It was love at first sight. My heart went a flutter. My breath became quick and rigid. I froze, I literally froze. It feels like only yesterday that I fell in love with Alex Pardee. Not the man (though he is a handsome devil) but the artistry. The vivid colors and nightmarish complexities that come to life in Alex’s artwork are horrifyingly beautiful. They ooze with passion and mayhem- the thing that drew me to him in the first place. Coming off of a number of career successes, including the opening of his new gallery show Vertigo this Saturday, I thought what better way to start off the new year than with a Fear File dedicated to this man, this legend, and my favorite Tweeter.
CAUTION: ARTIST AT WORK
FEAR FILES WITH ANDREA ALBIN
Fear file #2- ARTIST ALEX PARDEE
The Legend- @alexpardee
Following Alex Pardee on Twitter is an adventure in itself. If you’re one of his 20,000 plus followers, you know exactly what I mean. Like me, he’s an insomniac on a mission, and Twitter serves as his caffeine. “Twitter is like my favorite hobby. When there is no one to complain about random things to [sitting] on my couch, why not get the rest of the Internet to rally behind you in the middle of the night by saying things like FUCK WATERMELONS, CANTELOUPES RULE THE SCHOOL and then like ten people agree and I feel awesome. Well, I mean, kind of awesome. As awesome as one can feel on Twitter at 3am.” But when it comes down to it, the world worships the ground this man walks on, not just for his side ache inducing one-liners, but for his work; his art. “I am very lucky and can confidently say that art is my life. I do art for a living and so, therefore, I LIKE my job [and] I just do it all day.”
Alex’s one-of-a-kind style is brilliant- and I’m not just saying that because I’m fan. I’m saying that because I appreciate art- especially the kind of art you’d be more likely to see in a nightmare than a dream come true. Everything from his monsters, to the one of a kind poster he created for the Inglorious Basterds charity event, no two pieces are alike- and each one provokes thought in such a way that it sends you down a tunnel of eye gauging brilliance.
College, Comic Books and Creating- OH MY!
“I’m pretty much influenced by almost everything. I’m a sensory overload addict.”
Alex’s creative mind is hard to rival. He’s all over the place- but in a good way. “I always had a hard time really deciding what, if any, specific direction that I want to go in because I simply like creating.” At one time, he considered film school, but eventually was drawn to the world of comics. “The thought of collaborating with people scared me at the time. So I kind of gravitated toward more private art, like holing myself up in my room after work and school and just scribbling or writing with no intention of anyone seeing anything.” Fortunately, his mates convinced him that his talent belonged out in the world, not hiding behind a closed door. “I didn’t want to associate myself with my art because of fear, so I did it all under really retarded juvenile pen names, like Yulick Balls, and Dump Honorchest. Eventually my close friends did talk me into taking comic book publishing a bit more serious, so I started a publishing company in the mid 90’s called Eyesuck Ink. That was where I just tried to learn and evolve and try to find any kind of angle where I could make a living doing any kind of art.” And that he did, by drawing comics and self promoting, all the while working at a toy store and going to school. The money he was making during the time went back into art conventions, supplies, printing, but eventually what I like to call `Alex fever’ caught on. “I just took a leap of faith and quit everything else in my life back in 2000 and just said to myself that I am going to somehow make a living creating art.”
The most familiar of Alex’s projects are the album covers he has created for rock band THE USED, in addition to apparel design, a little bit of animation, and some mural work. His vision has also graduated from a self-managed comic book endeavor to eclectic art and clothing company Zerofriends. “I always have yummy stuff going on. I don’t handle days off too well, so I don’t take them. I just like making monsters.”
More recently, Alex has been involved with the film SUCKER PUNCH, which hits theaters this March. Originally, he was brought on to design then non-existent promotional art for Comic Con, but it became more than just a fly by night project. “Working on [the movie] was seriously the highlight of my life. Might be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I was a HUGE fan of the DAWN remake as well as WATCHMEN, so to get an opportunity to collaborate with Zack Snyder was unreal. His work ethic and creative passion, as well as his entire team of madmen, makes me feel like I don’t nearly work as hard.” Their collaboration pushed Alex to new levels of euphoria as he designed everything from guns and swords, to some sets, to a lot of props for what looks like one of the most visually stunning films of 2011. “It was overwhelming in the best way possible.” Even one of Alex’s famed characters, the timeless Bunnywith, makes his presence known. “Seeing [that] face plastered on a 30 foot tall Mech Suit will forever be the coolest single moment of my life.”
Don’t Ask About The Grizzly…
I’ve done dozens of interviews for Bloody-Disgusting since hopping on board in August of 2010, but it was Alex’s that made me laugh out loud. Even when avoiding a question (or two) he could easily rival Dane Cook in comedic appeal. Just ask him to tell you about himself, the man behind the artwork. “To be honest, there isn’t really a man behind any of my artwork. I used to play around in radioactive forests up in Northern California when I was younger and I rescued this tiny grizzly bear cub that had lost all of his skin. We grew up together and it turned out that he was a hell of an artist. So from that moment on I kept him hostage and forced him to draw weird shit that I could take credit for. There was a movie made about it with Rocky’s wife called THE PROPHECY I think, but it was pretty embellished.”
Alex has used his artwork to battle personal struggles, and isn’t afraid to admit doing so. “I still use art as a way to escape having to interact socially a lot because I’m still apprehensive toward normality. I mean, I’m lucky because I get to travel a lot for work so I’m kind of forced to be social, but I haven’t figured that part out too much yet. I just like making things.”
I have a lot of respect for Alex. He’s committed to himself and his craft, he has a deep love of horror (basically 80’s slashers and anything with the word `creep’ in its title), and he still manages to contribute a lot to his favorite charities, most recently portrait photographer Clay Enos’ charity coffee organization OrganicCoffee.com. The company sells rare, imported coffees and donates all of the money to multiple non-profits. “He’s like Robin Hood on a Vespa. He’s amazing.”
I can tell by the few conversations I’ve now had with Alex (and the night we stalked each other on Twitter) that he’s an all around nice guy that’s blessed the world with his talent and kindness. If only the rest of us could be so lucky.
I can’t talk about this man without plugging his latest endeavor, VERTIGO, a gallery exhibit which will be opening at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City, CA THIS Saturday and showing through January 26th. “I’m a HUGE fan of the Disneyland experience. I think Disneyland is a perfect parallel to how I want people to view `VERTIGO.’ Sure, when you go to Disneyland, the rides themselves are the main attraction, and as stand-alone attractions, they are incredible. But while standing in line for each ride, if you look around, there is an opportunity to get fully immersed in each one of the rides. There are props, videos and little stories about the history of the `world’ you are about to enter. Once you are done with the ride, you have a chance to go back and re-experience that ride, each time taking in a few more pieces of the bonus content, hopefully sparking your imagination and allowing you to temporarily live in that world. I’m presenting `VERTIGO’ with the same spirit. The main attractions are going to be the paintings, as I am a visual artist before anything else. However, once you experience these paintings, or while you are waiting in line, or if you go back to view them a second time, you will have the opportunity, through displayed props, stories and additional artifacts- to immerse yourself in this new world inspired by this famous guy named Verti Parker and his adventures in hunting and killing physical manifestations of popular nightmares.”
In addition to the gallery showing, Alex has revealed a ten part `origin’ story about Verti Parker on the website www.vertiparker.com
The show is already proving to be an impressive feat for Alex, who has put six months of his life into creating the show. Asking him how excited he was proved to be another pain inducing fit of laughter. “I actually peed in my pants for the 6th time tonight RIGHT as I got this question. And the only thing on my mind is `FUCK, this clothespin I’m wearing is useless.”
I asked Alex where he sees himself in ten years. As an artistic saga? Perhaps the leader of a small country? He answered with, quite possibly, one of the most simple and yet informative quotes I’ve ever gotten: “I see myself in the year 2021. Unless time travel is possible by then. Then I see myself traveling back in time to answer this question with way more conviction.”
I still can’t get over the fact that I was able to connect with my favorite artist- the guy who draws blood covered Smurfs and whimsical monsters that would crush a Transformer. If I can’t convince you that someone like Alex makes the world go round, gives us a reason to live vicariously through creation, and that beautiful, and sometimes maniacal, gems are what we need to give us a boost, then I haven’t done my job. But at least you got to see some pretty cool stuff by a pretty cool guy.
SHOW ANDREA SOME LOVE ON HER BLOG: THE ALBIN WAY! (andreaalbin.blogspot.com)
ZEROFRIENDS Store (www.zerofriends.com)
ALEX’S AMAZING BLOG (www.eyesuckink.blogspot.com/)
THE COREY HELFORD GALLERY (www.coreyhelfordgallery.com)