Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will FollowSo goes the P-Funk adage scrawled on his studio wall. Oakland-based hipster Ogi takes a Friday afternoon off to talk about his brand of contemporary pop art and where it could be heading.
By Althea Chia
Creating pop art isn’t a job for him; it’s a lifestyle that includes lounging in the midday sun with a cold beer bottle in hand, then grinding to the grooves of electro-house nine hours later.
Originally from Tokyo, Ogi now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with its thriving art scene and it shows. His style is a unique fusion of graphic design and Japanese animation, his work unabashedly independent of the mainstream art establishment. After majoring in Illustration for two and a half years at the California College of Arts, he graduated in 2003 only to swerve from that career path entirely. Ogi just isn’t interested in becoming a corporate tool.
He is instead a full-time artist, showing at galleries and selling his acrylic paintings and digital prints. And he loves it -- lining the walls with a slice of pop culture. He has exhibited at Giant Robot, Andenken Gallery, the Sneaker Pimps global sneaker exhibition and the PANOS Fake Roadsigns show, among other places.
You were showing at the Rx Gallery last December, and its whole concept of “affordable art” sounds interesting. How was the show?
Yeah. The attendance was okay; the gallery was trying to do Christmas sales or something. But I’ve had better shows. You see, I don’t really like the “affordable art” label… I don’t like the sound of it. I sell my paintings but I don’t want people to buy them just because they’re affordable… Yes, I do pop art -- it's affordable, it’s not expensive. And no, I don’t mind paintings being affordable. I just don’t like it being the title of the art show.
But you do believe that art should be readily consumed? In our previous Io interview, you likened your brand of art to a fashion, a lifestyle.
Art should be for everybody. A lot of times people try to stay away from art. It has this connotation that education, some kind of knowledge, is a prerequisite. The good thing about pop art is you don’t need that. I want to create art using T-shirts and toys so that it’ll be more accessible.
Seems like you’re getting prolific in this area already, mixing art with dabs of consumerism.
Well, I’m not necessarily trying to focus on that. I’m still balancing that with paintings. But yeah, I’ve had fun painting on sneakers and seeing my designs on Poketo wallets, I also did a few paintings for skateboards. It’s still-- I mean, skateboards, a lot of people have done that. They’re more accessible. Pop art. You know the “Beautiful Losers” show? They had a whole wall of skateboards. I just kinda wanted to do that. Well, I’d rather do snowboards since I grew up with them. Skateboards are more accessible, though. They’re smaller and cost $20 to $30. Snowboards, however, have layers of coating so I’d have to use some other paints. Those boards are more expensive too at a couple hundred dollars each.
Yeah, it’s a pretty exciting show taking place in Denver, Colorado. Basically it’s the “Beautiful Losers” contemporary art and street culture show, plus a couple more artists now. And it’s called “Submit to Print” -- they were asking for prints. These prints could be digital graphics; they could be anything. I’m exhibiting a series of four digital prints. Its style is similar to my previous electro-crash-inspired series, where you can see all the different elements from my various pieces starting to appear together.