I have known of Pat for a long time thru his underground outreach and the comix being published by Fantagraphics. Back in the zine days, if you were underground, you couldn’t get away from finding Pat’s work everywhere. The comic ‘Big Mouth’ is one of my all time favorite comix…. I really enjoy his take on life and art.
What is underground art?
Art that the general public wants nothing to do with.
Art that provokes rather than soothes.
Art without an overt agenda for profit.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
All rules are made to be broken, especially in underground art. It’s almost a “search and destroy the rules” ethic.
What is selling out?
For me, it’s going against your best artistic instincts, inclinations or wishes because you’re being paid to do so.
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
It’d be great if a larger audience embraced what we now call underground art. That would show some evolution in the public consciousness in general. That’s a good thing. Of course, at that time you then have to redefine what “underground” is. What’s the latest art movement being consciously avoided by the masses? And again, you’d see that there’d be a small subset of creativity being ignored. And a new cycle of underground expression is revealed.
Have you ever sold out?
Some illustration work can be annoying. I sometimes end up making modifications I disagree with. The best illustration gigs are the ones where they just stand back and let you do your thing, what you’re known for. The ones where you’re working with a group of editors can get tricky. If there are eight editors, there might be eight changes to your sketch. Each one wants to point at the finished art and say, “I advised that part there, that detail is mine.” I can’t blame them, otherwise it looks like they aren’t doing their jobs. Generally, the jobs where they mess with you the most are the ones that pay the most. The ones where they stand back tend to be the lower paying ones. My best work is in the latter category.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
Yes. It happens every day, all day to everyone, in all facets of living. The ethics of it vary widely, depending on the scenario. Sometimes it’s harmless, other times profound.
Your biggest artistic regret?
Not learning to play a musical instrument at a young age. Very early, I had the mindset of “either or”. You had to be either an artist or musician. Visual or music. Of course I realize now, that it was always possible to do both. I wonder where kids get these notions? I remember in third grade, kids who already had decided they couldn’t draw, and ruled out ART as a form to express themselves, at such a ridiculously early stage of life. I may have done that with music.
Your biggest artistic inspiration?
From an early, impressionable age it was my dad, who was a cartoonist in the navy in the 1950′s before he met my mom in art school, and I watched him draw cartoons at home. At four I identified not with being an artist, but a CARTOONIST, because of him. Later it was R. Crumb.
What is dangerous art?
“Dangerous” might be too strong a word for victimless creativity, but to me, here’s what’s most harmful:
bonus question…nature or nurture?
NURTURE. No question in my case. I am not a natural artist. I struggle a lot. I have to try twice as hard to be half as good as my younger brother. My creative process involves a lot of rejected thumbnails.