Observer: Gregory Siff | Artist

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Photography by Elton Anderson
By Malaya Velasquez

What’s your AMMO?
My ammo is my heart and gut. Inspiration right now comes from solitude, there’s a lot to learn when all you can hear is your refrigerator hum.

If you were to pick three words to describe the driving forces in your work, or creative process what would they be?
Time. Instinct. Love.

Having an interest in film when you first moved to LA would you say that this interest has shown through any of your paintings?
Each painting has an arc, a beginning, middle and end. Each one tells a story. I mean everything on that canvas is there on purpose, just as the director intended. I try to paint the movie I want to see in my work.

You’ve been compared to artists like Basquiat and Ray Johnson; which other artists would you say inspire your work currently?
Lately, I’ve been drawn to fashion magazines and clothing designers. I’m looking at my paintings and saying, ‘how would this convert into a fabric?’ Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, John Varvatos. I’m itching to rip the canvases off the stretcher bars and make full on dope leather jackets out of them. I’ve fallen for the paintings of Antony Micallef recently.

If you could sit down and have a picnic with any five people from past or present who would they be?
Vincent van Gogh, Jean-Michel Basquiat, James Dean, Frank Sinatra and my Father.

In one of your previous interviews you said you liked working with accidents, can you describe what that entails?
I like working with mistakes and then making them look better. Most of the good paintings come out of a dialogue I have with it, pouring more paint on, letting it dry, and doing it again. It’s like being a chemist and seeing what reacts with what and how it ultimately looks. Sometimes I get it right on the first time though. Then I go out and get a burger.

You also once said that paintings make memories concrete, is there any one memory that you haven’t yet edified but think has potential for a great painting?
I’ve had some rich memories so far in this 2013 and damn, I’ve got a lot of work to do. Whether it’s dancing close with a woman and kissing her for the first time, or jumping into the cold pacific and seeing your father in your eyelids, there are a lot of memories to choose from. I’m glad about that.

If you could time travel is there any moment or era in history you would like to visit or revisit, who would you bring?
Lower East Side NYC, 1941. I’d like to see my father grinding and making it happen and see if he looked a little like me. I’d bring my Mom. We’d get a kick out of that one.

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Any advice for young artists?
Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, ever.

What is the best cure for young artists facing fatal hesitancy, for example those who work very passionately but can’t muster the courage to show people their work?
Just show your shit. Eventually it’s going to get better looking. Keep painting and get out all the bad ones so the good ones bloom.

As far as confidence goes, how important do you think it is as an artist to not only have it but use it?
If you believe it, they believe it.

Many artists, especially those involved in ‘street art’ have collaborations as almost a creative necessity and a place to explore and learn from one another, who are some of the people you’ve really enjoyed collaborating with?
RISK, Louis XXX, MAR, 2WENTY, James Georgopoulos.

Who would you look forward to working with?
Vincent Gallo.

Could you describe your life and work as an artist in 1 food, 1 beverage, 3 colors, 1 song, 1 sound, 1 profanity and 1 image?
Burger. Chocolate Shake. Blue, Red, & Yellow. Some Girls, Rolling Stones. Kid’s laugh. Fuck Yes. LOVE.

For more from Gregory Siff go to, www.gregorysiff.com.