Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life Changers: Influences

Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint a moment when your path in life changes, and sometimes certain things are just burned in your mind forever. Where I came from the question " What do you want to be when you grow up?" moved past dreaming in to reality when I was maybe 12 or so. Sure, I would dream of being a drag race driver, or an astronaut, but who was I kidding, only rich folks went that direction. I was either going to end up in the service or construction, nothing wrong with that, just seemed like my options were very limited.
During this preteen time of planning my future, I was actively drawing and doing well in art classes. I would steal my brother's Easyriders mags and draw pictures of the bikes and especially Dave Mann's stuff. One day among the pile of Easyriders mags I found some other mag that had a feature article about New York artist Chuck Close.

This picture was the first thing I saw. For some reason it totally changed they way I saw a whole lot of things. From then on I wanted to be an artist.
Of course everyone around me gave me the standard "You'll be poor, you wont make shit" etc. etc. Well, fuck em, eventually I just did it. Sure, I was poor, MAN was I poor, for a while, but eventually I actually made a good living.
The really weird thing was that some 10 or so years later after I proved most of my doubters wrong, I had an encounter with Chuck, and even stranger the circumstances surrounding how I it happened.
In the late 90's I was involved in one of the first digital clones for film. We did a digital version of a younger James Brown and put that digital face on a dance double for an installation film at the Experience Music Project. After the project wrapped I put this image together and asked a friend in NYC to print a few nice versions on museum stock paper. I got a call from him a few days later telling me about how Chuck Close ( Chuck was working with him on some prints ) saw the print on a table and was taken back by it.

No, he didn't think it was some great piece of art, that wasn't the point. He looked at it for a while trying to figure out how it was done. Once he learned it was digital 3D and how it was actually executed, according to my friend, he was intrigued, and maybe, just maybe, the image changed his mind a bit about his hard line feelings of technology. The idea that is some small way I may have influenced a great artist that influenced me and basically changed my life is so fucking cool to me.

Chuck in 1998

"Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes this work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I'm computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I'm not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device."

It just may be possible that seeing my image of James Brown prompted him to feel this way, maybe not, but it's a neat thought none the less.


  1. Very Cool, one of the best things I've read in a while.
    However the digital rendering of “Soul Brother Number 1” is going to give me nightmares.

  2. always good to read someone following their heart and making their own way in this world. I picked up trying to inspire teens the way my art teachers inspired me, let's hope I do half as good a job.