In anticipation of Thursday's release with Oakland, California's Peter Adamyan, we sat down with the thoughtful and talented artist to discuss politics, social media, his print and much more:
What are your first artistic memories?
My older brother gave me a template of different aspects from cartoon character he drew that I could mix and match. There were different eyes, noses, ears, belts, pants, shoes and so on. I can still draw a silly cartoon character based on those bits and pieces to this day.
Did you grow up in an artistic household?
Not particularly, my brother and I drew a lot, but what kid doesn't at an early age? My mother spent a short time in my early years mending Persian rugs, but other than that my interest in art was mostly sparked by cartoons and comic book characters.
Growing up in Los Angeles, what about that environment lead to you being so concerned about the topics we see in your work?
The ideas of materialism and brand culture had a huge influence on me from an early age. This in addition to a liberal education system that comes with growing up in a blue state, where global warming and pollution were not controversial ideas definitely shaped my thinking.
Could you tell us a bit about your thoughts behind your release, "Camouflage Bouquet," with The People's Printshop?
This painting has had a great response online, and I think it comes from the contrast of the sinister image of someone behind a sheet with just their eyes visible, and the delicate and comforting floral textile. There is also a contrast between the found object of the bedsheet and the actual painted fabric draping the figure. Most of my work is meant to convey an idea, but the Camouflage series is more about provoking a feeling of contrasting emotions, to make someone say "isn't that pretty" and "that's a little creepy" while playing with decorative motifs and textures.
What are your thoughts on social media and specifically, how it is affecting the art world?
I think all artists have a love hate relationship with social media which I share. I have too many thoughts to list here, but it's wonderful to reach a vast audience, but it's difficult to constantly keep them entertained and engaged. It's difficult in these times for an artist to step away from promoting their work, to retreat into their studio to try new things and experiment. Social media has also given us the opportunity to see the democratization of art, no longer are there gatekeepers telling people who they should like, but at the same time, democracy has also given us President Trump.
In a time of such political turmoil, do you think there's anything to be optimistic about?
I'm a pessimist by nature, the only place I find optimism is knowing that I am not alone in the way I feel about the current political climate we find ourselves in today.
You're a pretty busy guy - what's a typical day like for you?
I go to work with my dog, come home, eat dinner, spend some time in the studio, try to find some time to read and go to bed. On weekends I try to get in at least one good hike in or if I'm really lucky, a backpacking trip, and also try to get some studio time in as well.
If you're not doing art or working, what would you be up to?
Reading or spending time outdoors, hiking, fishing or foraging.
What are some hidden gems of Pop Culture that our readers should check out?
I wouldn't claim to be an expert on hidden gems of Pop Culture but have you ever heard of Star Trek? It's pretty great, but no one has really heard of it. Also, lots of Werner Herzog documentaries.
What's next for you?
Just keep making art.