Hello, I’m me, the guy behind this site and the underground art Q&A that I will be presenting here and you will see and read over the next month… When I came up with the questions I’d ask other artists, I figured I should ask myself first, I did and below are the results.
The why behind me asking these questions… well, there is seldom one reason and looking back I can tell you the superficial reasons like wanting to be productive with my online time, and to further the discussion of art, but I think under it all, I was and am trying to find out where it all fits, most importantly where I fit… It seems I’ve dedicated my life to expressions that are usually titled “underground”, so I needed to explore what that meant.
I’m getting old and this shit has become a gig, where it was once a culture, as in, you just did it, nothing else mattered. Now, I’m expected or needing to make, at the very least, bill payments doing what I do vs. just scoring a bag of weed and some booze, or at the very least what I do needs to be explainable, something that might fit on a business card… I needed to know where I may have gone wrong because sure as shit, every time I start to ask the “what is art?” question, it seems to coincide with a tooth ache I cannot pay for, or a rent bill I can’t make, and I wonder why I stick with my underground expression, why I can do nothing else? Not that I cannot do anything else, but I can’t feel myself doing anything else, almost like the cliche’ response that I’d die if I didn’t do what I’m doing, and that’s true in my case.
I really can’t feel or see myself doing anything else and surviving, but maybe it’s the exact opposite, maybe if I gave up on this life and joined the mainstream and sold soda or cars and gave up on politics and wanting to change the world maybe I’d survive and thrive… I don’t know, but I’ll let you know once I know, and probably after I receive, read, and digest all the answers I have coming in from this underground art project… I hope you appreciate my want to bring you along for the ride… By appreciate, I mean add some funds to the tip jar.
A lot of cool artists have taken time to answer the same questions I’ve answered below… artists like R. Crumb and Jay Lynch and Pete Seeger. What started as a “see what I can pull off in a week” online experiment has turned into a rather deep, and spirited, and opinionated educational journey that I believe all creatives will benefit from.
What is underground art?
Underground art is street art but with politics attached, it denotes the desire to make change and not just make beauty. It is of many things and many generations. Underground art is the nucleus, it’s where the aboveground goes for their ideas, it is pure and unflinching… It has nothing to do with distribution, it has to do with where it starts, that start, starts with the individual and then the zipcode… It’s not from affluence or money, this is for sure.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
Yes. Be true to the scene… the politics of the scene, whether it’s the hippy underground, or the underground comix movement, or the black metal underground… The ‘rules’ are know… if you are born into that zipcode, you understand the rules, your papa and mama laid them down, and you later learn them in school, and again on the street… the rules vary from zipcode to zipcode, clan to clan, and movement to movement… some rules I would guess are old standards – Be true, be yourself, struggle for greatness.
What is selling out?
Not being true. Taking what you’ve learned, what you’ve found has worked, what has made you a name, what made you a king within that class, that clan, that zipcode and using it to climb out of your movement and then forgetting where you came from, that thought of not forgetting where you came from, who you are, is what helps define a sell out.
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
Yes, but they can’t forget their roots and must always pay tribute to their past, to their start, they must lift others out of that zipcode, class, clan, culture… They must visit their humble beginnings and rub elbows with those they started with… then it’s ok.
Have you ever sold out?
Yes. I made a soda company in an effort to turn my back on my roots. My intent wasn’t just giving up, it was also to prove it wrong, it was an experiment of sorts, but my intent was for riches, I was confused.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
Yes and no. Ideas have a life and should be able to live… you can’t do everything… so, if you’re not marketing your stuff well enough, if you’re not supplying the demand and someone sees that demand and fills it, you can’t blame them… It would be like blaming them for eating 1/2 of a cow you killed, even though you would have never been able to eat it and 1/2 of the cow would have gone bad… If you have a great idea, to me, you must do everything you can to give it life, even if it’s giving the idea away to others… holding ideas is petty greed. And trust me, I’ve had a zillion ideas stolen, never seen them taken to their fullest potential, and looking back I wish I had worked with those stealling the ideas, then we may have had a fortune to fight over, it is the pettiness that keeps us divivded and poor.
Your biggest artistic regret.
Fear and weakness… letting my depression get to me and letting my fear stop me… I’ve been fearless in business, but in art I spent my younger years hesitating… afraid to not make something great. My weakness has been not getting over depression or childhood issues, not struggling more with my issues and running from them, not mastering my energies sooner.
Your biggest artistic inspiration.
Pussy, the party, and the feast… I’m hopeless in that respect, a total ape.
What is dangerous art?
Advertising. The art where the brilliant minds of the the mind, the neurologists and psychologists get involved in directing the talented artist’s hand to manipulate the masses.
Bonus question… nature or nurture?
More nature than nurture, 70% nature 30% nurture.