NEST HQ was created with the intention of being a platform aimed at promoting and encouraging the growth of artists of all genres and mediums. While we’ve worked mostly within music up to this point, we are expanding on a new content series that will showcase multimedia artists of various backgrounds including painters, graphic designers, architects, and others of the sort — this is installation. Every two weeks, we’ll post hand-selected pieces from our featured artists via our Instagram @NESTHQ, along with excerpts from the full interviews.
This week’s installation features the painter and graphic designer Homeless Cop. We sat down in his brilliantly colored and thoughtfully organized living room to discuss political art, skateboarding, and being a full-time artist in LA.
Dani: What’s your story as an artist?
HC: I’ve been an artist my whole life. I was that kid in class that sat around and drew pictures. In middle school, my mom wasn’t really down with me getting into Dungeons & Dragons and stuff like that, but I was drawing these scary skulls and monsters anyways. After highschool, I started playing drums in a hip-hop band and I was making all of the band’s flyers. After making so many of those my style became a bit more cartoon and clean. Then, maybe around 2004-2005, I started to paint and decided “I’m going to paint like I draw.” The stuff I make is really just stuff that I think looks cool together. My style is just me having fun.
Dani: Is there any direct influence from some of the more classic art theories? There’s a lot of colorwork here, some hints of abstract art and even parts of cubism.
HC: No, I’m totally self-taught. In 1997 I saw the movie Basquiat – it’s got so many big names in it, like David Bowie plays Andy Warhol, it’s crazy – and Basquiat is my favorite artist, so when I saw that movie I realized that I wanted to be a full-time painter one day. I knew though that I was never going to paint like that. There’s a lot of people that try to rip off his style lately, it’s everywhere. I like to draw all of the elements of a painting separately, that way I can put them in different paintings if I want to. If it’s a commission or something that’s supposed to resemble something in real life then I just try to do it in my own way.
Dani: I was at an exhibition in Miami that was mainly featuring pop art and contemporary, and all of it was so derivative and lame. Pretty much a bunch of B-side Warhol, Basquiat – people think that doing simple art is easy, but you can immediately tell the difference between any of these rip-offs.
HC: I went to the art fair in LA earlier this year, and there was this one guy who paid for half of a booth thing and it was laid out with tons of rip of Basquiat work. He even had merch that you could buy too. One of them was a skateboard that just said “Milk, Bread, Heroin” and it was just kind of like “can you believe this guy?” It was insane. But yeah, my stuff is colorful, and there are influences of pop art for sure.
Dani: I don’t know if it feels like “contemporary” art to me – there are definitely references to pop culture and political commentaries, but for me it still lives in the street art/skateboarding/design world than in the contemporary lane.
HC: That’s good! I was really influenced by skateboarding. I read Thrasher as a kid and all of the artwork in there was so eye-opening. All of the Powell Peralta, Bones Brigades stuff, Mike McGill’s board, all of that was (and is) some of my favorite work of all time. I think that’s what got me out of the sketching/sketchier style into a more graphic leaning style. I started thinking “could this fit on a shirt?” stuff like that.
Dani: Your art reminds me a lot of early hip-hop works, I think of MF DOOM, those kinds of graphics, mixed with skate graphics. It’s really interdisciplinary. What is the character design process like for you? Are these referential to other figures in your life, or are they more random?
HC: Most of the characters I draw are honestly just things I imagine might look cool. I’ve been looking at a lot of knights and armor lately, but I might be into something in the moment like a church or a building and I’ll draw that. I just try to make things that are fun. I mean, I smoke a lot of weed so maybe that’s really it haha.
Dani: What about some of the more political stuff you’ve been working on lately?
HC: I guess for political stuff, I’m not a fan of Trump or the KKK, and I’m lucky to live in America where I can do this kind of stuff, but while he’s been so bad for so many things he’s also been so good for art and comedy. History is going to remember what people said and did in this time, and I thought that I should make art to kind of say my part. I don’t want to get too political though.
Dani: Political art can definitely be cheesy or annoying. The pieces you’ve done are a good balance of being on the nose while still feeling easygoing.
HC: This is a crazy time right now.
Dani: There are definitely really positive things stemming from this though, like you said, in art and comedy and music.
HC: It’s going to be good for punk rock!
Dani: Yeah, I love punk. It’s a lot of what I grew up on and it’s a lot of what I listen to now. So much punk music is bleeding out from the cracks right now.
What’re some of the projects that you’ve been working this year? I saw you had the D3ATH Show, and a couple of projects with Adidas.
HC: At Art, Basel Adidas had their own art gallery they built in the Juxtapose clubhouse – it was really Adidas Skateboarding, they had a bunch of skateboarder/artists showing work. They took me down there with three other LA artists and we had a little spot to put up our art. They also had a show here in LA, and I also painted on some ramps for them for another event they had last summer. It was 110 degrees out so it was pretty crazy. They built this whole obstacle course in the Arts District, it was pretty cool. I’ve been loyal to Adidas since like 6th grade, so that was really cool to work with them. I actually also got to do something for the Nike for the NFL Draft in Dallas. I stay busy enough with commissions and with my own work, time just kind of flies by.
Dani: I think Adidas has done a really good job of breaking into the street art and skateboarding world. With other major brands, the entrance has been so contrived, but with Adidas it was so organic. They immediately had support from people like The Gonz, really unique and cool European skaters, and it’s just so fun and easygoing. Other big brands feel so business.
HC: The guys I know at Adidas are all ex-skaters. They’re not corporate people. There’s a really strong art scene in LA, last year they did a line with bonethrower (who’s one of my favorite artists), they’ve also worked with Luke Pelletier, I love everything that Adidas does. Also, that’s one of my favorite things about having moved to LA – I get to see what a real art scene is like and meet all of these cool people. Companies like that come to this city looking for talent, and I’m so amazed that I even got to work with them at all.
Dani: bonethrower is amazing! I just briefly met him a couple weeks while doing an installation on Austin England.
HC: Yeah! I know Austin.
Dani: They share a studio together in Silverlake. He’s amazing.
HC: Both those guys are great. I had an art show that I curated a couple of months ago at Delicious Vinyl and I had both of those guys at my art show. Austin does all of the neon work, he can also draw really well and tattoo. He’s crazy!
Dani: That was one of my favorite interviews ever. I went to his studio and he tattooed me while we talked. He’s a great dude, and he’s from Florida so it’s great to see Florida people thriving out here.
HC: It’s great that so many people from here are not from here. Most of the people I’ve met, actually, are not from here.
Dani: Speaking of which – how do you feel about being an artist in LA in 2018?
HC: The art scene in LA is great – like I mentioned earlier, I’ve found that a lot of artists aren’t from here, so they tend to really stick together more. Every weekend there are really cool pop-ups, or collaboration shows happening all across the city. It’s a dream come true, man. Even though I can’t go out as much as I’d like to because I’m painting all the time, I wish I could make more of these events.
Dani: That’s what you’ve gotta do man.
HC: When I go out I have to paint up until right before I go out. That’s also why I like to work from home, I can work till late at night then wake up and keep working first thing in the morning. I have friends that go to a spot and work certain hours – which is fine, and that discipline must be really cool to have – but I don’t know if it would work for me.
Dani: For me, the best balance has been a really really organized space at home. We’ve had bedroom studios, but they feel intrusive and messy, and it was hard to separate the two. We had a studio space, but like you said the discipline for that and the limiting factors of not being able to just hit it when you feel creative can be hard. Now we have a dedicated studio space at home, and keeping it really clean and organized and separate from our lives has been really great for our work flow.
HC: Staying organized is the key for sure. I feel like when things are clean I can work on art. If things are messy, how can you even focus on your art when there are other things that need to get done.
Dani: Interestingly, I feel like that personality reflects in your art. The spaces are so occupied and dense but ultimately quite simple and organized.
HC: For some of my newer stuff, I’m trying to use a bit less color. Keep things a bit less chaotic.
Dani: What’re some upcoming projects this year, and some goals for yourself?
HC: Really the goal is to keep making as much art as I can. Now that I’ve started making some acrylic stuff, I can intertwine working on two projects at once. While the oil paintings dry, I can focus on churning out the acrylic ones. I also have an iPad Pro and an iPencil, and I want to get really proficient with those. Currently, I’m just okay at Photoshop. I know how to use Illustrator and some other programs, but I’m just tired of sitting around drawing with a mouse. I’d like to become a better graphic designer so I can continue to grow as an artist.