Interview with Mark Dean Veca
HYPEBEAST recently had the opportunity to catch up with prominent artist Mark Dean Veca, known for his unique art style and his mind boggling installations. The highlights of our chat included some background information about himself, his influences, and his innovative style of art. Mark also discusses with us the details on his recent work with his good friend Kaws, and his upcoming snowboard project with Nike, which will be released later this year. His upcoming projects and installations will definetly be something to lookout for.
You have made a living off of your art, when and how did realize your passion for art would become a full fledged career?
I sort of always assumed it would. I guess I was raised to believe that if I did what I loved, I’d be good at it and the rewards would follow. It didn’t actually happen until I really needed it to- when I had my own family to provide for. It happened gradually and I still amazed at how we’re able to get by every month.
Your unique art style is sometimes referred to as surreal and psychedelic, how would you yourself describe it?
There are elements of Surrealism and psychedelia in my work, for sure. My stock answer when asked by someone unfamiliar with my work is that it’s a combination of 18th century French decorative arts and contemporary popular culture. That describes the paintings and drawings I’ve been doing, anyway. Not so much the installations. Usually the installations have more to do with responding to the architecture of a particular place. Still, they’ve been incorporating the decorative arts and comix influences as well.
You often incorporate classic and pop culture imagery into your art, what would you say inspires your work?
The found imagery I use in my work is chosen very carefully. I want the imagery to be universal, but it has to be personal, too. I’ve used a lot of imagery from the 60’s and 70’s because those were my formative years and I have some kind of nostalgia for that era. I also try to balance the type of imagery- whether it’s derived from photography, comix, advertising, fine art, etc.
Who are your favorite artists and brands?
My favorite artists are Ed Ruscha, Philip Guston, R. Crumb, De Kooning, Chuck Jones, Carroll Dunham, Rick Griffin… As for brands, what can I say? Recon, Original Fake, Nike, Burton (not necessarily in that order).
You recently worked with Kaws for Original Fake, how did this project start?
KAWS is a great friend and neighbor. Our mutual friend Jamie O’Shea of Supertouch introduced us a few years ago. KAWS and I had been neighbors for years- our studios are literally a block-and-a-half away from each other- but we’d never met. He approached me a year or two ago about interpreting his “Companion” for a T-Shirt, which was a fun project to work on- it was a great way to open up and play with something that I wouldn’t have normally done. That was for the first anniversary of Original Fake and it was- as is everything KAWS produces- very popular. The most recent shirts were similar interpretations of his “Chum” and the Original Fake logo. I think these were even more successful on every level. I’m psyched to collaborate with KAWS; he has very high standards. I’m glad to count him as a fan and a friend and appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to work with him.
Can we look forward to any other artist collaborations? Any particular artists you would like to work with?
I’m working on some more stuff with KAWS right now.
Many big corporations are now focusing on working with independent artists like yourself, how do you feel about this current state of affairs?
I like it. I think, if it’s done well, it’s good for all parties concerned.
Finally, what do you have planned for us in the future?
I’m working on “Phantasmagoria”, a major installation at Otis College of Art and Design in L.A. as part of their Jennifer Howard Coleman Distinguished Lectureship and Residency. I’ll be in residence there for eight weeks this fall working with the students and creating an all-encompassing installation that will incorporate a series of new paintings. It’s all part of Otis’s 90th anniversary celebration, which will take place October 10-12, 2008. I also have some designs for Nike Snowboarding that will drop this fall. Other than that, I have some projects in the works for New Orleans and San Diego for early 2009.