Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m from Los Angeles where I currently live and work. The beach, surfing, movies, art, Mexican food, and the Dodgers have always interested me while living in Southern California. But I left town to have an East Coast college experience, attending the University of Virginia, where I received a B.S. in business and a B.A. in painting. I grew up a triplet (three boys). My brother Braden and I went to school together. We started out on similar paths, taking finance and accounting classes and partying hard. I changed course my fourth year to pursue painting more seriously. Art has always been a major part of my life, and it’s very gratifying to be pursuing it full-time now.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I’ve been fascinated with art and making things for as long as I can remember. I first realized that I wanted to make art when I transitioned from the coloring books my parents made for us to making books of my own. Upon request, mom and dad would draw custom pictures that we could color, i.e. a speedboat on fire, a fancy sports car, or professional wrestler Rey Mysterio’s signature mask. When I got bored with coloring their drawings, I started taking requests from my brothers to add images of my own to our homemade coloring books. I’ve been drawing and making pictures ever since, relying heavily on my imagination.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I love my studio at the Beacon Arts Building in Inglewood because it allows me to create more ambitious projects and be more prolific. It’s far better than the old garage where I literally painted myself into a corner. A little more room has gone a long way to make me to feel more comfortable and excited to work. With high ceilings, plenty of wall space, and privacy, I’m free to listen to music and get in the zone.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I’m currently exploring ideas around storytelling, celebrity culture, and glamour. Some of my paintings reflect an interest in intriguing settings associated with Los Angeles, more specifically Hollywood and its complicated glamorous-yet-grotesque nature. I’m thinking about Greek theater within the narratives of the paintings and the tension between comedy and tragedy. A lot of my work shows hubristic heroes in situations where humor and pain collide. There’s often a cast of alluring characters who are performing in a way, acting out a distorted reality, exaggerating, and embellishing life. In addition to scenes on the red carpet and around Hollywood, there’s a lot to explore and unpack through themes of power, sexuality, and identity which are emblematic of Hollywood’s influence.
What is your process like?
I’m always sketching and outlining ideas. Working smaller in a sketchbook allows me to loosen up and quickly explore several ways to render a figure and organize a composition before translating the idea into a larger format. I like bold, saturated colors and usually make color choices spontaneously during the act of painting. In addition to finding new ways to manipulate oil and acrylic paint, I’ve also been working with airbrush and spray paint to achieve different textures and light effects. Most of my work is derived from my imagination, but I do use references for details when necessary. I often work on as many as five paintings at once and try to finish one to two per month.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I’m particularly interested in creating “worlds” in which my ideas, characters, and stories can live. My intention is that when you look at a painting, you briefly step into a new realm and experience a different reality.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I rented a U-Haul truck to pick up a clothing mannequin from a Craigslist seller. I have also collected red carpet from an awards event at the Hollywood Palladium for a project I’m currently working on.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
Yes, I work part-time in entertainment production. In February, I worked on the 91st Academy Awards as a production assistant. It was an exciting opportunity to be a small part of Hollywood’s biggest night, and I found inspiration in the people and scenes I encountered.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
A fellow painter told me “not to be afraid of my ideas.” I appreciate the confidence this has inspired. It has allowed me to be bolder in my work.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Always keep looking at art and studying. One way to study these days is to go on Instagram and follow amazing artists. Be prolific with your ideas and be prolific with your work. You get better at what you do, so make a lot of art.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
To have a “community” is to have others who share values, aspirations, space, and ideas. My studio is in a large building which houses a diverse community of 30+ artists, each making very different work. From painters to sculptors to filmmakers, we all share a compulsion to create. It’s incredibly helpful to have other people around who offer support as well as critique.
What is your studio like?
My studio is part work space, part gallery. Works-in-progress are on the lower part of the walls, while finished pieces hang above. I try to keep it clean and organized so I can find supplies when I need them, but there’s always a battle between order and creative chaos. I’m just glad the mannequin doesn’t judge me.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I often have music or a podcast on while I’m working, whichever is right for the mood. The music can vary from rock to jazz to rap to house music. Comedy podcasts or comedy albums also put me in a good mood which helps maintain momentum throughout the day and supports long painting sessions.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I have an undergraduate degree in painting and my thesis show was important because it gave me a glimpse into what it takes to be a functioning artist. I am considering pursuing an MFA program down the road. It’s mainly important for me because I’d like to teach one day.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The most challenging thing for me is the infinite flood of ideas and the finite amount of time and materials I have to work with. Art materials are expensive and it sucks. I wish I could have the freedom to experiment and explore more media and techniques than I already do.
How would you define “success” in art?
Julian Schnabel’s house. Just kidding. A successful painting grabs attention, provokes thought, and surprises. Good films, music, books, and paintings hold you, stay with you, and demand you revisit them. A successful career in art sustains the artist.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I recently had a studio visit with LL Cool J, which was thrilling, encouraging, and intimidating. He’s a very generous, positive, and inspiring guy, so it was exciting to share the work with him. I was also interviewed on the red carpet before the Oscars, and had an article written about me in our local paper.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on several new paintings and my serve.