Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nicolas Caesar

Name: Nicolas Caesar
What do you do? I’m primarily a painter and cartoonist.
Where can we find your work? Primarily at my web site, locally at Psycho-Donuts in Campbell, CA, On the Corner Music also in Campbell and I’m a regular at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose. You can also find my work at Hyaena Gallery in Burbank, CA, Sideshow Studios in Sacramento, CA, Gallery Sev Ven in Huntington Beach, CA, and The Funhouse Gallery in Michigan,. Outside of the regular spots – I’m kind of the girl who can’t say no when it comes to shows and you can find my work from Norway to Afghanistan.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I have this rabid need to create. It’s obsessive. To date I’ve sold over 3,000 pieces and still hammer out volumes. It’s kind of like straining a nuclear bomb through your mind. Just this pushing, drumming thing that even when all I had was Ramen and chocolate syrup in my refrigerator I was still creating.
I think it’s important that ever artist know that some months you’re rich and others you’re poor. This is not the vocation to get into for the money. You get into it because it’s everything you are and there’s little choice in that. There’s no happy ending but a journey and your art is the journal. You really have to be a fighter, a mad ship captain, and trudge through it. It’s hard, it’s unforgiving, but beyond your successes and failures – you just have to look forward.
Be you first and foremost. Too often people measure themselves against Warhol, Giger, Ernst, Picasso, and that’s a horrible life plan. You will always lose. You will be crippled with depression. In the low times remind yourself that this is your path and it’s uncharted and if you have a solid foundation nothing will draw you down.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?  
Definitely it’s the process. It’s my therapy. It’s thinking in the shower. It’s the trance I go to to makes sense of life, death, existence, and this orchestra of brain chemicals in overdrive. When it’s finished it’s no longer mine, it’s someone else’s journey. No matter what was in my head as I was creating it someone else will buy it because it has a cat in it, because it’s blue, or because they have an overpowering emotional response to it. My job is done.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
When I was growing up I loved Edward Gorey, Parsonovich, Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe, Charles Addams, Johnny Rotten and Screamin’ Mad George. As I got older it was Alex Toth, John K and Jim Smith of Ren and Stimpy and Bob Clampet. Throw them all in a cocktail and you have the best friend I could ever have growing up.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
I think I’d be Beetlejuice, I always seem to be taking the piss out of the people around me. I have this cartoonish look on the world. If I was ever able to manipulate reality it’d be full of my monsters.

When do you get your best ideas?
I go on eBay an do random searches for ‘rubber jiggler’ or ‘unknown monster’. I look at a lot of old toys and I’m big into cryptozoology. I like folklore, urban legends and anything that can conjure up something otherworldly in my mind. I even look at Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster Manual every now and then.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
I use a sponge brush, acrylic pain and Sharpie paint pens.
Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
I’m self taught. I think it allows me to put in more chaos. I think when you’re trained it gets really hard to color outside the lines. As Self taught you run with the challenge and you’re always learning, there’s more development and evolution. I appreciate both but I think there’s something about holding your breath and taking the plunge that’s too exciting to give up.

What would your creative work taste like?
I think Fruit Stripe gum lol

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I watch a lot of movies! I’m a crazy cinephile! I have hundreds on top of hundreds of dvds from video mix tapes to the Pokemon episode that caused seizures. I’m always digging in mom and pop video stores for forgotten treasure.
I also play a lot of Left 4 Dead 2. As an artist I think it’s important to build a tolerance to hecklers and at the same time have an arsenal of retorts. Batman practiced on criminals, I practice on the angry gaming community. If you’re too raw as an artist people will say “My kid could do that” and if your technique is too good people will say “Well, why not just take a picture?”, and of course “Well, what do you do for money?”. Having pre-set retorts can save you a lot of time on the soapbox justifying yourself to people who talk out of their asses.
I also chase my wife around the house like Pepe Le Pew

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
It was really the school of hard knocks. I had always been an artist, doodling this or that, and when I was in grade school I really started to feel the difference. I had asthma so I had to stay indoors most of the time so I could, well, breath. I think having all that time to myself and this runaway imagination really sculpted me. In High School I was the weird one which was great because I was mostly ignored as other kids got beat up. When you’re on your own Gilligan’s Island and you have no limits to how you express yourself you find great power in that. I just pushed more and more out of the rabbit hole. The stranger the better.
Putting it out there was the first challenge. I didn’t know what to do. I was one of those artists that didn’t show outside of their room. That was until I started going to The Cactus Club in Downtown San Jose. I saw a connection to my art and the visual backdrops of bands like Diatribe and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. I got my first band, they were a Christian industrial band called God Dog. They weren’t Skinny Puppy but seeing how people reacted to my sculptures – I think the world made sense. After that I showed my art in a lot of Goth / Industrial / Bondage Clubs in the San Francisco. I didn’t get my 1st real Gallery show ‘til years later but while others were going the gallery route I was showing art at everywhere from Adult Boutiques to Halloween parks. Later the internet leveled the playing field, you didn’t have to go to a gallery to find art, you had a search engine. It was empowering because showing outside the galleries I was getting more traffic and at the same time it was less intimidating for collectors. When at first – people would leave the space because I didn’t paint landscapes – then people started coming in and were happy because I wasn’t painting landscapes. My stuff was quirky and weird but most of all affordable.  

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures? 
Don’t watch Basquiat, Pollock or and of the heavy handed movies about dead artists. They’re commercials. Just like He-Man was made so you’d buy the toys. Most were poor and are no different than you or me. You’re just seeing their A Roll.

Kill your inner critics. All critics are useless.

If all else fails paint cats.

Network. Be genuine and nice to people.

Think outside the gallery box. Restaurants, hotels and bars need art too.

Dismiss ideas about being a success or failure and just be you.

Don’t give up.

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