Cover Artist / Will Carsola



You’re originally from Richmond, one of America’s oldest major cities. Is that right? Or did you just live there for a bit? What was life like there and did you always know you’d be leaving someday? Did you folks support your artistic pursuits?

Yes, I grew up about an hour north of Richmond but I moved to the city of Richmond when I was 21 and spent the majority of my 20’s there. Richmond is an extremely special place to me and it’s where I consider my roots to be. While in Richmond we had been making sketch comedy for an L.A. based sketch comedy show called Stupid Face which was created by our friends Laban Pheidias and Ted Newsome. After that first season we decided to move to L.A. for season two of the show. Up until that point, Dave and I hadn’t really been around anybody who made sketch comedy or anything similar, and even before that there was no youtube or anything so we were in our own world, just trying to make each other laugh. Yes, my parents were always supportive of my art but they weren’t very happy when I decided to drop out of art school with a year left to go. My focus had started drifting from painting to wanting to make sketch comedy, music videos, etc. I wasn’t accepted into the video department so I followed my gut and dropped out. I then spent all the money I had on a used computer and started teaching myself how to edit. Along the way, I realized that I could animate by drawing in photoshop and editing in final cut. I discovered this unique way of animating and eventually my drawing style from middle school and high school reemerged into animation. But animation would not become my focus until years after that, which then led to Mr. Pickles. Back in the day, I’d also draw / animate with a computer mouse which is crazy to me now.

{Will Carsola's Full Interview}

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What is an Art Squat and how did this journey begin?

Well, many many moons ago, circa 1999, my brother Michael Otto, who just prefers to be called Otto, was friends with a guy named Andy who lived in a fourplex on Genesee ave. just south of Melrose, across from Fairfax High school. Andy had told my brother that there was an empty two bedroom apartment on the second level across from his and that the Landlord hadn't been seen in years and nobody was paying rent. He went on to tel my brother that the empty unit was filled with junk that had to be cleared out but once that was done, the space could be used as an art gallery. So, my brother and I and a few other friends, spent a few days clearing out all the junk, and we put large locks on the doors so that nobody could enter without us. There was no power in the unit that we occupied, so, whenever we had an art opening, Andy would run power cables out his back window and into the empty unit. Collectively we came up with the name Art Squat for our new gallery and we had some crazy raging parties. This went on for several years. The Landlord was never seen or heard from. In fact, there was a garage behind the property that had a vintage car in it and boxes of newspapers from the 80's.

{Full Story about Art Squat's origins}


Johnny Otto, Art Squat Gallery, 1999

If you are an Artist or if you'd like to suggest any Artists for our next issue, please get in touch. We love our Artists and want to share your creations with the world.

{Contact Art Squat/Submit Work}

The Desert – An Art Space



The desert is an intriguing landscape. It allows us to see the horizon from all angles while separating us from civilization. The desert repeatedly appears in literature. Some of the most famous photographers have photographed the desert. Although the desert is still in some way a foreign element for some Western cultures due to its deviation from green landscapes and wild oceans, it has become an image of conquest.

The desert is a landscape that is often defined by extreme temperatures, exhaustion, and infinity. While all these factors respond to landscape and time, they share different levels of humanity. The desert can become an escape for those who seek to be separated from civilization, it is both a refuge and hazard for those needing to cross it for daily operation and survival. On a spiritual level, the desert represents the idea of infinity. It is not surprising that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had The Little Prince land in the desert to explore the meaning of life, ephemerality, and infinite love. In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988), an Andalusian shepherd crosses the desert to find his true treasure at the pyramids of Egypt, only to find that the real treasure lies within him, as he uncovers his true self and purpose in life.

The desert, like the ocean, is a never-ending source of inspiration for artists of all kinds. It challenges human beings, not only physically, but also mentally, by pushing us beyond the limitations of our physical existence, opening our minds to infinite possibilities. The desert is a collection of billion grains of sand that make up a whole. The desert, like art, offers billions of opportunities for self-expression.

For me, the desert represents many things. Foreign worlds, a border to city life, and a manifestation of the power of nature. Most recently, I have had dreams about crossing the desert. While my first dream led me to a vaccine site that was installed in the desert, I reconnected with friends and forged new relationships in my second dream. In creating this issue, it feels like we crossed the desert. Not only did we drive out to the Mojave Desert to document this year’s Desert X exhibit in Coachella Valley, but we also interviewed Sarah & Rich Combs who created “The Joshua Tree House”, a space to unplug from busy city life, reflect, and find peace and unity in nature. Maybe, after more than a year into the pandemic, all of us could need a little time out in the desert. - Laura Siebold

{Full Desert-X Article by Julia Siedenburg & Laura Siebold}





















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