interview by Toff de Venecia
For our readers who aren’t familiar with you, describe yourself and what it is you do
I make art tailored to outdoor spaces, a practice whose line dots into the gallery. I sign my work as “Skullphone.”
How did the name Skullphone come about?
The first image I started placing on city streets in 1999 was an image of a human skull holding a cellphone. It’s a cellphone circa then, which is chunky. In conversing, the phrase “this is the guy who does that Skull holding a cellphone image you see posted around town” condensed to “that’s Skullphone.” It worked well since I was evading the law and appreciated the anonymity. Now I like the moniker at a time when we, as a people, enjoy all information at our fingertips at any given second.
Where or how do you draw inspiration for your art?
I am inspired by Los Angeles slash Calfifornia at the moment. I was raised in Southern California, so the landscape and the people are deeply rooted (yes that is possible in So Cal). There was a decade when I was in New York months out of every year, but I now have a fully functioning compound in California and less disposable cash due to that, so I can not travel as much. And appropriately so. There is lots to do and say here, as we are consolidated globally. Saying something here is saying something here and there.
Though it was proven later on that the “hijacked” ads were paid for, what was the supposed intention behind your 2008 initiative in L.A. that spurred conversation and controversy? In short, why the “hack” did you do it?
I’m somewhat distracted by what blog you received your information from. But I never claimed to have hacked anything, nor have I claimed I didn’t. The process of getting Skullphone on the digital billboards was indeed shady and involves a brick of laughter, but whose details were never meant to map out. Online it became a “how” rather than “why”. This is understandable since we are conditioned to street artists saying “here I am .” How about “here we are.” It was shocking to see a handful of digital billboards in fall 2007, and I took a leap as to how our landscapes might change and what it means for outdoor artists, and what it means for Los Angelenos as a whole. With the Digital Billboards, Skullphone was placed as an anchor, or what I described then as a Stigma or Stigmata. It was meant to be seen outdoors, with a broad viewpoint. The closer you get the less it all makes sense. You have to stand back to get it. This is true with my painting process as well I suppose.
You’ve transitioned from street art to a more polished form of art in your recent Digital Media exhibition in L.A. Where do you see your craft going in the next five or so years?
I work outdoors, and I do so as art. Moving into my compound is logical, and yet making art for indoors doesn’t strictly translate from the street. That’s cool for me as a museum lineage, but as a working artist it must be something more. How do I inspire within a room indoors?
Have you touched based with the likes of Ron English? What can you say about this brewing art “liberation” movement happening in various pockets of Corporate America?
What is it that you hope to achieve with your art?
I am painting a mirage
Finally, any projects coming up soon? What can we look forward to?