Neko : Studio Visit
Last Thursday, San Diego artist, Neko, packed up his paintings and headed north for Upper Playground’s opening of “The Spencer Little and Neko Fart Show.” Teaming up with one of his childhood friends, Spencer Little, the two bombed and skated their way up the coast to Sacramento. Sezio had a chance to hang out with Neko in studio and ask him a few questions before his journey north.
How long have you been working on the show?
I’ve been working on the show for about 6 months now. I probably should have way more but my studio is kind of small so I'm a bit limited to the amount of work I can produce at one time. I just tried to make the pieces a little bit stronger and take my time with them.
How do you approach a show? Do you have a set idea or take it as it comes?
The first piece that I started, which has the speakers built in and plays the Scrapez music, was inspired by DJ Tension’s song called “I Do Damage.” From there I just painted a bunch of stuff about me and the studio, music, damage, destruction, fonts, graffiti and such. I just painted the rest of the pieces as they came and didn’t really have anything planned out.
The podiums were built for Spencer’s sculptures out of all the trash wood that I find around the area and around the studio. Each piece for the show is built out of thrown away, discarded wood. Everything’s basically just found objects that I paint on top of and then frame.
How long have you been into carpentry?
I’ve been a carpenter since I was 15. My ex girlfriend, who now does all my pr and management, actually had me build the furniture for the house that I live in now. I just kind of got bored one day when I was in the studio and didn’t want to paint. I just wanted to build and create since I hadn’t been working carpentry so I decide to make furniture out of junk. It actually came out pretty cool and it matched the aesthetic of the rest of work so I decided to throw it in.
Tell us about you and graffiti.
I’ve always been doing that. That started from childhood just looking at gang graffiti and old English type and then skateboarding and going different places. I figured out that if I put a tag on something, I’ll see that same skate spot in a magazine and that tag will be in it. I just kept doing it more and more. That goes into my pieces a bit but not 100% because I think graffiti should be strictly for street and destruction, not pretty pieces.
How did you transition from Graffiti to fine art?
In ‘97 I started painting on canvas and that just kind of took off from there. I've been doing it since. I never went to school or anything like that. I was just at home always drawing and doing doodles and graffiti stuff. Then I saw this one cat doing it, actually painting fine art and going to school for fine art. I just thought “that’s pretty rad I should try and do that.” Next, I had my first show “Modest Behavior” with all these big name artists and I just kind of got addicted and ran with it. And now I paint more fine art than going out.
When did you start tagging sluts?
A long time ago, probably ‘94-’95. I had room mates then, I lived with a stripper for a long time and there were always a lot of loose women around the house. I just kind of developed it and the letters fit together really well so it kind of stuck, and because I’m a big slut. I just ran with it because it doesn’t sound like anyone else. It’s not like a tough guy name where most people have like a really masculine sounding kind of name. Plus its kind of funny, some guy named sluts is kinda cool. There’s also a little character that went with it that goes really well.
Plans for the summer?
I’m finishing up all my shows. I have a few more shows after this Upper playground shindig then I’m doing a Do The Math show at Pure Platinum in Mira Mesa. Then I’m coming back and pretty much packing everything up and going out to New York to do a little job for New Balance shoes ... a little art installation. Then I’ll just live in New York and on the east coast closer to my family for awhile to get away from San Diego. I don’t wanna talk bad about the San Diego art scene but it’s kind of slow.
How do you think San Diego’s art scene can improve?
I think that some of the people that paint should be trying to really develop more of their own style rather than mimick or manipulate other people’s styles and form their own. When people have art shows I think that they should be more oriented towards the artist and not necessarily be appealing to the opposing sex or worrying about looking how cool ... I think that takes away from it. I think they’re more into this Southern California vanity ... look at me I'm an artist, I'm weird, I'm strange, I paint. Pretty much an excuse to be fucked up rather than have that draw to do something. They may just do it for a few months while its cool and then they get out of it and kind of start things and don’t finish them. There are a lot of things I could go on and on but I don’t want to talk bad about it because there are a lot of talented people in San Diego as well doing artwork. It's so conservative here, people don’t give a shit about what we’re doing they just care about their big huge house in Del Mar and their Mercedes Benz and their..ya know? Same ol same ol.
Check out Upper Playground Sacramento now through August 11th for The Spencer Little and Neko Fart Show
For more photos check out Carly Ealey's set on flickr