EK Interview: Ian Shults

Oh it seems like just yesterday when we featured Ian Shults on our website…  -Wait, it was.  Well here’s the interview! Damn when I say I’m going to do something, you can really count on me to do it.  So you can count on me when I say I’ll be in S.F. when the phone rings.  But ’till then, there is a world to conquer! Oh yea, and Ian Shults is funny and cool and he’s a painter and bartender, which seems like an unfair amount of coolness packed into one man, if you ask me. 

Moi, I’m just a bunny.  I’m not cool, I’m hardly funny, and even my normal paintings look like I used my left hand… but I too was a bartender in my past life.  And I do have cake.  And it’s chocolate and it came from Paris.  -Checkmate, Bunnyman!  MMmmm, cake.

Who you be and what you do?
I’m Ian Shults, a painter from Austin, TX.  I’ve done all kinds of art my entire life as a compulsion.  After high school, I was doing graffiti and punk show fliers.  I showed some of my work  to local artist Rory Skagen who took me on to start Blue Genie Art, where I did landmark Styrofoam sculpture, illustration, design, mold making etc.  I worked there for about ten years, then decided to build a studio at my house and give it a go on my own.

Why painting?  Have you tried anything else?
I like painting cause there’s a lot of instant gratification.  I really enjoy sculpture too, but it’s a very expensive medium.  I’ve played on a wacom tablet before, but it was like painting with my left hand.  There’s definitely cool stuff you can do digitally, but I like to get dirty with real paint.

What is your general approach and/or philosophy of your art?
I guess my painting is a direct reflection of me, as I think with any art you get a piece of the person with it.  That being said I like for my paintings to have a sense of something wrong or weird going on.  Also I want shit to look cool.

Where do you find your subject matter and who are the people featured in your paintings?
I get my images by altering found photos, some drawn and some are photos from parties.

Regarding the manner in which you distort your images, what is the idea behind the method and the  intended result you have on the viewers?
It started as pure spontaneity, nothing is static.  It brings to mind the viewers distorted views on life, causing them to create the stories behind the images.

What makes a good painting?
Composition, really interesting subject matter, technique, and thoughtful use of color or lack of color.  I don’t buy the completely solid color canvases in galleries as art.  Skill and craft are important to me in a painting.

What kind of movies do you like?  Books?
I love almost all movies, but my favorite are cheesy horror movies.  I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I listen to a ton of audio books while I’m painting.  I’m currently on book 3 of the Game of Thrones series, cause I dug the HBO show, but I usually like nonfiction stuff most.

What other mediums are you interested in?
Definitely sculpture if I ever get the time and money.

What painters do you look up to?
I look up to any painter doing it solely as a living.  Any of those cool painters in the cool magazines.  There’s just so many great artists out there I have to actively not look at too much so they don’t influence me too much.

What kind of music do you like?
I’m a rocker, through and through. As I’ve gotten older there’s less punk more indie, but I am a giant sucker for 70’s glam.  Love giant arrangements. I like Billy Joel so much I recently bought the web spot TheRealBoss.org, to start an online petition to take the Boss title away from Springsteen and give it to Joel, possibly during halftime at the Super Bowl.

Describe your latest show, the theme behind it?
It’s mostly a continuation of my personal overall theme of social interaction and weird sexiness.  Lots of black and white and some color here and there.  I’ve been doing more diptychs that are pretty fun.  Look for it at Gallery Heist in S.F. October 15th.

Your art has definitely evolved, how would you put that evolution into words?
I think it’s definitely has a softer quality to it. Less graphic, more painterly.  I’m painting looser than I ever have.

Older piece

Newer.  Note the softness and timelessness feel achieved with his new work.

Where do you see yourself developing in the future?
I can’t really say, it’s really about being spontaneous and finding the courage to do something untested and new.  For me these things come along when I don’t have the responsibility of a show coming up.

If you woke up alone in the woods and had no idea where you were, what would be the first thing that you do?
Find my pants.

Would you rather fight a bear or a tiger?
Definitely a Koala bear, but I don’t know why you would want me to hurt such a cute little guy, you guys are mean.
(haha -Editors note: While we don’t deny a bit of sadism in our offices, this is fucking mean, and we wholeheartedly endorse the cutting off of at least a pinky finger from this girl.

If you had one painting left to make, what would it be?
Very expensive.

If you couldn’t do art, what would you be doing?
Well, I’m a bartender now, so I would probably stick with that, or be a carpenter, but I guess that’s kinda art too.  So, yeah bartender, the hours are good.

Thanks Ian!

PS. I noticed my EK Interview introductions hardly ever have anything to do with the artist.  Sorry about that.