1. How and when did you first get into art? Growing up as a kid? In school? Any formal training?
In 1970, I was born in Montreal and was introduced to art at about age 3 by my mother who taught me how to draw stick figures. That was fun so I kept at it! When I was a little kid in the mid 1970's I spent most of my time drawing in my room listening to oldies from the 1950's & '60's on AM Radio. I was an only child and lived in my happy, insular world. In school , the kids would always say they liked my drawings and I won a couple of art contests,but I didn't really pay attention at the time. In middle school I was made to take Art in the special needs children class! I was told the reason was that the teacher was more qualified to teach someone "of my artistic skill level" (!) I don't remember receiving any vital information so maybe I am just retarded! As a teenager I didn't fare too well at school. I was living with my mom in Chilliwack , British Columbia after my parents split up and my grades were usually poor, except for the art courses, which I did my best in, mainly to impress girls... After moving back to Montreal ,I dropped out of Dawson College in the first year. I was not ready for the responsibility of a career program as intensive as Illustration & Design directly following high school but I did manage to meet some people there that I know to this day. To make a Gravyzine connection , my main buddy at Dawson was Jordan Swift , who was in the Cryptics at the time (later Kingpins,Tyrant Records). I was lucky enough to see Platon et les Caves (Gravy #4!) play in the basement at his parents house .The Swifts were really nice to me! In the mid to late 1980's I was really digging garage shows, The Sherlocks, Dejavoodoo , The Gruesomes etc. fun shows where you could dance with girls. This digression is actually leading to the next question!
2. Throughout your life who or what has been a big influence on your art?
Making art has always kept me balanced and making something I find cool always makes me happy. After dropping out of college, I worked a series of menial jobs, and slowly the output of art was replaced by day-to-day monetary obligations, and had little energy to create at the end of a work day . Although I was a drinker in my teens , it was around this point that it became a problem.At times this his made me less than agreeable to be around, just ask my ex-girlfriends! I blame only myself for making wrong but lesson worthy decisions. Eventually I decided to take a night course in animation (with David Gray) in a feeble attempt to up my credit at Dawson. I loved the course and managed to get accepted in the Film Animation program at Concordia University in Montreal. The courses here were what I would consider the only formal training I have had . Life drawing was mandatory in Character Design .What I took with me from learning about traditional cel animation is the level of work involved , the high output of art helped me on my way to happiness ...until I quit in 2nd year and started working in "the field", which was a post production job , and in that particular corporate environment it was a glorified cubicle job that sucked the life out of me , and away with the booze and drugs we go! I felt I hit bottom at around the same time I was being downsized at that job , in combination with the trauma of losing my close friend John Coinner (Vice & Gravy contributer).In 2000 I moved back to B.C. lived at home for a spell, to gather what marbles I had left and just drop out . It was here that I started doing artwork again in a big way. It gave me a reason to feel happy again. Also my self confidence came back and I began contributing pieces in group art shows. i have head help from friends and other artists such as 12 Midnite, and Rot N. Hell and Vancouver feels like home although who knows where I'll end up..After receiving advice to start up my www.myspace.com/bobscottartwork page from my friend and fellow artist Nicole Steen , I began to get alot of positive response to my work so that's cool! I've quit smoking cigarettes and drinking and moved into Vancouver . I smoke pot but I guess a guy's gotta have his vice. In some ways psychedelic drugs have influenced my work, . but at this point it is like what I once read in and interview with William S. Burroughs , when he no longer needed to take drugs to come to the same level of perception without them. Music (especially a live show!) has been a huge influence on my art. I can't play a note (altough I yearn to play the farfisa organ one day) but I try and make stuff as rad as my favorite musicians ...the ocular equivelance of aural bliss- if that makes any sense! Mark Sultan (BBQ) is one of my faves because he consistantly puts out an amazing body of work at a seemingly frentic pace. Jay Reatard is another example, fucking amazing! Of course art has always been an influence. Lately I've been influenced by the work of itennerant artists , gravestone designers in the 18th century and folk art, Designers of the Art Deco era ...There is so much to cover, too much! If you look at my tiki art, you may notice the influence of comic artist Peter Bagge! Tikis have influenced me since I started picking them up at garage sales, mugs and carvings and other Hawaiiana. In hindsight I realize that when my art output slowed , I would become malevolent .Although I bet I could use some psychoanalysis, this is the free therapy! Being able to make people happy with art is better than being a waste of oxygen.
3. Can you describe the medium you use for your art?
What type of art is it? Painted cork carvings.Although I was primarily an illustrator , I began to collect wine corks at parties and cut them up and glue them on board to make message boards for friends. this became tired fast, so I began to experiment with the medium using a utility knife, and later a rotary tool as well. I still do illustration and painting as well but carving seems to be the bulk of it at this point.This type of carving: cut , paste and paint , is fast and effective. The raw materials are mostly recycled , which is cool although I do buy cork off the roll at the building supply store too. Most of it is friends supplying me with wine corks (the synthetic ones are useful too) and garage sale thrift store finds, like cork coasters, trivets and whatnot. I try not to steal these things.
4. How long does it take you to work on a piece from start to finish?
What steps do you take in this process?I'm trying to learn as much and do as much art as I can to make up for my lost years, and I've become as prolific as I was as a kid in order to leave a substantial body of work behind, or in case I get hit by a bus or whatever and can no longer make art . The amount of time varies from piece to piece . I can make most of my pieces in a full day.The big ones can take up to a week.The process of my carvings:Idea,looking at reference material, sketch (usually a really rough thumbnail if any sketching at all).Cut and paste the "raw" cork onto board or other surface. Prime it with black gesso or flat black latex paint, and paint it up with acrylic which I think i am getting a handle on finally. It wasn't until I read Todd Schorr's "Techniques" article in Art Juxtapoz Magazine where he mentions using the "Dry Brush Technique" that I was able to control the medium. the dry brush is not actually dry as you have to keep the bristles on your brush damp or else the paint hardens and your brush is dead. Using very little paint you gradually build up a controlled area of color. slapping on color is fun too, with murals especially . In my case drybrushing was key in understanding how to control the paint. I like oil paint but the fumes, and the dry time is something I cannot afford to deal with at the moment, but in the future perhaps, I'd like to bomb large carvings with a spray gun too!
5. What are some of your own favorite pieces and why?
Have you had any pieces commissioned?Quite a few pieces have been commissioned, by friends and online too. I don't know if there is one piece in particular that I prefer over another.I just love to do the work and I like the ones that I can sell! One of my favorites is the Chrome Tiki. Dirty Donny gave me the skinny on how to do chrome sucessfully and so when his feedback on that piece was positive I was really happy, since I consider him a master of that technique on par with Robert Williams chrome work. I guess the pieces I am happiest with are the ones I get good feedback from by people who have opinions that I consider to be important.Other such examples are when I was commissioned to make a Tiki by a direct descendent of King Kamehameha (!) or when Mark Ledenbach bought one of my Halloween carvings , who is the author of Vintage Halloween Collectibles (he was on Antiques Roadshow FYI so there!). When that sort of thing happens, it tells me I am nailing a particular subject matter.
6. Does your general lifestyle coincide with the type of art you create?
I guess so! I make sacrifices to make the time to produce my art. I live primitive. I've been single for nearly a decade I have no time to invest in a relationship but I am sure I'd change my tune if the right woman comes along. Gets lonely in the cork lab....
7. Where do you feel Art is going today?
Is low brow art more popular in general society these days? Why?Well that's a hard question to answer as I am speaking for so many artists. I`ve noticed that contemporary artists are media savy and there is something akin to a grass roots movement of artistic self promotion via the internet . You can trace cool stuff back as far as you care to. There is so much more to art and culture than the 1950's-60's and for that I tend not to pay attention solely to the term Lowbrow to catagorize what I do and more time tracing the interwoven lineage of interesting scenes that once fourished like the Surrealists, art movements, lost obscure publications,early recorded music, film, history and filtering new discoveries into individual pieces that I produce. The term Lowbrow Art used in conjunction with Custom Car and Tattoo Culture ... This has been a media cultivated lifestyle tailored to the demand of a growing portion of society`s wants/needs. I`m all for tattoo flash and pinstriping but in essence the methods and consequences of advertising this and something mundane like denture creme are the same. I've tried to answer that question to the best of my limited ability, you would be probably better off reading Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" though!
8.What advise can you give to other aspiring artists?
Well , I can give this nugget which i actually read somewhere,but this applies to everybody. Find something you love to do and do it as if your sanity and life depend on it because it really does..
9. Plans for the future? Any Upcoming exhibits?
THE TIKI PLAGUE! Right now I'm finishing up my new series of over 40 tikis for my solo exhibit at The Jem Gallery I'm really excited to be having the first show of the summer in a really cool gallery space run by Carola Goetze and gallery assistant Holly Ruth Anderson .TIKI PLAGUE runs June 21-July 4 2007, and the opening reception is Friday june 22, 7pm which promises to be quite an event . The Jem Gallery is at 225 E. Broadway, Vancouver BC. My dad should be flying in for that one and hey, there is going to be a Bloody Fisted Patrick Swayze Tiki Bar Sign ! (You must watch him as Dalton in "Roadhouse" - hilarious!) 2 of my works will be printed in Electric Frankenstein's Sal Canzonieri's upcoming books "A Fistful of Rock & Roll" and a 2nd Electric Frankenstein Art Book! I am doing the cover art for a book by Drew Gates called The Crooked Beat, published by GFY Press. I am doing the poster art and T-shirt for BIG IRON a custom car and cycle show with an aftershow party in the Tiki Lounge at the Waldorf Hotel on august 11, 2007 .I have another interview coming up in the june issue of The Nerve Magazine to co-incide with the Tiki Plague. I am in a number of group art shows that pop up. I am confirmed for Frida Kahlo's 100th birthday Group Art show at Jem Gallery July 6th and to include work in "Lowbrow in the High Seas 4 " The pirate art show September 15th at Pat's Pub in Vancouver, the venue was to be the legendary Marine club but sadly it has closed! Also in the very early stages of putting together my 2009 Pin-Up Calendar. I hope to launch the calandar at a tie-in art show to exhibit the original work. In the future I will be doing some custom artwork on guitars for my friend Billy Bones at Sparrow Guitars in Vancouver which I am really excited to do! Anyone may contact me to commission a custom carving or artwork . My stuff is also currently available at the Jem Gallery Store and soon to be available Funhauser in Vancouver,"If Looks Could Kill art Boutique" in Calgary,and "Boutique Atomic" in Montreal. Looking to expand retail availability of my stuff by casting and molding pieces to distribute to retail locations abroad and working and making work available for purchase through my domain site (under construction) www.bobscottartwork.com I also do extra work for TV and film from time to time through Double Agents Talent in Vancouver which I find fun as well! Go to www.myspace.com/bobscottartwork for latest developments.
I want to thank you Samia for thinking to include me in your top notch zine and best wishes with the superb compliation LP coming out and let me know if you ever need art for any of your endeavors I'd proudly have my name attached to those! Shout out to Donny C, Danny , Kary, Miss Vicki and all the other Gravyzine contributers of the past that I know!
TIKI PLAGUE www.myspace.com/sinisterlab
bobscottartwork.com (under construction)
Mark Ledenbach www.halloweencollector.com