Monday, July 27, 2009

Tom Smith / Dr. Sizzle Interview

MD: What is your background? How did you get involved with art?

Dr. Sizzle: I always drew on stuff as a kid... copied the Sunday paper funnies and my Saturday morning cartoon favorites. Then by the 2nd grade I got into breakdancing which was married with graffiti art (somewhere around '82 think). Through Graffiti I quickly developed my cartooning skills and progressed into more realistic styles of drawing. I was always fascinated with drawing the human form: faces, hands, and dynamic poses. I guess I was born with an artistic passion in my soul. Lots of people tell me true artists are left handed because they use the right side of the brain which is the side that is most creative or some shit. I guess that makes sense. After taking high school art majors I realized art was something I was good at and could probably make a living doing, so I signed my good name to a student loan at the Art Institute of Philadelphia where I received my degree in Visual Communications / Graphic Design.

MD: How would you describe your work?

Dr. Sizzle: Well my current body of work would probably be described best as exaggerated realism. I don't know if that makes sense or not but it's kind of a distorted life-like caricature using Pin-Ups as my foundation. Instead of distorting distinctive facial features, I exaggerate the anatomy in whole, enhancing heads, hands, and other bodily forms in inflated proportions.

MD: Have you studied art in school? What did you like best about the school you attended? What advice would you give to anyone considering going to school vs. doing it on their own?

Dr. Sizzle: As mentioned previously, I attended AI where I thought I was being taught to be a better artist. The drawing and painting classes were minimal and they geared us towards computers and graphic design. In the long run it helped with getting a job. But I guess I was expecting to be more of an Illustrator. It was like pulling teeth to get info out of some of the teachers. Others taught me more than I can understand and still to this day am just realizing what they meant. As far as advice- choose your school wisely. Education is expensive and if you are serious about it choose a serious school and program. When it all comes down to it, you either have it or you don't. School doesn't give you talent – it just helps you sharpen your skills.

MD: How have you been influenced by the art community? Who/ what inspires you?

Dr. Sizzle: To be honest I try not to keep up with the art community. It sickens me to open an art publication and see new artists being featured and it all looks the same to me. Art has become trendy and it's really another person's rendition of a style that already has been done. There are a bunch of artists out there that are setting these trends and I enjoy their works but I see others copying them to the point where they can't even enjoy their own creativity. So I really don't get influenced by the art community other than techniques that I might want to experiment with. To me, I see art as an expression of ones thoughts carried onto a medium or surface. Paint, Drawing, Sculpting or what ever your fancy, should be 100% your own visions. Don't paint to impress the masses or magazines- paint because that's what you paint even if it sucks. If you're passionate about it you'll make it great and people will appreciate it more than you're ripped off version of someone else's passion.

MD: Do you have a career/ job (other than the art you create independently)?

Dr. Sizzle: Yup, I am a motion graphics designer and animator for TV and video. I create the cool stuff people take for granted on TV. Like your favorite commercials, or music videos and even the show title open.

MD: Have you had any careers not related to art?

Dr. Sizzle: HA! I designed Hoagies while going to AI. LOL. Yeah, lots of odd jobs before I got my break in the professional world.

MD: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

Dr. Sizzle: It's tough out there. To put a price on something you spent a good deal of time on and expect someone topay that is really hard. If you're up and coming, or just not well known enough, you really have it hard. I have a hard enough time parting with my originals as it is and to price them to sell is almost impossible. I've been creating prints and selling limited numbers signed until I exhausted them to the point of selling the originals. Creating a website and swag helps a lot to promote myself and get the name Dr. Sizzle out there. It's really hard balancing time to paint, promote, work my day job, hold my family together … not to mention my nine million hobbies and other creative vices…

MD: What are your goals? What are your plans for the future?

Dr. Sizzle: My plans are to paint when I feel like it and not make it my job. It's important to me to keep painting a hobby and not my primary source of income. Once that happens it becomes work which is no fun. I paint for passion not for paychecks. Changing that would have a considerable effect on my art and my love for it. I plan to continue painting my Pin-Ups and
branch them off into a few directions and various series. I have a few products in the works as well as some videos and books planned, so stay tuned!

MD: Do you have side projects you work on? Have you collaborated w/ other artists in the past?

Dr. Sizzle: Being a graffiti artist, I have worked on much collaboration on a very large scale. It's one of the best feelings. I hope to get out this summer and do a few more.

MD: What was one of the most memorable projects you've worked on?

One is a portrait I did of Miss Mia Sinclair which took over a year to complete and is one of my largest brush paintings. Mia passed away last October 2008. I'm glad I had the pleasure of working with her.

MD: What are the biggest changes you've seen in the art world since you got involved? Where do you see the art industry going in 5 years? 10 years?

Dr. Sizzle: Well I have to say the "Lowbrow" art scene has taken the world by storm. It was frowned upon and was never really accepted into the gallery and art world but now it is pretty much dominating the globe. I suspect things will evolve full circle. As people start to realize there is a difference between Lowbrow Art and Lowbrow posers. People will eventually go back to a more Fine Art taste and talentless crud will wash away. Then again who am I to say what is good and what is not. Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. So maybe the things I call trash and what people love and that will wash fine artists away AHHA. Who cares, art is art. People will express themselves whether someone likes it or not. I think if enough people hate you you're probably doing it well enough to piss people off it will eventually become the best thing the movement ever seen. Just like PUNK ROCK!

MD: Favorite painter/ artist:

Dr. Sizzle: I have tons of favorites, a few, in no particular order are;
Keith Wessner, Glenn Barr, Coop, Gil Elvgren, Rockin' Jellybean, Maxfield Parrish, Robh Ruppel, Kris Kuksi, Frank Frazetta, and many others.

MD: What are you listening to?

Dr. Sizzle: Old Punk from the early 80's


Monday, July 20, 2009

Shawn Dubin Q&A

Shawn Dubin is a Philadelphia based illustrator and tattoo artist. He has published a number of books, including Dreary and Naughty and Friday the 13th of February.

MD: You're currently working on a new series of paintings?

SD: They were initially based on memories from Halloween throughout my life, starting in the late seventies and stretching up to the present. Once the idea solidified a bit, I felt compelled to illustrate those old costumes that came in a box- paperboard masks with terrible plastic jumpsuits that tied up in the back. If you were lucky they came with a cape or your parents got you one separately. My imagination always made them far more amazing than they actually were. From there, the series branched out into other time periods and less kitschy costumes. I could probably spend the rest of my life doing these.

MD: You've got quite a collection of work. What's next? What are some of your goals and/ or plans?

SD: At the moment, my writing partner Jason Ridings and I are preparing a package to send out to a few major comic book companies for consideration and keeping our fingers crossed.

Outside of that, I've started writing a follow up to the Untimely Endeavor (which is getting sent out to publishers for consideration this summer along with Land of Broken Dreams), begun work on the halloween paintings, plotting out a line of t-shirts/miscellaneous articles of clothing, and started writing something of a children's story. There are also more comic books in the pipes. It never ends.

I'm also hoping to find a gallery that's willing to show my work in the next year or so.

MD: You've published quite a few books...

SD: I had the fortune of working with John Lafleur on the Dreary and Naughty series a few years back. The first two in the series (which is slated to run up to seven books) are still available online. The third book, The ABC's of Being Dead, is finished and awaiting publication. As of the moment, the premise is floating around in Hollywood limbo with talks of it becoming a movie one day.

This summer, writer Glen Feulner and I are self-publishing a book called Worlds Without End which revolves around a female protagonist who travels throughout multiple realities, ultimately bringing about the end of each. Uplifting stuff. It will be available through Amazon, Borders, etc.

MD: The Untimely Endeavor comes across as mournful and poetic, with really interesting backgrounds...

SD: I wanted to explore the use of a "dip pen"; to illustrate something the way someone would have a century ago. I also wanted a chance to illustrate a number of different locales throughout the world that interest me while placing a fantastical character in each to stretch/warp the boundaries of the mundane. Naturally, I chose a well dressed skeleton named Wallingford for just this purpose.

The first illustration came about as an accident one night while sketching and is now the second plate in the book. It created the flavor for what would ultimately become the overall plot: Skeleton finds shrunken head in soup, shrunken head engrains itself in skeleton's day to day life, skeleton reject and abandons shrunken head, skeleton searches the world over for shrunken head, skeleton finds shrunken head. Ultimately, it's a story about friendship, loss and appreciating what you have.

MD: In addition to illustration, you're also a tattoo artist, yes?

SD: I've been tattooing in Philadelphia for twelve years now at Moo Tattoo on South Street. Recently I've been doing a lot of work that's similar to my illustration style. I hope the trend continues.

MD: You've worked on a number of comic books.

SD: I've been working with Jason Ridings (writer) for the better part of a decade on a number of projects. When we met I told him I'd never draw super heroes. He proved me wrong when we did a story called Guardians. It was a one shot comic chock full of super heroes of our making.

We've also been working on Thirteen- an ongoing supernatural thriller which is much further up my alley. The first issue is completely inked with the other five issues in the initial run thumb-nailed and ready for production. Conservatively, we have enough material for this series to last at least five years. I'm ridiculously excited about continuing work on it.

My cousin, Alex Dubin, and I worked on a project called the Eighth Dwarf which re-imagines the snow white story through a darkened lens. The first run of the series is written and thumb-nailed through to completion. He had originally written it as a screenplay which, conveniently, lends itself to being story-boarded into a comic book format quite readily.

I've also been working off and on for the last ten years or so on a vampire comic about a powerful family that stretches all the way back to the Roman Empire and their degeneration/search for humanity as their respective worlds fall apart.

If none of these find a home with an established comic book company, the plan is to self publish and see where things go.

MD: Your miniature paintings have so much detail. What's your process?

SD: I use ridiculously small brushes and sit hunched over these little bits of illustration board for hours on end, nearly going blind. It's actually a good deal of fun.

MD: Have you exhibited your work?

SD: Years ago. I'm in the process of looking for a venue to have a show some time later this year or early next year.

MD: If you were to build a house out of unorthodox materials, what type of house would you build?

SD: A hobbit hole or a giant tree house attached to a sequoia.

MD: Favorite movies?

SD: I'm a big star wars nerd.

MD: Playlist of a few favorite songs:

SD: Hard to pinpoint songs- but on any given day i'll cycle through some Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Howlin' Wolf, Pixies, Mulatu Astatke, Sinatra, Talking Heads, Johnny Cash, Radiohead, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, etc.

MD: What are some of your interests?

SD: Music (making and listening), gardening, travel, good food and drink (both preparing and ingesting), history, living...

MD: Historical figure you'd like to have a beer with, given the chance?

SD: Aleister Crowley.

MD: Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?

SD: I really loved the Lucifer series put out by Vertigo. Collected the whole thing in trade paper backs and made my poor wife read it. She actually enjoyed it.

Also- The Preacher, V For Vendetta, Watchmen, Kingdom Come, Matt Wagner's Mage and Grendel, BPRD, Hellboy, Marvels and the current run of Captain America stories.

MD: Favorite visual artists?

SD: Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, Maxfield Parrish, Heironymus Bosch, Edward Gorey, Shel Silverstein, Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham... 

MD: What is your background? How did you get involved with art?

SD: I've been drawing since I could hold a writing implement. Haven't been able to stop since. My mother was a big supporter early on and really nurtured the bug. My neighbor/surrogate big brother was also something of an artist. He'd sit me down and show me how to draw things like Popeye and Snoopy for hours while our parents watched television and talked.

I went to the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia before it was in the gorgeous building it now inhabits. Also went to the University of the Arts briefly.

MD: Have you held any jobs/ careers that you'd like to discuss?

SD: I was a record store/book store clerk for Tower for more than two years. While there, I drew a bi-weekly comic that went out with paychecks based on experiences I and my co-workers had. For the holidays one year I did an entire comic called "Tower of Babble" in which we, the employees, locked the doors of the store and massacred the customers. My boss sent it around to other branches both here and in England. It was quite cathartic. Nowadays I'd probably be reported for disturbing behavior that may lead to a nasty incident. All in good fun.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Leo Boyd / Arg My Face

LB: To me art is something that I'm compelled to make, something like the cup of coffee that I need to drink in the morning to wake up. It's a slap round the face and I have an almost physical drive to produce. The world we live in is driven by image and signs that jump up and down and shout at us, all vying for portions of our attention. There is a rubbish tip in our brains that is full of this stuff, from the Ladybird books of our childhood to the swine flu pamphlets we read and discarded just a few months ago. All this old information sits there, rotting, getting confused, and I feel I need to use it, to dig it up and paste it back together to create new and hopefully interesting pieces. Its psychic recycling I guess. I like my work to be funny. And dark. There is something satisfying about mixing the two things and it's always good to be able to laugh at the darker side of life. I also find the mundane fairly beautiful. I have a thing at the moment for traffic lights. To me they look like the strange totem poles of some technologically advanced society that worships three colored gods. I can't get enough of them.

MD: What is your background? How did you get involved with art?

LB: My mum is an artist and we were always encouraged creatively. I have very early memories of drawing felt-tip pictures of superman and then covering them in a layer of cellotape so that they would last forever. The pictures didn't last but my creative drive is still going strong.

MD: What are some of your goals and/ or plans?

LB: To keep doing what I do and strive to get better at it. I'd also like to visit Mars.

MD: Have you exhibited your work?

LB: Have just finished exhibiting in Bristol with three other Argists and am hanging an exhibition this week in Temple Bar with Eavan O'Sullivan, another excellent artist (and Argist) who creates these weird collage animals that would be the stuff of nightmares if they weren't so cute. The show is called What the Cat Dragged In.

MD: Have you held any jobs/ careers that you'd like to discuss?

LB: At the moment I'm working for a community arts organization called City Art Squad but before this I have held a number of glamorous positions in Chicken Factories and mental homes.

MD: What are you currently reading?

LB: Just finished reading Light by M John Harrison and Nova Swing by the same author. Two books of brain twistingly good science fiction that will keep you on your toes for weeks after reading.

MD: If you were to build a house out of unorthodox materials, what type of house would you build?

LB: I'd build a tower out of MSG, coffee and twisted science fiction novels. That way I'd never sleep even if I wanted to.

MD: Playlist of a few favorite songs:

LB: I am a big Radiohead fan. I love their oblique use of sound and the way they can make even the most horrible thing seem beautiful. Check out 'four minute' warning on youtube to see what I mean. My friends get annoyed because I play Radiohead too often but I know that they love it really!

MD: What are some of your interests?

LB: I love surfing but I live on the wrong side of the country to do it as much as I want to so I am hanging on for 2012 when the world is supposed to spin on its axis. Hopefully that will send some good swell Dublin way.

MD: Historical figure you'd like to have a drink with, given the chance?

LB: Oooo this is a difficult question. I mean I'd love to go for a few drinks with Lenin mainly so I could get some photos of me and him in the pub but you could say the same of most historical characters. Lichtenstein is someone who I'd like to have met and Patrick Moore too but he's still alive so I guess that doesn't count?

MD: Favorite visual artists?

LB: There are too many to list outright but I love the work of the Pop artists, the Dada group, Otto Dix, Sigmar Polke and the Futurists.

Arg My Face Website:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sarah Tomlin Q&A

Tell us a bit about yourself. I'm 26 years young and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 6 years! We have 2 dogs, one of which is house trained.

Tell us about your work. My love of photography stretches into nearly every field I can find work in but I love to travel. I love seeing new places and finding beauty in God's creations. One of my favorite quotes is on my website: "We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect.....but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs." -Aaron Siskind. I find that beauty is everywhere around us. All we have to do is appreciate it.

What are some of your goals and/ or plans? Ideally my goal would be to open up an art shop with my sister Christina! We both love the arts. Also, I would love to be on The Price is Right.

What are you currently reading? The July 13th issue of Time Magazine and celebrity twitters.

If you were to build a house out of unorthodox materials, what type of house would you build? Tree logs, rusted metal, stained glass, and toothpicks. I'd love to live in an old barn. Renovated of course, with central air and heat.

Playlist of a few favorite songs: Mad Mission by Patty Griffin, Lentil by Sia, and Spell by Marie Digby.
Favorite visual artists? I have to say that I am quite partial to photographers although I truly respect any type of artist. Loving what you do and putting your whole heart and soul into your work is the best part of life. Four people that DESERVE to be mentioned are Matt McClure, Rebecca Villarreal, Thomas Jack Hilton, and Thomas Krapausky. All of their website links can be found on the links portion of my site.

Your website(s):

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Caleb Stine Q&A

I recently had the pleasure of catching your performance at the Honfest in Hampden, MD. Great show! Tell us a little about Hampden/ the Honfest/ the show.
Honfest is a celebration of the underdog, knowingly un-cool, 'laugh-to-keep-from-crying' attitude of working-class Baltimore, and it's a fun festival to play. People really seemed to like the new songs.

My 15 year-old neighbor who practices heavy metal on his front porch said "Man, I came and watched you for a whole hour and a half!" The highlight though, was the gentleman who liked the music so much that he put a Caleb Stine sticker on his cane. To me, that's a solid endorsement. Pretty cool.

You just recorded a new album. Tell us about it. Where was it recorded?
Here in Baltimore with my good friend Nick Sjostrom. We used the recording studio that he works at during the day, and basically recorded after-hours over the last year. The title of the record is 'Eyes So Strong and Clean' which means a lot of things to me, It's about attempting to stare honestly at the world.

That was the philosophy behind the recording. We tried a lot of new techniques, and I feel like I pushed it as hard as I could. This is, you know, the best I got right now. For better or worse.

Your songwriting process?

I have about 5 different processes I think! It's always changing, and over the years I've learned some different techniques to jumpstart those processes. It's key to stay open to the songs, so that when they come, you're ready.

This is the main skill of songwriting: learning to recognize the seed of a song. It'll come to you as a fragment of melody or rhythm, or a string of words, or a feeling. . . And usually you have to strike when you've got that first catalyst. You don't have to finish it right then, but you've got to capture the essence, or it'll be lost.

I think everyone has the potential to nurture and grow songs, it's just that most people have never considered it, or learned to notice the seeds.

What are you reading?

Well, yesterday I finished 'This Is Your Brain on Music', a Science/Music book that had some unique insights. I've been into the English Romantic poets again lately; Wordsworth and Coleridge are on the bed stand right now. Don Quixote is also sitting there. . . I keep coming back to that one. I seem to be rereading a lot of my favorites right now. . . The Dharma Bums. Oh, and I'm reading a collection of Raymond Carver short stories called 'Where I'm Calling From' that I'd recommend for it's sheer heartbreaking insights into everyday life.

Favorite movies?

I've got my old standbys: The Seventh Seal, 12 Monkeys, Rushmore. . . I've thought a lot about There Will Be Blood since I saw it.

Playlist of a few favorite songs:

Here's some recent tracks by friends that I really like:
'Hell on Earth' by Deer Tick

'Sight, Flight' by Wye Oak

'Idaho' by Andy Friedman & The Other Failures

'Keep Good Time' by Tommy Tucker

What are some of your interests?
Cookies. Chess. Drawing. Road-trips. Friends. My nieces.

Historical figure you'd like to have a drink with, given the chance?
I'd like to down some whiskey with Walt Whitman. Or chug Budweiser with Thomas Jefferson. Or sip merlot with Billy the Kid. Or go shot for shot with Mother Teresa. Or swallow hemlock with Socrates. . .

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?

I've always been fascinated by Chris Ware's work. And I read the recent biography about Charles Schultz, which has given me a Peanuts higher-awareness.

Favorite visual artists?

Wow. . . van Gogh, Norman Rockwell, Turner, Thomas Cole, Chuck Close, Rothko, Annie Liebowitz . . . there's a few off the top of the head. Also, I'm really lucky to have a ton of super talented friends like Katherine Fahey, Michael Patrick O'Leary, Christine Sajecki, Magnolia Laurie, and Scott Denison whose work I get to watch evolve up close.

If you were to build a house out of unorthodox materials, what type of house would you build?

I'd build it out of bagels.

Last concert/performance attended? How was it?

I saw Those Darlin's open up for Elvis Perkins last week, and they were both engaged and alive. I appreciate performances where the musicians are present and playing to the people that are actually there, not some imaginary gig at Madison Square Gardens that they wish they were at. And Elvis was great. After the first song he asked the soundman politely for more vocals in the monitor, and he remembered his name! That won me over right away. Plus his band was great. Really good arrangements, and they were listening to each other, playing off of what just happened.

What are some of your goals and/ or plans?

Creatively, I really want to focus on writing. I want to be a better musician. There's just so much to learn and work on. In general, I want to live less selfishly and be more open to the world.

Have you held any jobs/ careers that you'd like to discuss?

I don't know about discussing them, but I've learned a lot from everything I've done. From working at a Special Ed school to drawing story-boards for movies. It's been a rich work-life. I will say, I was the ideal employee at McDonalds when I was 16. I'd run the drive through and say things like "Thank you for flying Ronald McDonald Airways. As you pull up to the first window remember to return your trays to the upright and locked position. . . "

Your website(s):