There are hundreds of bloggers I admire for their tenacity, drive, humor and innovative ideas, but very few who embody the combination of artistry, sarcasm and wit that 14, the founder of Gallery of the Absurd does.
14, who is an artist first and a blogger second, has wowed the web with what the New York Post called "Portraits of Shame" - as in satirical paintings and drawings of tabloid favorites like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. While gossip blogs talked about the Hollywood Skeleton Girls, 14 painted them - as skeletons. When Star Jones got canned from The View following her shameless quest for wedding freebies and the denial and controversy surrounding her dramatic weight loss, 14 painted her as a fish about to sink her teeth into a giant and shiny bite of "free" bait. No matter what the scandal, 14's hauntingly hilarious images seem to begin where tabloids end and her collection, which is archived on Gallery of the Absurd is an addiction in its own right. I recently found out she resides in San Francisco and that she's a major geek. She was gracious enough to let me pick at her brain. For the full interview,
Geeksugar: You've said you love the celebrities you paint because they bring you so much joy and laughter. How do you decide when a celebrity moment or trend needs to be immortalized in a painting?
14: The frequency of the celeb's appearance in the blogs and tabloids plus the ridiculousness of the celeb's actions equals my interest in painting them.
Geeksugar: Which celebrities inspire you the most?
14: Celebrities with huge notions of entitlement are my favorites: Tom Cruise and Paris Hilton. I also love painting the public train wrecks: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Tara Reid. Anyone who causes me laughter is ripe for my pen.
Geeksugar: Is there anyone you wouldn't paint?
14: I focus my attention on tabloid celebrities rather than serious actors/actresses. I've avoided actresses such as Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanssen because they conduct their private lives with dignity. However, if they became involved in a Paris Hilton-style scandal, they would quickly become candidates for Gallery of the Absurd. Also, I'm scared to draw Oprah...I dunno, just am.
Geeksugar: Tell me a little about the artistic process. I read you use ink, acrylic, pastels and oils on paper or canvas, as well as digital enhancement.
14: First, I make a pencil sketch by turning the reference photo upside down and drawing it that way. Then I dance around in my studio for a bit and then go back to sketching. I'll do several sketches and to save time, I'll often scan the sketch in Illustrator and convert to a vector and then color and layout in Photoshop. Other times I take several days to paint an oil or acrylic. I'm still teaching myself to draw and paint, so I experiment a lot with different mediums and styles. Now I'm teaching myself Flash and am working with some animators on a Gallery of the Absurd cartoon.
Geeksugar: How many hours do you pour into most works?
14: The average time spent on a finished illustration is about 8 hours each. Sketches with digital color take less time and paintings can take up to a week.
Geeksugar: Do you use a PC or Mac?
14: MAC only. A PC would never enter my studio.
Geeksugar: What non-celebrity websites do you read everyday?
14: I visit art blogs such as Drawn!, I read "alternative" news sites such as a Rense.com and Alternet.org, a few political blogs and...I redden as I type this...I read UFO blogs and paranormal news sites. Blush.
Geeksugar: What are your guilty pleasure TV shows?
14: I really hate TV and can't keep my attention focused on it for very long, but shows such as The Office, Entourage and Wife Swap snagged me in their net and I'm a little pissed about it.
Geeksugar: What do you snack on while working?
14: Raw almonds, strawberries, and olives...but not all at the same time.
Geeksugar: I define about 60 percent of your "interests" as geeky (that's a plus in my book). Do you consider yourself a geek?
14: I am a major geek and I wear it as a badge of honor. I devour a wide range of non-fiction books weekly and enjoy taking things apart and fixing them without the use of directions. I find enjoyment in both a hardware store as well as Sephora.
Geeksugar: I read you have a huge crush on Stephen Colbert. Who do you think is the sexiest geek ever?
14: When I watched Stephen Colbert speak to Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner, I immediately fell in love. Geeky men with balls and razor wit turn me into mush and make my heart go a'flutter. I'm sure there's other sexxay geeks out there, but I can't think of one now.
Geeksugar: What are some of your other hobbies when you're not painting and creating art?
14: Hiking, people watching, gardening, ufo investigation, yoga, rabble rousing.
Geeksugar: Are you going to buy an iPhone?
14: No, but maybe someone will buy one for me.
Geeksugar: Do you listen to music while you paint, and if so, who are you listening to these days?
14: All the time! Lately I've been listening to The Residents, The The, Amon Tobin, Manu Chau, Sufi music, Mozart and some weird crystal bowl healing stuff that is supposed to "raise your vibrations," but so far I've not noticed anything different.
Geeksugar: Tell us more about your background, how you got started as a blogger and what you've learned from it.
14: My background is in high-tech marketing and public relations, but I quit 7 years ago because I was having more fun drawing my bizarro co-workers than writing marketing plans. After that, I became a free-lance art curator and artist and created several multimedia art shows and events. A sudden move from Seattle to Los Angeles turned my life upside down, so I started Gallery of the Absurd to cope with not knowing anyone in a new town. Now it's my job and I looooove blogging. Who cares if I don't make as much money as when I had to market software? I'm far happier and free now.
Geeksugar: Any celebrity you are dying to meet?
14: I'd love to meet George Lucas. I have so much admiration for him and they way he brought his imagination to life. I'm not so much a Star Wars fan, but I am a fan of Lucas himself. Most of the tabloid celebs I draw don't really fascinate me that much and I'd likely not take notice of them unless they were acting like clowns. I'd love to be invisible and follow Tom Cruise around for 24 hours just to see the full spectrum of whackiness he'd reveal. Maybe it would be fun to have a drink with Courtney Love too.
Geeksugar: What are some of your favorite places in the San Francisco?
14: One of my favorite hobbies is people watching and this city has the BEST! I put on dark glasses and trek miles all around this fine city and am entertained for hours. I also spend lots of time at the SF Botanical Garden, Land's End, and Sutro Park. I love the lychee cocktails at Cafe Claude and the dark chocolate salted caramels from Recchiuti.