The Standard 06/07/2013
W27: The Art Issue 04/03/2013
Interview by Fernanda DeSouza
Original Post: March, 2013
FD: Was there a piece of art that you encountered that made you stop and say “Wow! This is what I need to be doing?”
S: When I moved back to Los Angeles in 1999 I was inspired by the size of hand painted advertisements circulating monthly on Buildings. Los Angeles has a 50 year history of impressive large murals but the large graphic advertisements of the time inspired me most. Now the ads are even larger and more disposable – digital prints on mesh or plastic and wrapped around anything. As an art form, I like the idea of weaving in and out of indoor and outdoor spaces and not being limited to preconceptions of art or advertisement. This sensibility was somewhat unique in 1999 but is quite adulterated now.
FD: Do you feel that the art scene has drastically changed since being part of it?
S: Of course. It’s constantly changing – specifically with the context of “street art” being defined in our current mass culture. I’ve also become more aware of the art business gears which are a bit of a turnoff really. It’s quite an unregulated corrupt industry, but it supposedly always been. The thing changing most is my understanding of it – which determines what I’m buying into and what I’m creating.
FD:You had a very bad injury during your trip to London last summer for your show. Can you explain how you overcame that and how it affected your creative process and ability to put out work?
S: Yes I broke both of my feet in London in July. I’d been working with casts of my feet during the prior 6 months – working toward the New York show in May and London show in July. I jumped off a wall and broke my feet two nights prior to the London opening. As artists we each follow some sort of creative emergency which is only truly understood by ourselves until it is all said and done. I’ve entered 2013 with a renewed intuition trust.
FD: Has social media impacted street art in a positive or negative way and has it posed as a threat in maintaining your identity a secret?
S: Well I’m not concerned about keeping my identity a secret really. It’s a choice I made 15 years ago as cellphones and internet became prevalent – working against it, behind the scenes, as an art form. This overall model challenges common practice as an artist since artist characters are celebrated far more than any singular art piece. I’m not completely dodging the bullet tho since I use a recognizable moniker. @skullphone likes social media.
FD: I got to help you at your studio when I was in LA two months ago. Has the idea of the “artist studio” changed and how do you distinguish the difference between your actual studio and the streets as your studio per say?
S: My studio has been a work in progress for 10 years and I just closed a chapter of working within the solitude of my studio for five years. The urgency of the street art movement is over. Anyone who has been part of it knows the feeling of rushing to get it done. This is why it is called a “movement”, right? I’m not saying that street art itself is over, but there is a refocusing – Now what? This hit me in 2008 and I decided to create a formal body of work that anyone could appreciate without a “street art” narrative. The spirit of my work is the same, and it is a linear progression, but you could literally drop acid and love the show, or bring your grandparents in. The work encourages varied interpretations conceptually and visually without any footnotes.
FD: Street art is still illegal and it will probably stay that way for a while. Does the illegality of it make your job more exhilarating?
S: Technically street art is illegal when it’s on uncommissioned outdoor spaces. So much of what we see now is a grand endorsement from the corporate and privatized business world at large. Street artists generally spend large amounts of time and money getting up on walls that then get buffed so we’d prefer to work on walls with green lights from the owners. So there is a new sick business model where we are offered or request legit walls with our own production cost. It takes advantage of the artists under a normal capitalist umbrella since normally a “muralist” would be paid for supplies and time. But within the street art bubble it make sense. Anyway, legal walls aside, yes, I still practice uncommissioned outdoor art with my own rationalizations, which is essentially why I haven’t emerged from a cake.
FD: Do you notice a lot of different styles between East and West Coast street art or do you see the same influences behind the works to be about the same?
S: I notice blank spaces more than anything else. And, in L.A., who’s claiming the four blocks of my hood.
FD: Your artwork touches upon things we do/see/use in our day to day lives—billboard ads, religion, the Digital Age. Can you say you pull inspiration from average day life and how are you trying to get your message across from the work you produce?
S: I’ve described my art as painting a mirage.
FD: As a street artist, how do you define “success?”
S: Well I don’t work in a vacuum nor am I fed with a silver spoon. I partially define success by the amount of cold hard cash in my pocket, and the amount of checks I cut with “gift”, “donation”, or “studio assisting” written on the notes line. I don’t think anyone can ever clearly grasp their reach into the world. It’s ever changing. But the balance I have is as artist and as art business. It’s quite a balance if one cares. Otherwise you’re a puppeteering puppet, going through the motions alone.
FD: Define “Skullphone” in one sentence (what is the essence of Skullphone).
S: Open 24 hours.
10 Years of Wooster: Skullphone 03/25/2013
Original Post: March 25, 2013
As we celebrate our 10th Anniversary of the Wooster Collective website, we asked a group of artists who we showcased in the beginnings of the website the following question:
What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago?
The following response comes from Skullphone:
Educations cost you money. Learn and move on.
Saying “Fuck Off” is Zen in the right situation
Success is Audacious even when wrong
Hard work driven by mass validation is unimaginative
Friends that do not say “I’m sorry” or “thank you” are not friends
We learn best the hard way, so don’t always solve their problems
Helping someone secretly feels so good. They’ll never know.
Prune for proper growth and let your gut do the cutting
You know yourself better than anyone else, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise
You give best when you give to yourself first
If you are too pure you will never fly, drive, or physically go anywhere
It’s all corrupt, so don’t worry about it.
The writing is usually on the wall.
Answer your wakeup calls
If you’re alive, things can always be worse
I & B Talks: Skullphone – Standards 12/03/2012
I & B TALKS with Skullphone. About life, art and Miami.
original post: 12/02/12
Skullphone as an image describes us people really well. And since 1999 when it first appeared on the streets of LA, we people have not really changed or just got worse probably. Honestly, are you one of those who is addicted to his phone or any kind of gadget?
Hahaha… totally. I’m not pointing fingers at others, I’m pointing at myself. How else will I hash through the work appropriately.
On your website I read an interview with you and a question stood out asking what is your motto, you replied “TGIM”. Does everyday kick ass for you?
Yes pretty much every day kicks ass for me. Especially Mondays.
While you were in London for your exhibition you broke both of your feet. Do you still risk jumping from walls?
Oh God. I looked over my shoulder two days ago and said, “holy shit! I just walked 10 blocks”
You are showing in Scope Miami with Ivory & Black. Tell us your top 5 favourite spots in Miami.
Mmmmmiiiiiaaaaammmmmiiiii. Lets see, Beach Scooter Rentals at 1341 Washington Place is the first stop to pick up cheap and easy transportation for South Beach. A common day is leaving hotel around 12pm, in the sun, with a t-shirt on, and returning at 5 am in the rain saying WTF am I thinking? The main attraction, Art Basel, the actual art fair is interesting. You should go. What else. Swimming, stretching, running along the beach is always good but never done enough. Watch out for thousands of jellyfish - and there were “killer amoebas” in the water 2 years ago which you wanted to keep away from your ear canals. If you are a west coast California circa 1960 art fan you might want to check out the Miami Dade Library for Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go. And you can pretty much walk up to any party on the beach if you swim in. The Soho House Miami is a great starting point, from which you will be returning in the rain, on a scooter, with a t-shirt on at 5 am.
You live in LA, which is for outsiders really an either love or hate place. You leave your trademark on the city, how do you feel about living in LA?
I dig it.
Where does your technique come from for your dots works?
There wasn’t a formal painter I could reference for the technique, that I knew of. I worked for a year on the panel and paint combo that would give the desired reflective optical effect – I knew what I wanted. Some solutions were full circle, some were left field.
Can you tell me more about American Standard? It comes from Ideal Standard, which is a sanitary brand.
Yes, American Standard is a toilet and sink manufacturer, and is the Western equivalent to Britain’s Ideal Standard. Or vice versa – I don’t know which came first. The American Standard logo was appropriated years ago… since America is going down the drain, which is said tongue in cheek, but it is really isn’t it? It was then inserted into one of the Digital Media series, and figured I’d document working & traveling in the UK with the Ideal Standard response. #pisshere @skullphone #callandresponse #american #ideal #standard #digitalmedia #DTD
interview by D.Meyer
What’s your current state of mind?
So the Olympics, talk about the ultimate cluster fuck in global, national and corporate marketing … how do the games sit in your head, so-to-speak?
Haha, well, my work documents our world within my own understanding that technological advancement edges us closer to technological destruction. I wasn’t taking a show to Britain to criticize it or the games. The Olympic games celebrates mankind’s ability to go “faster, higher, stronger.” London XX12 was assembled to document the UK in 2012 and my presence as an artist traveling there immediately prior to the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
How are you feeling about the new show? There’s sculpture? That’s new yes?
Yes, the ceramic foot multiples were new for this show. I’d been working on them in between painting. I wanted the finished pieces to look oil-slicked and burnt and decided on a form of Raku for the final firing. Most of the casts were trashed in the process. After months of focusing on my feet and finalizing the gallery installation, we all were surprised when I literally broke both my feet, a day before the opening.
You broke both of your feet in London? Can you describe that?
Yes, jumping off a wall. It all made sense in retrospect.
You said that the ideal place to be an artist is isolated in a cave. Why is that? Don’t you think being inspired by the world around you is an important part of art-making?
My Digital Media paintings are literal depictions of outdoor advertising and foresight into a more comprehensive future connectivity with outdoor scapes. The paintings wouldn’t be possible without walking down the street and breathing it all in. Once artwork is created, however, there are expected art dealing idiosyncrasies. I would prefer to be ignorant of “what happens next” in a cave far far away - but that’s impossible, isn’t it. I think the quote you referenced is when I described my first gallery shows and I accepted the artwork on the street no longer being the end-all. This is currently translated with my referencing the literal image of “skullphone” as “advertisement” – albeit in the gallery, as a painting.
How do you feel about going from the street to the gallery? Do you find the formality of the process, deadlines and nosey gallerists helpful, or hindering?
All the new work is created to mess with people within the gallery similar to how art outdoors is seen quickly and subconsciously while driving down the street. We didn’t have smart phones back in 1999, when I first started working outdoors, and people were left to guess motives. Moving forward I didn’t dream of working within the gallery in the same fashion as outdoors. The pieces come together and fall apart visually,something that can’t be easily photographed or viewed comprehensively online. You have to be there in person. The aluminum panels I currently create are buffed into mirrors prior to the dot painting process, so in the end, viewers see themselves.
Technology… you weigh all the pros and cons… in the end, more good than bad? More bad than good?
Well I’m not a “doomsdayer”. My crude drawing of a skull holding a phone was reporting a then-new widespread gesture. We didn’t have portable phones generally around us prior to the mid/late ‘90’s. With this sketch I was pointing a finger at myself. I too am learning how to adjust to everything everywhere all the time. So, yes, of course I do feel like we as a culture are fighting against idiocracy.
What hangs above your sofa?
A window with a view of downtown Los Angeles and neighboring hills. My studio has an art storage so I can rotate art seasonally, or yearly throughout my home. Years ago I moved out a Lichtenstein “interiors” poster from the ’99 Chicago MOCA show, which I liked because, well, it’s beautiful, and the woman is on a telephone, and it’s an exhibit from the same year I drew the original “skull on cellphone” image. I’ve just brought back an oil painting I dumpster dove for in childhood which is a storm oversea. An Evan Gruzis watercolor was just brought in as well, a painting which I interpret as a layering of text in the sky. I properly function with inspiring art around me. This encouragement changes as life changes.
What were the last three things you googled?
“Toby Damnit Spirits of the dead”, “Nino Rota sheet music”, and “lowest common denominator”
What’s your motto?
Skullphone “London XX12″ Exhibition @ Ivory & Black Soho Recap
by Gweneth Goh
Original Post: 07/28/12
The illustrious LA-based Skullphone made his big British solo debut last Friday July 20 at the esteemed premises of Ivory & Black Soho. Unsurprisingly, his “London” XX12 exhibition was very well received by the Londoners, along with several limited edition releases including socks, tees, iPhone covers and silkscreen prints. “London XX12″ showcases Skullphone’s signature digital media paintings and a sculpture installation featuring a ceramic piece cast from his foot, which in true Skullphone fashion offers barbed social commentary on the upcoming games and human rat race in general. The show will run until August 21.
Ivory & Black Soho
94 Berwick St.
W1F 0QF, London