ClockWork Cros in Five
Why do you do what you do?
Both my parents are artists, and I've always done whatever held my interest--be it poetry, music videos, graphic design, fashion or art. I grew up surrounded by fearless artists in the Lower East Side of downtown Manhattan, so I picked up some of that energy along the way. The LES was a place anyone in the world could come to be themselves without judgement. That has changed with the gentrification of the neighborhood. Now it has become more of torch for me to carry, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I really just like doing dope shit and creating what I have in my mind’s eye into reality--enjoying life and the opportunities that come with it. It’s a giant world and chasing fame or money would be empty if I didn't enjoy what I was doing while I was doing it. I can be hard on myself sometimes with where I am in my life, but I feel like every time I get a chance to do something awesome there all these people that are watching me, proud that I've kept going, and they are rooting for me. I'm thankful to be able to create the shit I like, and people are into it.
What research do you do?
My clocks are made to inspire and motivate people so whenever I’m asked to make someone I don’t already know of, I always take my time to go out and research the person so I know who I am making. I'm constantly learning and searching out whatever I don't know. I can always find interesting new ways of approaching ideas when people suggest new things to me. I'll break night sometimes watching videos and diving into website links until I forget what I was originally looking at. A couple years ago I got burnt out going to art fairs and started feeling like I knew more about art than other people, and it made me unable to actually enjoy the art. I had to check myself and go back with a child-like outlook to realize I wasn't actually looking at the art anymore. The art world can give off snobby vibes sometimes, and it can make you feel like that’s how you should act too. When I realized that I was able to affect that experience I made it a goal of mine to show a new generation of art lovers that art is obtainable and start a new wave of young collectors. Shit everybody needs a clock, right?
What’s your goal professionally?
I would love to have a million clocks in homes all around the world. I'm currently in over 3,000 homes and counting. It’s a dream of mine to reach people on a huge scale and inspire them to create and do what they love. The best experiences I have are from people happy with the art they have in their homes, and how it helps them recenter when life throws them curve balls. I'm slowly working towards that goal, but I know it takes time.
Do you prefer to work with music or in silence?
I love to work with music on, the television on, all the lights on, people hanging out, talking, drinking, smoking, whatever the energy is that keeps me busy and makes me feel like I'm vibrating. I've grown up in New York City, and I've been programmed to absorb advertisements on the top of cabs and the ever-growing amount of screens that pop up in the streets daily, so whenever I'm working I like to feel like I'm in sync with the speed of the city. I find inspiration in all forms of media, and sometimes I perform better under pressure when I feel like a lot is happening around me. Although I don't like to paint in public too much where I feel like I'm on display in a zoo or something, If I'm in the studio with my peoples I can work as fast if not faster than I would alone.
Who are your favorite writers?
I have a literature degree from SUNY Purchase, and the first clocks I ever made were of my favorite writers like Langston Hughes, Virginia Wolfe, Aimé Césaire, Tupac Shakur, Arthur Rimbaud, and Frederick Douglass along with some others. I sold those clocks at a silent auction in my apartment at college. The show sold out, and I realized from the response that I had stumbled onto something truly unique.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
There are no rules.
Smurfo in Five
Who is Smurfo?
My name is Christopher Weeden, a.k.a. Smurfo Udirty, a.k.a. Teddy Love, a.k.a. Young Not Basquiat. My background is in illustration, graffiti, urban contemporary painting, and pop collage.
How did your journey begin?
My strongest memory of childhood is drawing dinosaurs. I was a huge fan of Jurassic Park as a kid (and still am to this day). When I first picked up a pen, I drew only dinosaurs for four years before going on to people or anything else.
What is the greatest challenge an artist faces?
The artistic life is lonely. You are aware. You aren't ignoring things. You pay attention to everything. It makes you sad. You paint to feel better. You only go out because you are young and don't want to only paint all day, but being out in the world is not what you expected. You return to art because creating is better than being around people who choose to be in a bubble of their own opinions.
So how do I counteract feeling lonely? By being alone, that's how.
The hardest lesson you've had to learn?
I was caught in a fight and someone broke a bottle over my face. I ended up with glass in my right eye and a corneal abrasion. I couldn't see for four days. My right eye never healed correctly, but it's better than not seeing at all. I’ve got a permanent IG filter on my vision.
The moral is don't fight people who aren't painters. In fact, don't fight in general. Live and be happy.
Your best advice to young artists?
The best piece of advice I've been given is to be patient. Keep producing and don't regard the opinions of people when it comes to your aesthetic.
The best advice I can give is the same. Don't be impatient. If you’ve been doing art for five years, you’ve still got time to make it. If you do anything long enough, for the right reason, you will get to where you want to be.
Chuck Bones in Five
What is your background?
I grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York City back in 2002. I started taking pictures on black-and-white film and would use a Xerox machine to make copies of my pictures. I loved the halftone effect you'd get from a Xerox machine and started making cut-and-paste collages with some of the pictures I took.
I was very much inspired by the artwork of Robert Rauschenberg and Warhol too. I liked how Warhol used those massive screens to print canvases at The Factory. I got a basement studio on the Lower East Side and took that approach on a much smaller scale and starting making clothes -- mainly t-shirts in the beginning because screenprinting is such a cool medium. I actually get my screens burned at the same place Warhol got his screens burned back in the day.
How do you work?
My medium is mainly collage. I like to use a lot of print media from the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, usually hunted down at a flea market. I like to collage images of skulls, Americana, erotica, and empowerment. I sometimes silk-screen images into my work and like to use old frames as well. I also make clothes, mostly t-shirts and leather jackets.
Making collages and making clothes goes hand in hand, because I look at creating them the same way. In my eyes, they're both like puzzles. With my artwork, I'm meeting up images with one another and with clothes I’m meeting up notches on the seams with beautiful materials. The goal in the end is to make a statement and to make people feel good.
Who are your favorite artists?
Wes Lang, Brendan Donnelly, John Copeland, Russell Nachman, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, Nan Goldin, and Une Maitresse Femme. They all have that 'wow factor'.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
"Scull" by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
What do you listen to while you work?
I rarely work in silence. I listen to a lot of Iggy Pop.