Here we go again with another musical non music interview. I have been impressed with the work of David Lozeau for a few years now, and was honored that we had the opportunity to spend some time with David to talk about his art, his beginnings and escaping New Hampshire.
BT: How does someone who grew up in New Hampshire get interested and wrapped up in doing Art that is wrapped in Kustom Kulture and Day of the Dead?
David: (laughs) the million dollar one, let’s go back a little bit. I went to college at Keene State, so I got a Graphics designer degree so I got a job that could actually pay. I took a few drawing classes never any painting classes, took all those sculpture, easy classes to get them out of the way, easy A’s sort of thing. It was a fun side thing, but I never saw it anything more than that. So fast forward about seven, eight years after college, I’m a graphic designer, marketing doing all that kind of stuff. I find my paint during one of those locked in snow storm nights in Portsmouth, NH when I was living there. I started playing with the paints again and realized I missed that part of it, and at the time my girlfriend who was from California, she was working in Marlboro, Mass at the time and her job offered her a transfer to California, and I had never been there so I followed her out there. From the day I got there I got exposed to Day of the Dead and the Tiki Hot Rod, and being within 200 miles of every artist in Juxtapoz Magazine I’ve ever seen. All the art work scene was here. I never realized how much of an artistic vacuum it kind of was being on the east coast, it’s all so spread out, there’s no central location. So, coming out here, being exposed to art, being exposed to Day of the Dead gave me my direction from a very early start. I was kind of in the Tiki Hot Rod scene and being exposed to the Day of the Dead, and I started painting nights and weekends. That was my direction, I love the imagery, the idea of celebrating someone who’s lost, celebrating the memory. East Coast is very traditional, somebody passes away you have a wake, but if you want to go think about them you go to a Cemetary. But the idea of remembering them every year, sharing their favorite food, favorite music and talking about them made me very jealous that I didn’t have that with my Grandparents, Great Grandparents, what did I miss growing up, there’s no way to capture that, no way to tell the younger generation about the ones that are gone. I was just really inspired by that idea, capturing that moment and decided to run with it.
BT: I first encountered you and your art at a booth at Ink N Iron in Long Beach, CA, about three or four years ago. I have no doubts in saying that I was captivated by “Love Trust and a Revolver” I think it’s a fantastic piece. In following you over the years, you seem extremely active in participating in events, traveling the globe at times for them, do you find that keeps you in touch with fans in a way that other artists don’t do?
David: Incredibly. I have one gallery in Arizona, and they’re amazing, and they’re the only ones who’ve ever understood what I do and how I am. Most galleries want you to be quiet and just paint for them, and they’ll be your voice. For me, I love being out there on the road and crafting the art. I think there’s very few artists who can get instant feedback, knee-jerk reaction from people who walk into the booth. Early in my career before Day of the Dead was as prevalent as it is now, people were like what is this, is it morbid, is it death, but those kind of discussions. People don’t even see my painting half the time, they just walk in and just hear them say “wow, I’d hang this on my wall”. How many artists get instant feedback from 5000 people who walk into their booth each day. Who else can hear instantly what pieces attracted them, what colors inspired them. I get to follow where the prints and originals end up and how they reached them. It’s something that I get that I’m very fortunate to get that not many artists are able to do.
BT: How many events do you do a year?
David: So we’ve scaled back a bit now, because I do some of the Comic-Cons and some of the bigger indoor events, but I would say twenty plus. Counting gallery shows, and other shows, it was as high as thirty. We were joking the other day, in the Seven years that we’ve been actively doing shows there’s forty two shows that we no longer do, that I did at one time. It’s a big part of how I’ve grown the business, big part of how I’ve been found from the Fender deal, to Jesse James and all things kind of happened from being on the road.
BT: It seems almost that you are approaching this as a band would, working a circuit and touring.
David: Completely, when we started, if you want to be a full-time artist, you can sit at home online and hope that people find you. But just like a band, it’s much more beneficial if I’m out there, letting people hear my voice, see my artwork. I could control it, I could pick where I wanted to go. There was already a structure there, but doing skull art, there was no clear path that all these shows would do well for me, but I knew that artists did this, and I knew that I wanted to try it and make it work. So we jumped in with both feet and got the trailer and all the gear and really started to push it. The feedback and being able to control it yourself, it’s like having your own merch table vs selling through Hot Topic. You can control everything, you can be there actively getting feedback and establishing relationships with people. People who saw me six or seven years ago who first saw me with camping chairs and a table and four prints, remember talking to me and buying the art there and established this relationship and they sort of buy into the journey rather than just seeing me online amongst the noise and “oh I like that page” and they’re gone. It’s enabled us to grow in that way and really take on a life of its own. It’s been amazing to see it grow in person like that. Again, some of the biggest things that have happened in my career, I met that person at a festival or street fair. It makes it a lot easier to pitch yourself when they’ve already seen and bought in, then me having to say why the art is great. When they can see the work and are drawn to it, it sort of fills in that gap.
BT: We’ve touched on it a couple of times, and I know they’ve been out a year, a year plus now, but let’s talk about the Fender deal, how that all came about and are you going to be doing more with that?
David: One of those crazy emails that you never know when they’re going to happen, they happen a couple times of a year. This one came from Fender from someone who had seen my work at a show. As a side note working with them was so easy, for being a big corporation they were so great to work with. We talked on the phone, two days later they were all at my house. I’m just sitting there sketching out ideas on a notepad as they’re huddled around. In that meeting, we had basically the outlines for the seven designs we were going to do. It was refreshing to have that kind of big brand that understood what I did, and didn’t try to force anything down my throat. They wanted Art, they wanted these things, they wanted what I did. Which is a great marriage of a major brand and a unique surface, and being able to do their first art guitar, was just a tremendous experience. We did four designs for NAMM, which dealers bought out by the second day, which was really exciting. I don’t come from the music scene so to be at NAMM and to have people come to the artwork through that door was a great experience.
David: Growing up in Boston, I’m very much the Irish Punk style, give me a little flute, some mandolin, the Drop Kick Murphy’s everything in that sort of vein. I love the acoustic style of that as well. When I went to school in Keene I discovered Social Distortion, and I thought I was unique because I was the only one out there listening to it. But I get out here to California and everyone listens to it, you can hear Social Distortion in the elevator here. But that’s always been my style of stuff, working man’s punk.