a Generationless Interview
GL: The second after I finished reviewing your submission I clicked on the link to your website because seeing only three pieces of your artwork just wasn't enough. Your work is absolutely incredible and, on behalf of everyone at Generationless, we're beyond excited to have you as a feature on our website.
I'm not trying to start this interview off on a cliché note, but I have to ask: When did you pick up your first paintbrush? How did you get into creating artwork?
RC: I have always liked art and started drawing as a kid. I did my first painting at age 18, and over the course of the next 6 years I did about one painting a year. I never took it seriously or had any idea what I was doing. It was just something that sounded fun to do every once in a while. Then, at age 24, I felt a burst of inspiration and did three large paintings in a couple of weeks, and haven't slowed down since. That was two and a half years ago. I found that the more I painted, the more I wanted to keep doing it. It quickly became more or less an obsession.
GL: Do you come from a family of artists?
RC: Yes, actually. I have two brothers, and when we were really young my dad would have all three of us at the table drawing and coloring all the time. My dad can draw really well. He also plays guitar, so as a result my brothers and I are all musicians as well.
GL: Do you guys ever consider joining forces and becoming bigger than the Jonas Brothers? ...but on a serious note, do you guys ever jam together or have you ever thought about forming a band?
RC: When we were teenagers we did actually have a band (with another friend as the singer), but I don't think any Jonas Brothers fans would have liked us. We were loud and played songs with lyrics that weren't exactly family-friendly.
GL: Is creating artwork your full-time job, a hobby (if it's a hobby, what do you do for a living?), or a little more or less of both?
RC: Right now I am painting full time, but I don't consider it a job or a hobby. I don't know how to describe it without sounding trite, so I'll just say that I love doing it and I think about it all the time when I'm not doing it.
GL: I've noticed that a lot of talented writers, painters, musicians, etc. are hesitant to call themselves "artists." I recently watched a documentary about Wayne White called "Beauty is Embarrassing." Basically, Wayne was trying to point out how bashful and seemingly embarrassed many artists get when they are receiving praise for their work or when they are referred to as artists. Do you think that calling yourself an artist -- someone who creates beauty -- is embarrassing? Why or why not?
RC: I don't know if I'd say it's embarrassing, but I definitely feel a little uncomfortable about it. I feel better saying I'm a painter, because saying I'm an artist can sometimes feel pretentious. I think the reason that some artists feel that way (or at least this is true for me) is that they aren't creating things to feel better about themselves or to get a pat on the back from anyone. They create because it feels so much better than not creating. Nobody is forcing me to paint. I don't ever have to do it again. But the thought of never doing it again makes me feel anxious and depressed. Personally, I have always needed some kind of outlet through which I could channel creative energy. Without an outlet, I just don't feel quite right. I think it's the same way for a lot of artists. Also, I think the more time you spend worrying about your reputation and whether or not you are an "artist," the less time you have to spend on creating things. So I think that's why it's a little embarrassing to receive praise or to call yourself an artist... it just feels like you're applauding yourself for something that is easier to do than to not do.
GL: Speaking of being applauded, what is the nicest thing that anyone's ever said about your work? What about the harshest? Has your artwork ever been published before?
RC: I've had so many nice things said to me about my paintings. It's very flattering. The first thing that came to mind was somebody saying that they saw my work and it was so good they almost passed out. That made me laugh, but it also made me feel very appreciative that people are willing to reach out and say such nice things. Like I said, it's just very flattering. I've had very few harsh comments, but of course there will always be those negative people out there. Some kid on Facebook once told me that I should just burn one of my paintings. I guess he didn't like it! But one thing I've learned in life is that most of the time, when somebody directs hate and negativity towards you, they're really just unhappy with themselves. I mean, there are artists and musicians and movies that I think are not very good, but I'd never waste my time contacting the person to tell them how much they suck. It has nothing to do with me; I'm not concerned with it. I've got my own work to focus on and bringing somebody else down doesn't serve anyone. Also, I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to what is said about my art, because I think if you care too much or try too hard to please everyone, your work becomes boring. You've got to do what you want to do, not what you think everybody else wants you to do.
My art has been published on a few websites and I had one of my paintings in a local magazine here in San Diego. I think that's pretty much it.
GL: Where do you draw your influences from? I've noticed a lot of skulls and skeletons in your work, but always with bright colors--is there a contrast between life and death in your paintings? If not, what are you trying to say with all of the symbols of death?
Also, you add little messages but the majority of them are written backwards, why? Lastly, you use a lot of eyeballs and insects in your work. What is the purpose behind all of these symbols?
RC: There are definitely a lot of references to life and death in my paintings. I have always had a strong interest in philosophy and thinking about the meanings of life and death. I remember being 7 years old and keeping myself awake at night because I was trying to understand what it would feel like to be dead and I'd freak myself out. I'm just constantly aware of how temporary life is. I'm sure I think about it 100 times more than the average person. I know I could easily die tomorrow. But I don't feel worried or scared about it. I'm just very aware of it and if anything it just makes me really happy and excited to be alive. I get really excited about things that most people don't notice or just take for granted, like how beautiful everything is, even "ugly" things. Recently I was watching flies on an apple core, and it looked so beautiful. Everything is amazing to me. I know that might sound stupid, but I'm just being honest. I mean seriously, stop what you're doing right now, look around you and say to yourself, "I am alive!" Really realize it. Tell me that doesn't excite you.
The backwards messages I just find interesting. If something is written backwards it seems to take on an extra meaning... it seems more important somehow, or at least more mysterious. And the eyes and insects... Let's just say they mean whatever you want. We'll leave some mystery for whoever's reading this.
GL: Take us through your artistic process, how do you come up with concepts for your paintings? How do you begin? How long does it usually take you to complete a piece? What's going through your mind when you're painting? Do you set aside a set amount of time to paint every day, or do you just paint when you feel like it?
RC: Sometimes I start with an idea in mind. Sometimes there is no concrete idea, so I'll just put down colors until something happens. Usually I have a basic idea but the final product ends up being very different than what I imagined because I get new ideas as I go. Most of my paintings take between 3 and 6 hours of actual painting time. I almost always paint with music on and just zone out, so I don't know what I'm thinking of. I like trying to get into a weird state of mind so I try to listen to weird or dramatic music. Sometimes it's death metal, sometimes it's opera.
GL: Well, Randy, it has honestly been my pleasure interviewing you. But before we go, do you have anything more that you'd like to say? Perhaps some words of wisdom for up-and-coming artists?
RC: Thank you so much. I don't know if I'm qualified to give "words of wisdom," but my advice would be to not expect anything to come easy. Successful people got to where they are by working really hard to get there.