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Travis Louie

  • Baby Tattoo: Carnival of Astounding Art

    If you have ever had the chance to experience an event curated by Bob Self, then you have had the opportunity to be swept off your feet with amazing talent and wonder that surrounds his events.  In his upcoming exhibit Baby Tattoo: Carnival of Astounding Art at the Oceanside Museum of Art, Bob Self is bringing a collaborative experience from all of his events to one place. This is a huge exhibition featuring the many artists who have been apart of the Baby Tattoo story, including Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Jeff Soto, Tara McPherson, Luke Chueh, Joe Sorren, Audrey Kawasaki, Robert Williams, Travis Louie and Lola to name a few.

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    Bob Self has been hosting Baby Tattooville events that bring together artists and collectors in an intimate weekend experience at the timeless Mission Inn.   The exhibit will feature the art collaborations created at each Baby Tattooville event, the Art Jam.  The Art Jam is the culmination of the weekend long collaboration by all the attending artists.  The Art Jam piece from each of the last eight years will be on exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

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    The ninth and final Baby Tattooville event will feature Mark Ryden and Marion Peck.  The culminating event will feature, for the first time, a Surrealist Ball with grand costumes and more to be announced.

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    The Carnival of Astounding Art will present a sampling of all the art and artists that have contributed and have been a part of Bob Self's events and book publishing.  We have had the privilege to be a part of two of the Beyond Brookledge events in 2014 and 2015. We were able to donate two fine art prints on wood, "The Amazing Mort" by Travis Louie and "We See What We Seek" by Zelda Devon, shown in the top and bottom photos.

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    The Carnival of Astounding Art at the Oceanside Museum of Art opens Saturday, August 22nd and will be on exhibit until January 3rd, 2016.  Please visit this link to find out more: http://www.kpbs.org/events/ongoing/oceanside-museum-art-presents-baby-tattoo-carnival/

  • Art Happenings: Gallery Nucleus + Merry Karnowsky

    This past weekend was busy around LA area for a league of talented artists.

    A Prints on Wood favorite, Cuddly Rigor Mortis, was at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra on Saturday welcoming us to her solo art exhibit titled “Happy as Kings.”  The show was inspired by a poem titled “Happy Thought” by Robert Louis Stevenson, and features brightly drawn characters blissfully enjoying what makes them most happy.

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    "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

    - Robert Louis Stevenson

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    King Nori by Cuddly Rigor Mortis

    You may not be able to notice from the pictures included in this article, but the amount of detail that went into creating every single one of these delightful characters was superb! Every piece is titled as “King (Name)” including “King Dunkin” and the uber cute “King of Z’s”.

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    King Dunkin by Cuddly Rigor Mortis

    If you recall last month, POW did a limited time release of Cuddly’s “Mr. Good Morning Waffle” print that was extremely popular. Well now you can catch the little waffle guy in all his glory in the “King Grand Slam” piece!

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    King Grand Slam by Cuddly Rigor Mortis

    The exhibition runs through September 21st at Gallery Nucleus located at 210 East Main St, Alhambra, CA. It’s definitely not worth missing!

    For more information on purchasing pieces from the show, please visit: http://www.gallerynucleus.com/

    On the same evening at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery, a group exhibition called “Parallel Universe” featured more amazing talent.

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    Toxic Birdie by Nathan Ota

    We ran into more Prints on Wood artists, Nathan Ota and Travis Louie, who both had two pieces in the show.

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    Tree Spirit by Travis Louie

    Travis and Nathan joined Caleb Brown, Hello O’ Monsters, Masakatsu Sashie, devNgosha, and Seonna Hongall with their incredible pieces, creating quite a crowd to see their pieces up close.

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    When we found this piece by Masakatsu Sashie, we immediately were struck by the attention to detail and interesting mixture of landscape and objects to make up an almost "Death Star" effect in his piece.

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    Oneway by Masakatsu Sashie

    A Prints on Wood piece was also at Merry Karnowsky Gallery, although it wasn't an artist print, per-say. Merry recently asked us to print her new logo on wood, "KP Projects", a custom size wood print on bright white finish.

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    “Parallel Universe” runs through October 6th, at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery located at 170 S. La Brea Avenue, LA, if your in the area, stop on in and see the pieces first hand.

    For more information about "Parallel Universe" please visit: http://www.mkgallery.com/

  • Chopping Block: Baby Tattooville 2014

    This year we are excited to be apart of Baby Tattooville 2014, an annual interactive art event that will converge upon the historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, CA on October 3rd through the 5th. Limited to just 40 guests, Baby Tattooville gives each participant a unique opportunity to be apart of the intimate, creative process with the guest artists which this year includes Tara McPherson, Joe Sorren, Brian Smith, Eric Fortune, Brom and Laurie Lee Brom.

    We were able to grab a few minutes with Bob Self, founder of Baby Tattoo Books, who also happens to be the brain child behind the eclectic event.

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    POW: How did you come across the idea of starting Baby Tattoo? What was your inspiration for such a quirky name?

    Bob: My sister came up with the name Baby Tattoo based on my baby (at that time) daughter's temporary tattoos. I thought the name was both catchy and indicative of the type of genre-bending books I was interested in publishing.

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    POW: Your "cast of characters" includes some well-respected artists such as Jeff Soto, Lola, Luke Chueh, Travis Louie, Brian McCarty to name a few, when and where were some of these connections established?

    Bob: I am honored to have published books by many artists I greatly admire. Early on, when I began publishing books, I would introduce myself to artists and let them know that I was interested in publishing their work. As my reputation as a publisher grew, some artists began to approach me about publishing their work. Regardless of who contacts who, productive relationships are usually the result of respectful and enthusiastic communication.

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    POW: This years Baby Tattooville runs October 3rd-5th in Downtown Riverside. What can we expect to see during this year’s event?

    Bob: The ticketed event Baby Tattooville is cloaked in a bit of secrecy. Over the course of the three day, immersive retreat at the Mission Inn, artists and attendees create and celebrate art in a multitude of ways. Eating, drinking and socializing are interspersed with art discussions and demonstrations. A good time is had by all. There's even a collaborative Art-Jam painting created by all of the participating artists over a 24-hour period. Baby Tattooville attendees receive a high-end art print of this collaborative painting as a souvenir of the event. For those who are not able to purchase one of the 40 tickets to Baby Tattooville itself, there is a related exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum that is open to the public. During the weekend of Baby Tattooville, there is an artists' reception at RAM with all of the participating artists in attendance. This RAM exhibition provides some public access to what is an otherwise private event.

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    POW: Did you always have a passion for the arts or was it something you just stumbled upon?

    Bob: My first real connection to art was through book illustrations and animated films. To this day, I am still very attracted to figurative and narrative art.

    POW: How would you describe the art that Tattoo Baby advocates?

    Bob: I sometimes call the type of art I like "strange fun art". I have also referred to the type of art I like as art that demands one's attention… art that achieves the goal of the classic playground taunt, "Made you look!"

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    POW: How was your experience at Comic Con this year? Did you meet any new artists you would be interested in working with?

    Bob: I love the energy and epic scope of Comic-Con. I spent most of this year's Con within the 10'x20' confines of the Baby Tattoo booth, but I managed to meet an astonishing number of longtime associates and newfound friends within that small space over the course of four and a half days. Comic-Con is always a journey of discovery.

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    POW: Your other event "Beyond Brookledge" was extremely successful this year and was also held in Downtown Riverside. How are "Beyond Brookledge" and "Baby Tattooville" different?

    Bob: Baby Tattooville is a celebration of the visual arts. Beyond Brookledge is an epic (yet intimate) magic and vaudeville show. Both events share a similar structure, and both are remarkably entertaining weekends; but one is all about fine art and the other is all about theatre. Of course, it can be argued that art is show business and that show business is art. I certainly like to blur the lines between the two.

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    Thank you Bob for giving us a little bit of your time to talk about this spectacular event.  We are even more excited to be apart of it this year.

    For more information on Baby Tattoo Books, visit http://www.babytattoo.com/

    For more information on Baby Tattooville 2014, visit http://www.babytattooville.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: TRAVIS LOUIE

    Before our sit down interview, I was only familiar with the works of Travis Louie, not the man. Given the aesthetic of his art and involvement with burlesque-esque art shows (and his... uh... *ahem* "anglo" sounding name) I naturally assumed Travis Louie was some buffalo-plaid wearing rockabilly doofus you'd see pounding quarters on a table top at some crummy dive bar in Long Beach every time "The Wanderer" played on the jukebox. You know, the kind of guy who still owns a chain wallet with an 8-ball embroidered on the front because he thinks it compliments his Rottweiler tattoo.

    Much to my surprise, the man that actually showed up to our building was a stout, well dressed Asian gentleman with a killer ponytail and a cartoonish Brooklyn accent. During his visit, I was able to squeeze in a few interview questions while he was signing his limited edition wood print that was going to be available at Beyond Brookledge.

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    POW: We're all familiar with your vintage styled monster portraits, but what I'd really like to know is how your artwork looked like before you settled on this particular style. Where you always painting monsters?

    TRAVIS: Yeah, in one way or another. I think my work, like a lot of other artists, is about identity. One of the reason why I paint these monsters is because it's sort of like a veiled take on racism. Instead of making my artwork really political and putting people of color or of other ethnicities, I chose something that could represent everyone, which would be these unusual characters and their stories. Most of the characters are immigrants. It's sort of like... you ever see that TV show Taxi with that character Andy Kaufman played?

    POW: Latka?

    TRAVIS: Yeah! Latka Gravas. He's not even from a real country but we accept it because we know that before World War I, that part of the world was many countries. Many little countries that were changing constantly, then all of a sudden *BOOM*, this one's gone another one's here. Just like that. They just made up a country just like I made up these monsters, these characters, and they would have the same problems that anybody would have if they were different. As human beings we gravitate toward people that are like us, right? That's why we even have racism in the first place. It wasn't always just full of malice, at first it was more like a protection thing. That's why a zebra knows that "Hey, that's a lion! It doesn't look like us. Stay away from the lions, they've eaten us.". Same thing, just not exactly.

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    POW:  was watching an interview that when asked about the biographies that accompany some of your portrait pieces, you said that you spend a lot of time writing about your characters before painting them. Has there ever been an instance where you spent more time writing than you actually did painting for a particular piece?

    TRAVIS: Sometimes. It's funny, I just have notebooks full of, sometimes simple descriptions, and some of these things never become paintings. I'm always people watching wherever I am and I spend a lot of time in Chinatown, in Queens, and through parts of Manhattan looking around at people, especially during rush hour.

    It's best when it's the summer. When it's 98 degrees outside and I'm just kind of watching the subway, it's amazing. People look just so... defeated, but some people don't. They're like "Hey man, I'm not working now! This is great!" you know, freedom. So I always try to imagine "What did that guy do for a living?" or "Where did he come from? What is that person's story?" I think we all kind of do that don't we? You do that don't you? You know, you'll be at like a McDonalds or something and some guy walks in and he's got a gimpy leg and you think "I wonder how that happened? Was it always like that?"

    POW: "Maybe he was a pirate?"

    TRAVIS: Yeah, you see what I mean? You always just try to imagine these things. So then I write these little stories because I imagine somebody sorta/kinda like that. Also, a bunch of the characters are based on people that I actually know that have little quirks, and I expand on those.

    POW: Touching on that... does anyone you know ever sort of bother you and ask "Oh, hey! Draw my picture!" or "I've got a cool idea for a painting.... me!" ?

    TRAVIS: It happens. I think that's kind of normal. It's like your on Facebook and you post something and your friends will respond like they're your friends, but every now and then you get someone who will respond where it's always about them somehow and you're like "I didn't even talk about that." People are like that, they can't help it.

    TL3FLOWER SISTERS by Travis Louie

    POW: When I look at your artwork, I'm immediately reminded of Felix Nadar's photographic portraits.  I know people like to ask "who's your biggest influence" in terms of artists, but is there a specific photographer you would say that inspired your current style of painting?

    TRAVIS: A guy who lived across the street from me. His name was Elliot Schierer, he was a photo-retoucher who worked in the 1950's. I used to go over there and watch him when I was a little kid. The guy was terrific, and I think he had the most influence on me. It was a different time back then, computers didn't exist, so he would do his retouching right on the negatives. I mean, who does that anymore? It was pretty remarkable, the stuff that he did, and I learned a lot from him. That's probably the biggest influence in terms of photographers.

    As far as a visual style is concerned, it's more about everything that I've ever seen from that time. It all started with those Julian Margaret Cameron photographs I saw years ago as well as all these numerous cabinet cards that I would see in peoples houses. Photographers who were like that was just their job, anyone who would just take portraits. Back then it was more complicated, but it was a way that anybody could get a portrait done because it wasn't as expensive as hiring a painter. Getting a portrait painted was a big deal, it still is today. Most people didn't have that kind of money, but photography was the great equalizer, so a lot of people could just get that done. That's been quite of an influence on my work.

    TL4MONTYS DAY OF THE DEAD by Travis Louie

    POW: I've read that you said you settled on this style of imagery 6 years ago. As an artist, where do you see yourself 6 years from now? Do you still think you'll be continuing this theme by then?

    TRAVIS: I don't know. Things evolve, or devolve, who knows, things change. I see the stories expanding. I also see more complicated paintings with more figures in them than just one or two. I'll probably be doing less paintings at that point because of the time it takes to paint that many characters. I always wanted to do a painting like a Bruegel painting. There's one really great Bruegel painting called Children's Games. It's not a gigantic painting, but throughout the painting there's all these wonderful little old games that we used to play in the streets. There must be a hundred kids in this painting, it's pretty amazing!

    TL5THE AMAZING MORT by Travis Louie

    POW: You recently reached out to POW to produce 100 limited edition wood prints for Beyond Brookledge, an event you'll be attending. Could you tell us a little bit about this event, your limited edition print, and the connection between the two?

    TRAVIS: The connection is through Baby Tattoo and Bob Self. He's the publisher of my book and I always participate in the Baby Tattooville project, so I consider this event as a sister or brother to that. As far as the image chosen, we wanted something that was a lot like what Beyond Brookledge is. To me, Beyond Brookledge is like Vaudeville. I just imagine all these jewish families getting on buses or getting in their cars and traveling to the Catskills in the 1940s to stay at one of the resorts so they could see Henny Youngman, or... who else was around back then? Shecky Greene, George Gobel... they were these stand-up comics that showed up in the early 1950s.

    But it was more than just that, you could see many kinds of variety acts, and that's what this is like. You got people that are doing magic, you got people that'll be doing a mime act... I mean, a mime! How cool is that!? Where do you see a mime? It's a great mime! It's Billy the Mime, and he's amazing! Have you ever seen The Aristocrats? That's him, and that's pretty awesome.

    POW: How would your fans be able to get one of these?

    TRAVIS: They got to come here (Beyond Brookledge). They got to participate and become part of the show, then they can get a print.

    POW: Cool, thanks Travis.

    TRAVIS: No problem.

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    Unfortunately, Beyond Brookledge has come and gone. (I was too busy designing the booth for Dwell to post this interview.) Those of you who were able to get one by attending, congrats! As for the rest of you... there's always next year. ;)

    For more information on Travis Louie, please visit: http://www.travislouie.com/

    For more information on Beyond Brookledge, please visit: http://www.beyondbrookledge.com/

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