Thursday, September 8, 2011
Interview with Everett Peck
This interview with artist Everett Peck (E.P.) by Danielle Deery (D.D.), Director of Exhibits and Communications at Oceanside Museum of Art, takes place a few days before the big opening of Peck’s first museum exhibition It’s Not My Fault: The Art of Everett Peck. The exhibition opens on September 10, 2011 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and will be on view through January 29, 2012. It’s Not My Fault showcases Peck’s work over the past thirty years and traces his evolution as an artist from his early concept sketches to his recent large-scale paintings, which explore the pop culture of modern America and its intersection with everyday life. For more information on the exhibition visit www.oma-online.org
D.D.How did you start out as an artist?
E.P. I guess I was always an artist. By that I mean as long as I can remember I always had a passion for drawing and trying to express ideas in that way. The social tag of being an “artist” came along much later.
D.D.What motivated you to be an artist?
E.P.I don’t remember needing to be motivated. I just remember being inspired and encouraged by others along the way.
D.D.When did you start making art?
E.P. Like I mentioned, I don’t remember starting to draw, it’s just something I’ve always done as long as I can remember. I do remember thinking maybe I could make a living doing this somewhere around second grade. Walt Disney and reading comics inspired that idea. I knew somehow those people got PAID for drawing!
D.D.Did you ever get in trouble drawing as a child?
E.P. I had a problem with compulsively drawing in my textbooks, especially in Jr, High and High school. The idea was to check out the books, use them for the year and then return them for the next group of students to use the following year. Most of the time my books where so drawn up my parents ended up having to buy them. You can imagine that didn’t go over very well. Sometimes I would turn them in at the last minute and get them through. I remember walking down the hall one year and a kid came up to me and asked if I was Everett Peck. I told him I was and he proceeded to tell me he had gotten my textbook from the previous year and I was a very good artist.
D.D.Where does the title “It’s Not My Fault” come from?
E.P. I’m a great fan of popular culture and it seams that passing the buck in a pinch has become our moral default setting. I know it works for me.
D.D With Duckman, did you do any of the animation yourself? Was it hand drawn, digital or in-between?
E.P. I didn’t animate Duckman. Most television animation these days is accomplished by a huge room full of 300 Koreans. They do an amazing job. I was involved in everything before and after the actual animation.
3a. Duckman was basically done traditionally. Hand drawn and painted on cell. Everything from the first season on was digitized in postproduction.
D.D.How does your work relate to Pop culture? Is it a response to pop culture?
E.P. Popular culture to one extent or another affects us all. I can’t think of any other reason why I would walk around with a mustache all through the 70’s. Now we have so many instantaneous sources that constantly feed us a never-ending diet of pop… and I can’t seem to look away. I’m both fascinated and repulsed at the same time, like coming upon a really bad car accident or mud wrestling.
D.D. Who are some of your biggest influences?
E.P. Like I mentioned, Walt Disney was one of my very earliest influences both through the weekly TV show and a trip to Disneyland as a kid. I remember walking through an attraction called “The Art of Animation,” that really knocked me out! I also really liked Mad Magazine, especially Jack Davis, Don Martin, and Basil Wolverton. And of course comics. There used to be a great comic store in Oceanside on Hill Street (now PCH) called the Coronet. One of my favorite things to do would be to ride my bike down there, get a new comic and a candy bar and get busy.
I liked all kinds of comics but I especially enjoyed Carl Bark’s Donald Duck series. Well drawn with great stories. I also enjoyed Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse Comics (always much more interesting than any Mickey Mouse animated cartoon, except maybe “Mickey’s Trailer”). Loved the Phantom Blot. I was crazy about war comics like Sergeant Rock drawn by Joe Kubert. I really liked the way he drew smoke and a firing machine gun “Ratattattat”! I also liked most anything with monsters in it and was also quite taken with the wacky single panel cartoons of Virgil Partch (VIP) and Gahan Wilson. It was also around this time that I became entranced with airplanes, cars and motorcycles and the allusive art of Von Dutch and the not so allusive Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.
When I got to Oceanside High School I was pleased to find a great art teacher there named John Goddard (nephew to the famous rocket pioneer, Robert Goddard.) It was there that I became enamored with the facile drawing styles of 19th century European pen drawers, especially Heinrich Kley as well as more contemporary chaps like the great Ronald Searle. I also flipped over the underground comic movement and poster art. I especially liked Rick Griffin, Robert Crumb, and Victor Moscoso. When I was in college at Long Beach State the artists of Push Pin Studios and Heinz Edelmann were quite popular with us students.
I would say some of the artists I admire the most today are painters like, Philip Guston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and the not so much a painter, Jeff Koons.
D.D.Can you explain your relationship to your work. Do you think you embody some of the same attributes as your characters?
E.P.Like most artists, my work is very personal. It usually pertains to what I’m going through at a particular time or what social phenomenon might catch my attention, my hobbies, etc. Some artists work from the outside in others from the inside out; I guess I’m the latter. All my characters have a little bit of me in them.
D.D. How is the process different between your illustrations and your paintings? Can you describe this process?
E.P. Illustration is an application, the visual enhancement to another person’s written concept. You are generally also coordinating with other people like an Art Director and Editor. Painting is a pure expression of an internal interest or idea. Your only “client” is yourself and your audience. When I approach a painting I usually have a general idea of what I want to do. Sometimes I make a few chalk sketches on the canvas and begin. Sometimes I go straight ahead, other times I fumble around. I often do a lot of repainting, sometimes completely over painting what I had done earlier. I spend a lot of time sitting back in my old beat up recliner trying to figure out what to do next.
D.D. What has been one of the most important moments of your career?
E.P. I guess early on it was getting a call to do an illustration for an important magazine like Playboy, or Time. It’s always a big thrill when you get green lit for an animated series like Duckman or Squirrelboy. I get a kick out of someone enjoying my sketchbook. I like this show pretty well.
D.D.How would you describe your work? Satirical, humorous, ironic?
D.D.What do you want people to take away from seeing your exhibit?
E.P. I hope people enjoy the work, and if they’re an artist, find some inspiration for their own art. And know that Oceanside is a pretty great place to be from. Many years ago I picked up my Dad from San Diego to bring him home after he had open art surgery. He was well along in years and it was hard on him. When we pulled off the freeway and into town he brightened a bit and said to me “Good old Oceanside”, yeah Dad, good old Oceanside!