Friday, September 21, 2007

Interview with Jeffrey Scott Holland

q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.

a)I'm basically just a bourbon-addled hillbilly who grew up deep in the wilderness of Kentucky, and I still prefer rural life in Kentucky even though I maintain offices and studios in NYC and several other cities.

q)How would you describe your work?

a)Primitive. Post-neo-expressionist. An Entartete Kunst on the whole track of the timespace continuum. Each of my paintings are discrete units that form a cohesive whole. My paintings are all connected to one another, not just thematically or spiritually, but literally connected in a quantum sense. The bigger picture may not become clear until after my death.

q) Did somebody encourage you to become an artist?

a)No, I was an artist the moment I stepped out of the womb. I was a weird precocious child who was diagnosed as having a photographic memory, so I learned to read, write and draw at an absurdly early age.

q) What is your favorite medium?

a)Paint, always paint. I used to paint in Oils, then progressed to Alkyd, but I've been strictly acrylic for almost 15 years now. I love heavy-body acrylic for all the very same reasons that people who hate it give as their reasons: it's unwieldy, it's unresponsive, it's unpredictable, it's gloppy and thick and like working with cake frosting. And that's a good thing.
All other mediums I work in are directly related to my paintings. My photography work (which usually consists of nudes, pop culture and urban decay) often prominently features my paintings, and my sculptural works are really just paintings rendered as objects that are 3-D but still flat.

q) Can you describe your process, from the seed of an idea to a complete work?

a)If I have the idea already, I'll just jump right into it. But more often than not, I'll start painting without knowing where it's going or what I'm doing. Sometimes I'll take a break from the painting and start a second one while still mulling the first one over in the back of my mind. I start with a couple of different layers of Gesso, sometimes black and then white, and then several layers of surface paint and texture, before the actual subject is even begun. Even my simplest looking paintings contain many layers underneath. I tend to think of the foreground subject matter as separate from the background, in much the same way animation cels for cartoon characters are overlaid onto static backgrounds. Backgrounds are often applied with a knife, a spatula, an ice scraper, a whatever hard edge is handy.

q) Generally speaking, where do your ideas come from?

a)I paint the subjects that interest me, and the subjects that interest me are generally things considered by most to be very peripheral, obtuse, obscure and trivial matters. Which makes it amazing to me that anyone buys my work at all! Sometimes I just paint what the little ducky voices in my head tell me to paint.

q) How long does it take to complete a piece?

a)Occasionally I'll agonize over a piece for weeks and weeks, but I try not to do that. It's all about immediacy, automatism, impulse, impressions, results. Many pieces have been started in the afternoon and then I stay up all night and into the next morning, refusing to sleep until the painting is finished. Some paintings are actually deliberately left unfinished because I came to like its present state better than what I had originally planned for it.

q) Who are your favorite artists…and who are some artists you are currently looking/listening to?

a)So many, I could namedrop all day... Bernard Buffet. Georges Rouault. Peter Arno. Billy Childish. Chris Ware. Kathleen Lolley. Gary Panter. Otto Dix. Ben Katchor. Lila Afiouni. Werner Büttner. Walt Kelly. Kay Sage. J. Todd Dockery. George Herriman.

q) Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

a)Several galleries, including Barbara Braathen in New York, the Blah Blah Gallery in Texas, and Deatrick Gallery in Louisville. My next solo exhibition, Invisible Topography, will be held in November or December, details to be announced soon.

q) Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

a)Painting for me usually starts out with a lot of pacing around deep in thought, and listening to music. Lately I've finally gotten on the mp3 bandwagon after receiving a Zune as a gift, so I listen to it on shuffle play a lot before and during paintings. The stuff on my player is pretty much all over the map of the history of recorded music, everything from show tunes to chopped-and-screwed mash-ups: obscure 19th century cylinder recordings, The Clash, Psychedelic Furs, Dead Kennedys, Louis Armstrong, Aimee Mann, The Cramps, Alma Gluck, Deadbolt, KISS, The Skillet Lickers, RV&OI (Retrovirus & Opportunistic Infection), King Tubby, Thee Headcoats, Air, Neko Case, The DiMaggio Bros., Tom Waits, Jacques Brel, Webb Pierce, Terveet Kadet, The Smacks!, Ice-T, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morrissey, Ute Lemper, etc.

q) What is your favorite a) taste, b) sound, c) sight, d) smell, and e) tactile sensation?

a)The answers to those change frequently, but at this particular moment I'd say that my favorite taste is simply sugar (real sugar like turbinado or muscovado, not processed white crap), my favorite sound is the crispiness of a really whipped and distressed vinyl record, my favorite sight is human nudity, my favorite smell is bacon frying (I've deliberately cooked bacon in my own shops and galleries just to create a smokehouse ambience), and my favorite tactile sensation is laying in slippery mud after a rain.

q) Do you have goals that you are trying to reach as an artist, what is your 'drive'? What would you like to accomplish in your 'profession'?

a)The main ground-level goal is to disseminate my artwork as widely as possible by any means necessary. Past that, of course, there's the higher goal that goes unspoken, the nameless mission, the cause to which we are all so devoted. However, I could stop tomorrow and be perfectly content in knowing that hundreds of people own my artwork and hundreds of thousands more have viewed it.

q) When have you started using the internet and what role does this form of communication play for you, personally, for your art, and for your business?

a)Although I started my first website in 1995 and used IRC before that, I've never really taken the internet seriously. Email is far more important to me than the world wide web, because it's direct and real communication with a minimum of distraction and small talk. I used to think that the internet was going to make everyone smarter, better educated and better informed, but in the last two or three years I've changed that assessment.

q) What do you obsess over?

a)Antique matchbook artwork. Old clip art and advertising. Prehistoric porn. Old picture postcards that were so retouched that they're no longer photographs but paintings. Fossils. Children's books and school science texts, circa 1900-1970. Modern remastered versions of old tape copies of vinyl recordings of radio broadcasts of live performances, which puts at least six generations of sonic fuckery between the source and the result.

q) Do you have prefered working hours? Do you pay attention to the time of the day or maybe specific lighting?

a)I work around the clock. Night is best, but I'm pretty much working on my art or thinking about it, 24-7. I often paint in cemeteries during the day, but that's because I'm hoping for ectoplasmic residue to enter the canvas, not because of the lighting.

q) Do you do commissioned works?

a)Yes, I do a lot of commissions. I was recently commissioned by the State of Kentucky to do a painting to commemorate their new amphitheatre at a state resort. Many people have commissioned me to do their portraits, which I find rather funny since achieving a literal likeness is not my style.

q) Any tips for emerging artists?

a)Many artists get discouraged, and as a defensive mechanism, adopt an attitude like "I'm so punk rock, I don't want anyone to like my art, so there" and end up marginalizing themselves out of the game.
The proper posture for an artist, as I see it, is to indeed not care whether anyone likes your art, but to nevertheless aggressively promote your art as if you really do care. Don't just sit and stew and gather a body of work that ends up being seen only by people who come over to hang out at your house. Dont just have a show in some local coffee house every couple of years and say you're really trying. Go out there and make as many human beings on this planet as possible see your stuff, by any means necessary. That means not only employing guerilla tactics, but also conventional techniques of marketing and advertising - which many hipster artists shy away from because "it's not cool".

q)…Your contacts

a)I can always be reached, at any time by anyone on the globe, via email at


At October 5, 2007 at 8:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the space girl and the cupcake!! good stuff

At November 27, 2007 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've never liked you. i still don't. not even in the space station when you were the only other being did i truly like you. i take your photos in and out of my desk depending on my mood which shifts beneath my boots like flubber because i am that kind o gal and i got that kind o gall. talk to you later.


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