To celebrate the release of new Vans that feature his artwork, my friend and DIY artist Rich Jacobs had an art show at Proper LBC last Monday. I thought the pieces, which were Rich’s largest yet, deserved to be appreciated for more than one evening for a handful of friends. So I took some pictures and asked the Oakland-based painter, doodler, and zinemaker some questions.
Our mutual pal Erik Caruso, who was around for the painting, was describing the process to me and it sounds like it was painful.
Well, normally my process is to paint with the canvas or wood on a wall vertically. In this case, the pieces were so tall (15 feet) that I had to paint them on the ground in a parking lot behind my friend’s warehouse. Imagine bending over constantly for a week while you make seven pieces that are like 15 feet by 12 feet or 4 feet by 15 feet. It was kinda insane, but I am almost recovered now after a few days.Sometimes, you gotta sacrifice comfort for your art. Usually, actually. Anyhow, it was worth it. I think. At the end, we had to hoist one or two of the large pieces on top of huge tumbleweeds that had blown in to the parking lot. I used them almost like a table since I couldn’t bend anymore. Luckily, that worked out.
I love how the pieces were huge and ambitious yet retained a real DIY vibe with a spontaneous feel and rough edges. You used Home Depot drop cloths as canvasses and we can even see your footprints on them. Am I far off?
You are not far off. They were very large but very loose. I wanted to make to them kinda feel like massive drawings, and I think it worked. My style is quick and kinda gestural, and keeps the spirit of the original line or sketch without too much revision. Whatever comes out is what you see, generally. I like to keep it raw and do very little touch up very rarely.
Did you know exactly what you were going to paint or was it totally freestyle? A mix?
I never really plan out large work, and I had no idea what I was doing. I like to surprise myself and get something new or something that I didn’t expect to happen or be there. Every time it is different.
Were the pieces up just for one day? Will they be seen again?
They were up for a few hours that night for the launch. Maybe they will see the light of day again. I am not sure where–somewhere with very tall walls, that is a given.
The prints, the zines, the CD of music you made with Tim Kerr–all of those touches were so nice. Please tell me why you did so much when a lot of us would have been happy just to see the art.
I wanted to make the shoe release fun and less of a commercial thing. I wanted to surprise folks with a few takeaways that were homemade to inspire them to make stuff. Rather than just be about me or my shoe designs, I wanted to give some hope or inspiration to make things yourself.
I think those items were unexpected, like the sculptures I made for the event. It was really the first time I had ever made or shown those, and I like to put new energy out there each time, if possible, and give those who follow my work some new information or things to consider. Not to assume there are lots of people caring about that, but I definitely do. I personally like it when an artist mixes it up. It makes him or her more interesting and last longer in terms of scope, etc.
You told me you visited some local record stores during your stay. Any scores?
I usually go to too many record shops, but this trip was kinda all about the work. I did manage to make it to one or two, though, and didn’t really come up on anything. But I have too many records as it is, and just like looking at the sleeves. That’s more than half of it for me; seeing new art or designs is just as fun as buying new records.I love it when bands go all-out with their graphics and art. The whole package matters. I am a weirdo, and I can’t stand bad computer and two-second layouts. In my opinion, designs always look better when they are made by humans instead of machines. Or at least it helps if the designer is aware of life or humans. Are computers there yet?
I hope these answers answer the mysteries and puzzles of life. Just kidding. Go easy, and remember to take the time to take time.
Left to right: Skater/musician/photographer Ray Barbee, me, Rich Jacobs, Jordan Cooper of Revelation Records, Tristan Caruso of Proper LBC, photographer/musician Ben Clark, artist/musician Sandy Yang.