shag-art.comWhich artists do you admire?

I like artists who have clean, well-crafted work. Mark Ryden, who works in an old-masters style, but twists it into a really bent final result, is one of my favorites. I also admire artists who have developed their own distinct world—people like Robert Williams, Coop, etc. There are many imitating what these artists do, but that’s because of the quality of the imagery they developed.

There seems to be a growing group of media inspired artists like Alan Forbes, Isabel Samaras, Emek and many others... that is being labeled "lowbrow" art… yet your artistic vision is completely different from any of their works...

shag-art.comI really like the classic "lowbrow" look and themes, but I felt there were many artists dealing with that sort of imagery, and doing it really well. I just wanted to do something that appealed to me personally, and wasn’t being done by a lot of artists. I made it a policy that I wouldn’t do any concert posters, because so many other artists were doing great work with show posters. It’s the same with hotrods and pin-up girls. I will occasionally paint them, but if I do, I try to do it in an unconventional way.

Do you know the Superflat movement from Japan? It’s all about two dimensionality in art... and how it deals with popular icons... like compressing all layers... near and far...

I admire the Superflat stuff, although I think there are a lot of Japanese references that only a native Japanese can pick up. I really don’t know much about Manga or Anime, but I like the flat areas of bright color—it’s a look that has always appealed to me, going back to artists like Miro and Calder.

Do you think that your art is sometimes Superflat?

While my art is flat, and pop-ish, I think Superflat also encompasses a Japanese aesthetic that my work doesn’t have. It does encourage me when I see a cartoon-like art that’s based on popular culture gaining acceptance in the fine art world.

shag-art.comYou started out doing cartooning for magazines and it was your fans that asked you to start making paintings and prints... stuff they could hang in their own swinging space lounges… what direction are the fans pushing you in now?

I get many requests to do comic books and animated cartoons. I’m not really interested in either right now. I’ve been approached by quite a few animation studios, but I’m generally not doing anything until something perfect comes along.

I know it will! For even more on Shag you can check out online at Shag-art.com or Shagmart.com and his book Supersonic Swingers. It’s got an in-depth interview about Shag’s influences and 47 full color plates of his paintings! It’s a great taster spoon of an amazing artist!