The Astro Boy piece I did in Nagoya earlier this year was the simplest piece I did in Japan, but also happened to be my favorite.
I brought the stencils back and did a small run of spray-paint and acrylic originals on wood, canvas and cardboard. They all sold out and caught the eye of Billy at Galerie F in Chicago in the process. He felt it would make a great print, and set me up with Andrew from ARGhrist Prints. We worked through the best way to screen it, creating an edition of 45 on grey paper for Galerie F titled "Sorry" (click here to purchase), and a small edition of 10 on brown paper for me to sell on my own titled "I'm Sorry" (click to purchase).
In Japan I made an Astro Boy piece for Oakoak on paper and drew my tattoos on it just to make him laugh. He really got a kick out of it. So when I had the opportunity to make my own small edition, it made sense to create a few more for others to enjoy. And on the brown paper... making the boots red just brought it all together.
My tattoos are pieces inspired by a few of my favorite artists. Aakash Nihalani on my hands, Mrzyk and Moriceau on my wrist, Frank Stella on my forearms, and Toba Khedoori on my chest. I've learned different lessons from each of their work:
Aakash Nihalani's work is simple and direct. He plays with space, perspective and reality. I have it on my hands because, inexplicably it was the only place that felt right. It reflects how binary we often are in categorizing everything: right / wrong, up / down, black / white, off / on, man / woman. It's intriguing to me that one could see them as opposites or the same, all based on one's perspective.
Mrzyk & Moriceau are brilliant in the way they can distill an idea down into something very simple... yet the more you look, the more you see. Their work shows a great sense of humor, and they're brilliant at using symbols to tell bigger stories. This piece can represent chasing after the perfect fit in one's life. There's also a masculine / feminine dynamic to it. I have it on my wrist so the key and the keyhole can chase each other in circles.
Toba Khedoori's work has taught me a lot about using negative space in my own work. She creates quiet, beautiful pieces with restraint and a sense of depth. The subjects are usually common enough to feel familiar, and yet she makes them feel so special... worth revering. I have this on my chest to remind me to feel deeply and remain open.
And then there's Frank Stella. This painting changed my life. I was in college at the time as an undeclared major. I took a drawing class on a whim, as I used to love drawing when I was younger. The professor took me aside a few months in and asked why I wasn't an art major. He said he could take one look at my drawings and see I truly loved it... and that life's too short not to do the things you love. I was a little hesitant as I wasn't sure what kind of job one gets with an art degree. The next week he asked if I'd like to join the art club on a trip to the St. Louis art museum. On the trip I turned a corner and saw this giant painting... and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I stood in front of it for 20-30 minutes and I cried. I have no idea why it made me emotional, but at that moment I knew I wanted to paint... and I wanted to make people feel. I changed my major to art as soon as I got back, and ended up graduating with a BFA in painting. After being out of college for a few years, the amount of work I was making started to dwindle and I hadn't tried to show anywhere. I got these tattooed on my forearms to remind me of the feeling I had that day, and that I needed to keep painting and getting it out in front of people.