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I was born in 1980 and I believe I started doodling sometime in early elementary school.
As a young child, what first motivated you to draw?
I was always into cartoons, but the first time I was introduced to the act of doodling was sometime around 2nd or 3rd grade at Magnolia Elementary. I remember being in class and being told that we were having a special assembly. Like prior assemblies, I think I just shrugged it off. We were led into the cafeteria where we sat on the bleach scented floor. On stage was a pudgy man with a thick mustache and an outfit decorated with large crayons. We were all given a piece of brown recycled paper, a pencil and a small rectangle piece of chalkboard to draw on. The charismatic man introduced himself as Mark Kistler from the Draw Squad and he began doodling onto an overhead projector.
What fascinated you about his drawings?
Cartoons were my escape from reality as a young child. I loved the idea of having no limits, no restrictions and no death. Up until this point, I only watched these limitless characters on television. I never once thought of how they were created. My creativity was probed young during that assembly and from that day on I copied every cartoon character I could find.
I copied for a long time. I remember copying characters off jelly jars, cough drop boxes, books, comics, commercials…anything. Soon after that assembly I found out a kid in my class had Mark’s Draw Squad book. I was able to convince him to sell it to me. I am not sure how I got the money, but in 2nd grade I bought that book off that kid during class for $8. I wish I knew who that kid was so I could thank him. I studied that book like it held the secrets of life. I soon began watching Mark Kistler’s after school half hour show everyday. Still today, I catch myself singing the shade song during a doodle. You know the one…”shade shade shade…we love to shade.”
If you could pick one skill learned from Mark Kistler’s lessons which helped you most in your development as an artist, what would it be?
It would definitely be the three dimensional box. Though very basic, many of his lessons stressed perspective and depth. The cube opened a whole new world. It adjusted my view on everything. My doodles immediately expanded to large worlds with stacked boxes, tangled tubes, flapping flags and windows in everything. I think it introduced me to doodles other than just characters. His lessons also taught me to be creative. He encouraged it. He used artsy words on an elementary level like imagination station and the draw squad and sang cheesy songs. It rubbed off on me. Though my sign doesn’t say it, my studio will always be known as the creation station.
You doodle a lot of characters based on the Simpsons. When did that happen and why?
It developed from my interest in cartoons and humor. The Simpsons introduced me to twisted humor, violence and the dysfunctional. I became obsessed with them. I created my first magazine in 1990 as a ghetto homemade layout called The Simpsons and Friends. I was only 10, but somehow put together this 6 page project with an autobiography, comics and highlighted ideas all stapled together with a neon green back cover. Its supper ghetto, but is one of my most cherished possessions. This is when I first fused my copying of characters with characters straight from my imagination. Its classic and stupid.
Your doodles became very crowded, why?
I found Where’s Waldo books. I would analyze every character and look for new techniques. I began making cluttered doodles with early aspirations of my own Where’s Waldo books. I had them all and still have many of the pages memorized.
Describe your desk when most of these drawings were made?
I was in 5th and 6th grade in Mrs. Cimolino’s class at Kelly Elementary. Many of my drawing were done in her class. It got to the point where I would fake being sick during lessons just so I could put my head on my desk. As she rambled about historic events, I secretly sketched fictional characters on my lap. My desk at home sat against a wall with one lamp inches from my forehead. I had a jar full of pencils and a drawer overflowing with doodles. It was pretty normal, just a space for me to copy and create.
Who were you making all these drawings for?
I’ve never been deterred from showing my stuff. I feel criticism is key, whether positive or negative. At this young age I only had my mom. Every evening I would descend my stairs and meet my mom in the kitchen. I’d hand her my newest doodle with the sole intent of provoking criticism and a reaction. I knew she liked them, but she never showed the reaction I wanted. It was always a short smile and a quick attachment to the fridge. I don’t think I ever showed it, but it infuriated me more than anything. I would rush straight back upstairs and start another. I don’t know if this was an ingenious parenting tactic to maintain a child’s interest or not, but it pushed me to try to outdo the previous doodle each time. To this day I show her everything and each time I find myself back at the doodling board. I don’t get hurt; I thank her for it!
Homer for sure.
How were you able to keep these drawings over the years? Have you lost many?
The secret is a safe place. I found that place in my mom’s closet. I collected baseball cards with a passion and knew she would never get rid of them. I stashed all my doodles in a green folder and slipped them into my giant card box. She moved once since then, but the box went with her. I archive everything and am lucky I have some of my childhood doodles. I lost a lot though. I have my whole life documented through photos, video and art. I use my safe place technique a lot and have stashed paintings, idea books and doodles in attics, basements and other safe places, always dated and signed. Hopefully someday someone will find them and contact me. My friends have a lot of my stuff too.
Did you doodle more back as a kid than you do now?
Its the same. I carry a black book in my back pocket at all times. I love people watching and find myself sketching the many characters of our community. My work desk is scattered with random sketches and my coffee table is the same. I think I spent more time in a room under a lamp doodling as a youngster than today. Now its more on the run or during breaks. I fit in in though. Its an addiction I love.
How are these drawings different from what you do today? The stuff we will see in part2 and at your show?
These are doodles; an onslaught of ideas directed through a pencil and onto paper. Doodles lack foresight; they are spontaneous and unrefined. My current work is overly thought out with meticulous modifications. I work in paint, but my brush never touches the canvas. Though abstract and spontaneous, I create very recognizable icons in great detail. My body of work lacks a theme in terms of subject, but is unified in technique. They are gestural but restricted…spontaneous but premeditated.
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2695 State Street
Carlsbad, CA 9200
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interviewed by Briana Mooney