Artist Interview | Art in Los Angeles
Is it true you grew up making shitty band posters?
Ha. Well this is a tough question. I absolutely have printed countless shitty band posters. There have been a few diamonds in the rough. Before the music industry completely died, I was printing posters for the big dogs over at Interscope Records. That is right around the time that Eminem and 50 Cent were blowing up.
How did that transition into the evolution of Check This Ink?
My family has owned a commercial print shop since 1969. I would change the trash bags and sweep up for $5 a day when I was eight years old. I grew up loving the industry that provided my family with everything we had. Once my passion for art had blossomed, I realized that we could use the same machinery for commercial applications for art. It was the difference between printing thousands of street team posters and printing a limited run of 20 posters. It gave everything more meaning seeing how people connect to art.
Where did your passion for art come from? Are you an artist yourself?
It all started when I was 18 and got my first tattoo. That was really the time that the way I looked at imagery changed. From there it was a slippery slope of going to local art shows, meeting gallery owners, and getting to meet artists. It’s an amazing community to be a part of. I am not an artist myself. I wouldn’t completely rule it out one day.
What is the driving force behind your desire to connect people with art?
The desire to connect people with art comes from being a broke as all hell in my younger days. I would go to a gallery where I never really felt comfortable, never felt like I had enough money to be there, but absolutely loved the art I saw. If there was a way to buy a $250 print / reproduction on my way out the door, they would have had made a sale every time I was there. It bothered me that a fan boy like me would go home empty handed. It made me really want to connect as many people as a I can with as many pieces possible.
Do you think original artwork is often over or undervalued by artists, galleries and collectors?
This is a tricky one. I think it 100% depends on the artist and gallery. Like everything else in the world, the price is always what someone is willing to pay for it. You have your marquee artists like Gregory Siff, and Cleon Peterson who have stapled their own style. I love seeing originality pay off. In a world with so much noise, it is great watching people cut through.
One gallery in Hollywood comes to mind that tries to sell pieces from under developed artists for way too much money. Because of that, you don’t hear of a lot of things selling in there. What I love about capitalism is the market decides what is good or not. It’s really easy to see the guys that are all hype.
In your opinion how does the huge variation in the costs of original art affect consumers and art lovers in general?
Art is all about what you can get away with. Having a background in business really makes me appreciate this. It’s crazy how you can go to the L.A. Art Show and see pieces on canvas that are worth more than my house. Just like everything else, it’s all about perceived value.
In your opinion what is the importance of the role of the artist in society?
With all the bullshit going on in the world, we need them more than ever. I think we occasionally need to see things from a different perspective. As people get more and more divided, we need to get different points of view across. I think times like now are massive opportunities for creative people to get out there. I am waiting for the next Shep Fairy to step up.
Do you think the LA street art culture influences the world’s art community at large? In what ways?
I think that the LA Art scene is definitely a massive influential market. There are so many creatives out here, that I feel if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
What do you think makes our local art scene different from the other reigning art communities of the world?
Los Angeles is an odd city. You are never too far from a boujee or bad neighborhood. There are definitely a lot of other cities where art is becoming a bigger deal. I don’t know if it is fanaticized the way it is out here. It seems like after Exit Through the Gift Shop came out, everyone thought they could get famous with a few slaps and wheat pastes. Probably due to Hollywood, I feel like L.A. is home to a lot of people going for broke trying to become rich and famous.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
Cleon Peterson is my guy. His style can be a little brutal, but so is the world. I will be collecting that guy until the day I die.
Can you tell us about your favorite up and coming artist? What is it about their work that first grabbed your attention?
Carly Ealey just had her first show at the Gabba Gallery. Her work is amazing. I am really drawn to the Photo Realism style. She reminds me of Christina Angelina (@starfightera) with the way you can walk past a mural and go, “Holy shit, how did someone even do that?”
Do you foresee Check This Ink expanding into covering artists from other regions outside Los Angeles?
By the end of 2017, I see us having a foothold in NY and London. We have already made some great relationships with artists and galleries over there. It is a much bigger world out there than just Los Angeles. With things like Instagram we are all a lot closer now. It is way easier to discover ridiculously talented people in places like New Zealand. Global expansion is really a huge goal for us moving forward.
Tell me about the shop and various ways you’re creating prints for your customers.
We have a 25,000 Sq. Ft. Operation in North Hollywood. We are capable of making Lithographs, Giclees, Serigraphs, and Canvas Prints. In short there is nothing we can’t do. We are starting to have some fun working with Brushed Metal, Wood, and Plexi.
You’ve curated a really incredible blog and instagram profile, what do you think contributes to having the eye and skill to create a well-curated collection?
The whole thing comes from the heart. If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it for very long. Art is amazing because it is all in the feels. It is hard to put your figure on what gives you reactions to things. We try to cover the artists and events that really pull us.
If you could own any piece of original art in the world what would it be?
Really tough to nail down an exact piece, but the artist would no doubt be Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The blog section of Check This Ink is dedicated to artist profiles and showcasing work, how are artists selected to be featured there?
Most of the time, we discover an upcoming artist that we really want to work with so we reach out directly. We have also received a decent amount of people coming to us. If the art / artist seem like a good fit, it’s a done deal.
Do you have any advice for people looking to expand their art collection?
Go to as many shows as possible. It is amazing the amount of talent that is out there. My collection has grown from going to gallery shows and becoming obsessed with something I have seen.
How can people connect with you?