card and she said she didn’t like it. That was fine; she was a fan of John Singer Sargent. That same night she called and said ‘I have been staring at your postcard all night’. Now she was so inspired after taking the time to look at some modern art she was thinking about buying a couple of canvases and setting up a painting studio again.” Viewers become collaborators in a dialogue about art. “I just got into another discussion with someone who said, ‘It’s cool to see the impressionism movement coming back’, about my paintings. I don’t consider myself an impressionist, but it is a cool thing to expressively paint normal landscapes with these colors and people still see it as a reality.” “But I liked having that conversation. It is impossible to tell anyone what they perceive is wrong; it will never be wrong. I really love eavesdropping at art shows because I love to hear what people are saying about the art. It is probably one of the only truly enjoyable things about art openings ; people actually talking about the art.” Still there is one point he will not waiver on when it comes to art: “Art openings without free booze is never going to catch on; it’s like having a rock show with the bar closed.” Fans of Adam’s work can catch his paintings at three upcoming gallery shows this season. Misha Nicole (303 Bowery, New York, NY), a retail-clothing store with gallery and event space will host a reception for Adam’s show INFUSION on August 12th, 2011, 7 - 9pm, and will run July 30th through October 29th. Locally, Make it Together, a show of collaborative work, featuring Distillery residents and working artists premieres August 25th, 2011, 7-9pm at The Distillery Gallery (516 East Second Street, South Boston, MA); Boston Breakthrough, where five painters converge upon Newbury Street to express through paint,
words, and blood what Boston, the greatest city in the world, means to them, at Sean Boyce Studios (162 Newbury Street , 4th Floor) will run September 3 - 14, 2011. It is a fair bet that booze will be on tap at all of the above openings. Larger commercial success is coming for Adam O’Day whether he is wholly comfortable with it or not. “I’m split down the middle about merchandise. It is something I have to do to make a living but even when I was in a band I felt like such a tool trying to sell cds and t-shirts. So I decided: I’ll just give the cds away! You already paid to hear our music, please just take this cd for free.” I laugh, and tell him I really love my coaster. They would not look out of place in a gift shop or boutique. Adam laughs too and mutters. “I know that I need to figure out a way not to feel cheesy about it. I’m kind of proud of the coasters. That would make it legit in my eyes if I wasn’t the one selling them. There are a huge amount of people who can’t afford a painting, but can afford a print. I have a printer in Cambridge that sells them for me and they send me royalty checks. If I do the transaction myself I’m like ‘Just please take the print!’ Luckily, I have Megan who talks me out of it.” Feeling ambivalent about “selling vs. selling out” Adam also carefully collaborates with truly innovative partners in art sales. He is a featured artist on Turningart.com, a new service that aims to make art more accessible to your walls. Like a Netflix queue, Turningart.com lets you queue up artist prints from their website. They send you a frame and then mail you pre-sized prints to go into it, which lets you rotate between artists, genres, and styles by committing only to a subscription. Turningart.com also lets you use part of the money you’ve spent on renting prints to go toward purchasing an artist’s original painting, and Adam is a very popular part of the service. “At first I did not want to sell prints… But now they have got an overwhelming amount of people who want to buy the prints, so for a couple months I’ve been the #1 rented artist, and I’ve sold 2-3 pieces through them.” He sounds a little in skeptical of his own success, but pleased. “They’ve been in the New York Times, on CBS, and on The Boston Herald. I just did an email interview with CBS where I also plugged everyone I know. I’ve Page 47: “Valley of Skulls” 48x36” Mixed Media
46 Abstraks August 2011
gotten emails from people in Texas, Florida, and California who like my prints.” “Luckily, again I have Megan who talked me into it. Turningart.com is legit run by a curator and gallery manager. I feel like I’m in really good hands. I didn’t hear anything for months and months but then all of a sudden I got a huge response. I feel like I had the stubbornness to only do what I’m comfortable with for a reason. It made sense for me.” Adam is no stranger to being on a stranger’s walls. In 1999 he worked for an interior designer in Atlanta who commissioned him to make custom paintings for his client’s condos and offices. “My style was all over the place. I need structure. If they needed a red one, I would do a red one, or I could do something softer or more colorful, and so on.” So right now there are condos in Atlanta who have Adam O’Day on their walls next to their $10k couches? “Pretty much.” He laughs. Adam is also in a partnership with the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA. He has ten paintings on loan with the deCordova who installs them at local businesses in exchange for museum donations. The practice can lead to sales. “Kayak.com just bought one of my paintings.” Yet another successful collaboration! I ask Adam if all of these successes make him any more at ease with the success he’s experiencing. Adam puzzles it out. “I started making art work because I didn’t fit it. I don’t play sports, my parents didn’t let me watch TV. I always felt rejected from the cool kids. I didn’t have too many friends; people thought I was gay because I only had one friend.” “My grandmother was a huge supporter of mine. She took me on special trips museums and talked to me about Picasso, Clay and Bacon. She told me to not get caught up in people calling me weird. And not to waste my talent. I shouldn’t try to fit into a style, but push individualism to the max. She was a weirdo too.” “I talked to her the day before she died and she told me, ‘Don’t forget our talks about art!’ I was torn about art for a while. In school I could see where art was going, but I’m not going there.”
“I am trying to get over the whole ‘people actually liking my artwork’ thing. I’m getting an overwhelming positive response from people everywhere.” So you don’t feel like a tool any more now that you’ve got all the signs of making it happen? The killer loft, the shows, the museum and ecommerce collaborations? “It’s acceptable.” The fans all over the world? The steady girlfriend who believes in you? The artists that want to work with you, and the people that put you on their walls? Adam grins. “Well, we are all weirdoes, aren’t we? There is something about us that is just not quite right.” Contact: www.adamjoday.com email@example.com
Page 48: “Perspectives” 36x60” Mixed Media and Collage August 2011 Abstraks 49
Raodee 50 Rekloos Interview by Zoe Hyde Photograph by Meroe
It's hovering somewhere around the 90 degree mark the day that I go into Harvard Square to interview Raodee Rekloos, and potential freshman are already being escorted around the campus in wandering droves of heat exhaustion and confusion. Before ducking into Starbucks, I call Raodee - or possibly Drew, I’ve been receiving emails from a Drew - to ask which store in The Garage is his, and while waiting in the most epic coffee line I’ve seen outside of New York City, he tells me its Kulturez the quiet storefront to the far right on the second floor. The store is spacious and clean, a concrete floor and large windows with a line of t-shirts at the back and a display of sneakers and a few other items in the center. Behind the two counters is an long array of different spray paints in a collection of colors; towards the end of our talk a customer comes in requesting a specific shade, making everything else come to a halt as the hunt for the exact color is pursued. When I arrive I’m sweaty and frazzled, but Raodee is patient while I throw pens around and try to organize my thoughts. Zoe: Well, first of all, as you may have noticed when we were on the phone before, I don’t know what to call you. What do you prefer?
founders, and grew from there. We’re all graffiti artists, but in the past few years I’ve been branching out more and more, designing gallery shows and stuff.
Raodee: Well, I go by Roadee Rekloos, that’s like the name I use when I’m doing gallery shows and stuff. My civilian name is Andrew.
Z: How many people are in Team Rekloos?
Z: It was kind of hard to find information about you online.
Z: I got to see a few examples of your work, there were a few things on Karmaloop, does Team Rekloos have a specific area it specializes in?
R: Aw, crud. I’d say about nine people?
R:Yeah, I’m sort of a recluse. Z: Is that what the name is about? R: Well, Rekloos comes from my crew, we’re called Team Rekloos, so its sort of a joke we have from back in the day. The team started in 2004, with me and Merkthose (another Boston based mixed media artist) as the co-
52 Abstraks August 2011
R: Team Rekloos consists of a bunch of artists who derive from graffiti art. We all are aerosol artists. We all sort of have our own different niche that we do, like some of us do digital artwork, some of us only do canvasses, some us are more into designing. I’m doing designs for the shop and stuff.
Z: And you own this shop? R: I’m one of them, we have a team of three owners. I run the shop, I don’t own the shop. Z: You just said you were an aerosol artist; is that your preferred medium? R: That’s my love, that’s what I love doing is putting paint on walls so, I’ll always be using aerosol spray paint until I’m 70, 80 years old. Until it kills me, you know? Well, I have kids now so I can’t really do it until it kills me, but. Until I can’t do it anymore.
R: I’ll paint on anything that doesn’t move for long enough for me to paint on it. Z: Would you say that popular culture like sneakers that briefly come into vogue have an effect on your work? R:Yeah, I would consider myself a pop artist. A lot of people look at my stuff and would put it into the category of pop art. In my canvases I do use a lot of cartoons… (Roadee gestures to a small black canvas hanging on the wall behind me, featuring roses and a skull drinking a 40 0z beer out of a champagne glass.)
Z: How many kids do you have?
Z:You did this one?
R: I have a daughter, she just turned four. She has two siblings so, three, technically.
R:Yeah that’s from a good while back, it's actually sold, I just brought it out here so I could show it to you. It’s called “Can’t Buy Class”, it’s basically a duncey skull drinking a 40 out of a champagne glass, it's sort of like my play on the whole rap world, and everybody, living beyond their means and trying to be something that they’re not.
Z: While I was researching Team Rekloos, I looked at everything I could find, and one of the things I saw was a video online where two people on your team puked up sneakers?
Z: That looks like spray paint and acrylic? R: Oh my god you saw that? Is that online? Z: I just looked at everything! R: Oh my god, I have to google my name. No, that was a video for a sneaker show we did a long time ago, probably 2004. It was a showcase for custom shoes, so we put together a funny little video of us sitting at a table, drinking booze and eating a sneaker, basically. The end scene was me throwing a sneaker back up. As weird as that sounds, it was pretty cool to make; it was fun. Z: Are custom shoes one of your interests? R: Uh, it was fun when it was popular. A lot of people can’t afford to have it done; it takes a lot time and you have to charge a lot of money for it, people aren’t really into wearing art on their shoes. Didn’t really work out. I like doing it as a hobby. Before, I was doing it to make money off of it, and it doesn’t work that way. Not with anything, not with anything artistic. Z: So, the graffiti…
R:Yeah that is a lot of spray paint, acrylics, I use oil-based paint markers and stuff. Z: This is a piece that has a deeper meaning underneath it, is that a theme in your work? R: I do sometimes make deep, meaningful pieces but lot of my stuff is just sort of spur of the moment. I’m used to just getting an idea and painting it so I don’t lose it, you know what I mean? Painting on walls and stuff is really quick, it's temporary, so most of the time I’m just throwing it up. If it lasts a couple of weeks, then good, if not…. whatever.
“I’m influenced by a lot of artists that I know, I’m lucky to know a lot of really cool kids out here, I get a lot of influence from the people that I work with.” August 2011 Abstraks 55
Z: So its more about the design aspect, rather than a message. R:Yes, exactly. Z: Would you say you’re primarily designing? R: I’m stepping into that, I wouldn’t wanna say that, I think a part of my soul would die if I say that, but yeah, like I said, I got kids, I gotta make money. The only smart thing to do would be to parlay what I can do into a lucrative job. It would be a disservice to my children if I was just one of those guys who was like “I’m an artist, I wouldn’t sell out.” I do what pays the bills, and I like painting, so it's not like I paint for everyone else, I paint for myself. If people like it, then they have a chance to purchase it, or if not… Z: Do you use design software like Photoshop?
that, because that’s the only way to do it now. Like I said I’m more of a traditional artist, I’m just stepping into that realm. Z: Are there any artists you’re influenced by right now? R: Right now? I’m influenced by a lot of artists that I know, I’m lucky to know a lot of really cool kids out here, I get a lot of influence from the people that I work with. On a wider scale…that’s a tough one. There’s so many to pick from. I can’t really say. I like a lot of stuff from overseas. Kids overseas are doing a lot of ballsy stuff in smart ways. They’re going out and getting busy but they’re still pulling their weight design-wise. There’s a guy Roa, who does really large birds and animals on the sides of buildings and stuff, its really funky and cool. I’m just into artsy stuff, you know, I’m all about old school history and stuff like that as far as graffiti goes but I’m more interested in seeing what people can do it to.
R: I’m getting into that now. I’m learning that I have to do
August 2011 Abstraks 57
Z: What’s your background in art? R: I’m a self taught artist, my mother was an artist, my grandmother was an artist.
it’ll be nice. It’s going to be called “Family Crest”. But yeah, I guess I just want to get into more design stuff if I can. Z: If Team Rekloos had a mission statement, what would that be?
Z: What kind? R: My mother does, like - I don’t even think she would consider herself an artist but to me she was an artist. She’s a big inspiration, she was a single mother, so. She did big, crazy permanent marker abstracts. They were pretty cool to me, I didn’t really understand them when I was younger, but now I get it. My grandmother, she used to draw me little comics and stuff like that, like Mickey Mouse comics, and cartoons I’d like to watch. I used to go to her house after school, so she’d leave me little notes like ‘there’s food in the fridge for you’ or whatever, just little things that I was like “Wow, that’s pretty cool”, you know? So I just got into drawing. After that I sort of grew up and got a better idea of art and myself . Z: Were you born in Boston? R: I’m from Cambridge. I was born in Central Square well, I was born in Mt. Auburn hospital. But I grew up in Central Square, my entire life. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a bunch of places, I’m definitely more fortunate than a lot of the people I grew up around, but this is always where I want to be.
R: Damn…there’s so many of us, I can’t speak for us all but my personal mission statement for Team Rekloos would be, enjoy your life, you know? I’m trying to help people enjoy their lives; I’m enjoying mine. I would hope that anyone who wants to really understand what we’re about is about that too, not trying to be all crazy… just live your life, man, don’t feel like you can’t do what you want to do. I’m learning that more than ever now, it sounds corny, but…everybody says “You can do anything you put your mind to” and its totally fucking true. Its totally true. A couple months ago I was just lazing about, working a dead end job, and I just decided to make a move, you know? For the better. I just dropped everything I had going on to make this work. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.facebook.com/Raodee.Rekloos
Z: Do you have any shows coming up? R: Well actually we’re in the middle of planning a Rekloos show right now, but we just wanna make sure everybody’s around, we got people out in California and all sorts of crazy places right now, we want to make sure everyone is represented so we’re just taking it slow right now. We will have a lot of stuff coming up, the best way to keep up with that stuff is to check us out on Facebook, the Cultures page, because we’ll definitely be promoting any Rekloos events through that. Z: Is there any new area that you’re looking to get into? R: Well right now I’m just working on designing stuff for the shop, and down the road I’m planning my own line of clothing but, that’s kind of in the future, I don’t want to rush that. I want to do it right, so when it does come out
August 2011 Abstraks 63
Sarah 64 Potter Interview by Kevin Hebb
“The real reason I work in a gallery is so I can touch all of the art. I hate going into a museum and not being able to touch everything!!!”... Sarah Potter As “artists”, we want simple things. We want to live off the imagery we create based on stories we more than likely made up (or dreamt). In any “counter” lifestyle there will be an enemy, a made up feeling of oppression that keeps you from living a life where you can pay for gasoline with your abstract interpretation of meaningless happenings. Far too often this burden is placed on the gallery owners. I recently caught up with the princess of Asbury Park, Sarah Potter. Sarah is proof that there are still nice people on the other side of the art world. Kevin Hebb: What was your first experience with art? Not drawing stick figures in the first grade, but what first made you realize art was something you could get into? Sarah Potter: Art has always been a part of my life. My dad is a photographer and my mom makes jewelry so there were always art supplies in the house and lots of trips to museums. After high school, I went to business school for a year, and it just wasn't for me. I was dating a boy who went to a small art school outside of Boston and the first time I went to visit him out there, I was just bewitched by the atmosphere. Everyone lived in Victorian homes and laid around drawing and photographing each other and running into each other's rooms to borrow supplies and collaborate on ideas. I didn't know school could be so magical!! I started neglecting my finance classes to go to his printmaking classes. For some reason, I had always thought that going to school for art would make me hate it...it wouldn't be fun anymore if it was forced. After hanging out with my boyfriend and all of his school friends, I started to see that that wasn't true... that it is way more fun and beneficial to go to school for something you really love and feel a passion for. I remember telling my parents I wanted to drop out and apply to art school and they were like "FINALLY!! What
66 Abstraks August 2011
have you been waiting for?!" (My parents are the coolest!) So I left that giant mindless business school in March of that year, worked on my portfolio for three months while looking at all of Boston's art schools, applied to AIB, and started in the fall! KH: Now you were fortunate enough to land a gallery position. How did that come about and what is the best part of working on the other side of the art world? SP: So one day I was sitting in my intro printmaking class and I decided that I had to open my own gallery so I could make my talented friends art stars. In the meantime, I started doing some impromptu art shows wherever I could...usually my living room. Any excuse to throw a party is a good excuse..and why not celebrate friends and their artwork?! As graduation neared, I had no idea where to move to next in order to open this gallery. I always liked Philadelphia so I figured I could give that city a try. I had a month in between classes ending and my job starting (a friend hooked me up with a creative company based there) so I went to visit my mom. While I was in the house I grew up in, my mom showed me an article about a pink haired girl in Asbury Park (a funky creative town on the ocean about 15 minutes away) who owned an art gallery. She really reminded my mom of me so we
decided to check it out. We visited the gallery and I fell in love with it!! The art was definitely my style and it had the vision I had always seen for my own gallery. I asked the owner if she needed any help until I moved and.... well I liked it so much that I stayed. That gallery has since closed, gotten some new partners, a name change, and now three and half years later, I am still here! KH: Would you care to expand on your vision of art? As a curator what do you look for in an artist's work? SP: My "vision of art" is always changing. In college, I liked really "serious" conceptual art and ego heavy "street art". Now I prefer my art to be a little more fun...maybe a little humor. Artists that use their work to wink at the viewer, as if we are in on the same joke. Life can be really difficult so I think it's important to surround yourself with art that makes you feel good and that reminds us of the
beauty in our everyday experiences. I am really responding to this Neo-folk, spiritual, animalpeople hybrids, repeating patterns neon art movement that is coming out of our generation. (see Richard Colman, in my opinion, the king of this movement.) I also love interesting portraiture...people watching is a good every day activity and time waster for me so of course I enjoy seeing how different artists portray different people.
“There are lots of perks to my job...but I am especially fond of the people I get to work with.”
August 2011 Abstraks 67
Street art is still having a major moment...even in mainstream culture. I wish I could get out to LA to see Jeffrey Deitch, Aaron Rose, and Roger Gastman's take on it at the LA MOCA exhibit.
fond of the people I get to work with. I love the other girls at the gallery...they always present new and exciting challenges and are very supportive of any ideas I bring to the table.
As a curator, I am not usually thinking about how commercially appealing a piece of art is. I never think "I will put this in a show because I can easily sell this." I usually react to art with my gut instinct. This artist or this piece of art NEEDS to be in a show. I think it's more that people will always respond to an artist's sincerity. I never know what people are going to buy. In my market, clients just purchase what they like..it doesn't seem to matter who the artist is. It is kind of magical...I get to work with clients who just love art and want to be surrounded by it in their homes. (whereas in a higher market, sometimes collectors are purchasing for an investment and their collection sits in boxes in storage. That is fine, too, but I believe that art should be lived with and enjoyed every day.)
I think my favorite aspect of my job is working with young emerging artists. We are both at the beginning of our careers and I think we relate well because of that. I also love going to art fairs...especially all of the ones in Miami in December...it is like nonstop art overload the entire time!! Every day I look at art blogs and artist's websites to try to find new artists to show at the gallery. It's one thing to be exposed to new artists online but it is a whole other experience to see their art in person; large volume in a small space. The fairs can be completely overwhelming and exhausting, but it's awesome to be able to see so much art in person...it's way better to be able to actually experience it!
KH: Best perk of your job? SP: There are lots of perks to my job...but I am especially
My advice to anyone who wants to work in a gallery is to apply for a internship at a gallery that has the same vision of art as you do. I think that makes a better experience. If you want to to be a curator, just start curating. Go to a
bar or coffee shop or restaurant you like hanging out in and ask if you can put some art up on the walls...even just for a one night. Or move all of the furniture out of your living room and put up some art. It definitely helps if you have artist friends who are looking for shows...they will probably be more supportive of this! Remember, they are entrusting you with their art "babies"!! Treat their art accordingly!! I think the best way of learning is by doing. Issues will arise that you could never even think of beforehand and then you will deal with them and learn from the experience! Contact: Parlor Gallery 717 Cookman Ave Asbury Park NJ 07712 www.parlor-gallery.com 732.869.0606
August 2011 Abstraks 69