Completely engulfed in the discovery of what has become my signature painting style called drip painting, I began producing a body of artwork at an uncontrollable rate. The walls of the Art-partment on Jefferson Street in the Carlsbad Village become cluttered with my early drip experiments on cardboard.
As my dripping skills improved with the gained knowledge of paint sheen, thickness and viscosity, I began drip painting on professionally stretched canvases, encouraged by a conversation on the patio of the Art-partment with artist Candice Chovanec. These thicker canvases filled the only remaining space in the small one bedroom Art-partment—I knew it was time to grow.
One early spring day as I rode my bike into the Carlsbad Village, I passed an inconspicuous storefront at the intersection of State and Beech. Towering stacks of dusty cardboard boxes caught my eye. It looked like the small 400 sq. ft. space had not been entered in decades.
I knocked on the neighboring door of the local plumbing business. A small and elderly woman with a contagious smile answered the door after a excitedly strong knock. I inquired about the neighboring space and asked if she knew how I could get in contact with the landlord. She gave me a tan business card with her husband’s name and number printed below a logo, the same logo that hung on the facade overhead. I thanked her. As I walked back to my bike, I glanced back at the dusty neighboring storefront imagining myself inside painting all day and everyday with my newest creations cluttered on the surrounding wall. I took the business card out of my pocket and read the name of the husband of the nice elderly woman— Arthur Brown.
I called the number a few nights later and spoke with the man who shared the name with my uncontrollable passion. Art and I spoke of a month-to-month deal, first and last month’s payment up front and a rent of $450 a month. An old school handshake over the phone followed. Snyder Art was moving into the heart of the Village.
On May 4, 2008 I was opened the Snyder Art and Design door to the Carlsbad Community as 100,000 village shoppers walked the Village streets of the biannual Carlsbad Street Faire. A few completed painting hung on the wall, a clean dropcloth was spread under dripless piece of plywood nailed to two sawhorses. I sat in Snyder Art on day 1 of my new studio staring out the front window and brainstorming how I would connect with each and every community member of the Carlsbad Village.
I had been working as a digital illustrator for the past three years for a screenprinting company called Kapan Kent Co., Inc. in the Oceanside, but the opening of Snyder Art in the Carlsbad Village coincided in my resignation. I had reached my threshold—it was time to follow my passion—my heART.
At this time I had been documenting my thoughts and observations of the Carlsbad Village on www.carlsbadcrawl.com, inspired by another blog which I thought was a valid source of local news, but lacked a focus on the arts and specifically the Carlsbad Village. At this time I remained anonymous as editor of www.carlsabdcrawl.com to bring focus to the content, as well as providing the opportunity to write freely and critically.
I was in the midst of a fierce creative explosion of ideas and artwork. I painted uncontrollably for 10+ hours a day and stayed up all night designing the next painting. In the moments in between, I would would record my thoughts on carlsbadcrawl.com and via email.
Though I was perfecting my drip art technique and making a name for myself in the San Diego art scene, all my energy was focused toward the single goal of encouraging the development of a more artistic culture in the Carlsbad Village, a type of culture I had been exposed to in the SF Bay Area during college. I knew if I was able to help inspire the emergence a new culture based on creativity and community, it would benefit residents, visitors and local business alike.
I identified ingredients that would help inspire this creative culture, some which had be put in place already. My formula included (1) the combination of public art, (2) an online source to promote local art and art related events (carlsbadcrawl.com), (3) a working art studio in the heart of the Village with an open door policy encouraging the community to visit and experience the creative process of an artist, (4) community projects that encouraged the development of a passion for the creative process, (5) public street installations that showcased the relationship between art and its enthronement when placed in the streets and (6) local art shows demonstrating the ability to strengthen culture through art related gatherings.
Snyder Art became a frequented stop for friends, artists, family members and tourists. I rarely left the studio, but spent more time with community then ever before because of these frequent visits. It was common to paint in front of a crowed lining the studio walls while each experienced my process and spoke about the local art scene, local politics and creative endeavors in general. I was witnessing the the local culture grow and it was being inspired not only by the conversations that were happening within the walls of my studio, but during a wide variety of Snyder Art projects within the local community.
Starting in 2008, and for the next three years, I organized local crafting parties for Easter and Christmas, each concluding with 50–150 colorful crafts hidden within the Carlsbad Village. Unsuspecting village visitors would stumble upon the hidden crafts. Each craft was tagged with tag number and directions encouraging the finder to visit www.carlsabdcrawl.com to log the craft. At that time a puzzle piece would appear. The goal was to expose the entire puzzle by finding all the hidden crafts, ultimately showcasing the a network of minds—culture.
In addition to these craft parties and scavenger hunts, I hosted two highly promoted art shows each year at Snyder Art. The first being a solo art show showcasing each year’s collection of paintings. Local eateries would cater, local bands played music and 30+ paintings hung on the walls. I never considered one of my paintings as the art, rather a trophy that represented a series of successful steps in route to completion. I always considered by art the creative process. In terms of these annual solo art shows, the art was the ability to bring 200+ community members together in celebration of art and culture. Each show culminated a year’s efforts and was almost as inspirational as another annual art gathering.
You Create the Art, an art show created the night of the show by all whom attended the show, was a community gathering held at Snyder Art each year as a way to inspire the act of creating art. These shows were similar to Snyder Art solo shows in terms of live music, catered food and large scale promotions, but the night began with 50+ blank canvases hung on the studio walls, a single table in the middle of the studio and a wide variety of art supplies. Each show attendee also became the featured artist and were encouraged to paint freely and without inhibitions as each canvas was periodically painted white entirely throughout the night.
Along with exhibiting what I painted during each year in my studio, the streets had also become my canvas, or more appropriate, my chosen vehicle to transform the Carlsbad Village from a carefully manicured, conservative and culturally bland community to a vibrant, colorful and creative culture.
At this time I had begun using the dandelion icon to symbolize the ability of a single idea to grow and inspire others to do the same. Where a carefully manicured garden inhibits the wild growth of creativity, the unmanicured garden, much like a forest, grows freely, wrapping around nearby trees and hanging off tall branches. Each individual plant interacts with its neighbors, ultimately creating a single entity.
I started to see changes in the local culture and the way the community embraced creativity. A new culture was emerging, but I became perturbed with what I felt as the lack of support from the local government. At the best, their support was in the form of a blind eye, which worked out because it let me continue implementing art in every nook and cranny of the Village streets, often removing my installations without repercussions— and rumor has it there is a City storage yard that houses each or them.
These nook and crannies that I placed art in included an abandoned water reservoir called The Pit. The land was fenced off and No Trespassing sings were posted. Circa 2010, I had the street art movement in the US and worldwide shifting from the more graphic design based stencils and wheatpastes to large scale murals. At this same time I had been developing a character titled Doodle, a mischievous, yet innocent, character inspired by a collection of my childhood illustrations. I began visiting the large embankments of The Pit where I taught myself how to paint large scale. The embankments were mellow enough to stand on while painting, but steep enough to act as a vertical wall. The Pit was my outside studio. I often painted all day in the studio, to find the following day my newest mural buffed by the City. When I felt my mural skills were honed, I took Doodle to the streets of the Carlsbad Village and eventually Los Angeles.
I had been watching Banksy’s career very closing, hosting premieres at Snyder Art when he released his documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop and sharing his street installations with the community. Circa 2010, Banksy visited Los Angeles implementing a series of art pieces in the LA streets. This inspired a frenzy street art scene in Los Angeles, ultimately inspiring a LA musician to start the incredibly popular street art blog Melrose&Fairfax. I was fascinated with speed in which this new LA street art culture emerged. I had dedicated my years to the emergence of a Carlsbad culture, was intrigued with uncontrollable growth in LA. I began visiting in leaving a large variety of art behind. In 2012, I was named street artist of the year by Melrose and Fairfax.