While out for a run the other day I came across two pieces of art lying on the sidewalk. I tried to a get a look at them, but there was a guy unlocking his bike there so I didn't stop for the awkward, OMFG THERE IS ART ON THE SIDEWALK sort of moment (and I had to piss for the last two miles). I mean, it IS SF, it's not like we're in short supply of MATT FURIE ORIGINALS LYING ON THE SIDEWALK.
A couple days later Big Dog Furie agreed to do a short QA with me. In three previous interviews people have asked a few repeat questions. My favorite of the bunch is, "If you weren't an artist, what would you be?" I mean that's like asking someone in a job interview, "What is your biggest weakness?" It's not that it's a perfectly fine question. It might lack zest, but it sometimes results in creative answers. Matt's never given the same response.
NFTZG: Thanks for agreeing to an interview. I've been a fan since I found the Boys Club and own a handful of your originals, including my latest "acquisition" loosely identified as yours. I've finally gotten through reading the first ten interviews I could find with you in the tubes. I hope I don't ask you a repeat question. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?
BDF: I would like to be an electronic musician. My favorites are Aphex Twin, Skinny Puppy and most recently Cluster. I was talking with my girlfriend recently and she was telling me about how colors applied to paper actually move or vibrate on molecular levels. Placing colors next to other colors and mixing colors together activate vibrations and behave in ways that one can feel. I enjoy listening to minimal electronic music with layers of sound while I draw. It helps to put me into a "zone" as I try and make my drawing come alive. It's important for me to believe that the things I draw are alive and moving and music helps me imagine these two-dimensional forms coming to life.
NFTZG: Very scientific. What do you draw when you listen to Dub-step?
BDF: I'm actually not too familiar with dub step. My range is usually 80s-early 00s. I've been into this internet radio station "East Village Radio"- particularly a show called Minimal Wave- hosted by this chick that finds all of this really interesting virtually unknown bedroom new wave music. The music sounds like something that should be played at 5am after a long night and your are driving down an empty street as the sun is coming up. Dub-step kind of sounds like a robotic anxiety attack.
NFTZG:That's a great way to actually describe the sound though perhaps a bit critical. Though if it's anything I've learned about putting your work out there is that there will be someone who hates it. Music and Art are a very personal, how do you deal with the haters, they're definitely going to hate.
BDF: I think that hatred is rampant on the internet. The web provides kids with an anonymous platform to vent their rage against the machine. I think it is fine that there is negativity and negative points of view. I understand it as I'm not into all of the art that is out there. One of the first negative reactions I got in reference to my art on the internet was "keep Jar Jar Binks out of the art world." This was actually a great reaction and I'll always treasure it. Also, if everyone loved your art you would be doing something wrong. Actually it would be impossible.
NFTZG: If it's anything about the hate is that it's certainly recognition of your existence. For what it's worth, I think of your stuff as more Garfield than Jar Jar. I think it's the eyes. How much the does the Internet's critique change things if at all for you?
BDF: Well, it puts everything that is out there in your face immediately. As an artist your influences can be global instead of limited to art history and your scene in your own city.
NFTZG: I've got a couple of post-it notes you did from Sketch Tuesday. A friend of mine that I introduced the Boys Club to bought them for me. He got them for a song, which leads me to ask how you come up with prices for your work? This is probably one of the most difficult things for me and I'm sure many artists. On one hand I want people to afford it, on the other I like eating.
BDF: If you want your art to be affordable make prints or put it on a tee shirt. Original art should be expensive but there are other ways to make it affordable- even to someone in high school.
NFTZG: Are you going to make toys? I would so buy them.
BDF: I would like to make erasers in the shape of my characters. That way kids can bring them to school and the teacher could not take them away.
NFTZG: I had the best japanese robot erasers as a kid. Ones that you had to assemble your self with articulating arms, legs, and head. I really like accessibility with art like that. I want everyone to be able to have the stuff. Can I pre-order erasers?
BDF: Unfortunately the erasers are only in the concept phase of development and it's possible that they will never be created.
NFTZG: I've had some long debates about street art, is it art, is it vandalism, when does it become either of them? Your work seems almost naturally suited for it. Do you you have any aspirations to do a few murals somewhere?
BDF: I don't do street art or mural art as I'm too lazy. I prefer drawing in my room. The biggest thing I ever did was in High school- I painted a mural of my football mascot, a wolf, dressed as a football player and stomping on the head of a cat (the opposing team). I was really proud of it and won 1st place in a competition between all 4 grades. I was a junior. It was on a giant window in the cafeteria. I never took a photo but I wish I did.
NFTZG: Taking photos is important as a documentarian, good or bad, just take photos. I realized that late. I painted a surfing gorilla with a cut out face photo hole for my high school carnival in my junior year. I also wish I had a photo of that thing. It was a monstrosity.
NFTZG: Everyone thinks the mission is the hippest place in SF, I think it must be the tightness of the pants and wildly colored fixed gear bikes with brakes. But I heard you're moving to back to Ohio for the summer, that'll be an interesting shift from SF. What's the impetus behind the move and is it permanent?
BDF: I'm looking forward to catching up with my family and friends back home and living in my mom's house on Kelley's Island in Lake Erie. The nights are hot and there are fireflies. The noises of the crickets and the frogs become music to my ears. A midwestern summer thunderstorm is something everyone should see. The house I'm staying in will not have internet access which will be nice. It will be a perfect place to spend the summer. I will be back in California and back on the internet in the fall.
NFTZG: It's always great to recharge and catch up with family. Being away from the Internet is also nice. It helps put time back in order for me. Do you ride a bike there?
BDF: Yup, we'll be riding bikes as well as driving golf carts.
NFTZG: What are you eating for breakfast these days? Personally I'm addicted to oatmeal. Nothing like regularity. Still chuggin' the smoove moves?
BDF: I usually start the day with a smoothie. A banana, berries and o.j.
NFTZG: No coffee?
BDF: Oh yeah coffee too.
NFTZG: I'm always in awe of how much you produce. One of my art professors warned me in school that the best way to ruin your enjoyment of art is to do it for a living. How do you do it?
BDF: I really enjoy drawing everyday and there is no limit to the things one can draw.
NFTZG: How do you find things to draw?
BDF: The ocean seems infinite if you can find inspiration in a clump of dirt or a hallway or a wasp in the backyard.
NFTZG: Is making art everyday ever seem like a chore?
BDF: I don't see a point in working another job. There are enough people in the world. For me, art is like tending to a garden. The idea is the seed and if you plant enough seeds some will grow and bloom. Eventually you can become a full-time gardener. If you don't plant anything weeds will take over and that's okay too. Weeds are the dayjob.
NFTZG: I like the idea of tending to seeds. I've got weeds everywhere, both good and bad. Worse though are these silly internet games. I feel like I discover a game and then a week goes by and I haven't showered. Speaking of hygiene, I see you've got some deep-seated roommate issues. Pepe, Landwolf, Andy, and Brett are all very reminiscent of those roommates that were both your best and worst acquaintances. Do you currently have roommates?
BDF: I live with just me and my girlfriend and 4 rats: Hoodrat, Toki, Whitney and Dollface. I liked having roommates but prefer just chillin with Aiyana and the rats.
NFTZG: Are they cool?
BDF: We are a happy family. I've never lived alone- that would be boring as I'm always in my apartment. It's great to have friends or a special girl to live with.
NFTZG: I totally agree. Also good is that in any manner of apocalypse (robot, zombie, etc.) you'll have have something to eat. My sister always had pets when we were kids and as an adult, her house is a zoo. What is your dream pet that is not Falcor?
BDF: My dream would be to be the human pet of a family of apes. I would get to live in the jungle and learn how to use a spit-covered stick to fish ants out of a tree and eat them. I would get a lot of exercise climbing around in trees all day.
NFTZG: Speaking of a lot of exercise, I've recently been invited into a boys club. I'm a bit nervous about it, any tips for me?
BDF: If one of them starts using your shampoo and you ask them to stop and they keep using it take a pee in the shampoo.
NFTZG: I'll keep that in mind, especially with these guys.
NFTZG: Thanks again.
A couple days later I actually gained entrance to the boys club for a beer. It was surprisingly mellow.
Musky perhaps, but mellow.
More about Matt in the adjacent Internets: