Where were you born? Year, Country, State. Where do you live currently
I was born in Lancaster, Ohio (USA) in 1974, but grew up primarily in Indianapolis, IN. I have been living in Chicago, IL now for 13 years.
What initially drew you to drawing pretty pictures
I was drawn to the arts at an early age through my mother’s artistic influence. As a little kid, I started out by drawing rock bands on the back of placemats at restaurants when we would eat out.
Who is your favorite skateboarder, living or dead? Any ties to skateboarding
It is hard to say who my favorite skateboarder is, but seeing Natas Kaupus spin around on a fire hydrant in the “Streets of Fire” video made a strong impression on me when I was young. Mark Gonzales, Christian Hosoi and all of the Bones Brigade guys were also a big influence growing up. I got my first skinny orange skateboard with roller skate wheels when I was around 7 or 8. I got more and more into skating as I grew older and lost all interest in team sports. In high school, I started skating half pipes and jump ramps that were built around construction sites or in neighborhoods. Back then, in Indiana, if someone had a ramp it was open to everybody. There were no fears of getting sued or anything like that. We had a ramp that was in a cornfield and we’d trek way out there to skate it with our Pixies cassettes and jam boxes. I also grew up around a lot of office buildings with steps and loading docks and we'd tear it up until security kicked us out and then it was off to the next spot. What drew me to skateboarding was how independent it is and that it does not require a team or a field. This appealed to me immensely at an early age, giving me freedom from the monotony of high school and other teenage obligations. Technically, I still skateboard everyday. Although I no longer drop in and grind on half pipes, I do use my board to get to the back of my studio, which a long 3,000 square foot space. It saves me lots of time walking back and forth.
When you're not creating amazing works of art, what do you enjoy doing
When I am not in the studio, I enjoy playing and listening to music. I played electric bass for the band “Old Pike” in the late nineties and our guitar player, Carl Broemel, is now the lead guitarist of “My Morning Jacket”. Although my path has led me to the visual arts, I have recently become interested in playing music again by layering drum and bass loops with an effects pedal and various percussive elements. I also spend time practicing yoga and meditation, to calm my mind from all of the stimuli of our culture.
Who are your biggest influences
My biggest visual influences are: Mucha, Gustav Klimt, the Art Nouveau Movement (1890-1910), Hokusai, antique parts, Chicago architecture, rust & urban decay, Lake Michigan, ocean horizons, and water reflections. Various philosophers, teachers, and fields of study have also had a profound influence on my work, including Alan Watts (a Zen philosopher), Eckhart Tolle, Krishnamurti, Pema Chodron, Joseph Campbell (a comparative mythologist), alchemy, mythology, and symbology.
What mediums do you enjoy working in?
I paint primarily in acrylics. I often use an airbrush to achieve the illusion of space and depth, by painting some elements in focus and others out of focus. I always work with a heat gun in close proximity, to speed along the drying process of the paint. In a lot of my work, I also integrate antique parts (like gauges and handles) and salvaged materials (like recycled leather and chain) to give the pieces a “machine-like” feel. Many of these mixed media works are part of my “Time Machines” series, which I create to look as if they are old, found artifacts or “machines” from the 1890’s.
Anything else you want to tell?
I spent the bulk of this past winter creating a sonically-inspired, mythological installation for a recording studio here in Chicago, which you can check out in this video: