Nearly a month ago, we announced the start of Menton3’s new Kickstarter campaign for an art book based on his first solo show, KATABASIS (show coming in April). The campaign quickly passed its monetary goal, bringing with it a slew of new rewards for various pledges including original Tarot Prints and additional pages added to the book. Pledges have been treated to multiple video updates via Menton3 detailing his artistic process. Overall, it’s been a kickass campaign.
Now, in the final days, Menton3 takes some time to dive deep with BloodyDisgusting into his studio, his mind, and the world of KATABASIS. He treats us to some invaluable words of wisdom and dares us to take a closer look at our own dark psyches.
BD: How did the theme of KATABASIS come about?
M3: Pretty much all the time when I’m painting outside of comics, I’m painting under a certain theme and when I was asked to do the Last Rites show, KATABASIS was one of the ideas I had to continue painting under. One of the things I don’t like is going to solo shows and seeing that they’ve kind of just put a bunch of ideas on the wall that don’t really have a continuity within them. Then sometimes people do shows in which there’s too much continuity. So for me, KATABASIS was rich enough of an area for me to go to and pull from and at the same time knowing that everything would have continuity and a story within it. The other thing is that this is my first solo show and I know that doing a show underneath this theme while living it would change me and I like the idea of having that journal type situation up on the walls of a gallery where there’s a progression of a psychological change that’s occurring within me almost through forced attrition.
BD: This is an extremely personal campaign. What emotions were you riding before and during this Kickstarter?
M3: I’m always very nervous before the beginning of any Kickstarter and obviously like you said this one is very personal so I was extremely nervous. It’s really hard to articulate what it was exactly that I was nervous about. I’m not sure the nerves ever really go away once the goal is met. It’s more like a feeling of responsibility and awe as to the people who contributed and it just feels like, you know, not to sound cheesy or corny but it almost feels like a big giant hug and you just want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to repay that back. You know a lot of the work starts once the goal is met, like “How can we improve the book?” “What more can we do?” It’s always amazing with every Kickstarter we’ve done because I’m pretty much convinced before we start it that there’s no way we’re ever going to get anywhere with it. There’s no way people care. And with this one, since it was just about my solo show, it was even more so like “why would anyone give a shit?” So I was pretty taken aback and pretty shocked that it went so well, so fast. I have to say that it was really awesome to see.
BD: Can you tell us about your painting process each day? Do you have any rituals? A set time to work? Or do you just paint when the mood strikes you? Give us a peek under the menton3 curtain.
M3: I think painting when the mood strikes you is a pretty bad thing for an artist. The way that I see it is that if you’re going to try to be an artist, you’ve just gotta paint. I don’t believe in motivation. I believe in determination more than I believe in motivation. I think a lot of people sit around waiting to be motivated. And I don’t think you can sustain something like that. You have to learn how to work regardless of how you’re feeling or regardless of what is going on in your life. You have to learn how to work. As for my process, it’s a bit strange I guess you’d say. Each painting tends to be somewhat different. I usually get an idea and I work on it for a long time before I even start trying to come up with sketches or anything. Before paint even hits the panel or canvas, I usually have the idea fairly worked out. You never really know how it’s going to go. I don’t know if it is going to be good or bad or anything until it’s finished. It doesn’t really work with a lot of chaos, I try to stay very, very focused on what I want to do because I don’t want there to just be crazy stuff on a canvas. I’m trying to actually say something at times and you know it’s very important to me that I’m honest with the people that are interested in my work. I don’t want to lie to them, I don’t want to do things artistically that are just to look pretty or be cool. I really want to say something and I need to know that I put the thought behind the painting enough to where in my own head it says something, so I tend to work a lot.
BD: Going into a really dark place–as you said in your KATABASIS video: “the darkest places of my own psyche, fears, phobias, anxieties…” has to be a fairly terrifying task to take on. Did you find that it had an effect on your life outside of your art? How do you start that journey?
M3: How I start that journey is by choosing to do it and going into my own psyche and meditations and allowing the stuff that wants to come up, to come up, and trying to kind of go at them. As for it affecting my life that is kind of always the case, that’s not just especially true with KATABASIS. I’m always painting stuff that I feel like, and taking what I’m currently going through in my life and in my head and trying to figure out ways of articulating that onto panel. I think if your art isn’t affecting your life outside of art, something’s kind of wrong. Again, I think you’re kind of lying to the audience if you’re just making pretty pictures.
BD: A lot of artists struggle through darkness, as it were, and don’t know how to creatively release it. Being that KATABASIS is an artistic journey through personal darkness, do you have any advice or thoughts on how to curb darkness into a creative project?
M3: I think that the subconscious is always trying to bring stuff through so I think really, honestly, if you want it and you ask for it, its pretty much already there. At least I’ve always found that it’s pretty much already there. I have known people that have a hard time bringing it to the surface. But for me, like I said it’s pretty much there if I look for it. I don’t know if I’m fortunate and it comes easy to me to do stuff like that. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but just try to remain honest with yourself. A lot of times we see stuff in our head that’s dark and that’s not easy to deal with. I kind of have a rule, “if it’s not hard for you to make this painting or it’s not hard for you to get this out, you’re doing it wrong.”
BD: When you do something like this, you are so obviously giving a lot of yourself over to your audience. Does this sort of project take anything out of you that you feel like you never get back? What do you gain in return?
M3: I’m not of the opinion that there’s a limit to psychological content like that. Yeah, I think a part of me goes in to every painting as it does pretty much any artist, but I don’t feel like there’s a limit to it. I don’t feel like I’m missing something. It’s just another part of me.
BD: In addition to being an art book, KATABASIS appears to be a sort of art journal as well. Can you tell us more about that? Would you give it other attributes?
M3: I think a journal is a good way of putting it. I’ve been calling it that a lot lately. I am going to be talking about the techniques I utilize, as well as what materials I use. So a big portion of it will be process-related. But I do think that a journal is a great way of looking at it. It’s an art book that’s also covering not just the paintings themselves but also the work that went into it and what the work meant to me.
BD: Can you tell us one thing we wouldn’t expect to expect from KATABASIS?
M3: I think I’m trying a bunch of new things with painting. I think I’m pushing the techniques and the things that I’m doing with my paintings themselves and having the show be what it is. The paintings are allowing me to really experiment a lot with a bunch of different subject matter and compositions. So something I’m really excited about is to get feedback on KATABASIS and see if people either love them or hate them.
BD: Can we expect to see you at any cons in the near future?
M3: Absolutely. I will be at C2E2 in Chicago and I’m pretty sure I’ll be at NYCC. We might be doing Wizard World Chicago as well.
BD: Word association with Menton3:
Hate: No comment
There are still roughly two days left to become a backer for Menton3’s KATABASIS Kickstarter campaign where you can pledge for artistic goodies like t-shirts, original Menton3 art, previous 44Flood books, and of course, the slipcased hardcover edition of KATABASIS.
Menton3’s solo show runs from April 19th to May 24th at Last Rites Gallery in New York.
Interview by – Bree Ogden