Artist Interviews 2021
By Johnny Otto
You've been a musician for most of your life, but art is something that came along for you in the last decade or so. What made you want to go from collecting art to actually making it and being collected yourself?
I have always loved contemporary art, from the moment I saw an Andy Warhol Electric Chair when I was 12 years old. I loved the colors, the way he took an instrument of death and by using color and repetition, turned it into a piece of fine art. I was encouraged by a couple of close friends about ten years ago to just try putting paint onto canvas and I haven’t looked back since that day. It’s a natural creative extension for someone like me that has a physical need to create, no matter what the medium.
Do you remember the first piece that you made and how it made you feel? What was the experience of creating it like and whether or not you were happy with the results?
I do remember my first painting, yes. The only way I can describe the experience is cathartic! It was like learning to play ‘Anarchy In The UK’ on guitar for the first time - a feeling that my life just changed, that I just opened Pandoras Box! Discovering a whole new creative journey was (and is) a very powerful feeling and I don’t take those moments in life for granted. I’m forever grateful to the universe for allowing me to unlock this latest creative journey.
You collaborated with Risk on one of the Butterfly series paintings, which is now in the U.S. Capitol, is that right? How did that collaboration come about? Have you known Risk for a while?
This is actually not accurate. Risk and I have both separately painted Butterflies as imagery for a number of years. The piece that hangs in the U.S. Capitol is one of my solo pieces, painted about 7 years ago. The collaborations with Risk came a few years after that - we started out doing a limited edition print about four years ago, and then when we both got together again to produce the Degrees Of Separation art show in Los Angeles, we decided to revise the butterfly image and painted a huge 6ft collaboration painting together which was on display at the show.
Thanks for clarifying that. What other artists have you collaborated with? How did those come about and what was the experience like? Do you seek out artists or do they come to you?
I don’t think I have sought any of my collaborations out - my head tells me I am very much a newcomer to the contemporary art scene, and I feel honored to even be in the same ballpark as all these incredible artists. So asking artists that I respect and admire to collaborate is very much beyond me at the moment! But when I am asked to work on a piece with someone I admire, of course I say yes! Lincoln Townley was very encouraging and supportive when we collaborated together. Risk has always supported my art and we have known each other for quite a few years now - I learn the most from simply watching that guy work. Collaborating with Dave (Navarro) comes naturally, having worked with him for many years musically - he is an inspiring guy to work with and I always come away buzzing from a contact high with his infectious energy. I hope I get to collaborate with so many more artists - there are many that I would love to create work with!!
Do you still collect art? Who do you like?
Collecting art is a life long obsession! There is always a long list of ‘wants’ that haunts me! Haha! Warhol has always been at the top of that list, along with Basquiat and Haring. But my collection has grown over the years and now includes most of the artists that inspire me - Banksy, Shepard, Hirst, Blek, Lichtenstein etc etc.
What other exhibits/shows do you have coming up? Any other collaborations happening? Any events like Julien's show?
I’m pretty sure you’re going to see Degrees 2 happening in 2022, which I produce and curate along with Brian (232AM) and Risk. I have had tentative conversations about doing something myself in China at some point. I have a set of high end editions being released later this year in select galleries in the US through the ‘prince of prints’, Daniel Crosby. And of course, I’m always open to talking about exhibits and shows with people, providing the logistics make sense.
This is a tough one. If you had to choose one, would you choose your music or your art?
There is simply no way I can make that choice. Luckily I DON’T have to make that choice!!