This week , I had the opportunity to catch up with Alex Pardee, here’s a history of Pardee, for those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, A native Californian artist best known for illustrating The Used‘s album artwork. He has also done works for Hurley International, Twenty Twenty Skateboards, Bay Area rapper TopR, Upper Playground, Street Drum Corps, Aiden, Kid Robot, and lately the cover of In Flames‘s ninth studio album, A Sense of Purpose, and its first single, entitled “The Mirror’s Truth“. He is a member of the groups Cardboard City and Zerofriends. He runs the website EyeSuck Ink which includes links to his blog and store. Through his art he has admitted to overcoming depression and anxiety disorders along with emotional struggles. Pardee is currently working on a motion picture for Chadam (often confused with Chadam Mihlberger) as well as various art shows and products. Pardee released his first official art book, titled Awful Homesick in October 2008. Recently he has started to donate his proceeds to needy charities, including Purple Heart and To Write Love on Her Arms. Thanks Wikipedia! And tomorrow, Gallery 1988 will host Pardee’s “Hiding From The Normals” solo show Oct 6th. Check it out, if you’re around. It’s going to be great!
SXH- Where are you from and what can you tell us about your hometown?
AP- I grew up in Antioch, CA, which is about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. It’s a small suburban town, but it’s actually been in the national news a lot recently since it was discovered that dude Phillip Garrido kidnapped that girl and kept her in his backyard for 18 years. I don’t know if I should do the whole “Antioch REPRESENT” thing, or to be slightly embarrassed.
SXH- As a kid, what did you want to be growing up?
AP- Realistically? Boba Fett. Other than that, shit I don’t know. I think I am still trying to figure that out. I mean, even when I was younger, I wanted to do something creative, like a cartoonist, or fine art or filmmaking or something, but I never could figure out specifically what I wanted to focus on. I think that’s why I STILL don’t know, and why I seem to always bounce around and get my hands in a ton of different projects.
SXH- Who or what do you look at for inspiration?
AP- Recently I think my inspiration has changed drastically. Visually I absorb anything and everything shiny. Movies, shitty TV, the internet, friends, taking walks, people watching, etc. I do get a lot of my inspiration from pop culture, whether it shows in my work or not. Pop culture, just in general, sparks things in me constantly.
But recently I’ve noticed that I have been a lot more trusting in myself and maybe even a lot more self-absorbed. I kind of accepted the fact that, though I can keep trying and trying, I probably won’t ever get to the “level” of the technical quality of artists that I am in love with. I mean, I’m not ever going to stop trying to push myself technically and try to get TO that next level, but I have beat myself up for years about the fact that I don’t really have the technical confidence in my paintings that I would like. I would just compare myself constantly to artists that are far superior, and I think I have cut that back a lot recently. Doing that gave me a little freedom, because I know the one thing I AM confident with is my imagination. So recently, when I have a big looming project or an art show or something that NEEDS a big burst of inspiration to get started, I have just trusted myself and let myself explore my imagination and just start painting or drawing. I think there’s a balance in there somewhere that I am trying to figure out. I think it’s important to study other artists and absorb every piece of art that you love, and to BE influenced by it, but simultaneously, because all art is so personal, you need to be able to let go and trust yourself to do your own thing, no matter how good or shitty it may be, as long as it’s your own. Was that long-winded enough?
SXH- Where’s your studio?
AP- As of a month ago, I just moved into an old house in Walnut Creek, CA that was actually a brothel in like the 1920’s. My studio is set up here, and I think I can actually still smell the syphilis on the walls, which rules.
SXH- Describe a typical work day:
AP- It varies a lot. Actually, that’s a lie. The routine is similar, but the filler is way different every day. I get up about 9-10 and freak out about emails I didn’t respond to the day before, try to get some coffee, then it’s a head-spinning mess of errands, drawing, painting, blogging, scanning, and everything that goes along with that until about 3-4 am. If I’m lucky I let myself take a shower. But that’s mostly for other people’s benefit.
SXH- What materials do you usually work in?
AP- I try to explore different materials all the time, because I’m a firm believer in the discovery process. Like, yah, maybe I will be SUPER GOOD at like, conte crayon drawing on bark? So I’ll play around with that, but most of the time it’s a pretty big fail, so I tend to default to inks, or watercolors, which is what a majority of my work is done with.
SXH- What is your all time favorite painting?
AP- There’s a harsh 3-way tie going on that was only a 2-way tie until last year. The contenders: The original Creepshow Theatrical poster painting. ( http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/25/CreepshowPoster.jpg ) The Theatrical poster painting for SQUIRM ( http://posterwire.com/wp-content/images/squirm.jpg ) and James Jean’s TOYMAKER piece.
SXH- What do you do when you’re not making art?
AP- Feeling guilty that I COULD be creating something productive.
SXH- Is there any Artist or Illustrator you would like to collaborate with?
AP- Yah there are like a billion. You, Skinner, Augor, Horkey, John Pound, Jim Phillips, Graham Ingels (which won’t happen since he is dead which sucks), Todd McFarlane, Gary Larson, The Rock, so many!
SXH- What are you working on now and what’s in the future for you?
AP- I’m putting the finishing touches on my new solo show, “HIDING FROM THE NORMALS” which opens up on Oct 6 at Gallery 1988 in LA. And man, the show is going to be so much fun. In addition to like, every horror VHS that my parents would let me get my hands on, I grew up repeatedly watching and falling in love with Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and Star Wars and I always saw those as basically living and breathing works of art. And, as an adult, artists like Guillermo Del Toro, and Clive Barker, who are telling just as fantastic tales and creating just as amazing and imaginative universes for us adults who never grew out of our love for the old Henson/Lucas/Disney approach. These filmmakers and their teams created so many extra subtle elements that no one would ever notice individually because they were so small, but when piled together they formed this elaborate UNIVERSE that made it so easy to transport you into that world. I mean, take Walt Disney and Disneyland for example. You go to stand in line for Star Toursand there is so much to look at, and signs to read and videos playing that tell you about this world you are about to enter and so much supplemental material that it’s impossible not to enjoy even STANDING IN LINE! And that makes the actual ride even more fun. The Disneyland approach is what I have been trying to do lately with some of my shows. I took that approach with my “Letters For Digested Children” show at Upper Playground earlier in the year, and I am taking that approach to the next level at this new show at G1988. How so? Well, you will have to come to the show to find out. But in short, I’m creating enough material to hopefully transport the viewer into this other world if they feel like letting go.
SXH- Important non related question here: Sabbath or Zepplin?
AP- Sabbath. Unless it’s on a first date, ever since Damone said that putting on Kashmir in the Gremlin is ONLY way to score.
SXH- Coffee or tea?
AP- Both. Iced coffee. Chai tea. And Ice-T’s O.G. Album
SXH- Music, talk radio, books on tape or golden silence?
AP- All of the above. In waves of love and hate. Speaking of, I love you Jeff. In waves.
Try and make it out to see Hiding From The Normal tomorrow night at Gallery 1988
Please visit Alex’s website to see more of his amazing work- www.eyesuckink.com