Alphabet Sea - An interview

Just finished a short interview for Kickstarter. The interview will be featured on their blog next week sometime, but here it is in it's entirety for your enjoyment. Thanks for stopping by!

-Of all the ways to teach the alphabet, why sea creatures?
I'm always drawing different creatures and I painted a jellyfish one day and thought, I like this guy. What other sea creatures can I do? Instantly the A-Z idea popped into my head. I thought it was going to be a book, like Richard Scarry or something, but somewhere along the way it became a Flash Card set.
-Is there possibly a relationship between your passion for marine life and your daily life in the desert?
The contrast of it, for sure. I love the ocean and it is a place to get away, in a sense these paintings help me escape as well.
-(following up on that ...) How does your Hesperia environment influence your work and/or creative process?
It's great for the creative process because I have a lot of space. There is a lot of open land and atmosphere. I spend a lot of time outside, my studio is outside, and I love the fresh air we have up here and undeveloped land.
-You mention that you salvage the wood from the desert where people dispose of it improperly. Is dumping like that a common practice in your area? What else have you found there? Do you upcycle any other materials from there to make art? Is up/re-cycling a major part of your daily life?
Because of the open land and relatively few dumps, there are areas that have become dumping grounds. I've always been intrigued at how one mans trash is another mans treasure. I upcycle mainly wood. I've built some really cool privacy fences around my yard besides using the wood for art canvases, and I built some skateboard ramps for my kids out of reclaimed wood. I also built a lot of furniture in my house out of old wood. I recently found a pool table dumped in the desert, so my eyes are always open to what I can re-use. I try to teach my kids to save our resources whenever possible, so recycling and repurposing things is part of our daily life.
-Your bio says you make films, music, and animations as well as paintings. What else (if anything) are you working on now besides Alphabet Sea? 
I've always got a few projects cooking, it's a curse. I just finished doing a web series on the Food Truck scene in LA. There's a website with clips at I have a puppet project that got picked up for the "Handmade Puppet Dreams" series about a Skeleton out to avenge his own death after being pushed into a vat of salsa you can see here - I recently put up a youtube channel with a few of my songs - and I've written a comedy feature that I plan to direct later this year, I'll be putting it on Kickstarter when it's ready to be launched.
-I see the aesthetic and educational value of these cards as kind of Dr. Seuss meets Edward Gorey. ...Any comment/rebuttal on that assessment? What artists inspire you to create as you do?
I'm honored that you would make that association! I grew up on Dr. Seuss and feel there isn't enough whimsical kids stuff out there. I love his art and rhyme structure, the hand made nature of it. Gorey is another artist I love. It's those kind of artists that inspired me to put my art out there even if I don't have formal, classical training. I love the Obey stuff as well as Banksy, artists putting art out there even if you're not looking for it. I try to work in that influence with the stencil elements when I can. Basquiet is major influence in this series. I saw his show at MOCA, twice, and I realized that the roughness of it let you into the artists frame of mind. The visceral connection you get with art that has visible brush strokes, paint can residue and footprints on it reminds you that it was made by someone. You can almost feel the energy of the artist.
-Do you have kids? If so, what are they like and how have they affected your work?
I have two boys that I have sole custody of. They inspire me to go out and fight the good fight every day, to keep a roof over their heads and keep food on the table. It's hard to be a single father and be an artist, but they help me to never lose sight of my dreams. I definitely make art that is more kid friendly or kid-centric a a result of having kids, but I play with puppets and animate for a living, so I'm a pretty big kid myself.
-Do you remember how you learned the alphabet, the first book your read, and/or how you learned to read?
The Richard Scarry "Busytown" series and Sesame Street. Mercer Meyer and Dr. Seuss Were huge as well.
-You say on your blog that promoting literacy is akin to "saving our future." Can you elaborate on that point?
Cursive is dead, reading isn't cool, kids spell in shorthand via text... Reading is the gateway to imagination. I'm a prolific reader as are my boys, and I can't imagine the child who doesn't get to explore the land of make believe with a good book. All knowledge comes through reading, and all expression comes through writing. If communication is to survive, reading is paramount to it's success.
-Do you have a favorite out of the 26 cards? Why is it your favorite?
They all have a character to me. They have personality even if they can't talk. I think the Octopus is my favorite because he's goofy.
-Wherever did you get that sweet Star Wars sweatshirt?!?!
I know right? I have to think my wonderful girlfriend Luci Norris for that bit of geeky goodness.

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