Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Tru Art of Rob Small

Years ago, I met a fellow contemporary artist who's also a good friend of mine by the name of Rob Small. His art can best be defined as the air that we breathe... meaning that it can be everywhere and anywhere; which pretty much encompasses the fluid nature of his work, which seeps into the literal fabric of the things we wear to the pages of the graphic novels we read. His work runs the gamut from the readily urban and accessibly popular, to the more obscure and lesser known to a specific niche type of references. Whether it be a line borrowed from a movie serving as a new cache phrase à la guerrilla art motif, or a piece of clothing that has been modified and custom made with a word or two borrowed from popular culture, Rob Small's art is Tru (sic) in every sense of the word. I was fortunate enough to share a couple of words with him recently, and this is what he had to say... Enjoy!

PS: What artists, be they visual, literary, musical, etc. would you say have the most profound effect on you as an artist and/or as a whole? (Editor's note: I got a little tongue tied with the word literary, now I know what Barbara Walters must feel like on a bad night!)

RS: Hmmm...Well I would have to say, as far as music goes...I would have to say Portishead, I love that stuff! Kind of dark and melancholy, which is kind of funny 'cause some of my stuff is really colorful and bright, but at the same time... I like to you know; use it as a contrast to when I'm feeling down in the dumps. I listen to some Portishead, some Wu-tang, I like a little gangsta.

Visual... let me see, oh! I would say Shepard Fairey, (he's) very influential. I like the propaganda type of look and feel. If this was a video, you would see the shirt I'm wearing... it looks like a dictator tee! [laughs]

Tru Art Image 1

PS: [laughs] Would you say (that) Shepard Fairey's (brand of) guerrilla art movement has a profound influence on you as an artist?

RS: Hehehe!

PS: I know it's kind of redundant, but...

RS: Yeah, yeah, that's funny... Did you have to think about that?

PS: No, no... it's just that (Editor's note: Apparently I was speaking too fast to decipher exactly what I was saying here, but I think that what was said was basically just a general motioning towards the piece of paper on which the interview questions were on, which Rob just so happen to glance at during the entire course of this interview, which pretty much made everything be downright utterly predictable and not at all spontaneous... note to self: in the future do try to keep the interview questions outside of the field of view from the interviewee in order to maintain the integrity of the random set of questions!)

RS: Yeah, yeah, there you go... Shepard Fairey, very propaganda; know, kind of like...mixing in the guerrilla tactics, like how he used to post up all the stickers all over the place with Andre the Giant that said Obey on it, that was pretty cool. Mmmm hmmm...

PS: How long have you been a commercial artist and what prompted you to venture into this line of work?

RS: Well, I guess I wanted to do this, because... because it's the only thing I know how to do very, very well... [laughs]

PS: [laughs]

RS: ...that I could make money off of, anyway. Um, how long have I been doing it for? Making money off of it... I would say probably like three years, you know... selling little things here and there, doing portraits for people, and starting with the shirts and web design, things of that nature. Ever since I learned web design in college, you know I started to learn, messing with that, and a little graphics here and there; freelancing.

PS: So then... let me get a complete understanding, okay? Aside from you doing the comic books, you do the web design, and you also do like clothing.

RS: Mmmm hmmm...

PS: Which one would you say is your most favorite, you know... particular one to do?

Tru Art Image 2

RS: I would say the clothing, because I like the idea of being able to wear art or being able to present it on an everyday basis. I like art being practical art, instead of it just hanging on the wall for people to enjoy, I like practicality, that's what I like. Another thing is the dynamic to the sneaker culture; I kind of see sneakers as an architectural, artistic combination, and then you can also wear it out and put on your feet; and it's practical and useful...

PS: Okay, what genre would you say best describes the sort of your art that you do; would you say it's mainstream and commercial,underground and obscure, or is it relatively unknown with the potential of becoming popular?

RS: Hmmm... I would say it's relatively unknown style that I use. It's like a...

PS: But it's got potential?

RS: Yeah it has the potential to blow up because... well I like to describe it as very Renaissance; not in the sense of the Renaissance that we know. You know; Michelangelo, and you know those guys--- but Renaissance in the sense of like Renaissance man, like a... or mass appeal. Kind of like you know, just art that you could... you know art that you do rare; meaning that anybody from any culture or genre; you know if you're into Rockabilly stuff, I got some of that; if you're into hip hop I got some stuff like that; urban themes, I got Carribean themes, you know rasta stuff, I got you know...all kinds of stuff. I have a different section called Tru Art Noir Art I could go towards, most towards the dark... you know; emo types, you know---those kinds of people. So it runs the gamut, you know? Which is kind of like a cop out, but it's Tru (sic).

PS: So in that sense you would say that the Renaissance is kind of like a rebirth, you know... so to say? How do you say? A reproach to what's already been done?

RS: Right, right, kind of like a rebirth but in the sense that like uh... you know, the way that things are looking now; culturally in the United States and maybe the world, I would say that things are with a lot of melding, meshing of different cultures. You see, like Christian Dior had this whole rasta thing, you know... and this is high fashion, and he had this whole rasta theme, with the red, gold, and green as the primary colors; so he used that theme, and there's another designer, a fashion designer or fashion house called Etro, and they use a lot of native Indian looks and you know, they mix a lot of different things together, making the old line... that's what I'm into.

PS: And how would you say um... President Obama's you know, taking of the office, if you will... how much has that been an influence?

RS: Obama? Hmmm... well, I would say like uh... that the Obama thing is catching up with me in a sense, [laughs] being that the whole Shepard Fairey thing that you mentioned before, and he actually did a bunch of posters of Obama...

PS: Yeah...

RS: ...and so I was on that vibe a while ago, you know. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to get popular and blow up beforehand, but you know I would say that I was doing the same thing. But influentially, I would say that him being an icon is influential enough for me.

PS: What in your opinion... this one is difficult; defines as a work of art as Tru Art; like what is its characteristic, or continuous theme, if there is one?

RS: I would say that the continuous theme that every piece of art has a message of some kind; it is relaying an idea to you. It's not just art for the sake of art, you know just like pretty colors, pretty shapes, and contours of lines; you know, a lot of people can argue aesthetics...

PS: Mmmm hmmm...

RS: ...and you can say: "Oh! you know... Tru Art is actually just lines, and colors, and shapes!" But for me I would say that Tru Art is something that conveys a message, it conveys a story, almost like a narrative in every design I do... and that's pretty much a narrative; when you look at it, you interpret it, and it's not something that it's like... you don't have to be a major in art to be able to interpret it.

PS: Or appreciate it...

RS: Or appreciate it, exactly...

Well, there you have it everybody, Rob Small; guerrilla artist, graphic novelist, and fashion designer extraordinaire. For more of his artwork, please be sure to visit his MySpace Profile or add him as a friend on Facebook.

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eye C Beauty - The Photography of John Miller

When you talk about photography, there are those that simply take a picture and stand back to let the image speak for itself... but very rarely does one happen to come across a true photographer in every sense of the word that can easily put a thousand words into one's mind, or one's mind's eye; so to say. And that photographer is none other than John Miller, whom is a very talented professional that I just so happened to meet recently at a live music venue that I very briefly attended (and oddly enough--- even participated in on a few occasions; as evidenced by these photos below).

Gnoyze Live Jam Session Image 1    Gnoyze Live Jam Session Image 2

Shortly a little after these live jam sessions were over, I kept on hearing about just how these photos came out, and I was really eager to see them for myself. Of course, John, being the cool cat that he is simply stated something to the effect of: "There's more coming... you'll see them soon!" Never, for one minute, letting on about how great they all were. So then I started noticing a couple of tagged photos starting to surface all over Facbook, and I was completely amazed (literally just floored) by the fluid sharpness of each of these shots. What really impressed me the most was how he managed to take a near dimly lit stage and use the random colored house lights to his advantage. To put it metaphorically, (or better put; as a simile...) it's like watching a master painter make a masterpiece out of just a few strokes.

Everybody in the business knows that when you're good, you don't need to do a thousand shots before deciding which one is best. John, on the other hand, knows exactly when to aim, shoot, take a breather, and go on to the next shot. He's a brilliant artist, and a master one at that! The mark of a true artist is when they can easily adapt themselves into the likes of any medium, whereas John's medium is the shutter, a roll of film (digital and/or otherwise), and a subject. He takes stills and brings them to life, right before your naked eye. So without any further ado, here's a little Q & A session that I was fortunate enough to do with this remarkably gifted artist. Enjoy!

PS: Where are you originally from, and if you're not originally from Florida, what prompted the move over here?

JM: I'm from Detroit, Michigan. I moved here to pursue photography, the weather, go to the Art Institute and still be within a couple of hours of the family.

PS: What would you say do you like best about the South Florida scene in general?

John Miller Photography Image 1
Dated: November 1st, 2008

JM: What I like best about the South Florida scene is the weather and South Beach.

PS: How did you get into photography?

JM: I had a little camera when I was very young but I really started to read, study and experiment with photography when I was 11 and my dad got a Canon AE-1 and I'm pretty sure that I used it more then he did.

PS: What artists, be they visual, literary, musical, and/or otherwise would you say have the most profound influence on your work as a photographer?

JM: My influences and inspiration have come from my favorite photographers like Helmut Newton, Ansel Adams and Gordon Parks.

PS: Do you feel as though your style of photography is a highly evolved art form, or do you view it more as just a down-to-earth/gun-for-hire type of picture taking?

JM: I feel that my style is highly evolved, since I've been developing it for over thirty years...

PS: Just about every photographer/artist/musician out there has their own style or branding that sets them apart from the rest... what would you say best typifies a John Milleresque type of photograph?

JM: How can you tell it's a John Miller photo? I can photograph the simplest of things and then enhance the color and the beauty. So, it will be rich with color, unless it's a black and white, and beautiful... Simple.

John Miller Photography Image 2
Dated: April 25th, 2008

PS: Which method of photo development would you say that you prefer more? The more traditional type of photo development (i.e. in a darkroom with a sink or tub full of water to develop the picture) or the new era of digital photography where it's just a matter of choosing an effect setting, pointing, and taking the right shot? And can you also give us an explanation as to why you would prefer to use one specific means instead of the other?

JM: Growing up I spent a lot of time in the darkroom, I even built my own in the basement when I was in high school. So, my background is in the traditional method of processing. However, I have become a fan of the speed, convenience and flexibility of the digital age. Instead of shooting, processing the film and then printing the images, you can instantly see if you have the right angle, lighting, composition and overall look your seeking.

PS: Are you of the mindset that vintage photographs fair a lot more on the art market as compared to today's digital age, or would you say that this new technologically influenced genre could in fact compete just as well with more traditional photography? Would it be right to compare the two styles with each other, or would you say they're two entirely different approaches?

JM: It's not really fair to compare the vintage with the technology, they are worlds apart. I believe vintage images to be more valuable since they probably can't be duplicated for whatever reason.

PS: What's your opinion on the art scene down here in Florida? Do you think it's still struggling to establish some worthwhile notoriety, or would you say that it still has a long way to go before it can be on par with say... the scene in New York and/or Los Angeles for that matter?

JM: It seems the Art Scene is growing but it needs more than the once a year Art Basel, which I believe has helped a lot.

PS: And as a follow up to that question, what in your opinion do you think can best be done to raise awareness of the striving arts community down here in Florida?

JM: Raising awareness is a process, another event or two like Art Basel would do the trick.

For more of John Miller's work, please visit his website at WWW.EYECBEAUTY.COM or Check out his work on Facebook.

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

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