After seeing Skinner being praised by respected friends and foes on social media I friended him myself. I’ve found his posts and artwork to always be amusing and solid, he seemed down to earth, outspoken, and a man of the people, so after looking into him and his artwork I had to ask him if he’d answer these questions… When I opened up my gallery, Goat, in Chicago I had a neon light made that said “phat art for thin wallets” – Well, that’s what it was supposed to say, but the word “phat” wasn’t yet a popular slang, so the neon guy made it “fat art for thin wallets”. Anyway, I noticed that Skinner has a need to make sure his art is accessible to those who can’t afford original artwork, this was a big goal of mine back in the day, and I think it is a sure sign you’re dealing with an artist who is solid, gets it, and might even have at least one foot in the underground.
What is underground art?
Underground art is art that doesn’t have the mindless flavor that can be easily slurped up by the mass of people who don’t want to be challenged.. Challenged by art, challenging their behavior, social patterns and behavioral/cultural interests as they stand at the crest of a status quo usually following some form of privilege..underground art means something.. People who enjoy and support underground art usually dedicate their whole lives to it.. To adding their energy and love to the community and everyone holds their little candle and together illuminate the mass of a creative underground current… The problem these days, if you think it’s a problem (which you do if you’re an underground disciple of art and music) is that the underground has become “cool” and is usually commodified by some corporation or a social trend and the potency of the message an underground artist or band has will be turned into fashion or something that people who normally don’t like underground shit use for credibility in some aspect.. Because the authentic love that an artist or a musician or someone who is into underground music because they love it feels about their interests is usually more involved and complex then the average person who doesn’t want to be challenged by art or music.. They can just drive their car to work and turn on some watered down corporatized music on the radio and enjoy boring ass art.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
Yes, there absolutely are ethics and rules to participating in underground art.. Not the ones you think though.. Everyone has their own rules (in a perfect world) things shift and change according to each person but I personally get turned off by art/ music getting commodified or if there are people trying to come up on my friends who have put in so many years of work in underground and people come out of the woodwork trying to make money.. It’s weird because the economic landscape of America has just skewed things so far.. Scion puts out black metal albums.. Lowbrow art is all over video games and movies, heavy metal songs on Carl’s Jr commercials… It’s cool to be down with the underground.. And the thing is.. Unless you have a little system set up to make a little bit of money then you’re broke as fuck.. What do you do? Turn down money when it comes in even though there’s a heavy personal negotiation with what you’re doing it for? It’s fucked man.. What do you do? Make money so you can continue to do your own thing or just stay super broke and struggle and be in a state of poverty.. It’s a personal negotiation that isn’t easy and I don’t judge.. I say if you’re all fucked up and weird and trippy, get up in there and wreck something.. This world is a spitball anyways..
What is selling out?
Selling out is having any success outside of the underground scene you came up in.. The problem is.. One usually does get successful from being good at what they do if the scene they’re a part of gains traction in any popularized way… Or it was the goal of one’s all along to become popular by adhering to a generalized formula for non challenging bland swill that a lot of people will like.. But then that person wasn’t a part of anything underground in the first place by sheer intention.. Intention holds a lot of water in the underground.. Ian McKaye… Super underground icon with so much intention… Henry Rollins.. Super underground yet super famous.. But he doesn’t get put in the sell out category because his credibility with his decisions and beliefs and actions put him in the ” I admire the fuck out of this guy” category.
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
Underground can go above ground and be underground if you’re a Henry Rollins like dude… I do think however, that a purist would say that underground means fucking UNDERGROUND.. So even if you were in a punk band forever or an artist who did graffitti forever and you get famous, you aren’t underground any more because technically you are famous.. I’m not a stickler like that but then again I like to make money so I can buy good food and mushrooms and pay for a jam spot and travel…
Have you ever sold out?
I think there are people who would say I’ve sold out, but I don’t know what that would look like.. I’ve always just kind of been a weirdo and I taught art at a school for people with disabilities and have been doing art and weird metal music forever in a scene and I just realized after 8 years of working my job that I wanted to just do art for a living because my boss and my co workers (besides a few) were getting on my nerves and it was time to move on… I made friends in a lot of places and they worked for skateboard companies, shirt companies, etc.. So I just started asking to do that as well as doing tons of shows to come up.. I wanted to do art for a living.. Since then I’ve gotten a good momentum going but I’ve never farmed myself out in an exploitive way.. Or maybe I have but I can’t remember.. I just don’t do shit that doesn’t feel right.. I talk with my girlfriend Kristie about it.. I always ask her what she thinks about my decisions.. She has an amazing moral compass.. I do too.. I have a strong sense of justice so I pick and choose everything as it happens.. Doesn’t mean that I don’t compromise sometimes but that is usually so I can get to a level where I don’t.. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to make a compromise they didn’t like at some point regardless of if it’s in art or life in general.. I think if as many people regulated their own emotional ” selling out” as they did other people’s artistic selling out then we’d all be in a better place.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
Yeah man it’s possible to steal an idea.. Stealing is a common practice in art, underground and otherwise.. Steal something and try and make it yours and get rich buddy!
Your biggest artistic regret?
I can honestly say I don’t have any man.. Maybe not being better at photoshop… Or throwing a pie in the mayor’s face!
Your biggest artistic inspiration?
Biggest artistic inspiration? When I go see some new show by a rad artist or look through old books or when I give myself five minutes to chill and smoke some weed and laugh.. Vining off my friends.. Community, friendship and laughter.. Honesty with myself.. Talking, sharing.. Americanos! Looking at other people’s art!
What is dangerous art?
Dangerous art is artwork that can be a danger to a set of robotic socialized mass behavior programs. Or a really dangerous form of art.. The most dangerous, is artwork that lulls your rebellious sensibilities to sleep.. That keeps you mundane and in line like a fucking boring piece of shit suburban white boy of death. That’s dangerous art! Thomas Kinkade got you by the balls young man!
Bonus question… nature or nurture?
I think nurture is the truth of things and nature is for people that don’t want to take responsibility for their fucking behavior. You think you were just born an entitled combative piece of shit? Hahaha! You learned it from your daddy and it’s your job to change it ya dick.