David Ball’s awesome collages will melt your mind. I first saw his work on the cover of a Megan Slankard record and began my search to figure out who he was. He has his own unique technique of blending collage with traditional painting techniques to create massive seamless pieces. Also, instead of using a traditional palette, he sticks all of his collage cut-outs to the walls of his home, allowing him to totally immersed in his work. Luckily, we were able to connect through the power of Facebook and spoke about his childhood nightmares as well as transitioning from darkness into light. If you’re in San Francisco, David Ball will be part of The City We Love exhibit up at 941 GEARY starting August 13th 2011.
Daniel Rolnik: What’s your favorite magazine to cut collage elements out of?
David Ball: Anything that has high production value is a good resource for collage, but it really just comes down to what I can find in abundance – which tends to be National Geographic. The beauty of magazines is that people tend to save them until they feel that their space is overwhelmed and then donate them somewhere.
DR: What’s the scariest film you remember watching as a child and have you found any of its elements pop up in your work?
DB: I was never really much of a horror fan. I grew up in Connecticut, so we would get reception for WPIX out of New York, which was obsessed with running ads over and over throughout the day around Halloween for their screenings of The Exorcist. It freaked me out because at that age, the idea of demonic possession was a very real thing to me. What I really feared though was the thought of serial killers I imagined lurking about in our woods. Any time my folks left the house when I was little, I would lock everything up and sit in the TV room with an axe I could barely swing. I would run and put it back when I heard the return of my folks car to the driveway.
DR: Besides painting, what fills most of your conscious time? Do you purposefully choose input that will influence your subconscious output?
DB: Slowing down is pretty hard for me. I hate crowds, so whatever I do is pretty chill. I spend time with my badass girlfriend, drink some good Malbec, half-watch dvd’s, and swim. Swimming is a BIG one. It keeps me level and keeps my questionable intake in check. Regarding influencing subconscious output though – one can’t really do that, as it would no longer be unconscious. The best I can do to avoid premeditating is to start abstractly and try to stay in that place for a bit until things start to percolate. It stops being unconscious pretty fast though. I suppose though that because my collage pieces are precut, I am probably effected by the process itself. If you make part of a face out of an overhead shot of a bunch of drown cattle, one would assume it has an effect on your thoughts as you procede.
DR: What brought you to live and work in SF?
DB: I came to San Francisco because I was very bored with Boston, where I went to school. It was beautiful, but sleepy, and the only work I could get was painting hokey murals in restaurants – which I did a lot. I suppose the main reason I came to SF was that I wanted to be somewhere more open-minded, somewhere where I encountered less racism and homophobia.
DR: What’s a tip to make collage cut-outs blend into a solidified piece instead of stick out?
DB: Consider the palette of the material and seal the imagery before working over it. This will unify the surface for paint. There is a lot of drawing on these in the transitional areas to make them as seamless as I can get them. The main thing is patience really. It is very tedious work , so if you aren’t compulsive, I would not recommend it.
DR: How do you attach your collage cut-outs to your wall so that you can grab them and place them on your panels?
DB: I use adhesive putty. You need to be careful about that though because if you keep all the work on the walls permanently, it will fade and the oil of the putty will stain the imagery as well.
DR: What’s been most helpful to you to move out of your dark period and into this period of light?
DB: I suppose what got me out of it was accepting that no one else was going to do it for me. Walk into any dive bar and you’ll find some bloated, pink-faced, curmudgeon rehashing the same excuses for their present station because they are unwilling to face that they are afraid of failing at their endeavors. Once you realize that being bitter is the failure, there are only two options: either end yourself or end your complaining, get focused, and get to it. Life is short. I owe a lot of thanks to my friend David Young and my girlfriend who have both been really patient with me on my way back to the surface.
DR: What’s your most recent favorite quote that you’ve written down?
DB: This rant-tastic Charlie Sheen quote: “Can’t is the cancer of happen”.