Friday, January 07, 2011

SKINNER: From childhood drawings to international art shows

Skinner in Sacto Press

Skinner in Sacto Press

Skinner in Sacto Press

Excerpted from the Sacramento Press

Sacramento artist Skinner said his interest in art began in preschool when he would try to draw Hulk Hogan’s muscles.

The 32-year-old’s art – a far cry from drawings of Hulk Hogan and brontosauruses – has been shown across North America and Europe. His most recent international show was a 10-day event in Moscow two weeks ago.

His work includes paintings, wall murals, toys, album covers and sculpture as well as music, which he said he picked up in high school – playing guitar and singing.

Some of his work has been featured on snowboards, skateboards, snowboarding goggles and even a poster campaign for the Quentin Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds” that ended up not being used.

Born Warren Davis III, “Skinner” wasn’t some art name he gave himself.

“My mom used to call me Pumpkin when I was little,” he said. “Then she changed it to Pumpkin Skin, and then it just became Skinner when I got older.”

His artistic interests centered around anything bizarre, and that’s where they’ve stayed.

“I was fascinated by it,” he said from his studio off Del Paso Boulevard Thursday. “I liked strange films, cartoons, bizarre toys, medieval fantasy.”

Growing up in Cool and Auburn, Skinner attended Placer High School, where he found an outlet for his art.

“Whenever they would have rallies, I’d go in the basement and make offensive charcoal pieces, then hang them in the hallways before they were done,” he said, adding that they would always get taken down shortly thereafter.

A car accident at age 17 caused brain damage, but an insurance settlement gave him the chance to get out of Auburn and come to Sacramento, where he would eventually build his own house and studio.

“I like to chill out in Sacramento,” he said. “I don’t like L.A. so much.”

For about eight years after moving to Sacramento, Skinner would paint when he wasn’t working his day job.

“I finally just freaked out on my boss one day and quit,” he said. “I got unemployment for about four months, but I never reapplied for it because I didn’t want to feel lazy.”

At the time, he was booking about one solo art show per month, and he said his friends were amazed he hadn’t quit sooner, as his art was getting to the point of being able to support him.

“I took two months and traveled around Europe,” he said. “I painted murals on walls in Scotland and Belgium.”

The move proved fortuitous, and 2009 was the year his art career took off.

“I was featured in Juxtapoz magazine,” he said. “They did a 10-page spread on me.”

Juxtapoz has since featured Skinner numerous times, referring to him as being “full of the psychedelic/rocker insanity we’ve come to love about this painter.”

His girlfriend of six years, Kristie Harris, gave her take on his work: "When I look at Skin's work, I see a person wrestling with what is both beautiful and horrible about mankind and the world we have created. He uses color and humor as tools for easy engagement with heavy subject matter."

As the art gained notoriety and he did shows in Berlin, Moscow, Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, he struggled to get back to what the art was all about for him – that “place of quietness I had when I was a kid.”

He said he would love to paint 10 - 14 hours per day every day, but he gets interrupted by the business side of things.

“To be an artist now, you really have to be business-minded and super sharp,” he said. “Networking is part of the gig, too. There are way better painters than me, but they don’t get out and network and promote themselves, so no one knows who they are.”

To keep things balanced between business and creativity, he said he has canceled some upcoming shows in the next year so he can take the time to work on his painting skills and delve into the creative side more.

His work can still be purchased at his online store.

“My goal is to work on a couple of painting projects, promote my website and be present with my girlfriend – have a lot of fun with her, go camping and just laugh my ass off,” he said.

Harris shared a less artistic and more practical side to Skinner’s creativity.

“Skinner commonly gives homeless folks a ride from Sacramento to San Francisco and back just so he can ride in the carpool lane,” she said.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails