Stance December 2001

• Do you remember the first serious thing you drew?

.......not really knowing what you mean by serious? maybe with serious
implications, probably would be when i was in elementary school, and the
newspaper had a weekly 'junior artist' contest. there would be a section, i
think near the comics, that the paper would print a winning entry and list
some honorable mentions. between my brother and i, we probably sent in an
entry a week each. eventually, we both won or placed many times. perhaps the
opportunity to see our name in the paper propelled the two of us to become
better artists than we were, and from there, it opened up a whole new room.
of course what we were doing was all pencil work, and it wasn’t until later
in junior high, that i would learn about using india ink, and how quickly you
could destroy a pencil illustration, because this new method of inking didn’t
work as easily as a pencil would. that was really frustrating. when i was in
eigth or ninth grade, i got an inked illustration, published as a cover of a
fanzine published on the east coast. i was shocked. looking back, someone
really gave me an opportunity, as the piece was not anything exceptional. i
took more art related classes at school, to try and learn how to get better
at these new methods i was discovering, but i started to run into teachers
who taught so you could have a style like theirs, and they seemed more
capable of trying to persuade you to not do what you were doing, and learn
their way. by the time i got into high school, there were 2 main art
teachers, one hated me and the other was just the greatest guy, but he was
the ceramics teacher. so i was still learning about illustration, but i was
doing it at home. one day, during my senior year in high school, i was in an
art class with the teacher who hated me...i still wanted to learn. and he
came up to me and said he was transfering me to another class. at first this
confused me. i was sent with some documents and reported to this new teacher.
prior to that, no one had told me anything. i was put into a journalism
class, and i would now be doing artwork for the school newspaper. which at
that time i knew nothing about. and it worked out great, as people were
exposed to what i could do, and i got my first taste of recognition. what i
had been working on for so long, had now become much more serious than it
ever was. still, i don’t know if that teacher was trying to advance my
progression, or if he just wanted to get rid of me? this was a serious
turning point for me, i just didn’t know it then.

• Who or what was the biggest influence on your drawing style?

.......seeing other people's work was/is probably the biggest influence,
since that work captured my attention, and motivated me to try and learn how
to put something to paper like they were. it was the work of others that
eventually led to my style, since in trying to be like them, as their art was
so fascinating, and finding out that i couldn't do what they were doing
technically, the rough edges started to appear with this visual learning p
rocess. of course, you learn about art in tiers, and each artist can lead
you to another artist, and before you know it, you are bedazzled by all this
fantastic work.....and you really want to participate in this amazing ability
to scratch or blemish paper. i really enjoy getting art books, especially
from artists i really admire, it can be really exciting to turn over page
after page of what i consider, brillance. sometimes that’s all i need for
inspiration, even though what will be created, has nothing to do with what i
got hyped over, it’s that effort to be creative.

• When you were younger, what artists (both illustrators and musicians)
did you look up to?

......thinking back, i don't think i have ever looked up to a particular
musician, i just enjoyed music and the bands who made the music. as for
artists, it's difficult to figure out an actual evolution. i can remember
cool cereal boxes, and MAD magazines in the early 1960's, but i think comic
books really brought it all around. John Romita on Spiderman, Jack Kirby on
the fantastic four and captain america (then into the 1970's with mister
miracle and the demon) and Gene Colan on dr.strange and,
that stuff is still so powerful today, i love it. in the beginning of the
1970's, i discovered Frazetta paintings on fantasy book covers, Bama's doc
savage book covers, Roger Dean's album covers, and underground comix artists
like Vaughn Bode and Rick Griffin. during that time, i would be exposed to
four artists, who would probably have the biggest influence on my
illustrative style...Virgil Finlay, Berni Wrightson, Alex Nino, and Franklin
Booth. all these artists have had the strongest influence on me as an artist,
and as a fan of their work. more listings: Rene Bull, Kenneth Smith, William
Stout, Enki Bilal, Ernst Fuchs, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Hans Bellmer, Sybille
Ruppert, Robert McGinnis, Libertore, Phil Hale, Kent Williams, Arthur
Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Burne Hogarth, Jeff Jones, HR Giger, Suehiro Maruo,
Katsuya Terada, Sugi, Al Hirschfeld, Dave Stevens, Stephen Fabian, to name a

• Is it true that you designed the Del Mar Skate Ranch logo? How did you
feel about Foundation reissuing it?

........actually it was the second del mar skate ranch logo that i designed.
there was a contest at the end of 1978, and whoever could design a new logo,
would get free skating for a month. i was a local at the park, so i was
excited to enter. in doing the logo, i tried to use elements that represented
del mar at that time. inouye caster deck, ufo double conical wheels, tracker
mags, and the keyhole pool.
around a year ago i was visiting the tum yeto headquarters, and i brought
along a del mar bumper sticker for tod, since i knew he was also a local at
the park, a gift for his memory collection. soon after that, barker contacted
me and said that tod wanted to make a deck of it, and if i was cool with it.
i was totally cool with it, since i knew he wasn't really doing it for the
money, but for the love of what once was. i saw some roughs of it, but i
didn't see the actual board, until i saw the pics of tod holding an
autographed version at the old school skate jam.

•What's your take on modern skateboarding and rise in popularity that
the sport has gotten in the last five years?

......having been part of skateboarding since the beginning, it's great to
see this continue onward. when the death of the first wave of skateparks
occured, it really took the life out of the 'fad' known as skateboarding. but
i think it was the people who kept it alive in the underground, with the
backyard halfpipes and fanzines that deserve most of the credit for what it
has become. they kept the spirit alive, and a new generation has benefited
from this dedication. and this current hot market known as skateboarding
(with it's similarities to the 1970's boom), made up of new school and old
school skaters are keeping one of the greatest personal activities alive and
kicking....i just hope history will not repeat itself again. but i do think
today's kids are strong enough to fight for what they believe in, just like
the hardcore underground generation before them.

• How did skateboarding influence your artwork?

......probably not at all. strange. thinking about it, i see skatedecks as
logos....brand names. (keep in mind, i am referring to product from the
1970's, which is where a majority of influences came into my illustration
style. and once the 1980's came, i started doing artwork for newton and
zorlac, and images on skate decks became more dominant than just logos). even
the early dogtown graphics, which were really cool, were based around a logo.
when the ray 'bones' rodriquez powell/peralta deck came out, it might have
just opened up a door to a more graphic future for skateboards. but i am sure
kids across the world were already doing it in rebellion, just not the major
companies yet at that time. now it's really great to see so many cool images
and ideas. talented artists getting a chance to do something they love...both
ways. and i think skateboard graphics owe a lot to wes humpson, jim phillips
and cort johnson. these guys were the pioneers. when i was asked to start
doing illustrations for zorlac in the early 1980’s, i don’t think most
people realise that this was a texas based company and i was doing these
graphics in boise, but newton was having a hard time selling these images,
because he was in the middle of the ‘bible belt’ and stores did not want to
carry these ‘voodoo’ graphics. jeff would tell me this, and i would just
think whatever, i wasn’t designing these images to go after one particular
groups fanatical view. for me, this is what i felt skateboard graphics should
be like, something from the underground. recently, when i did the first
adrian lopez deck for zero, adrian told me how he had heard stories of how
kids parents wouldn’t let them buy the deck because of the artwork, and
adrian is telling me that was kinda cool. and i’m thinking, are people still
that ignorant, worried about skulls? something that is less that a quarter of
an inch from the flesh you look at every day...the human structure.

• Why did you move from the skateboarding/punk-rock mecca of southern
California to Boise, Idaho?

......the first move to boise was in 1970, my dad wanted to get away from the
smog, etc. i escaped back to north san diego county with skateboard fever in
1978-1979, but i lost my job, and with no luck finding another one, it was
back to boise where my family was. in a way, it's really strange, because
this hunger was still inside me, and as much as i didn't want to be in boise,
i made the best of a situation i was already familiar with. and that period
of time 1980-1984, i have some of the best memories of my entire life. it was
a breakthrough period of time. skateboarding was alive in the underground as
we came together and built ramps, while building strong friendships. hardcore
music was raging, and in our quest to create this type of music, while
knowing the society we lived in would not accept it, we created septic death,
and put on our own shows in small halls. plus, this is when pushead was
created, the beginning of the foundation was built....which helped for things
to come.

• What was it about being in Boise that allowed you to evolve your
style, especially since people normally associate such aggressive music
and images with grittier places like L.A. and NYC?

......frustration. i didn't want to be there. it was the wrong time of my
life to be there. i felt trapped in this cultural desert. but with the coming
of hardcore, it opened up a whole new world. communication was strong with
people from all over. the energy was amazing. and without the opportunity to
go to a club or record store, the mailbox became a sort of sanctuary.
exposure. what i was experiencing inspired me to work harder, to be part of
this incredible movement. i made so many friends who i didn't even know what
they looked like, but they were the greatest people. their dedication was one
of respect. when i think back, i wonder how i was able to do all the things i
did during that time, especially in a place i really wanted to leave. every
time i would do a new illustration, i would skate on over to a PIP, were i
was luckily enough to know some people who worked there....not to get a
discount, but you don’t know how many times you take something in to get
printed and people freak out and refuse to do it...and would have them offset
100 copies, which i would then use as the paper i would write letters on. my
original idea was to start a fanzine, but so many people were stoked on my
artwork, that i was doing work for others who were making fanzines, or gig
flyers, even record covers. still, it was amazing how the communication
worked, say for example: i was communicating with tesco vee, and i did some
artwork for his touch & go fanzine and his band the meatmen. he was one of my
favorite pen friends. in turn, he was friends with glenn danzig who was in a
band called the misfits. so tesco tells glenn, he thinks the two of us have a
lot in common and we should get together. one day in 1981, glenn calls me up,
he was really cool. we both loved jack kirby artwork, and soon he sent me a
care package which had some old kirby black magic comics. we became good
friends. in 1982, the misfits went on tour, and i offered to make a flyer for
a gig in denver. i did the illustration, had it offset printed and sent it to
glenn. so the next misfits tour, i asked glenn if they could play in boise,
and it was set. so i drew up the flyer, which was the misfits ‘evileye’
illustration, but the show got cancelled as the misfits van engine blew up in
vegas. then later on, glenn calls me and says he has a surprise for me...he
used the ‘evileye’ artwork on the back of the new misfits 12" ‘die die my
darling’. at the end of 1984, i was in san francisco and i went to this show
at the old kabuki theatre which had venom and mercyful fate playing. someone
comes up to me and says "hey! this guy from metallica wants to meet you..."
so i go over to the stage door and wait til james shows up. the first thing
he says to me is how much he digs the misfits ‘evileye’ design. he asks if i
could get him a t-shirt of it so he can wear on the back of the new album,
that they are leaving soon to go to denmark to record. plus, he asks if i
could do some artwork for inside this new album. cool! so i call up glenn,
since he’s made some screens and is screening t’s in his parents basement to
get some t’s for james. everything worked out, except james had given me the
wrong number for their new manager, so i was not able to do any art for that
release. but the rest after that is history.

• Do you prefer to see your artwork on album covers, t-shirts, or skate
decks—does it matter?

.....album covers. i guess you could say it is what i always wanted to do.
but over time, i find it more fulfilling, personally and artistically.
t-shirts are really fun to do, as are skateboards, but in those mediums, you
are usually dealing with the silkscreen process, and that reproduction is
different than say an album cover or magazine cover. the one thing, that most
people won’t see is the differences, in the actual illustration as opposed to
the final printed product. i am always excited to see the final reproduced
product, but even i won’t know what it will look like until it is finished.
anticipation after the fact. that goes for all three.

• The type of musical groups you do illustrations for covers the entire
gamut from hardcore and metal all the way to hip-hop—do you turn anybody
down? should be 'do i get anything done?' hahaha. of course i don't take
everything that comes my way, there is no way i could do that. sometimes i am
just too busy and other times it is just not something i would want to do. in
general every situation is different, as things such as the music or the
people can play an important role in the decision making progress. these
days, there is more of a wait, but i still but the same effort into every
illustration. i feel i am a bit slower than i used to be in getting something
finished, but i have also incresed the amount of work that i put into an
individual piece. i try not to do the 40 hour straight jobs anymore, those
ones take their toll. there are times when i search out a band to do work
with them, since i like the music they are making.

• Do you have specific criteria for the clients you work with?

........there must be some kind of balance, but i really don't know what it
is. i don't have anything written down. it depends on the communication and
other factors important to the creative process, for each individual project.
it's instinct and effect.

• How much contact do you have with bands before you do a project for

...........usually i have communication with one member, or the person
running the record label. i almost prefer dealing with one individual, that
way, there is no miscommunication or confusion. things work out easier that

• Over the last twenty years, your style has become very identifiable;
do you feel pigeonholed because everyone expects you to do skulls and
fine-point illustrations? i am the one that decided to do that type of illustration, so i
am not punishing myself because of what others might expect. it can be really
strange somtimes, usually the project that someone requests can be in
familiar territory, maybe 8 times out of 10, and then there are those chances
to do something somewhat different, and it can turn out to be a really fun
experience. but other times, someone might want something that anyone can do,
and i can't figure out why they are asking me. that get’s me scratching my
head. i guess you could say, because of this style, i am more of a specialty
artist, since people might come to me for that particular reason. there have
been times when i have done some projects that are really far from what i
normally do, maybe something more graphic or design oriented. these are all
ideas from my imagination, but i still get the comments, "this is not a
pushead" or "i want the pushead skul". it's at those times when the
realisation hits you, what exactly you've done.

• You started drawing because it’s fun—has that changed for you? If so,

.......definitely. it's still fun, but it is so much more complex. there is
so much more to what i do, then just sitting down and scratching the paper.
sometimes, it's all the other things that can keep you away from drawing,
that can make it frustrating and take away that element of fun. the business
of what i do can take away from what i actually need to do, artistically. i
have always had this sub-conscious desire not to be a full time artist, maybe
that comes from circumstances i witnessed by working with other artists. so i
always try to mix it up, to keep a good balance and keep the sanity/insanity
in check. there is no way i could completely explain this.

• What does the future hold for Pushead?

.......with the tarot cards and crystal ball put away right now, there's
nothing i can tell you. i really don't know, every day it can change. that is
one thing that can make it really interesting or very frustrating.

•Do you want me to include information about the fan club, or would you

rather just have people write to your PO Box?

pushead po box 420701
san francisco, ca 94142 usa

authorised fan site