Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Inkflow By Usugrow

October 27, 2014

I’ve been bare skinned most my life if you take away the unsightly fur like components on my lower regions which sadly counter balances with my lack of hair in my upper regions. The day I decided to permanently scar my arm was the day I first met Usugrow at his solo show 7 years back. Me thinking I am some sort of creative thinker, I figured getting Usugrow’s artwork was a match made in heaven. I mean he’s Japanese, I am half Japanese, I like art, he does art, I am a male and um, he’s one too!

Two more years pass and Usugrow hosts yet another show at Upper Playground SF where I eagerly return to show him my tribute piece. As I get there I notice a friction of some sorts with a girl that looked like she just exploded from excitement, or a burrito. I ease drop out of curiosity only to find out she too was showing off her new Usugrow tattoo. And to throw shit in the fan, it was the same exact tattoo as mine! It was then when I realized one of two things. When getting a tattoo, you will never be original. Even if you found that diamond in the rough design, hide it with all your efforts because once you show it out there to the general public, someone is bound to make a duplicate of it. And two, when getting a tattoo on your forearm, get something appealing to your eye. Masturbating to a bee and a skull totally just makes your pee-pee go womp-womp.

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Usugrow returned to the states yet again to show off new works at his show Inkflow as well as doing a signing on his new book and even did a little interview with me to boot.

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FONGSTARR: It’s been a while since you had your last show here in San Francisco. I actually went to it and loved a piece so much that I got it tattooed on my arm. With your new show Inkflow, what kind work can we expect to see?
USUGROW: The usual ink illustrations, and calligraphy works as well. I think this is first ever to bring my calligraphy works to USA. The word “FLOW” is the word I’m always conscious of when I do calligraphy.

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F: I know you do graphics as well. As you know, graphic design is different than art because there is an objective you are trying serve whether it be solving a problem or just communicating a message to your specific audience. Is your approach to design different from your illustration work?
U: Not really for me. With art or graphics, I try to keep them simple. I cut the extra useless parts out as much as possible and make it simple. I’m trying to make my message more clear by doing so.

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F: I remember looking at your work in detail not knowing you actually stipple all the shading in your work. That is a long process. Can you elaborate on what specific pens you use and the average time it takes to finish a piece?
U: For ink illustrations, I use a thin architectural drawing pen. Now I spend about 3-4 weeks to finish 1 illustration.

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F: You’ve seem to be a fan of streetwear and skate companies since you have done pieces for Consolidated skateboards, REAL, Van Syndicate line, Brooklyn Projects, Black Scale and even The Hundreds. If you could do some work with any company in the streetwear or skate industry, who would it be with?
U: I want to work with the company which respects its scene/culture and consumers.

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F: You did some work for Evisen skateboards this year. What is your take on the modern era of skateboard graphics where everything is logo-based now?
U: Love Evisen’s graphics! Was honored to be able to do it. About recent skateboarding graphics? I think if it looks cool, all good. If there’s cool graphics, then by all means.

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F: Do you skate?
U: After breaking my foot, I’m scared to get back on it. A little cruising here and there in midnight secret session. So I can’t call myself a skater, but I always do get inspiration from the splendid skaters around me.

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F: You also did a collaboration print with Mike Giant earlier this year. You guys almost mirror the same specific style doing mostly black and white pieces. How did that piece come into fruition? Did he draw his stuff first and then give you the piece to finish?
U: When Mike was visiting Tokyo, he hit me up. And Mike drew first and send it to me in Japan. After years passed, I drew something and sent it to Mike. I had him wait for me for long time. But I want to do it again.

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F: I went to one of Mike Giant’s seminars at Cal Arts in San Francisco and he said he stopped doing commission work to put full focus on his brand Rebel 8. Would you ever want to put full focus on your brand where you only draw for yourself and no one else?
U: That’s not me. I like working with other brands and companies because I can show many of my works and become friends with skaters, fashionistas, musicians, and art fans. When I was teenager, I found out about Pushead through Metallica’s artwork. My friend also found out about Pushead through Zorlac’s artwork. We became friends because of that, and we’ve shared music and skateboarding. I’m hoping that others can make similar kinds of connections from what I do.

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F: I know you are a huge punk rock fan. What are you views on the current state of music? Do you feel like that punk rock or rock n roll in general is going the way of blues music where it’s so underexposed to the public?
U: Though I’m always looking for different kinds of music. It doesn’t matter now or then. I do see more people wearing punk style clothing but I really don’t know about society.

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F: Your new book documents the last 6 years of your career. Where do you see yourself in the next 6 years?
U: In 6 years? I cannot even imagine how things will be then. I just want to be healthy and be good to my family and friends. Thanks for the interview. Say what’s up to Bobby and Ben.

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See it in the flesh before it is too late.

FIFTY24SF GALLERY
218 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
94117-3504
Wed-Sun: 12-6

YESTERDAYS AND TOMORROWS

August 19, 2014

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This is the story of the Silly Pink Bunny. Before this drawing, the bunny was actually a huge sculpture made by local artisan Jeremy Fish which rested on the corner of Haight & Laguna.

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As change has been the reoccurring theme here in San Francisco, developers had plans on bulldozing the lot to make way for future rental units. Word spread throughout the city and a local resident took it upon himself to rescue the bunny from its demise even though Jeremy Fish had already convinced the contractors in not destroying it.

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After a little recovery mission with the help of the neighborhood and social media, the bunny was later returned to its home where it sported a new eye patch and gold front tooth.

The lot has since been torn down along with the original bunny but a bronzed replica will be made and placed back in the same location once construction is complete. It will act as the gateway to the Lower Haight District and hopefully become a relic for the new generation of residences in San Francisco.

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This is just one of the many stories that lie within Jeremy Fish’s artwork. This past Friday, he displayed over a 100 pieces of black and white drawings at his new solo show Yesterdays and Tomorrows that span back 10 years that all hold their own personal message and adventure.

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And a gem of my own as a moderate collector of Mr. Fish’s more affordable work. This is the super limited FTC X Jeremy Fish laser etched skateboard deck that was released a couple of weeks back and sold out in minutes. Be sure to check out his show running till September 13th at FFDG.

All Gold Everything

August 11, 2014

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Benny Gold has slowly become the new face of streetwear that is San Francisco born and raised. We lost some greats to our So Cal neighbors from HUF and Rebel 8 but gained transplants as well with The Hundreds, Undefeated and now the new Diamond Store that opened on Haight St. As respect is well established for Benny Gold, he managed to compile some of the most famous artist in the world to participate in his glider series art show. The list is prestigious with contributors from Usugrow, Haroshi, Jeff Staple, BJ Betts, Mark Gonzalez, Morning Breath, Grotesk, locals from Lango and Henry Lewis from Skull and Sword, Orly from Cukui, and many more.

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Benny’s graphics takes cues from the local scene whether it be skating, art, design or his own personal life. His glider has not only become an icon for his own brand but is even synonymous to San Francisco as a landmark and a city.

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Make sure to check it out for yourself before it’s too late.

Benny Gold
3169 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Nychos Libre

May 20, 2014

Becoming a successful artist can boil down to your individuality sometimes. Skill is a good percentage of someone’s talents but really it’s your substance that may hold you in a different bracket from the rest. Nychos’s anatomy deconstruction is as complex as it is bogus to the human eye. It’s literally nothing I have ever seen before. He creates an organic form and almost brutally tears it apart with all the organs and skeletal structures intact as though to mimic an anatomy chart in science class. It’s a combination of inner beauty as well as serial violence. Just signs of a true original…or a complete mad man.

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His murals are where he gets to show what he’s really capable of. For the lack of better words, he just kicks more ass when he’s not confined to a small surface area. During his visit in San Francisco for his show at Upper Playground, he added three more murals and one being the largest he’s ever done located in Oakland (not pictured below).

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And during my visit to Nycho’s show, I got to meet another SF great (Jeremy Fish) and got his new book signed. It’s a collective of all his past works for the last 5 years from shows spanning all across the globe. A great addition to anyone’s art library.

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Atak SF – Analog Tattoo Art Show

March 11, 2014

I finally got out the house. Stretched my legs on a nice subdued Thursday evening and made my way to the upper part of the Tenderloin to see Analog Tattoo‘s new tattoo shop and art show. It’s not as scary as it sounds even though it sits above one of SF’s most poverty stricken areas, but it’s still not a total good idea lugging around thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment. I am usually pretty unfazed by the ghettos here and I’ll gladly bite any hobo in the shin if it meant freeing up my shit. After all…I do have rabies.

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Stepping into the newly revamped building, you first notice a sea of work gathered by the collective that are the true masters of tattooing of today. Analog shows it’s high allegiance from the greats with Shawn Barber, Chris O’Donnell, Mutsuo, Ichibay, Mike Davis, Toby Torres, Horitomo and Mike Giant just to name a few.

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Tattooing poses a number of myths and facts resulting in some interesting statements and outcomes. Myth: Tattooing your arm miraculously makes your penis bigger! Fact: If a girl has a tramp stamp, always tell her about myth #1. Myth: A girl will go home with you because of your myth #1. Fact: Masturbating with a tattooed arm is like the prison version of the stranger.

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Though evidence will prove me wrong, I still like my tattoo artist to have somewhat of a solid background in arts. It’s not so much that it will be reflected in their tattoo work but more so that there are creative juices flowing in their heads whether it’s picking out the right colors or adjusting the composition in seeing how a piece will lay on the body. It shouldn’t be such a cookie cutter system. Every tattoo should be treated as a framed work of art.

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Dragon by Philip Leu going for a measly $9,000. Worth every penny.

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If you are seeing a man sucking on his own red penis…then my friend, you do not need glasses.

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My favorite from the show by Julian Zeff. It’s like T&C Surf Design meets old Japanese folk art.

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Mr. San Francisco

February 12, 2014

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Giants weapon of choice has always been an interesting one. People say the pen is mightier than the sword but if you used a Sharpie as your sole line of defense, you’ll realize how much of a difficult thing that can be. We’ve all used a Sharpie before. Set the tip down for an ample amount time and watch the ink bleed profusely. Quickly strike it in the direction you want and you get tack sharp lining as if it came out of a computer printer. With Mike you will never see a bleeding line…ever.

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I actually didn’t even get to talk to Mike in regards to his latest works. It seems Bobby had more of an in depth discussion with him than I did. “Hey man” and “Thanks for the photo” hardly holds as conversations these days, but I’ll take a half ass stab in why I think he drew what he drew.

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I believe this was all a reminder to his audience that he can literally draw anything in the god damn friggin’ world. Corporate logos…got it! Iron Maiden zombie axe killer…easy! Popeye The Sailor Man…what am I? An asshole?! Or it could be a conglomeration of all the cultural influences that he’s experienced in his lifetime. Or it could be a little bit of both.

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Rumor has it that Mike has already set his sights on Colorado after only living in LA for a couple of months. As he continues his journey in seeking his own self virtue, it’s always nice that he blesses us with his work at his second home in San Francisco. To see it all in the flesh, make sure to hit up FFDG. Be sure and tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya.

Ice Ice Baby

February 7, 2014

Being original has always been more of a falsified mantra for me rather than a true testament of my lifestyle. After all, I am the Chinese guy that got a dragon tattoo on my arm cause I thought I didn’t look like that Chinese guy that would have a dragon tattoo on my arm (when I actually do). So when it came for me to choose my first international trip to any part of the world, I chose Iceland to be, well…original. Ironically I found myself smack dab in a bustling destination hub visited by Europeans, Asians and this one ugly American. Suffice to say, Iceland has been on everyone’s radar for some time and I just didn’t know about it. Rookie traveler status yo.

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Welcome to the city of Reykjavik (make sure to roll that “R”….Rrrrreykjavik). The largest and busiest city in all of Iceland with a population of only about 120,000 people. Even as a whole, Iceland adds up to only about 320,000 people which is comparable to the amount of people living in Riverside (LA).

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From naked eye, Reykjavik seems all too familiar. Turn to look down the street and the view is almost comparable to something you can find in Lake Tahoe. Turn your head the other direction you’d swear you were in Minnesota. At times it almost felt like I never left the US.

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One of the bigger surprises of this city is the onslaught of graffiti that seems to be almost everywhere. I tried to put two and two together but the influences of hip-hop culture was almost non existent here, whether it be the music or even the fashion. So where did this all come from? I think in its purity, this is all just true vandalism. Getting up for the sake up getting up and strangely it didn’t even tarnish the city at all. Tags and pieces seem to fit in its proper spots where the rest of the town still seemed almost unscathed. It also helps that there literally is never any cops around at all.

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But what Iceland is known for as far as tourism goes is its monumental sights and landscapes. From the waterfalls to the glaciers to the natural hot springs, there is really only two ways in seeing it all. It’s either rent a car with GPS and a map in hand or saddle up in one of these huge buses on a daily basis and let the bus driver be your guide.

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Psychologist say the mind projects what you see with what you feel on the inside. So is this a four man band or are two men jerkin’ it while some guys takes a huge dick to the face?

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Beer seemed almost as important as the coffee here. The vast amount of cafes sprawled around the city were all equipped with your native stouts and IPAs. I wasn’t too keen on their late night eats as most closed precisely at 10pm but on weekdays, you can find most bars open all the way till 4am.

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I know they say when in Rome but I my stomach just couldn’t handle whale meat. A few bites in and it just didn’t sit well like the processed chicken and slaughtered bullshit fed beef we have at home in the states. I kept telling myself that it was just steak by buttonhole said otherwise later on that night.

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As a recommendation of sorts for Iceland, this is a country you can definitely experience and conquer in only 5 days. It’s quite gratifying to know that as much as I’ve loved this trip from beginning to end that I practically will never have to come back ever again. You really can’t say that about a lot of places. I think the bug is in me though as I now set my sights on somewhere hotter. Maybe it’s time to finally step into the jungles of Africa or pea in Mediterranean waters. We’ll see where we go later in the year.