Interview with CVO Projects
This interview was done as an update during our Kickstarter campaign for our residency program Public Process. CVO Projects donated a series of xerox prints titled “Banana Clip”. Kickstarter donors that want his work will receive 3 prints each at the $150 level. This series is limited to 5 available.
Briefly tell us how you came by art making and how long you’ve lived in the Eugene area?
I’ve always been a creative person. I came up in different Do-It-Yourself subcultures that fed my creativity. I’m more interested in creativity and authenticity than I am in “art” and I draw inspiration from many sources. I’ve purposefully avoided art academics and try to keep creativity pure and personal for me. That has caused me to be a bit naïve about art at times, because my academic training has been in non-art based fields. I believe I came by art making out of emotional necessity and a desire to capture time and experiences in my life.
I’ve lived in Eugene a few different times in my life. This latest round, I’ve lived here over 5 years. This is an amazing place and I enjoy the slow pace, organic food, and bike-friendly vibe.
You approach issues of identity and constructs almost as a cultural image collector rather than the maker. Your “Banana Clip” series deals with street and punk counter-culture imagery (mask, punk bands, graffitti) that is at once generic yet sinister. How did you approach choosing these images for this project?
The images are directly from my life and experiences. I’ve had the good fortune of being both a participant and a documenter of sub-cultures. Those cultures have primarily been hip-hop, punk, skateboarding, and art. My identity is wrapped into most of the images I’ve used. For example, Banana Clip is all photos with deep meaning for me and is basically a visual journal. The masks are references to human multiplicity: gangs, violence, anonymity, graffiti, liberation, etc. I think we all wear masks, everyday, and I try to comment on that phenomena in a cryptic way.
I’m glad you caught on to the generic/sinister elements. There is some unspoken power about a person in a ski mask, but that power is fleeting and superficial. I’m interested in serious topics- death, freedom, isolation- but I’m simultaneously all about humor too. The images for this project were shot in San Francisco, Eugene, and Portland. They were blown up on a Xerox machine, because it was cheap to produce and it’s a nod to my punk/DIY roots. I aim to make art that is cheap and easily given away, bartered, or recycled.
You’ve described your own name “CVO Projects” as a type of shell corporation. Most artists want to be known. Even street artists want their identity spread and recognized. For you, what affect does anonymity have on art making that makes it necessary or helpful.
I’m not an artist that needs to be recognized. Some of that is about spirituality and trying to disentangle my ego from my creativity. I don’t like the idea of trying to market my name and become a hustler selling a brand of art. I also don’t like the idea of making art to sell exclusively to rich people. I don’t care if anyone knows who I am as an artist. It just doesn’t matter to me. I have a non-art career and I don’t need art to puff my name or make my ego inflated. CVO Projects was a name that I used over the last year or so. I can get away from the confines of a name/identity which allows me to be more experimental with my work.
My art name is insignificant, because it is the art/creativity that is relevant to me. I like the idea of someone being interested in my art, because it resonates, not because it is connected with a specific name. I also believe in free/low-cost art, I think it is more important to give art away than it is to sell it. I look at the name I’m using as a time-limited umbrella name for that specific project. I’m changing names again soon and will be switching some of my styles along with that name change. Oh, and I’m definitely not a street artist. I would conceptualize my work as being contemporary, experimental, and abstract.