The "F" List Interview with Dave MacDowell
Pop satirist, Dave MacDowell, utilizes his naughty wit and love for popular culture to create brilliant and controversial paintings. Recently, we had a chance to chat with the Lowbrow Prince about fame, fortune and his fantasy date with Stevie Nicks. Here's what he had to say...
Fanatical (Roughly how many group shows where you in from last September till now?)
Probably 30! That’s about a third of what I did last year.
Fascination (What about group art show makes them so appealing?)
People like to geek-out on pop-culture!
Fast and Furious (How do you maintain the pace of painting?)
Starting out I had the “successful drug dealer business plan. “Sell the product twice as good and half as much.” Not sure if the art was twice as good , so I produced twice as much. Crazy plan for sure, but it was going to force me to grow in my skills faster, which was really the main goal.
Fundamentals (Even though you are self-taught, what do you feel every person considering painting should understand first before pursuing the craft?)
That Frustration, Fear and Insecurity can be your best friend. That in order to grow, you’ve got to sacrifice everything that you value. It’s all about time. If you’re not putting in the hours everyday, then either you’re a genius, or have some discipline vibes to work on. Eating and sleeping are overrated!
Framework (How do you plan out overlapping themes and references?)
In my head. I usually think of 5 images that’ll set up the paintings narrative. Once I get to drawing, the narrative could lead to 100 references! Go off and go all out is what I say!
Foundation (What is the first step of your artistic process?)
An opinion or idea. If it’s a clever joke, it’s best to have a punch line. If it’s a statement piece, it’s best to have some humor to diffuse the aftermath.
Feelings (What emotional response do you like to see other people have from viewing your work?)
It’s pretty overwhelming! It feels like I was released from a long prison stay, only to discover that people actually cared. The process is so focused on isolation, so when it hits the outside world, it’s hard to fathom what people are actually seeing.
Freedom (What does it mean to you as an artist?)
I never had dicipline as a child, so I need things structured in order to make things work. I’m all about freedom, yet there’s a reason we keep zoo monkeys in cages. Running free they eat your children and steal your faces. And then they laugh, which really hurts the most.
Fights (What artistic battles have you been faced with?)
Everyone is their own worst enemy. We choose your own battles, and fight everything when stuff isn’t going right. Its just best to put aside stubborn pride and Take good direction, and listen to smart people. Life has problems everywhere you look. Ignorance really IS bliss.
Fame (How do you feel about being a recognizable name?)
It’s weird. It’s like people are talking about someone really awesome who has the same name. I’m into other people, so when praise is directed toward me it gets unreal/surreal.
Favoritism (Do you feel it is hard to break into the art world?)
It’s like a group of people working in an office. You have the suck asses and back biters, and then you have the people you get drunk with after work. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, so raise a holler and see where that gets you. Maybe they’ll put you in a show just to shut you the hell up. Like when people fake it just to get you to stop. Maybe your talent will lead you to success, and you didn’t have to take off your clothes in doing so. And if you can work hard to make yourself a force, go go go!
Fortune (Are you in this for the money?)
I’m in this for the party, and you’ve got to fight for your right.
Fate (Do you believe in it?)
Oh yeah, I’m a superstitious religious paranoid sometimes. And sometimes I think that its pure willpower that causes stuff to happen. I guess its all a matter of who’s to blame when shit happens.
Fire (What lights yours?)
Fear of death, and to live another day to paint.
Floodgates (How do you search for inspiration?)
I find it within. Everything starts with a silly conclusion. If I say to myself “Man, Asshole people would be way more tolerable if they smelled like birthday cake.” Boom! Perfect start to a painting.
Frontiers (How do you want to advance art?)
Starting out I thought that one great painting would rock the art world. When nothing got rocked, I figured my people weren’t paying off the right people. If my paintings danced, sang and made love to you, until their verified as viable by the chosen ones, a painting will remain nothing but scratchings on a surface.
Format (What other art mediums are you interested in?)
I love and admire everything that I can’t do. I just wish there was more time to explore other mediums more.
Frustration (What about the art world do you find frustrating?)
The lack of free parking.
Fudge (What is the curse word you tend to use the most?)
The “F” word, of course!
Firsts (When and what was the first piece of art you sold and how did it feel?)
I sold a zombie portrait to a kid in upstate NY for $40. This kid was so happy, he was peeing his pants!
Food (What is your favorite meal or restaurant?)
I prefer cooking at home. I’ve got mad chef skills. I make Rachel Ray look like a giggly stoned chick who would think’s it would be cosmic to bake a cake. I’ve met her actually, and she IS pretty much that chick.
Fun (What do you do for fun and in your free time?)
I used to love the great outdoors, and ride bikes and run a lot. Now my main strenuous activity is framing and boxing up art, and enlarging my fat ass with donuts sitting at an easel all day. Priorities, man.
Family (How much does family influence your pursuits?)
They walk all over me when sales are luke warm. They treat me like I’m Elvis when I get paid.
Faith (What is yours?)
Treat others how you want to be treated. Im too lazy for that “eye for an eye” business. I believe in miracles and divine intervention and don’t believe in coincidence. It rains frogs sometimes, ya know.
Fantasy (How does your art feed your fantasies?)
Art IS fantasy. Its bringing your dreams into tangible reality on canvas. My main goal at the edge of 17 was to hook up with Stevie Nicks and do mad cocaine with her naked. Now I can only paint that, because she’s clean and creepy now. Never say never though, so stand back!
False Perceptions (Do you think some people misunderstand the category of “low-brow”?)
“Lowbrow” is just a label for a genre. On the down, calling it “lowbrow” opened the door for a lot of unpolished and underdeveloped art into the ranks, because it had a loose definition and standard for quality. On the up Great paintings are a win, and the ones that sell for the highest prices make people be really nice to you.
Finger Pointing (Who are the artists who you blame for getting you hooked on painting?)
I know women who dress nice for other women, and I know artists who paint souly for the attention of other artists. I try not to bring my love for others into my work. When making love , do you scream out “Mark Ryden” in ecstasy?
Fuzz (Have you ever had a run-in with the police?)
Yeah, and just act like you’re afraid. They LOVE it, and always let you go.
Fetishes (What turns you on in your public and private life?)
I get turned on by too much of a good thing. If it feels good just do it until it consumes your entire being. Don’t eat just one Reese Cup, eat 50, and wash them down with a gallon of chocolate milk.
Friends (Do you tend to hang out with fellow artists, collectors, Hollywood types, etc.?)
I just hang with people who like me. I’m surprised when someone way cooler wants to hang with me. I think they’ve lost their minds temporarily.
Fulfillment (What floats your boat?)
Completing projects and starting new ones.
Film (Since you’ve referenced it a number of times in your work, what significance does “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” have for you?)
To me, it discusses how society will drug and wipe out your freewill. Free thinkers are usually the sacrificial lambs of our society.
Frosting on the cake (What would make life a little sweeter for you?)
I pretty much have everything, and tend not to want crazy shit for fear of disappointments.
Fuck-ups (If you could go back, would you like to redo a part of your life?)
Life is a constant potential fuck up. No need to put myself through it all over again!
Feelings (What have been your happiest and saddest moments?)
Happiest when babies that I love were born, and saddest when people that I love died.
Flesh (Do you have any tattoos, piercing, birthmarks or scars?)
I’m all fucked up.
Fury (Are you ever concerned Disney or other brands might retaliate?)
They love me. I’ve never intended to hurt anyone with the art, and if anyone took offense I’m sorry. But seriously folks..
Future (What shows / projects / work is on the horizon for you?)
I foresee more shows, curating and cheap thrills in our future!
Follow (Where can people track what you’re up to?)
My website and blog which aren’t religiously updated. Just google me!
Fill-in (Now is your chance to play word association…)
Fall from grace
Fresh apple pie
Fast Times at Rigemont High
Frumpy Stevie Nicks
Full of piss and vinegar
Finish (Is there anything else you’d like to add?)
Thanks to Rick and Stephanie for being great people. I love you guys.
Thanks Dave! To learn more about Dave MacDowell and his art, visit macdowellstudio.blogspot.com.