Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Artist of the Week

Joey Potts

Joey Potts currently resides in Chicago, but was born in Indiana. He moved here from Baltimore a few years ago in hopes of kick starting his career as a designer/artist. He is beginning to gain some notoriety for his unique images, bright colors, and the ability and willingness to customize anything from skateboards to women's handbags. To label him prolific would be an understatement. He is involved in several different groups and mediums. As a painter, toy maker, clothing designer, Joey is always creating. However, it is the images that he can create, these alternate reality pop creatures, truly makes him one of the most colorful artists on Chicago.

With all of these projects and shows we were fortunate enough to get Joey to take some time and discuss his work with us.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Joey Potts (JP): My paintings are strongly based upon characters that I create from observation of everyday social and personal occurrences. As an observer I concern myself with the internal uncertainties, apathies, and underlying thoughts and emotions of myself and others in daily life. My palette is bright, friendly, and childish- yet my characters are bold, highly detailed, and "grotesque"---approachable, but with an air of caution.

OA: In the last few years there has been a huge increase in the acceptance of illustrators into the art community and galleries. Where do you think the illustrator fits into the art scene, and why has their popularity grown?
JP: I feel like illustrators have started taking themselves and their work more seriously. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, illustrators were revered for their talents. However, it seems as though through the 80's and 90's, illustrators were looked at as hired help---this can still be seen today in most business contracts. Companies and corporations pay you a small fee and own exclusive rights to your work. This means they can freely use your image for anything they see fit. I feel like a lot of illustrators got fed up with the lack of personal and professional respect they were receiving for their works- and in realizing this, started specializing their illustrations for certain companies that were respectful, or even taking the route of doing gallery and museum shows. Also, the demand for products that can be customized, or one-offs, has grown- and we as illustrators/artists have adapted to that demand.

OA: Where do you draw inspiration from when creating all of these interesting creatures?
JP: Everyday life and social situations. Anything from riding the train, riding my bike, watching TV., searching the internet, skateboarding, comic books, toys, listening to music, being stuck behind a computer for 8 hours a day at the 9-5, going to bars, walking down the street, people watching...anything. I like to put a spin on what I see, I like to create what may be going on in someone's head while they are going about their everyday life. Recently I've been drawing a lot of inspiration from religious iconography and Renaissance painting.

OA: You recently participated in a live art exhibition with DJ's playing while you and fellow artist created original pieces. In that situation how does the music affect your work? How does the crowd affect your work?
JP: Doing live painting is a lot of fun. In that environment, everything is affecting the work- the DJ's, the crowd, the drinks, the venue (some venues don't provide you with lighting, which always makes it tough!). It's great because you get energy from the music and the crowd; it's much different from painting in my house. While painting live I will be totally in the zone, just working as all of this chaos is going on around me, and I'll turn around and boom- the music is playing, people are dancing, some people are watching me paint, everyone’s having a good time, it's such a great feeling. It's also awesome because you can talk to people, they come up and tell you that they’re feeling what you're doing, and that's just fuggin’ awesome! The only bad part about live painting is when people want to give you advice on your painting, or won't leave you alone because they want you to paint something ridiculous for them- that always sucks. Besides that, the energy and hype you get from live painting is unbelievable.

OA: Your custom toys are some of the best that I have seen. Many artists have started releasing customer toys, how did you first come to realize that there was a market for this type of toy? How is the creative process different when creating a toy?
JP: Thanks! To be honest, it wasn't a matter of me thinking of it as market. I had started seeing more and more designer "urban vinyl" toys starting in about 2002 when I was living in Baltimore. Upon moving to Chicago I met Whitney and Kirby Kerr, the owners of Rotofugi. I frequented the shop and we talked a lot, and in January of 2005 they had a custom show and asked me to participate. I was so excited because at the time I was doing a lot of custom painted apparel for the Chicago based apparel/design collective Formula Werks. I was painting everything from shoes to wallets, jackets, and hand-bags-then suddenly I had the opportunity to paint a toy, and was extremely excited.

When creating a toy, I always start out, like with anything else I do, with sketches. I look at the shape of the toy in multiple positions and try to come up with my own character that will still use the basic shape of the toy, so that the toy itself and my character added to thetoy will have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship. As far as the execution, I use acrylic and brush, no markers and no spray-paint. Really though, the only difference between a toy and a canvas is the 3 dimensionality of the toy. I always think to myself "Oh, I'm gonna bust this toy out in a day or two, easy." In reality though, toys usually end up taking me longer to finish than a canvas!

OA: We have seen the shoes, the toys, the clothing, in your opinion what is> the next marketable product that artists will be creating?
JP: Spatula's. No, I don't know. It seems like the educated consumer is getting fed up with having everything look the same. I feel like more and more people are wanting customized or limited edition products, they don't want to have what everyone else has, and if they have that, they want something done to it so that it stands out from the rest of the flock. So next marketable product, anyone's guess really.

OA: What's next for Joey Potts?
JP: Well right now I have a custom Simpson Qee at the Taipei Toy Fest, and that will be traveling to the San Diego Comic Con at the end of the month. Up next I have the "BFF" show at Rotofugi on August 3rd. The show consists of Blutt, Joey D., Revise CMW, Peabe, Ken Keirns, Shawnimal,Veggiesomething, Phoneticontrol, Yunicorn, and I. I am custom painting a "Gwin" for a show in L.A. in October, the "Chicago Artists Show" at DVA Gallery on the 13th of October, and I'm sending a few pieces to a gallery in England for their opening show. I will also behaving a few new t-shirt designs coming out in the next couple of months through Formula Werks. Besides that I am trying to complete the building of "RoboJoe," a robot that can run Photoshop and take my place at the 9-5. I also want to curate a show again. Revise CMW and I curated a collaborative show entitled "(Im)Paired Visions" this last March, and it was a huge success. We had 18 artists that all collaborated on pieces together, it was unbelievable!

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your> favorite coffee location?
JP: I drink a ton of coffee! My favorite kind is whatever the house coffee is, or whatever is on sale at Jewel. If I do go and get coffee, I go to Alliance Bakery around Ashland and Division.

OA: Who are some of your favorite musicians, currently and of all-time?
JP: Oh wow. Intel, Maker, and Pickel (The Comeups), the Analog Addicts, Quadrophonics, The Rub, No Request Sound, Misfits, Latyrx, Del, Roy Orbison, The Who, Super Tramp, ELO, The F**king Champs, Bill Withers, Nina Simone, GZA, Black Sabbath, Shuggie Otis, Meatyogre, Once A Month, Kid Static, Judas Priest, Gang of Four. My roommate spins a lot of soul and funk, and he collects old 45's, so I listen to and love a lot of that music, but I don't know the names of any of the musicians!

For more information on Joey Potts please visit his website and for the recent work and more frequent updates visit his myspace page.

No comments: