Vandalog Interviews – Elbow-Toe/Brian Adam Douglas (Part 2)

Photo by Luna Park

Earlier this week we gave you the first installment of our two part interview with world renowned street artist Elbow-Toe/Brian Adam Douglas. You can read Part 1 here. You’ll be pleased to know that the wait is finally over folks, so without further ado here is Part 2! Enjoy!

Portrait of Isaac, Mike Snelle of Black Rat Projects' son

In my opinion your art work best suites the dirty brick walls and cracking pavements, simply because they seem to breathe life into the otherwise deteriorating side streets. How have you found the experience of putting your art work into modern galleries etc. Do you think your art work creates the same effect that it has out on the streets?

I believe it is a different effect entirely, and I wholly embrace it. I like being able to really play the game of making an interesting composition and crafting a piece of artwork that is intended to stand the test of time.  I am really excited about my solo shows this year because I feel very strongly that my gallery work has achieved a very unique voice.

I am quite certain that it does not create the same effect it has on the streets, because it is operating in a very controlled environment. What I like about splitting my processes is that each process is enriched by it’s difference.

Photo by Sabeth718

What does the term “Street Art” mean to you?

It means big public works. It means small intimate stickers. It means tags, sculptures, marks. It means an attack against corporate identity by making yourself into a corporate identity. It means a very public, interactive art form that has really come of age at the dawn of social networking. It means visual artists elevated to rock god status. It means community. But mostly to me it means a way to change my environment if even only briefly.

Portrait of RJ

Do you find being able to produce work in the comfort of your own studio as a welcome break from the risks you take putting work up on the street, or do you prefer the adrenaline that street work provides?

I am not sure I would say it is a welcome break. As I am preparing for my show, instead of the short-lived adrenaline rush, I must deal with the months-long stress of postulating whether I can achieve all that I want in the pieces I am working on. I find myself often waking up at 5 in the morning, having gotten to bed at 1am or 2am, thinking about all I need to do.

I definitely have moments where I wish I had the free time to make street works right now. But I am just filling up sketchbooks with ideas of things to execute once my schedule opens up.

What is the key to keeping your work fresh and not getting mentally/physically burnt out by what you do?

I do my best to keep the ideas I am working with at arms length, so that I let my unconscious have as much free reign with the imagery as it can. Once I am in the process of executing the work, actually applying charcoal to surface,  it becomes my job to infuse as much life into every object that I include in my pieces. Since I only use my photo reference as reference, as opposed to making “photo realistic work”, I am constantly solving problems visually and it really keeps me on my toes. In general, my favorite moments on any of the works of art, are the moment that I start the process and the moments leading up to the finish. Everything in between is work.

In terms of keeping from burning out physically, I exercise quite a bit. I also meditate and work with an Alexander specialist, to prevent any repetitive stress disorders.

And finally, what does the future hold for Elbow-Toe? In regards to your work, new projects and any other personal aspirations you have in life. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

I would very much like to be able to make more time – at this point any time – to introduce a steady street art practice back into my schedule. I am very vested in the collage work, and now that I am making quasi-narrative images, I feel like I have quite a bit of artistic space I would like to explore.  Fortunately I have a great opportunity to explore that right now with a solo show at The Warrington Museum of Art in December and a solo show at Black Rat Projects in March.

On other fronts I am extremely excited to be in the early phases of a book to be published by Drago, which will be coming out down the road.

I have a horrible addiction to plants so I am constantly building up my garden, and I am hoping to become a beekeeper next year with a hive on my roof, if the tests come back negative in allergies to bees.

Lastly I would love to give a shout out to my wife of going on 10 years, the wonderful folks at Black Rat Projects for their endless support and encouragement, and all the usual suspects in the New York Street Art Scene.

Be sure to check out more from Elbow-Toe by visiting his official website here

Photos by Elbow-toe, Luna Park and Sabeth718