Eric Shaw doodles obsessively, delving into the space where all things psychedelic thrive. Utilizing gouache and ink, he seems to reference Hinduism, Mayan and Native American creation myths, and hippie subculture in his wildly disorienting patterns. Beautiful/Decay recently interviewed Eric about his customized t-shirt line, artistic inspirations, painting techniques, and more. Full interview and images after the jump!
Can you tell us about yourself, and how you became involved in art-making?
I never went to art school or anything; I just started drawing in a clothing store, then a guy who owned a skateboard shop asked me to do a show. I don’t have any artist friends either. I have all loser friends–models, musicians, retards, drug addicts, hot babes, ugly babes. I like everyone.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of Eric Shaw?
I paint a lot during day. Sometimes when waiting for the paint to dry I play Zelda. I’ve been smoking a lot out of this zucchini. I cook my roommates food all the time.
What’s your artistic brainstorming process?
I make a lot of sketches trying out lots of different patterns and shapes with colors inside of the shapes and patterns until it just clicks. After I find what clicks I take the clickies and use them in my paintings in all different kinds of ways. Like right now I do those hot dogs and splatter images. I listen to Hot 97.1 a lot.
I see you utilize gouache and ink. What attracts you to these particular media?
When I first started making art I was using pens and markers. I wanted to start painting but I was intimidated and they’re more expensive than pens and markers. My wacky friend Sean Chinvenies went to this art store in Boston with a trench coat and shoplifted me 26 tubes of Acryla gouache.
Each piece is an incredibly psychedelic exploration of line and color. Can you talk about what must be your intense technique in terms of choosing colors to create patterns?
I’ve always been attracted to obsessive doodling but lately I’ve been more focused on composition—simplifying my images with basic oval hot dog shapes and containing the splatters into hats on my figure’s head that look like half of another head.
All the paintings I did for that show at 1026 used the same colors. I guess I just pair colors that I think are nice. All the new figures are shades of flesh mostly–black people, white people, asian people, everybody.
I sense a throwback to Hinduism, Mayan and Native American creation myths, and hippie subculture. Could you tell us about any historical/cultural/spiritual references in your art?
Maybe it’s because I’m 25% Mexican and I eat tacos on Christmas.
My mystical Indian friend Red and I go into the desert on peyote. We built a ranch out there and took care of rare roses and llamas.
Clean, geometric shapes juxtaposed with vibrating tie-dye patterns seem to be a recurring theme in your paintings. What is the significance of this pairing?
I just do lots of art. Mostly I do the tie-dye stuff because I love The Dead.
Your customized, hand drawn t-shirts are really rad! When did you start taking requests?
I started making t-shirts because I was playing drums on tour with Peter and the Wolf, and I used it as a way to make money on the road. I didn’t know people even knew about them but my friends say they see them around. It got me art shows at like cinders and stuff, too. I don’t wear any of them myself. I have a rip in my t-shirt collar right now. I like that.
I’m really enjoying that photo of you painting directly onto the wall. How do you feel about painting onto a wall, as opposed to painting on stretched canvas or paper?
I feel really good about it. It’s a lot of fun.
How do you stay constantly inspired? What keeps you going?
Did I mention the zucchini?
Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?
What are you currently working on?
Some new paintings and drumming with red. I paint red naked sometimes for inspiration. I’m combining my new figure paintings with my old interior space paintings.