Monday, August 2, 2010

Artist Interview: THH70

What is your name: 

My professional nom de guerre is THH70

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: 

No, I don't have a formal education as far as art itself is concerned, so I am definitely self-taught. However, in college, I majored in Business and Marketing, which would end up serving me well in the business end of my art career. Being an artist, I think they go hand in hand -- producing the work itself, but also having the tools to know how to handle the business of the work you've created. So, I may be self-taught as far as art is concerned, but when it comes to the "other half" of being an artist, I guess you could say I have a formal education.

What is the style of your pieces:

I get asked this a lot about my work, which I can understand because there are elements of a lot of styles in my work. When I look at my paintings, I see bit and pieces of Urban, Contemporary, Abstract, Graffiti, Lowbrow, and Pop. A few people have thrown some of the newer terms around in response to my work, like "Pop Surrealism" or "New Contemporary", and a few have called it "Street Art" (which is funny because I've never done anything in the streets), but honestly, I don't know what I could be formally classified as. I used to call my work "Lo-Fi Urban Contemporary", but in the last year with the progress my work has made, curators and gallerists are considering it more into the Fine Art realm and not so much Urban or Lo-Fi, so I'm pretty much back to square one in terms of classification. So long as it provokes a response, you can call it whatever you like. :-)

What is the medium in which you work: 

Mixed media. I'll pretty much do whatever it takes to get the job done, and I've used many different things spanning my career over the last 10 years. Some things I've always used, and some are new experiments, but I'm really enjoying the tools I'm using right now. Some highlights of what I use currently: acrylic, latex enamel, spray paint, charcoals, graphite, paint pens, oil sticks, china markers, various lacquers and polycrylics, and a special cocktail I created years ago of chemicals to make paints bleed and coagulate in such a way that I like.

What started you on your path as an artist: 

Well, I always drew as a child and made music. Music was my first path which I developed into a style I was comfortable with, and in the mid-1990's, I was signed to a multi-album deal to a record label. But, I always felt that music and art are the same thing -- you just are using a different paintbrush, so to speak. In the late-'90's, I was collecting a lot of work for my own art collection and got inspired to start making my own again. One of the artists I was collecting, an East Coast Contemporary artist named Davmo saw some of my work and said "start selling it…NOW", and I respected his vision so much that I thought I would test the waters. It just snowballed from there and I was selling dozens and dozens of drawings and paintings within months. It just grew from there. I would still continue to make music, but painting excited me in a way that music wasn't at the time. It was more of an instant gratification, I guess. I plan on beginning work on a new album in the next few months, but it would be more for my own personal enjoyment. Painting is my career, and I've been a full-time painter for the last 5 years.

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: 

Probably the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I really love my collectors, and consider a major percentage of them my friends. They mean the world to me and come from all walks of life (my collectors are all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia). I've been extremely fortunate to have sold a good amount of work in my career thus far, but I still get that same rush when I sell a new piece because it means that someone loves what I'm trying to say so much that they want to live with a little piece of me on their walls and in their life. It's a humongous honor. Seriously. I am eternally grateful.

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in: 

I have so many, to be honest. But the first thing that comes to my mind would be that period of time in the 1950's when some artists were making that transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop. Probably the artist that best exemplifies that to me would be Robert Rauschenberg. I know that's two genres, but I love how at that period of time in art history, they seemed to intersect.

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: 

Yes, I've been showing my work in galleries since 2000, but I tend to not show more than several times a year in order to make the exhibitions more special. As for what the shows are like, I would like to say they're always fun! I've shown in galleries across the United States, and had one a couple years ago in the Dominican Republic, as well. I'm working on some things for Europe that will hopefully materialize in 2011.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: 

Nothing too expensive because it can sometimes get messy! Ha ha ha! Anything from shorts to jeans, it really doesn't matter, so long as Im comfortable.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist?

Probably understanding that no one is on my own timetable. You want galleries to work as hard and as fast as you do, but it rarely happens that way. I can be a bit of a micromanager after 10 years of being in this business, but sometimes I have to remind myself that just because someone does their business differently, it doesn't mean it's wrong -- it's just different. I just want to make sure my work is depicted appropriately because these things are my babies. But, at the same time, I want to make sure I do my best to do right by the galleries that I work with. It's a business partnership after all.

What is your favorite sandwich of all time: 

 Well, right now I'm thinking abut a glorious hamburger, which I guess can still be considered a sandwich: the burger at Father's Office, a gastro-pub in Santa Monica, CA. A big ol' piece of prime beef with caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese, and arugula on a magical bun. It's won the award for L.A.'s best burger every year for like a decade. It's so good, it's ridiculous.

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they: 

That probably would be taking a more "fine art" approach with the imagery in my pieces. Spending a lot more time getting the dimension, balance, and integrity of the images just right. I'm a firm believer that art has to make sense and have balance. So, while a lot of my work seems to have this haphazard quality to it, I actually put a lot of thought into where each element goes…although I'm also a big fan of the "happy accident".

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: 

That is such a toss-up and REALLY hard to choose. If I had to choose right at this moment (and I guess I do!), I will say Cy Twombly. Utter brilliance.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person:

Once again, a really hard choice. I don't think I can choose a single piece. I will say this -- I went to the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art several years ago in Los Angeles and I cried through the entire exhibit. I visited it four separate times and cried each and every time.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: 

I have five animals: a Golden Retriever and 4 cats. I don't really think they have any opinion of my work, so long as the money made from them keeps them flush in food, treats, and toys. Although, the cats seem to perk up a little when they smell a fresh coat of lacquer.  :-)

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: 

I'm working on finalizing details on a few shows right now, but on the books formally is a big show in Boston this November at Art Asylum Boston. That will be a cool group show with 4 other artists in AOA - Alternative Online Artists, an artists collective I started in 2001. I'm really looking forward to that one. I'm waiting for confirmation on a show in Los Angeles in December, but I don't want to talk about it too much until it's cemented. I have a solo show in May 2011 at Screaming Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon which will be a lot of fun because I have a lot of collectors, friends, and followers of my work in those parts, but I've never actually shown there formally. So, that will be a real fun one, too.

In the VERY immediate future, I am moving back to Los Angeles after being here in Dallas, TX for the last 2 1/2 years, and I think I might be doing a little makeshift guerilla-style daytime show in mid-August before I move because I've been hearing from Dallasites who want to check out my work before I head back to the West Coast at the end of the month. For more information about that, people can e-mail me directly or go to my website.

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