Thursday, December 13, 2012

Interview with Mason Saltarrelli

q)Introduce yourself, name,age, location.

a)Hello, my name is Mason Saltarrelli, I'm 33. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and in 1997 I moved to New York. I now live and work in Brooklyn, New York

q) Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really get into it?

a)Growing up in New Orleans I started photographing jazz musicians at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe and at local festivals. I was 12 years old. I met Doc Cheatham, and started traveling to New York to photograph him at Sweet Basil in Greenwich Village and we became good friends. As a teenager I would leave the Palm Court at 11pm and meet up with friends in the French Quarter where there was no shortage of characters to document through out the rest of the weekend nights. As my visits to New York increased, so did my understanding of Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Decisive Moment" theory. Photojournalism became my obsession. I was the photo editor of Fordham University's new paper for two years and had a mentorship with the photo director of the NY Times for a year. My senior project was an exhibition of my travels in New Orleans, New York, Prague, and Zurich. At this time everything was switching over to digital photography. It seemed to me that the photojournalists were spending more time on their computers and less time shooting. That broke my desire to be a photojournalist. I knew I wouldn't keep up shooting film and I was just finishing college, so I stayed in NY and kept my part time job as a binocular renter at Madison Square Garden. I didn't stop shooting, but I also realized I didn't know what I was going to do. A roommate offered me two weeks of work as an artist's assistant for a world-renowed artist. I had no idea what that meant, and as long as it didn't require computer skills, I figured I could do it. Slowly but surely I began to realize that painting offered a gift of expression that photography did not. When I came to realize that, that's when I really got into it. 

q) Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.

a)My approach to art is through philosophy. That idea leads people to ask, "ok then, what is your philosophy?"
To that question I have no concrete answer because just as often as life changes, so can one's ideas about it. I do however believe that our spirits are our strength if we allow them to be. Much of my work is about dying. That's sounds morbid, but it's not meant to be. I believe that the departure from the human form is the greatest gift one will ever receive if they lead a good life. I make paintings and drawings that symbolize paths of the spirits of people and animals and nature that I admire. The Hopi Indian's Kachina doll is a very important aspect of my work. Initially I painted the same doll over and over. I did that so I could teach myself how to paint in the conventional sense. I then began to break the doll apart in my work, I let it explode basically. This to me is a symbol of how powerful the spirit of a person can be. I believe being in the human form is an opportunity to expand your spirit or compromise your spirit. I make work that I need to make to remind myself of that message, because in this world that's an easy one to forget. And hopefully in reminding myself of that message, when my art leaves my studio, I can share that message with others. My work is very personal. I use it as a way to pay respect to people who have passed before me. Most of my work is simply my way of saying thank you, both to people I have known such as my father and to people I have never met such as prisoners of war.

q) Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?

a)Sometimes I use music as white noise if I'm painting in my studio in Brooklyn and need to drown outside noises out.  Sometimes I actively listen to the music that my mood dictates. That allows for a broad spectrum: Al Green, Coco Rosie, Otis Redding, Waylon Jennings, TV on the Radio, Wild Tchoupitoulas, Frank Sinatra.
If I'm working in Montauk, NY outside. I might play some of the same music, but there I prefer to channel the energy and hear nature, so often in Montauk, music is too distracting.

q) How would you describe your work to someone?
a)It's a type of harmony by way of chaos. Each one is it's own spirit map. That's why you see some re-occurring images in the work yet each one is unique.

q) Influences?

a)Visually: Walker Evans and Philip Guston.
Far more important, mentally: My Dad, my Aunt, and my Dog, Bird. All free to roam. 

q) Describe your process for creating new work.

a)All my paper work begins by tinting the paper and giving it a patina of undetermined age. The more broken down, the better. Most of my canvases are left outdoors to be exposed to the elements in places I consider special in Montauk. I like to let the earth and it's inhabitants help play a role in my decisions of where marks will go and what colors they will be made with.  My work is often a response to what nature has created on the paper or canvas. It's a conversation between the two of us. This is fun for me because it gives the work a life of it's own, it becomes less mine, which I appreciate. It makes me more just part of the process rather than the ruler. Once the proper marination of nature is set in the material, that's when I get down. I don't like to get too set up to paint, I let my intuition do most of the work. When all cylinders are firing, I use my last name. It's an Italian word for a type of jumping dance. I love to dance on my paintings. I'll even kick them, they kick back.

q) What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?

a)It's hard. The art world is full of people in clicks patting each other on the back. Staying in their boring comfort zones. First and foremost, remember, if it's your art you love, be true to it. The "art world" is a business honest art making is not, it's a form of mental science given life by human skills and limitations. If it's your art you love make it, believe it, know it, and love it. Be patient, try to find the right people for it, dealer and audience. Rushing it will just waste your time. My work is not currently exposed on the level I would like, but that's something I've learned to accept through trial and error. If there will be a time for some commercial success, it will come when that time is right. If not, I will keep working and pushing myself to explore what and who I am. Haste makes waste.

q) What are you really excited about right now?

a)I'm currently in New Orleans, so I am excited that I am in a beautiful city that moves at a far slower pace from NY and has Po-Boys. They say NY has everything, not true. I've never had a good Po-Boy there.

q) What do you love most about where you live?

a)I love Prospect Park. Nature is the greatest artist. No human will ever come close to creating what nature has given us. The park helps me remember that. 

q) Best way to spend a day off?
a)My friend has a great Italian restaurant, Scalino in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I could sit there all day. 

q) Upcoming shows/ projects?

a)I'm currently in a group show at Tripoli Gallery in South Hampton with a great group of artists: 
And something's in the works in Washington DC with:

q) Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

Update coming soon. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interview with Danny van Ryswyk

q)Introduce yourself, name,age, location.

a)My name is Danny van Ryswyk, 40 years of age. I am a Dutch surreal artist living and working in the historic heart of Amsterdam.

q) Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really get into it?

a)You don't 'become' an artist, it's not a profession like a computer programmer or construction worker. You are born with a talent just as you are born with a sexual orientation. It is something you are. But it needs an incredible amount of dedication to develop this talent. Been born with a talent does not mean that you can lay back and relax, it is not an easy life. It also means that I am very one-dimensional in my talents and interests. This is what I understand and do best. And I try to survive from within these boundaries. In the early 90ties I started working as a full time illustrator, specialized in Photorealism. I did an incredible amount of packaging illustrations of fruit, cookies, candies, you name it. The deadlines in the commercial field are always tight and never far away form been totally unrealistic. I worked so hard for so many years that I started to develop serious health problems like chronic stress and RSI. How bad they might seem, it was important that it happened to me as I needed to wake-up and understand that I was going the wrong way and was completely destroying myself and my artistic integrity. It was then I began to investigate how I could do the things I always wanted them to do, tell my own story instead of telling the story of a cooky manufacturer. 

q) Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.

a)My ideals do not manifest in my work. I try to have as little ideals and goals as possible. It is important to
stay away from such illusions. We humans have a habit of always looking at tomorrow and have these future dreams. It is important we live in reality and not in illusions. The fact is, we never know what might happen just a second away from now.

q) Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?

a)Sure, I listen to a wide variety of music styles. I highly prefer minimalistic dup techno like Basic Channel, and electronic ambient music like the works of Thom Brennan, it's hypnotic.

q) How would you describe your work to someone?

a)Obscure surrealism. My work is best described as a fuse of absurdity, melancholy and Victorian portraiture.

q) Influences?

a)My UFO encounter I had when I was a kid. This has a very important influence in my life and work. This was the point I became interested in anything which is said to exist 'above and beyond' nature.
I have a large collection of books about paranormal and extraterrestrial subjects. I love 19th century photography, especially hoaxed ghost 'spirit' photography from that period. I just love weird things and odd antiques. Dreams.

q) Describe your process for creating new work.

a)I have a mental image of an idea and I work from there. I never make a sketch, it takes away intuition. I start in ZBrush, which is three dimensional software. It is a complex program that allows the artist to 'sculpt' it's subjects in virtual reality. It works almost like real clay and gives an incredible freedom of expression. This is where my idea gets form and shape. After finishing my 3D-sculpture I import it in another three dimensional software program where I set-up light, camera and texturing. At this point everything comes together. Then I render the scene in high resolution and this is brought over in two dimensional software: Photoshop. In Photoshop I start to paint and manipulate my render for as long as needed to complete the right mood and obscure atmosphere I am aiming at. The whole process from start to finish takes many weeks to complete.

q) What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?

a)Dedication, do something different. Stick to yourself and work from there.

q) What are you really excited about right now?

a)A holiday. I need a beach, a blue hawaii cocktail and some sunshine. I spend too much time in my studio.

q) What do you love most about where you live?

a)I live in the historic heart of Amsterdam. It is a very crowded place and lots of weird things happen here!
Amsterdam is beautiful. It is a big 17th century museum with a strange mix of tourists, yuppies, locals, laid-back people an lunatics. Amsterdam is never boring, you can go to a nightclub or wander in the small streets. Drink a beer on a bench and look over the channels, visit a museum and see the works of Rembrandt. 
I have traveled all over the world, but a place like Amsterdam is unique.

q) Best way to spend a day off?

a)Spend the day with my girlfriend, exploring the city, have some coffee, go to the movies and having a diner.

q) Upcoming shows/ projects?

a)I am working hard on new works all the time.

q) Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

a)I don't keep track of where my work is published. All new work is published on my site.
There is an upcoming book of Dutch artists where my work will be published in, I recently got
published in an San Francisco based art magazine called Sex + Design, art blogs like you contact me, lots of good things are happening!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Jesse Corinella

q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?

a)I'm Jesse Corinella, born and raised on Long Island in Roslyn, New York.  I went to school at the University of Delaware and, after a bit of traveling, I ended up back here in New York.  Presently, I live in Carroll Gardens, in Brooklyn.

q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?

a)By day, I work as a retoucher at Wieden+Kennedy, but by night, I work as an illustrator.  Most of my work is done in pencils, inks and watercolors, though more and more, I'm working digitally.  I don't think I'll every completely work digitally, but it's a tremendous time-save to digitally colorize analog drawings.

q)What do you think sets your work apart?

a)Everybody brings something unique to the table, be it conceptually or through their craftsmanship; lately, I think it's the way that I render, more than my subject matter, that's gained attention.  I really enjoy rendering, so whenever I get involved in a project, I'll spend tons of time focused on the minutiae of a piece.  As long as I can maintain a sense of scale throughout the rendering process, I always feel that the pieces come out stronger in the end.  Patience goes a long way, but to me, drawing is meditative.  I could never spend so much time doing this if I didn't enjoy it so much.  

q)How long have you been showing your work for?  Did you have a “big break?” 

a)I've been showing work since I was a kid, but not in any serious sense.  I was always the kid in school doodling in class, so I was always getting involved in small projects here and there.  I still haven't had any great break, but to be fair, I think I need to be producing more work to get there.  I don't think it's a single moment as much as it is persistence.  There's a lot of competition, so it's really important to keep fresh and updated with your work.

q)What are some things that have inspired you?

a)Oh, man.  Nature is a huge inspiration; pine cones, crickets, lightening bugs, dogs.  Outer space is huge too - I'm a really big science buff.  Lighting is huge too: the golden hour is my absolute favorite time of the day - that moment when the sun blares orange and red on everything it touches.  That blood orange on a concrete wall against a brilliant blue sky is something I think about every time I color a piece.  It's pretty unbeatable.  I don't follow design journals all too much, nor illustrators or photographers, really.  I probably should, at least to know what's going on out there.  I used to be a pretty big video game fan, but I've distanced myself from that world a good deal.  It's so easy to get lost in absorbing other peoples' products, so much so that you don't produce anything yourself.

q)What have you been working on recently?

a)For the past year and a half, I've been working on an epic science fiction graphic novel, OHM.  The story takes place on a dying Earth in the near future, in a world run by corporatized nations.  One such nation, OHM, is the centerpiece of the story.  I've been having a blast conceptualizing space ships, futuristic fashion and all sorts of fantastic architectural settings.  It's been a real project of passion, so at the end of the day, I'm hoping to knock this out've the park.

Also, I've been doing a bit of collaborating with a Brooklyn-based band, Snowmine.  I grew up with some of these guys, so it's great to see that they've gained so much traction.  They're really talented, so I hope that they keep getting the press that they deserve..

q)Do you listen to music while you create your work?  If so, would you give some examples? 
I do; I listen to a lot of ambient music.  Explosions in the Sk and Loney Dear come to mind.  I listen to a lot of talk radio too; WNYC is my go-to NPR and PRI affiliate.  I'm a really big fan of Radiolab and This American Life, so whenever I get a chance, I try to catch up with those programs.  Recently, I've been kind've obsessed with Joe Frank; I accidentally came across his work while working really late one night.  He's a brilliant, tremendously talented storyteller.  He produces both fiction and non-fiction and he goes to tremendous lengths to produce these wild, fantastical, rambling, biting stories.  Sometimes, they're light and fun and eccentric - but often, they're profound and dark and heart breaking.  They're great fuel to work through a long night in.

q)Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?

a)I do a great deal of writing, though it usually shows up in my illustrative work.  I do a bit of photography, too; I was simultaneously trained as both an illustrator and a photographer, though the pencil dominates more of my time than the camera nowadays.

q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?

a)Keep working.  Stay really busy producing work that you're happy with.  Find the time to make a large body of your work, but even more importantly, share it.  As long as you have a cohesive idea or style, you'll be able to find someone, somewhere to help host it.  Once you've produced, get your work out there as quickly as possible; just make sure that it doesn't disappear into a drawer somewhere before other people get to see it.

q)Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?

a)Nope; I've been spending most of my time working towards a publication.  Once that piece is up-and-running, it'd be great to display all've the original pieces that went into it: character designs, setting designs, models and all sorts of production artwork.

q)Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Johnnie JungleGuts

q)Introduce yourself, name,age, location.
a)I'm Johnnie JungleGuts, I'm 24 years old, and I live in Highland
Park, Los Angeles.
q) Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really
get into it?
a) I first started taking art classes in high school because I wanted to
be a comic book writer. Then during my senior year of high school I
did a volunteer project with Dolphins in the Bahamas. The dolphins
were really queer and it was really inspirational for me. They seemed
so free, and I didn't feel so alone as a gay human learning that there
were many other queer animals. I felt like I owed the animals
something for these revelations and my artistic focus shifted to being
about animal welfare and wildlife conservation.
q) Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.
a) I'm a proud queer and I'm a conservationist, with my focus being
wildlife. I also know that even if someone doesn't look like you or
talk like you they could still be feeling and thinking the same sort
of things that you're feeling, even when we're talking about other
species. Most of my work features animals in some way but I try to
take this subject matter a step further and make people consider and
appreciate other kinds of living in new ways. Steve Irwin said that
people want to save the things that they love and I make my work under
that creedo. If I can help people love nature they're going to be more
likely to make choices that support our threatened ecosystems. If I
can get people to understand big gay me then they might understand the
gays a little better.
q) Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?
a)My favorite thing to listen to while I work is slowed and throwed
versions of R+B and Diva House tracks.  My favorite song is a chopped
and screwed version of Show Me Love by Robin S. My favorite band is My
Bloody Valentine. My favorite solo artist is Dolly Parton.
q) How would you describe your work to someone?
a)I usually tell people that I make drawings of animals and videos with
animals and I have a radio show where I interview people about
conservation issues. When they ask me what kind of animals I work with
I'll tell them a few and go from there. I mostly like to let the work
speak for itself and I try not to brag too much about petting wolves.
q) Influences?
a)I hate to admit it because I don't like everything she does but I
think that M.I.A. was a huge influence on me because I was obsessed
with her in high school. We're both  multimedia artists who try to be
political and cool at the same time- it's a risky business but I
suppose it's a good model if you want to gain influence for a cause.
AA Bronson is an artist whose influenced me a lot. He's an artist and
a healer and it's often hard to tell when the art begins and the
healing ends. I'd like to simultaneously be an artist and healer as
well, and I see my painting and performance work as part of the same
practice that includes the hands on conservation and care taking work
I've done with animals.
q) Describe your process for creating new work.
a)My painting process sort of revolves around me trying to paint
something, making little mistakes, and then leaving them in because it
actually makes the paintings weirder in these subtle ways. In my video
and performance work I usually try to take something that I'm already
doing in my life and make it weirder. I already sing in the bath tub
but why don't I do it in front of an audience? I'm already in South
America getting groomed by monkeys but what if I was singing while
they were doing it?
q) What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)To get out there in the art world you have to get out there in the art
world. Go to as many art events as possible. But don't forget to
actually make work.
q) What are you really excited about right now?
a)I always look forward to my radio show on Kchung Radio that happens
every Wednesday, at 8:30 pst. You can listen to it online at or if you're in Chinatown Los Angeles you can listen
in at 1630 AM.
q) What do you love most about where you live?
a)Being an environmentalist I often feel like some sick secret part of
me wants the human race to fail, and for that reason I have a fetish
for apocalyptic wastelands. Los Angeles is an apocalyptic wasteland.
So I love it!
q) Best way to spend a day off?
a) Hiking or camping though I rarely get the chance to do either.
q) Upcoming shows/ projects?
a) I run a drawing club called  and we're having a show in mid June at
the Concord Gallery in Cypress Park. My band, American Grizzly, is
going to start recording very soon for our first record.
q) Where can people see more of your work on the internet?
a) is the best place to look at my  work. Also,
JohnnieJungleGuts is my video channel on YouTube.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Interview with Viktor Hachmang

q)Introduce yourself, name, age, location.

a)My name is Viktor Hachmang, I'm 23 years old and I'm based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

q)Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really get into it?

a)I'm not sure if I see myself as an artist, since I work in the grey area between art, illustration, graphic and product design. But I started out being obsessed by drawing and comics when I was young which gradually grew into a love for graphic design and (more recently) also a strong interest for the rest of the applied arts field.

q)Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.

a)I'm not attracted to any ideology, really. I try to avoid political commentary in my work. To me, the most valuable thing about art is the fact that it doesn't have anything to do with "real life", it's the realm of imagination and illusion.

q)Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?

a)Music plays a big role in my creative process. When I'm working I tend to listen to one song continuously, mostly very long winding pieces or post-punk tracks with a lot of repetition. I guess music helps me focus.

q)How would you describe your work to someone?

a)Maximalist and very heavy on patterns.


a)My main influences are Italian postmodern design from the 80s (Sottsass/Memphis/Alchimia) and 60s Japanese psychedelic art (Tadanori Yokoo/Keiichi Tanaami). But also Pablo Picasso, Hergé, Joost Swarte, Swip Stolk and Yuichi Yokoyama, among many others.

q)Describe your process for creating new work.

a)I'm interested in a lot of different aesthetics and in my work I like to reference famous artworks. So when I'm creating new work I mostly do a lot of research and then combine all these references and styles and try to make it look somewhat cohesive.

q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?

a)The internet.

q)What are you really excited about right now?

a)Excited to see what the ceramic plate and textile I designed for Landfill Editions look like printed.

q)What do you love most about where you live?

a)That it's a big but quiet city.

q)Best way to spend a day off?

a)Museum, bookshop or the zoo.

q)Upcoming shows/projects?

a)I'm in a traveling group show called Power Redux together with Michael Willis, Hugh Frost, Øivin Horvei and Espen Friberg. It will be shown in Oslo and London this summer.

q)Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

a)My website