Sunday, November 4, 2007

Interview of Forest Stearns by Amoeba Musics Billy Jam: Live Art

A lot of people ask me what is LIVE ART, isn’t all art live art?

Well yes and no. Of course all art is art done live, but the term is meant like Live music. Art in action, art during the process, art in a space where the viewer can watch the actual developments of a piece by the artist not just the disassociated final piece on a wall. I really enjoy the excitement of working in front of a crowd with good musicians because it gives the viewer a complete experience. There have been dozens of concerts that I have been to that do not stand out in my mind. The ones that do had some sort of visual spectacle that sets them apart in my memory. There have been viewers that have come up to me and told me that they watched me make a piece live at a music show, they can tell me things about the progression of the piece that I did not even remember that had an effect on them. That is cool to add that layer to a show. You have the sound of talented musicians piping out of the speakers, you have the smell of the crowd and the tastes of the beverage, you have the feeling of all the other bodies undulating around you, and you have a visuals of hopefully an entertaining stage performance, So to add a large piece of art being made on stage in the midst of the performance, started at the beginning with a blank canvas and at the end of the show having a canvas that has been illustrated to go along with the performance, adds a great level of visual involvement.
The following is an interview that I did with Billyjam of Amoeba Music in San Francisco:


Interview with artist known from Amoeba Music instores
“[If you are a regular at Amoeba Music you may have already seen the silk screened poster art of Forest Stearns who has done several pieces specifically for Amoeba events. Or maybe you’ve been lucky to catch Forest doing his art live at one of the interactive music-and-art Amoeba instores he has been a part of over the past year.
These include one with DJ Shadow (San Francisco Ameoba instore) and two with Cut Chemist (San Francisco and Hollywood Amoebas). He has also done live interactive art with hip-hoppers such as Z-Man and at other events such as Reggae On The River.
Additionally the NorCal artist, who is just about to move to San Francisco, designed the poster for the Noisettes instore show at Amoeba San Francisco which reportedly everyone loved including Universal who Forest says want to take and flesh out to make an animation based on the illustration. I recently caught up with the artist to chop it up about life and art, and art and life. For more information visit his website:
Live Piece With DJ SHADOW 24x36
AMOEBLOG: What inspires you to make art?
FOREST STEARNS: Art is what I do. It is a way to be myself. It is exciting and thought provoking, it creates a dialogue and has a lot of history to build from.
AMOEBLOG: And what keeps you doing art on the shitty days?
FOREST STEARNS: The shitty days are cool. I can sleep in then have some tea then by that point I can do some art and the day turns out pretty nice. The shitty days are when you work for someone else and hate it. I work for myself and work with others on projects that I get to choose. I am an optimist, so shitty days can usually be squashed by either looking at the art of others or getting down with some art of my own.
AMOEBLOG: Regardless of time or place who are among your favorite artists and why?
FOREST STEARNS: Egon Schiele for his spooky graphic nature he has inspired my
figure work greatly, Erin Hamilton because she uses the most amazing color schemes you have ever seen. Sonny Wong in Humboldt for his amazing letter styles. Richard Diebenkorn for his ability to rock both abstract and with amazing line work. Chris Bachalo for killing graphic novels with style and prolificness. Michelangelo because he could draw better than the rest. Yoshi Toshi for his amazing inovation in line quality and the style he started. Os Gemeos for going huge and global in graffiti…to name a few. I love creative innovation on classic ideas. A good idea with a good artistic mark. But I may have a new list of artists by tomorrow.

I understand that you are soon about to move from Humboldt to SF where you said to me earlier you will be “on the grind to take over the visuals of the city.” What exactly does that mean?
FOREST STEARNS: Well the SF takeover is simple. I will be as prolific as possible in both my graduate school program and in my gallery showings. I will continue to do live art with DJ and hip-hop friends like the Glitch Mob and Z Man in the city and continue to grow the client base of my commercial work. Simply: build clout and respect through quality artwork and prolific nature. Build relations with companies like Amoeba, Upper Playground, Kid Robot, Lower Haters, and continue to fucking rock!
AMOEBLOG: You have worked with several musicians doing interactive art-music. What exactly is that experience like for you as an artist?
FOREST STEARNS: Fast and furious: have a basic idea of what you are looking to portray in the live piece, be assertive and efficient, know your time frame, maintain balance, create a focal point, stand back and enjoy the making of the piece within the space of being on stage with amazing musicians, Make the piece tight, sign it with good hand styles, be humble, enjoy the experience, Take a good picture, let someone buy it so you don’t have to take it home, it happens fast. You had better have you shit together because everyone is watching and expecting a good performance.

What were the events you did at Amoeba and what did you think of them?
FOREST STEARNS: I have painted live with Cut Chemist twice and with DJ Shadow for instore sets. For both of the shows in SF I created a hand pulled limited edition silk screen poster with Four Letters Press, they were very cool.
The dynamic of the performance is interesting, people packing the rows of the record store to see an amazing DJ for free. I really enjoy doing live art, and I really enjoy good music so for me it is the best of both worlds. I get to become peers with my musical heros and I get to inspire them with my own work.
Amoeba does a good job of making the viewer/musician dynamic as personable as possible with I appreciate. Last month I create a poster for the Noisettes, studying their style and illustrating them in SF. Their live set was amazing and the posters were a hit. Universal is talking to me about making animations for the band as well as using the image for apparel.

How has the experience of working with Amoeba Music been for you?
FOREST STEARNS: Amoeba is a great business to work with. They appreciate creativity and promote viewer participation. They are generous and personable. Amoeba has style that spans from old school Haight rock to New School hip -hop.
Billyjam interview: July 25, 2007 at 09:56am]”