Where are you from and how did you get into the art you do?
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up on classic rock. I grew up in central Jersey in the 80s when it was more rural than it is today. All my family was from North Jersey though so I was able to have that busy-rush that comes with north traffic and laid back attitude down in central, which I still have today.
I used to play in the woods as a kid, all day. That's what there was to do.
Getting into skating and that culture in ninth grade totally changed my life and had a profound impact on who I am today. I was never that good at skating, not good at all, but it was fun. The kids I started hanging out with turned me on to all sorts of good music, photography in skate magazines, and art. The classic rock went perfect with it.
One particular close friend was really into art and graffiti, and eventually I got into both too. Trying my hand a little at each, I tried to find my own thing.
Over time, I met a bunch of new people who influenced me even more through graff but what was so great about these dudes, is that they were amazing artists, and that's what really turned me onto them. I was fortunate to be able to meet and become friends with Navy8, Chip7 and Eye.
My education in art was never formal and it has been through friends that I was able to learn techniques and be encouraged to follow through in what I was doing.
What medium do you like to use? And why would you say you prefer it?
Much of my work winds up being cardboard which I then place in a frame. I like the way ink bleeds in to it and acrylic paint can be applied to it, as well as how paper can be easily glued to it.
Can you tell us what your typical process of creating a work is like?
I need to be surrounded by visual and auditory stimulus. Listening to music or the television, having a conversation in person with someone, as well as reading a book or looking at the newspaper or a magazine is ideal working conditions. When I am drawing or painting, I am typically watching television, listening to music and have something (as strange as it may seem) like Newsweek lying open near me.
The practice is one I learned from William S. Burroughs. He would listen to multiple radios at the same time, but have each radio tuned in between stations so that he would be able pick up two or three stations with each radio. He would listen to all the words and music coming through and combine them with his own ideas. This is one aspect of his cut-up method.
You mentioned music...so, what music do you like to listen to while you are working?
I would have to say that Earth's "Hex: or Printing in the Infernal Method" has had the most influence upon me by far of any other album the past year. I typically listen to mellow music when drawing or reading though. The new Radiohead album has been getting a lot of play, John Coltrane's Complete Village Vanguard Sessions are a must, Velvet Underground, Magnolia soundtrack, Boredoms, Husky Rescue, Midlake and Neil Young. I listen to all that stuff nonstop.
Alot of your paintings sort of resemble medical or biological diagrams. What is the concept behind them or what are you trying to express?
I'm very into "words." Words are nothing more than symbols, or signifiers. Words have an effect on the brain and nervous system. Language is the highest function of an organism yet it is also this language, that if misinterpreted, can have devastating effects such as war. Words can be very specific images or can be vague, and this vagueness causes miscommunication between at least two organisms. This is where abstraction comes in.
Ideas often do not match verbal structures and through the words I use on a piece, I am trying to connect the two.
The anatomy of a human being is universal, even if it is abstracted. Adding words to it makes the verbal structure of the piece very specific. It's fun to then organize the verbals onto a piece and lay them out, and play with sound and rhythm of what is being shown. Music is universal so they say but our words are not.
Has any film or book inspired a painting?
The films of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam and Paul Thomas Anderson are very influential over me. I get transfixed when their films are on. Also, the writing of Cormac McCarthy, essays of William S. Burroughs, Nietzsche's "Human, All Too Human," The Complete Poems of Langston Hughes and Alfred Korzybski are probably the top writers (works) that have affected me. I try to go by Korzybski and his theory on general semantics. A large, and maybe the largest, is the earlier work of Hunter S. Thompson. His approach to covering an event and injecting his own ideas and fiction into the reality of the story was a bold and innovative way to write. He was a member of that whole New Journalism class in the late 50s, 60s and 70s that was all about experience being the essence to life and work.
What's your earliest childhood memory of drawing?
In elementary and middle school, I must have drawn hundreds of these tunnel drawings. Usually across the top two-thirds of a piece of construction or unlined paper, I would draw the top surface of land. Beneath that land line, I would draw a maze of tunnels. Most would be dead ends, one always lead to a bedroom where there was always only a single bed and a television, and there would always be a pool in another room as well. I distinctly remember sitting at a desk in my parent's bedroom drawing those tunnels.
Can you say there any particular teachers or friends who intrigued you the most or helped shaped your eye in a real direct way?
Since you posted the Minamoto piece, that was inspired by the work of Sam Friedman, with the little cut-up pieces of color. I was lucky enough to travel with him to Tokyo a couple years back and was also in a show with him in Philly last year or so. His work just jumps off the canvas. I like the very simple, childlike quality in it that is found in one of my favorite artists, Jean Michel Basquiat. The past four or so years have been the period of my life when I have been the most influenced by the work of my friends. They include but are no way limited to Daniel Santoro, Keith Garcia, Erik Von Bartholomaus, John G. Slaby, Keith Van Pelt and Mark Winn. (I'm sure I'm missing a couple so sorry to offend.) It is not only the caliber of their work, but their dedication to their work. I also really enjoy Paul Klee, Raymond Pettibon, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jim Houser, Weegee, Daniel Higgs and fun graffiti.
You've been to Japan recently. Did this trip influence your work at all?
The trip most definitely influenced my work, but also my life. I've always had an affinity to contemporary Japan and was asked if I wanted to go on a trip there, which of course I could not pass up. I went with a group of friends who are amazing artists, and was there for a large art show where I was able to meet some heroes like Ron English.
There is a ton of signage and symbols on the streets of Tokyo, and I always try to look for either the connection or absurd disconnection between symbols and their intent.
On a side note, Navy8 and I filmed a television commercial out there for a Gatorade-like type of drink called Amino Supli. The commercial was on limited run in Tokyo while we were there.
What kind of stuff/themes are you currently working on right now?
Words have traditionally been an integral part in my work, but lately I have not been including them so much on the work I have shown. I have been wrapped up in these Alchemy and Mysticism influenced black ink drawings. It is the ancient and historical aspect that I want to make a connection with. I am also working on a(nother) collaboration book with Erik Von Bartholomaus. We plan on printing it up once we are finished with it. We have done collabo work previously. I am a big fan of collaboration pieces.
Where do you plan on traveling to in the near future?
I will be traveling to Las Vegas. Shortly thereafter, I will be going to Mexico and checking out some Mayan temples and layin out at the beach, reading, drawing and supremely relaxing.
I'm also mulling over going back to Albuquerque, New Mexico sometime during the early summer to visit Erik again. I love the desert out there and would like to work with Erik again.
Is there any classical/traditional art that you really dig?
There really isn't. I go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see all this classical art and feel nothing towards it and it gives me no feeling either. The reason is because it is too formal for me. I'm sold on raw power.
Thanks Dan. For more on Dan's work visit www.danzomack.com.
January 28, 2008
January 24, 2008
What is your main choice of medium and what motivated you to prefer it?
Painting is and has been my main medium since 2000/2001. Before that i never lifted a brush, it was exclusively pencil drawings and notebook marginals drawn during class.
Take us through your typical process of creating a work.
Well, usually i'll have ideas written down on receipts or some obscure piece of paper and jammed into my pocket or backpack. The idea could be something that i imagined, a story i heard, something from tv, the news, a memory...whatever. Usually these scraps of paper just find their way to the circular file, but sometimes they'll follow me to my work space.
I almost always paint representationally; so from there i'll try to find images that match my idea. Whether that means going outside and taking photos of things/people/places that fit the idea or lazily searching google for inspiring images.
After that i'll decide what will be the best material for the painting or series. I love smooth surfaces; so wood, paper and pre-made panels are stockpiled. Then i'll create a composition and start layering the colors.
Do you listen to music when you work on something? If so care to share?
A lot of times i'll put a movie on while doing a painting. I've thought about it and it could have something to do with stimulating me visually or keeping me better company since i normally paint in seclusion.Sometimes i listen to music, though. Usually i look for a long album so i don't have stop painting to pick new music all the time. Usually i'll weigh the nostalgic value of a song or band before anything else is considered. Some regular tunes for me are the Cranberries, Kool Keith, The Smiths, Smashing Pumpkins, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and others. sometimes really emo, lameoid stuff; sometimes really happy upbeat tunes. depends on the day, the painting, the position of planets, etc.
Has any film or book inspired a painting?
Hmm, that's a tough one, it's hard for me to pinpoint where a lot of these "ideas" come from. I can think back to when home alone came out and i was always super super impressed with Kevin's diagram of how he'd defeat Harry and Marv and how well it ended up working. The schematics for that "booby trap" was awesome. In college i did some studies of like old maps and schematics and those types of diagrams and tried making it a series of work. I think only one of those paintings still exists.
Whats your earliest childhood memory of drawing?
Well, this isnt necessarily a memory of mine, but my parents have this drawing from when i was in preschool where all the kids were told to draw their families. My final product was a happy colorful sticked arm and leg family brightly colored. My dad stood tall and proud in a pair of rainbow pants in front of the house with my mom and turquoise dog. Then there was my older sister (5 years older).. drawn from head to toe with a black crayon and resembled a spider. To this day nobody knows why.
Scholastically, are there any particular teachers or Professors who intrigued you the most or helped shaped your eye in a real direct way?
Three come to mind. My high school art teacher, Linda Johnson was probably the reason for any understanding i have of art basics and why to do art in the first place. Without here i probably would have ever picked up a brush in my life. She set the ground work my Junior year of high school and i haven't really missed a beat since.
At West Chester my 1st year drawing teacher was really supportive of my work. I would show her lots of work i did outside of the classroom and she encouraged me to continue doing art for me. And lastly, my painting teacher Henry. We sort of butted heads at first. I remember having him for a drawing class and at the end of the semester you go back to the classroom to pick up your portfolio and your grade is in there, he gave me a sorta low grade which i'm sure i deserved and attached he wrote in huge letters "YOU NEED TO START TAKING THIS MORE SERIOUSLY" With words underlined and shit. Haha, after that i had 4 painting classes in a row with him. Once i started doing whatever i wanted and really doing a lot of new work i would constantly show him and ask for his input. I guess at some point we met in the middle and he ended up giving me some great advice artist to artist.
What kind of stuff/themes are you currently working on right now.
Right now i'm exploring EVERYTHING. For a while i was slacking pretty hard. I got a few things done over the summer, had a really slow fall and spent december preparing to move into a new house. I'm finally settled in Philadelphia and i've noticed a huge improvement in productivity and motivation.
I'm working on 2 series right now which may or may not end up intersecting. One is all highly detailed portraits on paper and the other is wood cut custom to the shape of a cigarette pack that i hand painted to look like the real thing. They're imperfect, like you can tell they're hand painted. From a distance they're kind of convincing just because you're so used to seeing the fonts and logos so often. I'm hoping the series will represent individuality and personal preference. My working title currently is "What's your brand?" Right now they're still incomplete thoughts. I've always focused on detail, but lately i've really been trying to step it up.
You skateboard right? Does skating influence your art in any way?
Yeah, i've been skating for almost 11 years but definitely plateaued 8 years ago. There's a lot of parallel aspects in skating and art. In my art it's more about the places i've gone because of skateboarding, the other side of the grocery store, abandoned places, all kinds of cutty shit. That's probably where i've pulled a lot of idea.
Speak a little on the West Collection. Does working for an art collection and an artist influence your personal art?
It does by keeping me on point. At first it was like an overload. I was worried it would hurt me to see all this new stuff at once. I kind of used to keep a blind eye to what was going on, allowing my ignorance to keep me from intentionally "biting". But now it helps me see the current art world more broadly. How artists are progressing. Knowing what galleries are doing is helpful too. Working with Lee (Stoetzel) in his studio has been a great learning experience, almost on a non-art tip. I've learned so much about tools and woodworking with him, also work ethic. I really respect for him for holding it down with work, family and making new art all at once. Being around artists all day keeps me from losing focus and slipping out. It's like skateboarding kinda, you see what your friends learned last week and you're jealous so you try to come back with a doper different trick that they can't do. It's totally like skating, at least the part that you never really talk about.
Are you excited to be in Philly?
Yeah man, i'm happier to be out of West Chester, i thought i was stuck. But i'm super happy to have changed scenery. Thrilled to be able to have more imediate access to city stuff. Right now i'm just in such awe of having a bedroom and workspace separate of each other that i hardly leave the house.
How many bikes have you crashed?
A bunch when i was little and my Bottecchia 4 times. The last time was the nail in the coffin. I ran into a car on Gerard and Drew says i got 10 feet of air. he was stoked.
Any upcoming travel plans?
Going to California at the end of February for work, but i'll have 3 or so free days in San Francisco i'm looking forward to.
Thanks John. To contact John Slaby you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the West collection website at www.westcollection.org
This is me with my friends Akil and Mikey. The pup in the pic is Tungsten. Illustration by Danny Paracat at Paracat Creative. Original photo by Young Soc. The image makes an attempt to portray our grown-up side(I'm being facetious). Visit Akil's website Grizzlebees and his blog, no, seriously. Mikey has one too but it looks like it hasn't been updated in a month or two. i'll still give it a plug though, and you can make the visit to Fantasy Island. Tungsten doens't have a website or blog, but he likes to jump up and down with excitement whenever his owners, Amelia and Chris, are around. Im still waiting on a few odds and ends to complete the Jaguar Collection Artist Spotlight Series(see below) which will be a real nice treat. Consider this a commercial break! *posted by Jaguarman
at 11:01 AM
January 21, 2008
The hedgehog, such a charming creature
With adorable little facial features
Button eyes and rubber nose
Quite a picture does he pose
Such a distinguished little gent
Trying to anoint a scent
Spikes like armor this funny clown
Bristling ball at slightest sound
Tail a pink hairless nub
Endearing animal that I love
On stubby legs you waddle around
Making huffing, snuffing sounds
Right out of a fairy tale
This enchanting fellow that I hail
Fuzzy belly soft and white
Quiet comrade of the night
Nodding sunny days away
Under starry skies he wakes to play
Live well my winsome little friend
Prosper well unto your end.
- Peng, 1995
at 2:57 AM
January 18, 2008
This weekend I will be taking pictures of much of the art I have collected from my friends. Pretty much the stuff that I have hanging up around my house. I will try to write a little tidbit about the person and how/where I acquired the work. These first two are from Stewart Sineath. These were picked up at the first art show I was ever in that wasn't graffiti related. The show was an art party/group show in North Carolina and it was hosted by my friends Todd and Meg.
These abstract paintings, using spraypaint, acrylic and ink on canvas, were really eye-catching, had great presentation, and the composition was all there. Since that show in 2003, I have encountered Stewart randomly in Philadelphia: this past year attending a Vox Populi exhibit, and through my girlfriend who said he came in randomly to her work buying pastries and breakfast. Looks like he's been running around a bit. For more on his work visit his section of the Team Lump webpage here. Additional upcoming artists for this series will be: Dan Zomack, John Slaby, Drew Leshko, Josh Anderson, Megan Brezinski, and more. posted by Jaguarman
at 2:17 PM
January 16, 2008
Above: Beaded Huichol-inspired Jaguar.
Puerto Vallarta is home to one of the most dynamic and fastest growing arts scenes in Mexico. With over 30 art galleries displaying works by local, national and international artists – from native indigenous Huichol art and traditional Mexican silverware, glasswork and pottery to folk art, contemporary paintings and sculptures - the local arts scene has been revitalized by a cosmopolitan group of resident artists that have decided to call Puerto Vallarta home.
There was an art walk that I missed out on which fell on a Thursday, and I believe these walks are held year-round. Similar to the First Friday gallery openings of Philly and other major cities, it is an integral part of the town's local social scene. Pressed for time, I don't feel like I caught enough of the more modern art on my trip to Puerto Vallerta. Although this is not what I'm necessarily looking for-- as great food, photographs, sight seeing, relaxation and time spent with the people I'm with, to me, usually comes first. But I only spent 2 full days downtown, and one of the days was spent shopping and sightseeing rather than taking a real crawl digging for native arts and culture. There was a contemporary art museum in the center of downtown, however when we got to it, it was for some unknown reason closed, contrary to what the hours would indicate. Instead we found a good taste of the traditional art found at the many shops and vendor stands: woven Indian tapestries, Huichol style statues, dia de los muertos(day of the dead) handicrafts, and prints of the celebrated Frida Kahlo. Although not from PV, Frida memorabilia is common throughout all of Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta’s love of art is also evident in the town’s impressive collection of public art that lines the town’s seaside promenade. Some of the beautiful and eclectic pieces found around Puerto Vallarta’s historic quarters include works by well reputed local artist Ramiz Barquet, as well as from other highly valued artists from the state of Jalisco, including Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, and Adrian Reynoso. One of my favorites was a public sculpture by Sergio Bustamante entitled In Search of Reason, which was two fairytale-like kids climbing up a 30 foot ladder and their mother yelling for them to come back down. Sergio Bustamante
There was graffiti in Puerto Vallarta, mostly on the outskirts where I would be riding my ATV through sidestreets. There were a few peices and very little throwups, but mostly tags that were inferior by U.S. and European standards.Handstyles in PV.
One of the more noticeable artists did pretty stylistic characters throughout the city, although I am not quite positive if this person was actually from PV or just a visitor. From what I saw they were done with spraypaint, but I'm pretty positive that most, if not all, were legal murals. He did real colorful childlike characters that were real poppy, and I have no idea who this person was but some people whom I showed these photos to say it may be the work of the guy behind Jeremyville.
Legal Murals by some Unknown Street Artist.
All in all it was a great time in PV, most of it spent on the beach, but a small portion of it spent peeking into the enjoyable arts the city had to offer. *posted by Jaguarman
January 10, 2008
The USPS has announced a series of stamps featuring the designs of Ray and Charles Eames.
In recognition of their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design, manufacturing and photographic arts, designers Charles and Ray Eames will be honored next summer with a pane of 16 stamps designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC. If you’ve ever sat in a stackable molded chair, you’ve experienced their creativity. Perhaps best known for their furniture, the Eameses were husband and wife as well as design partners. Their extraordinary body of creative work — which reflected the nation’s youthful and inventive outlook after World War II — also included architecture, films and exhibits. Without abandoning tradition, Charles and Ray Eames used new materials and technology to create high-quality products that addressed everyday problems and made modern design available to the American public.
at 12:24 PM