By Bryan Spearry
Touring can be an excruciating experience on the soul and the body. Finding solace in the road and the constant movement that entails affects each individual differently. Ian Anderson has found a unique approach. He deals with the constant flux by focusing on a hidden talent involving cutouts, Xerox copies, and various paints. Crafting and selling pieces on the road has led to a renewed focus on original works and upcoming gallery shows.
You are likely best known as the drummer for Dead To Me. What about your life in a touring band has most influenced your art?
At one point I was only making art on tour. I would carry cans of paint everywhere we went and I even cut stencils in the van on long drives. I think touring really helped me focus on my art and stay productive. There is so much down time (boredom) on tour, so having stuff to make is a great way to stay busy. Most nights I would sell what I had painted during the day at our merch table. Selling paintings most nights also served as a constant critique of my work that I benefited greatly from. Tour life was the best possible way for me to get myself out in the world. Thank you DTM.
Your current pieces seem to begin with a print and build from there. Is your premise improvisational or based on past/original methods?
I would say mostly improvisational because I really enjoy playing around with materials. I’m always finding new methods. My art is mostly a series of happy mistakes. Sometimes I have a vision of things before I make them but usually I just work through stuff and land on something interesting. It’s the same with playing the drums. It’s all trial and error.
What is your favorite paper to work with? What does your normal setup look like prepping for a piece?
I like archival print paper because it is very forgiving but I most use Xerox paper. A normal set up would probably be starting at Kinko’s printing images that I have been hoarding for years. I find and keep a lot of random scraps because I can see the potential in them and I find that most little scraps of text or pictures take on a life of their own when you blow them up on a Xerox copier. I also use the copy machine to lay out my stencil designs.
Who are some of the artists who have inspired your style?
Jay DeFeo/ David Kelling. David (who also sings in Anderson’s current band, Culture Abuse) has a free spirit towards art that I find very inspiring. He and I have worked together a lot. We released a magazine called “Casual Sex” last year. David printed me collages of his photos and I painted on top of them. I got really into working in that format. David will go crazy at Kinkos. To me he has a great sense of taking risk in art that I find to be important. He will make me personal zines and pieces of art all the time. He is a dear friend and the closest artistic colleague I have.
Jay DeFoe was a painter who had an amazing work ethic and a love of material that I find profound. She continues to inspire me in everything she left behind. I aspire to be a great artist in the way that she is, and it takes a lifetime.
Do you feel like art school is the right path for aspiring artists? Do you have a ‘formal’ education in the arts?
I do feel like formal education is the path for someone that wants to “BE AN ARTIST,” however I think it is 100% possible to be an artist and not go to art school. For example, (my cousin Chicken always reminded me of this) I never went to school to be a drummer, and I play in a band just fine. I think you might find yourself stunted without some formal training. I’m sure I could benefit from a drum lesson. Art is a business for some people. If you want to “be an artist” you might have to sell yourself in a sense and some people aren’t cut out for that.
I will say that it’s harder to earn the respect of the art world without formal training. There seems to be a language that exists as a result of art school. Some people call it bullshit but I think of it as a secret club and I often wish I were invited into. I used DTM as a way to plant my feet in the art world. Most of what I have done publicly is connected to the band and that has taught me a lot.
Some of Ian’s work…
SF local Robert Herrera has an impressively large collection of Ian’s art (second only to Ian’s cousin and bandmate Chicken, says Herrera). He took a moment to share some of his favorites with us.
2 Records 1 Face
This is one of the most unique pieces that I own. What caught my eye the most was the choice of colors. I see a cosmic being eating a planet. If you look at the chains on the ears, you might think the cosmic being is being restrained.
This was one of the first designs I’ve seen from Ian that had a different style of art. I heard it was based on Inuit art and the choice of colors really make this piece stand out. It makes me think of the moon being veiled with clouds.
I bought this before the Alaskan Deco piece. They look great together, almost like night and day.
Cat Talk was my very first painted record from Ian. I’ve never seen a painted record before so this really got my attention.
Culture Abuse Envelope Poster
This was an envelope that was used to ship the Alaskan Deco painted record. It was folded carefully and there were instructions as to how to open it without ripping the paper. Being careful pays off!
Culture Abuse Poster
I really like this poster for it’s use of paint up top. It really pops out and is a nice contrast to the black and white below.
Dead To Me Front Kick Drum Head
This is my absolute favorite piece of art from Ian. Dead To Me is one of my favorite bands to come from San Francisco. I always wanted a piece that had the bell and Phurba dagger together. With the nice contrast in colors, it almost has this 3D effect. It’s got some damage on it from being on tour.
Note: Title is actually unknown
I bought this from Ian at an art show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco. He told me that the Led Zeppelin record came from Nathan Grice. The hands are each holding a dorje, which is a ritual object in Buddhism.
I bought this since the colors made me think of San Francisco and the 49ers.
The colors used in Orange Cat reminded me of the San Francisco Giants.
Pray for SF
This is the first 10” painted record I bought from Ian. The dorje has a pearlescent look to it. The SF in prismatic stickers is a nice touch. The detail on the reverse side is a nice surprise!
I’ve always liked the look of the Phurba dagger, and this is packed with cool little details – the saber toothed tiger on the handle, the glowing purple light being reflected on the palm, the markings on the snakes. This is really one of the most detailed pieces that I own.
I love the pattern on the heads of the hawks; it gives it a sense of depth. The yellow paint in between tracks is a nice touch. There are two hidden letters in this piece that spell out SF.