(originally published in 2009)
20 QUESTIONS or so with Visual Artist, Painter and Friend IAIAN GREENSON...
IAIAN's Work can be seen at http://doctorballs.deviantart.com.
The SKETCHBOOK PROJECT is currently at the CHICAGO ART SOURCE GALLERY in Chicago, Illinois (runs until June 20th). Iaian has also just been asked to display at the 2009 Comic-Con in San Diego, California.
PROLOGUE by Artist IAIAN GREENSON
When I close my eyes and think of Karen Marie (KM), I think of when we first became friends, which shockingly, was nearly 10 years ago. She is now as she was then. Immaculate looking: flawless skin, perfect make up, style through the roof, killer shoes.
Her poise always seemed effortless, which is one of the things I liked best about her.And she was driven. Not in any kind of pushy way, it was just clear that this girl had been a winner since day 1. And I don’t know if you’ve ever met her family but they’re like an ad for Asian Ralph Lauren.
Unfortunately, geographic limitations dictate that this interview isn’t face to face. If it were, I can tell you right now, we would be sitting somewhere, it would be late afternoon and we would be drinking something. Bossa-nova would be playing quietly in the background and I would be wearing an ironic t shirt and nice jeans and at some point I would tell KM that if I were a chick I would want to be her.
Karen Marie (KM): Iaian (IG), you know I've shared a mutual admiration for you for such a long time... is it a surprise that I am interviewing you for Art + Culture? I AM your biggest advocate you know.
IG: A surprise only in the sense that it’s not everyday that you get interviewed by your friends, not a surprise that it has anything to do with art and culture or Art + Culture for that matter - as you are the most sophisticated person I know.
Regarding our mutual admiration society…I must say that I have always felt the love coming back to me and without getting icky I’ve always felt a kindred spirit in you.
KM: Most sophisticated person you know?! I feel blessed to hear that from you - I always feel the mutual admiration both ways. So onto this interview - I know you look to Basquait as precedence to describe your work, but are there other influences or artist movements that you consider yourself a movement of? Some may compare your work to be Warhol-esque or your usage of colour to Matisse-like - how do you respond to this?
IG: Truth be told it wasn’t until my work starting showing up on-line that I heard the phrase ‘pop-art’ associated with it. I never ever heard it before that. I understand it of course; there is a similar iconographic overtone to the work. As long as people see my work, they could say that it reminds them of Mad Magazine…in fact, that would be kind of cool. But to answer your question…the truth is that it’s all of those things you said. I love Basquiat and I love Warhol and the way the fauve’s used colour and the Sistine Chapel…but I also love comic books and cereal boxes and candy wrappers and James Bond movies and Star Wars. I would never compare myself to a genius like Matisse but I’m not trying to ape fauve colours, really if anything, I want my paintings to look like a Duran Duran video.
KM: I know this is cliché, but what influences your content and subject matter?
IG: Besides you? I explore very similar themes in a lot of my work. Dysfunction and perversion feature prominently. (Laughs)
KM: You are probably the most interesting and 'intellectually-swaggered' person in my list of people I love. Does this surprise you?
IG: I love being told I am intellectually swaggered – coming from you – that’s high praise indeed as you aint no 98 pound weakling yourself.
KM: Aside from being a insightful and hugely talented painter, you’re a writer. Is this still a passion?
IG: Absolutely it is. In fact I write all the time. I write a blog with a couple of other guys, under a pseudonym, where I post nearly twice a week.
KM: SO...are we ever going to see IAIAN GREENSON in the bestseller's list?
IG: (Laughs)…that would be nice.
KM: Having said that then, do you agree with me that it is a natural progression for creative types as ourselves to dabble and diversify our talents and branch out into different media? Do you think it is key this day and age to be multi-faceted to survive in this society - for street cred and for monetary reasons?
IG: Absolutely, it’s essential. I come from the David Bowie school of thought. And quite frankly I feel sorry for someone who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the possibilities available right now. Saying that….creating art for the money is like watching basketball for the sneakers.
KM: So seriousness aside - how has life been treating you? I know you are the father of 2 ridiculously gorgeous children - how has this heightened your experience in life?
IG: It changed everything. The moment I became a father, I felt I re-born. It actually made me kind of happy. Like actually happy. Having kids is remarkable in the way it can really show you how full of shit you are. Because the moment I became a parent all my hurts and peccadillos seemed kind of foolish. Having 2 children under 4 also renders you egoless. I find that I care about things less while caring about everything in the universe more.
KM: Tell me about the SKETCHBOOK PROJECT.
IG: Two guys named Shane Zucker and Steven Peterman from the Art House Co-op out of Atlanta Georgia have this mad idea to build a collective of sketchbooks made by artists from all over the world. All the artists receive the same Moleskine sketchbook, a loose theme (in this case ‘Everyone We Know’) and a deadline. The books were then all collected and put together in a show, which toured Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, St Louis, Chicago, Brooklyn, and then back to Atlanta. In fact the show is still running, until June 20th at the Chicago Art Source Gallery in Chicago.
Personally having never worked on such a small scale, it was a revelation for me. And creating my sketchbook was one of the most rewarding artistic experiences of my life.
KM: I'm just wondering - still a Real Madrid fan? or Barcelona... I forget....
IG: If I were with you right now KM I would say RRRRRRRRRRRRRRaul.
KM: LOL - I’m an Arsenal fan, but since Henri left for Spain... it hasn’t been the same. Do you agree it's still important to stay connected to our cultural roots and to explore other cultures as well - I know you have traveled quite a bit..
IG: Oh yes absolutely. I was always very aware that my mother was from a different place, aware of her accent. It always made me feel special and incredibly proud to say that I was Spanish.
Coming from Toronto where we’re all basically first generation Canadians; you are, I am, Tessa is, there is a real sense of pride inherent in that even. During World Cup, for example, if Italy beats Greece, the Danforth is clogged with Italians driving up and down the street waving their flag. But that’s one the things that makes Toronto so great is that there is a Little Italy, Chinatown, Little India, The Danforth…
KM: Is there anywhere you haven't visited, that you need to visit before you die?
IG: Oh my god yes….hundreds and hundreds. Just to give you one example. Right now I am obsessed with Mexico City. To me it seems like one of the last places on Earth that’s still surreal. I dream about spending a year in Mexico City taking photographs.
KM: Top 5 Songs right now? P.S. I love lists by the way..
IG: Instead of picking my top 5 – I am going to take my IPOD and shuffle it 5 times.
Here we go.
Midnight Juggernauts – Shadows
Eagles of Death Metal – Wannabe in L.A
Supergrass – Diamond Hoo Ha Man
Q Tip – Gettin’ Up
My Jamaican Guy – Grace Jones
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – wait that’s 6 isn’t it? -Heads Will Roll…
I could do this all day, Oscar Peterson – Wave
KM: And movies?
IG: The Party, Kung Fu Hustle
The Big Lebowski, Midnight Run
Godfather 2…I could do this all day too.
KM: 3 things you can't live without?
IG: My sons and my Ipod and my hair crimper. That’s 4 isn’t it?
KM: Agreed - I am dead to the world without my iPod.. and hairdryer.. and blackberry lol. Re-incarnated as....?
IG: Christiane Amanpour
KM: Fave city for a) ART SCENE; b) FOOD; c) WOMEN; d) DRUNKEN STUPOR + RANDOMNESS?
IG: I did nearly 2 years of drunken stuporing around Europe and must say that Budapest where I lived for awhile still captivates me. It’s an amazing place to be drunken. As for the art scene, it’s the usual suspects, London, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Barcelona, Toronto – truth be told – that goes the same for Food and Women.
KM: So where should we expect to see IAIAN GREENSON in the next 5 years?
IG: London, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Barcelona, Toronto
KM: What is your comment on today's art + culture scene?
IG: It’s a very fertile and exciting time. It’s also incredibly sincere…does that even makes sense? I think what I am trying to say is that there is a lot of genius things happening all over the world.
KM: Is there anything you haven't done, relative to art or life in general, that you would like to try or experience?
IG: I would love to climb a little bit of Everest. Paddle down the Amazon in a canoe – and shop for $500 t-shirts on the Shinjuku.
KM: OK last question, how do you want to be remembered....?
IG: As a great kisser, painter and father (not necessarily in that order) – And as a guy who could finish the Rubik’s Cube quickly.
KM: OK, last LAST question... do you miss me?
IG: I need you like air baby, you know that.