‘If there’s any lesson to be learned, it’s that there’s no right path when it comes to art.’
“It took overcoming depression and being an introvert to put my stuff out there. For a long time, my work was only found in my sketchbooks. A lot of people didn’t know I was an artist. My mom and my girlfriend were really pushing for me to put myself out there more. I was bartending and in the service industry. I wasn’t passionate about bartending. When I was behind the bar, I wasn’t happy.
“It wasn’t until Hops Scotch Bottle Shop in Deer Park saw my work on Instagram and were like, ‘Hey I like your art style, can you put it on our wall?’ The minute I did that, something clicked. I felt a rush working big and outside of my sketchbook.
It completely changed how I viewed what a community can be.
“It’s funny how bartending and the friends I made through the bar industry fast-tracked my art career. If there’s any lesson to be learned, it’s that there’s no right path when it comes to art. It’s already pretty atypical, so there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
“I grew up in what I think was the golden age of animation on TV. Every time I turned on the TV, there was a cool cartoon, usually a little alternative where my parents didn’t want me to watch it because they might use a bad word or something. I came from kind of a blue-collar background. My mom was a waitress, my dad was an engineer. It wasn’t until high school, until people started calling me a cartoonist, and I was like, ‘Oh I didn’t even know that was a thing.’
“I went to art school for cartooning and illustration. There was one teacher that told me kids would never like my stuff. It stuck with me. Now I go to places where my murals are up, and kids are honed in on it. Kids are the most honest critics. That makes me feel like the happiest; I’m elated anytime a kid digs my stuff.
“I’m not a super political person, but because of the kindness everyone in Lindenhurst has shown me, I’m very pro-small business. These people built their own visions from the ground up. It changed how I view art. It’s not just a high-brow thing; it could be a tool that businesses can use to make themselves more presentable or more fun. It completely changed how I viewed what a community can be. Everybody is so eager to go support their local businesses.”
Interviewed by Tracey Cheek