I was definitely imaginative, and definitely a loner as well. I had a dog I was very close to. I remember having an imaginary friend that was a seal that I would play with every winter. We would hang out in the slush in front of my mom's house. I don't tell too many people that one... I don't recall the seal's name but I do recall I was pretty tight with that seal…
Skateboarding, Art & Family
The skateboarding scene is very art conscious. There are a lot of skateboarders that are artists. There are benefit shows for various people and causes that skateboarders get behind and make art for. That’s where I started getting exposed to art. Funny enough, I had seen somebody had a skateboard done through Supreme, and the artist who did it was Marilyn Minter. When I saw it I freaked out. I thought it was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen, so I started looking into Marilyn Minter. She is a photographer, her images are very glam, very stylized. There's no mistaking it's her when you see her. Minter was definitely my gateway drug into art.
I was in a bad skateboard accident where I had a really bad concussion. I basically fell in a pool. I had fluid in my brain in a spot where I wasn't supposed to have fluid in my brain. My memory had a bunch of problems. Doctors told me that I couldn't skate for 6 to 8 months because if I fell again nobody knew how it would affect my memory, or if my memory would come back. During that time I read a biography on Warhol. I always liked his stuff and thought he was interesting. Then I started wandering around the galleries on West Broadway and started exposing myself to more art. I'd go up to MOMA and I'd kill a day at MOMA looking around. I always liked art and pop is definitely what spoke to me. Then I got more exposed to people who do stuff on the street after that.
I do remember when I was in a band in the 90s here in NYC recording an album. We were recording in Soho and I remember walking around specifically saying to my girlfriend at the time, "What's the story with these Andre the Giant faces I see all over the place?" I remember her telling me, "It's some sort of art thing." I also remember a little bit later seeing Faile everywhere down around Canal Street. I was aware of it, but you know how it is... Once you really start looking at it THEN you see it everywhere.
After that skate accident I had all this time, because before that every spare moment I had was literally: What friends are going to what skate park? Where we gonna meet? Do you know where there is a bowl or pool where we can skate? I had all this time and I started looking at pop art and I really dug that and I can't afford it but I bet I can make it. That's when I started playing with silkscreens.
I wound up taking a silkscreen course from one of Warhol's silk screeners. I wanted to learn how to do it, but every place that taught you taught you how to make t-shirts. By a fluke I wound up with one of Warhol's printers . Everything with how I deal with paint, images, or mediums is more my lack of knowing what to "properly" do so I just try stuff to see what I like. My limitations help me more than anything else. I mess up a lot, and have a lot of failures but then there's a lot of things that I do by accident and like a lot.
My grandmother and I were really really close growing up and I was lucky enough to have her into adulthood. The very first thing that I made was this silkscreen painting of my grandmother. My grandmother left a hole in me the size of the universe. Once I made it I printed some and pasted them along the path from my apartment to my job so I could see her every day. I'd get to see her on my way home. It made me feel a little better about everything because now I get to experience her in public when normally she would just be in my head. Now I actually get to see her.
You're so used to seeing someone's who has passed away as a picture in your house, and you might see that picture in your house every day. Now they are silkscreened paintings, so it's a new experience and now it's also in public. I honestly forget where I put them. It is fun to be walking down the street, and suddenly I'll be standing with someone, "Oh there's my grandmother over there." And they’ll be like "Where?" I'll be like, "Right over there across the street on that lampstand or up there on that wall." They surprise me when they pop up.
When I first did it, I did just my grandmother. Then I emailed about 30 friends about it and not one person wrote me back. One person later on mentioned the email to me, and said they didn’t get what I was trying to do. Somebody told me that their mom is really private, even though she is gone wouldn’t dig knowing there was a photo of her out there. One guy wanted me to do his father, but said he had to discuss this with his family. He needed to be able to approve where I put them. When it's 4am, if I see a spot then it is going to up in 10 seconds and then I'm leaving. I can't be waiting for "approval." So some people are not into it. These faces carry a lot of weight...
My mother loves it. In the past year I've gotten up in Paris, Beijing, Spain, Poland, Berlin, and Brazil. There's nothing better than being able to take a photo and show it to my mother and say. "This is Nan in Berlin right now." Or to call or text one of my friends who I've done one for and say, "Hey this is your mom in France right now." It gives you a feeling that the people you loved aren’t gone, they're just traveling. Sometimes they are in NY, sometimes they are in Europe. It seems like just about everyone that I've done them for is fairly overwhelmed in the same way.
Origin of the Name: OCMC Propaganda
It's comes from a Walt Whitman poem about Lincoln. Lincoln is the "captain" trying to unite the country after the civil war. Most know it from the film, "Dead Poet's Society". I was in a band in NYC for years and that was going to be the name of my next band, and then that next band never happened. I figured one day I'm gonna use it for something.
Whenever I go out into the street I always feel like I'm inundated with advertising wherever I go. You go on the subway and you already paid for the subway, but you still have to stare at all the advertising that’s down there. You’ve already paid for your cab ride but you're watching a commercial in the back that you can't get away from. When I put stuff out there certain people enjoy seeing it. I know I enjoy seeing work out there from the artists that I like. I always like being surprised coming across a Dain, or a Bast, or a Hacula. Sometimes it can make your day...
Street Art VS. Graffiti?
For me it is the exact same thing, just a different medium. I tend to do things that are pasted, others might paint. When I see somebody like Lee, Futura, Dondi, or Lady Pink... When I see those people I think that if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing this at all. It's still relates to me, even though I don’t do graffiti with an aerosol can. They started everything.
There are a lot of people out there now that aren't doing art at all but advertising themselves "as street artists". I think they do this as a means to an end. They do this to get a gallery show, to try to make money, or to be seen as having a "cool" factor. It's pretty easy to spot who just rented "Exit Thru The Gift Shop". Many don’t even know who the fuck Lee Quinones is. They don’t even know who Futura is. To me that’s totally pathetic. Know the fucking roots of what you do.
Music's Role in the artistic process
A lot of my influences actually come more from music and films. I always listen to music when I'm working. I get ideas when I'm watching films. I tend to view those as more influential on what I'm doing than specific artists, even though I love specific artists. I listen to a lot of music when I'm throwing ideas together. Music connects with you emotionally and creates moods. Sometimes that creates a vibe in me that I'm am trying to somehow put in the piece.
When I'm creating stuff I tend to listen to darker music... Joy Division, Bauhaus, Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, old Jane's Addiction, Nine Inch Nails. There is definitely a closet Goth inside my Gap jeans. I'm more of a Goth kid at heart,
I am about to travel a different road...
Learn more on OCMC's website