“I try to bring forward images that might be considered mundane or forgettable and force them into a new light”
S: How would you describe your artwork?
D: I would describe it as both humorous and esoteric. The humor lets people connect with my work on a more personal level; a true human connection. The esoteric side is because I try to bring forward images that might be considered mundane or forgettable and force them into a new light. I have come to coin these as “disposable images” which are pictures or images that have a limited purpose, most likely used to sell a product. Just think about the millions of images that are being posted online everyday that are often just discarded and only exist digitally. Or even just pictures or designs that solely exist in a digital space in general. I like placing them into a setting that makes folks take a second look, perhaps finding some sort of feeling or emotion through them. I just want to present these as bodies of work, to give people a chance to view such obscure items as art. I guess you could say that I’m rebirthing images by bringing them out of a digital space and into a physical one.
S: How did you first become involved with making art? Is this your full-time passion?
D: I would say that yes, making art is a full-time passion for me. I suppose it all began right out of high school when I took up photography. It’s funny why I did it; it was to capture a trip to Yosemite since I knew my phone’s battery was not going to last the whole trip. I thought to myself, “film cameras don’t need batteries. I should buy some disposable cameras!”. But soon after I got the film developed, I immediately fell in love. From there on out photography became my first true creative outlet which was something I never ever really had before. It was quite an exciting feeling to be honest. But what I really aimed to capture with my photos were fleeting moments of the mundane in order to frame them in a way that made them feel quite special. Truly what I try to do with photography is to force onlookers to see something that they would otherwise straight up just ignore. Say for example, a lamp or a tree or what have you. I want to lead people to find the beauty in such mundane things. Even with this agenda I saw my photography as more of an archival activity as opposed to an artistic endeavor. My photos may share characteristics of fine art, but I never pursued “fine art” as my aesthetic goal. This is where my journey into screen printing began. I remember it was a small workshop taught by Randy Bolton that really got me fully invested. Screen Printing opened up the door for me to lay out my own thoughts and ideas. The process allowed me to fully immerse myself into an art medium. This was probably because of how much effort is required to hand print out colors. A real labor of love I reckon.
S: What inspiration do you draw from your artwork?
D: Well the inspiration that I draw from my artwork is the fact I made it myself. It shows me what I am capable of and represents my current ability as a screenprinter. It leads me to try out different ideas and stretch my ability as far as I can with the CMYK process. Every new print I make has a new set of challenges and various forms of problem solving. My previous prints serve as mementos and remind me of mental notes I had when making a print. All the prints I create are constant reminders of all the lessons I have learned from screen printing thus far.
S: What is your process when you create your artwork? Are you consistent with one approach or various?
D: Right now, my current process has stayed the same and that has been using CMYK through screen printing. This involves using only 4 colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to represent the full range of color on any given image. This is actually the process that computer printers use that is why the ink toners are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. But anyway, within the CMYK process I have also begun experimenting with unconventional methods. The latest example of this is the print where I replicated a black and white image with the four colors of CMYK. This resulted in create a cool grey color palette. The sense of color in greys really seeped through quite well. Also, those who view it won’t realize that it’s made from four colors unless they went up close to observe it. This really is just me trying to see how far I can take the straightforward method of CMYK and expand on it. I suppose it’s my imagination running wild with an industry standard formula.
S: What tools do you utilize to make your pieces?
D: My tools are quite simple: a 200-count silk screen which holds the stencils for ink to go through, a rubberized squeegee which pushes the ink through the stencils, and a press which holds down the screen as I work. These three items are essential when creating a screen print. However, there are also other gadgets that I use to make the process of screen printing more streamlined which includes the use of an exposure unit which speeds up the process of creating stencils, a pressurized hose nozzle to wash off emulsion to allow for stencils to be show up, and a pressure washer which washes off my screens and removes the stencils.
S: What is the art scene like in the Central Valley? What makes you different from other artists?
D: All I can really say is that the art scene in the Central Valley is quite unique . There are a lot of talented people and often times those with talent are eager to move out since they seem to believe it will make them grow as artists. This is a sentiment that I do agree with. The exposure one receives outside of their familiar setting can often lead to strong character development. However, I don’t believe that it’s a necessity. Take for example the arts program at College of the Sequoias. I have seen many who have developed their own sense of identity and style while studying their general education before heading off to a bigger institution. Also, those who aren’t pursuing academia that have made their way to the Valley have carved out a spot for themselves within the art scene and have created something that truly speaks for itself. Honestly, I am glad to have met so many thriving artists out here in the Central Valley and even more glad that I can call many of them dear friends of mine. The Central Valley may not have many as many opportunities that larger urban cities can have, such as Los Angeles, but I do feel it acts as a catalyst. It sparks creativity within those who have a desire to create. I feel that is why I took up screen printing myself. The act of creating was always inside me and I just needed to express it somehow. As for the second question, the thing that makes me different from other artists is that I am my own person with my own experiences and ideas. There is only one of me. I don’t mean that in a condescending tone, but rather that my art aims to show my perspective, not replicate someone else’s. I feel as though a lot of artists in the Valley have been able to tap into their own sense of uniqueness as well. Everyone I have become well acquainted with has been able to create something that’s truly a part of themselves. This is quite easy and I believe that anyone can do it. The difficult part however is figuring out what that looks like. Luckily, that is what I have been able to find within myself, and that is what I feel separates me from other artists.
Interview by Stephanie Barraza