Tennessee Loveless is a super rad dude. I could stop there but brevity has never been my strong suit.
We met waiting tables at a diner in Echo Park at least a couple of our nine lives ago and bonded over tattoos, BMEzine, terrible tippers, coffee and life as general artist types. Since then he has been bouncing all over the world painting his Mickey Mouse paintings which are an incredible marriage of text, color and line and interviewing drag queens for his project "Drag Landscapes" which is a brilliant glimpse into queer identity and a rarely authentically documented subculture.
Mr. Loveless is a busy guy so I was thrilled we had a second to catch up and check out a new-to-me coffee shop in Echo Park. We met at Eightfold Coffee, grabbed a tasty beverage and got to chatting.
Tennessee was in town to do a book signing at the Grove for his Disney project and brought along a copy to show me some of the details. He works his environment, friends and life into the pieces so it was pretty rad so see my name snuck onto a painting!
Look mom I'm famous! (Jk she doesn't read my blog....sigh...why, mom, why?)
One of the biggest things I have been wrestling with lately is finding a happy balance between artistic fulfillment and commercial success. Living in a giant city can be emotionally and artistically draining on it's own but adding in the competitive nature of a field like photography or fine art, dwindling rates and increasing expenses can really leave a person in a depleted daze. So it was a special kind of coincidence that we landed on a page with my favorite Mickey painting that had a significant story.
Most of the paintings Tennessee had done when he started the Disney project were fairly graphic and commercial as a way to manage the fact he is a colorblind artist working from in many ways, a conceptual idea of color theory. These pieces were wonderful, the prominant Mickey head on a detailed, very colorful, geometric background but not all together that revealing of him as an artist or the vibrant individual he is. This piece changed everything, the direction of the project and arguably the direction of his life.
This painting was different. It was rough, lived in and real. It had paint smudges and a stream of consciousness diary of his experience pairing the piece. He expected it to be rejected from the project but they loved it. Not only did they recognize his talent and personality, but they encouraged it and this set the blueprint for the rest of his 10x10x10 Mickey Project.
I think that can serve as an excellent reminder, one I need plenty often- be yourself, take risks and be real- people will respond!
Hopefully this will give you a little creative push to test the boundaries in your own projects as we move into a new year. Thanks for hanging out 10SC, hopefully not so long until the next time!
Happy snacking and happy art making!