The Skip-Raid Interviews Isabel Samaras

Today we are sitting down with probably the best artist alive, Isabel Samaras. Our sincerest thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answers a few Q's. I am serious, this is a big deal for me people. This is like if my sister met the person who invented Ice Cream Sandwiches. Huge.Name: Isabel Samaras

Where we can find you:
The Isabel Samaras Official Website

Where you live: San Francisco Bay Area, an absolutely fabulous place.

Obsessive creative

Your worst job was?
I haven't really ever had a truly awful job -- not compared to my friend who had to stir vats of boiled chicken for a traveling carnival all summer. Everything I've ever done just pales in comparison to that.

What was your first painting that sold and for how much?
I used to just give everything away. I think the first piece that sold was one of the Adult Lunchboxes, and I think it was under $500. In The Garden, 2002 - This is one of The Mayor's favourite paintings. Ever.

In your opinion, who is the most over-rated artist?
Leroy Neiman. And the guy is *everywhere*! Jeff Koons is nipping at his heels too. Ooh, and Thomas Kinkade, the "painter of light"! HA!

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?
Amy Sedaris and Bill Clinton. At the same time. I'd also like to meet George Lucas just long enough to ask why he changed The Force from something that anyone could aspire to (just close your eyes and feel the connection, blah blah blah) to a *birthright* (midichlorians passed through certain blood lines). I am *such* a geek.

Who would you rather marry: Herman Munster, Gomez Addams, or Major Nelson?
Oh geez that's SO easy -- Herman was a child in a man/monster body and Major Nelson was an uptight dork. Gomez has it all over those guys. So romantic, so multi-talented, so wicked!!!

Normally, Hollywood remakes of TV classics are big steaming piles (ie: Bewitched ). What is your favourite TV-to-movie remake? Most hated remake?
I can't even watch most of them, they suck so massively and I have such deep fondness for the old shows. Does "Batman" count? I thought Tim Burton did a bang-up job with that. I love me some Batman, I go way back with the Caped Crusader. And the first "Brady Bunch" movie was kinda funny.

I dream of Jeannie (2008). Is it going to Fucking Blow or Really Fucking Blow?
I don't see how it can do anything but RFBCITS. (Really Fucking Blow Chunks Into The Stratosphere)

What was your a) best and b) lamest Hallowe'en costume?
Halloween is my hands down most favorite time of the entire year; we do it up big -- decorations, parties. I think my best Halloween costume was the year I was a Werewolf Bride in a shredded, filthy, bloody wedding gown and the full-on crazy make-up, gluing on all the little individual hairs all over my face, I swear, Rick Baker woulda been proud. (When I was in high school I read Fangoria all the time and thought I wanted to be in effects make-up when I grew up.) But my favorite was the year my sweetie went as Count Spatula (with a giant foamcore spatula head) and I was the Bride of Spatula. My lamest costume was right after Nico [her son] was born, and despite Halloween being my hands-down-most-favorite-time-of-the-entire-year, I just did not have my act together at all -- I threw on a blue Marge Simpson wig. And that was it. I'm embarrassed to even write it down. Shame is upon me.

Obviously Batman and Robin did the "batusi" once or twice. Who else do you think did it? (My money is on the Skipper and Gilligan)
Well on one of my first Lunchboxes for Adults I had Skipper doing Gilligan while Mr. Howell watched and pleasured himself. All those shows were just so absurd -- even as a kid that stuff used to drive me crazy. "These people are trapped on a desert island and nobody is noticing the hotness of Ginger?!?! You get a gorgeous magic genie to do your every bidding and you don't want her to do ANYTHING?!?!" I always thought Spock and Kirk had a really special relationship. (No wonder he couldn't make it stick with any of those saucy space minxes.) I think *everyone* was getting it on as soon as the credits rolled!

Who did you wish you could paint like when you were a kid?
When I was a kid I really liked super obsessive detailed story book illustrations, the more insane the better. By the time I got to art school I sorta hated that stuff and liked really direct sort of emotional work like Egon Schiele. Now I'm back to painting eyelashes with one hair brushes. And I love it. Life is funny like that. Sometimes I envy artists who work more "immediately", more loosely, who just approach the blank surface and create (quickly). But I've become a big fan of what Greg Escalante calls "skill driven art."Trinity, 2006, one of three

What do you think of Mark Ryden? Genius or one-trick pony?
Oh I love Mark, I thought the Tree show he just did was amazing. He's also the guy who turned me on to oil paint -- he swore I would love it over acrylic (which is what all the old lunch boxes and TV trays are painted with) and he was right. Plus he gave me an Yvonne Craig/Batgirl photo he bought at the flea market -- so he's AOK with me for life.

You know who a one-trick pony is? The guy who paints that same damn blue dog with the big eyes, over and over and over and over and over and over....

Someone at my school copied you and submitted the painting as her own. What do you think when people rip you off? (Due to laws being what they are, I cannot show the painting without the artist’s permission. But basically, it was Batman and Superman gettin’ it on)
Well I didn't paint that image -- it actually looks a lot more like the stuff that Mark Chamberlain is doing. I didn't invent the homoerotic subtext, if you wanna see it, it's there -- and clearly a lot of us want to see it! I didn't invent the idea of devilish women either, folks have been drawing women with horns and tails since they clued in to our minx-y nature. Ideas are free floating and up for grabs.

That said it pisses me off in the *extreeeeeeme* when someone *directly* rips off my work, which happens more often than I'm happy about. I've seen my stuff turn up on t-shirts, stickers, club band-aids in Japan, pencil cases, ashtrays, in a virtual "gallery" in a virtual community (no credit, just selling my work for profit!!!). For these and other such freeloaders I have hired a lawyer. Feel my wrath, losers!

What are you really obsessing over lately?
Saints and martyrs, classic Hollywood monsters, fables, and birds. And colors, always colors. And really good chocolate. And "Battlestar Galactica" (lest the reader forget for a moment that I am, at heart, a geek).

Is there a painting you sold, but wished you hadn't?
I was wisely talked into keeping "Bacchus Boy Wonder", I think it's the only one I had to keep. By the time I finished it, I'd put so many hours into the fruit bowl alone there was just no way any amount of reasonable money felt right. So that one is mine. I get pretty attached to all of my work, maybe because I labor over them so much, that it's always a little hard to send them off. But it's really gratifying when people respond to something and I realize other people (some of them, anyway) enjoy them as much as I do. And like I tell my kid all the time -- sharing is good.

The Skip-Raid is from Toronto, but we have a ton of American readers. Are you

- proud to be an American
- ashamed to be an American
- ashamed to be an American, but only for the past 7 years

Until things got so awful in this country, I didn't give much thought to being American at all -- my mother was born in Iceland, my father was Greek, we traveled a lot when I was little. But I'm married to a Canadian now, so I'm *constantly* being reminded of a) the fact that we live in America (somewhat against his better judgment), b) how twisted things are here right now and c) how Canada has it all over us in a thousand different ways. Our current administration is a corrupt, money-hungry, blood-thirsty embarrassment.

What is going on with Devil Girl?
I would imagine she's quite pissed with me for spending all my time painting and not paying her any attention lately. I'd like to put more time in with her and her saucy pals but I'm having that "not enough hours in the day" problem.

Your ideal sandwich:
Fresh rosemary focaccia smeared with sun dried tomato pesto, some fresh mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, and maybe a thin slice of firm tofu. (I'm "flexitarian" -- mostly vegetarian but can't turn down a good slab of fish every now and then.) I absolutely love food.

If you plan on being in the LA/Florida area, or just want to plan a road trip, you can see Isabel’s work at the following shows:

Corey Helford Gallery
Culver City, LA
Opens Aug. 11th

Grand Opening
Harold Golen Gallery
Miami, FL
Opening in September

Big Solo Show (!)
Copro Nason Gallery
Santa Monica, CA
Opens Oct. 5th or 6th


Anonymous said...

these are actualy pretty good

Anonymous said...

Quite lovely. The art and the interview!

The Mayor said...

Isabel Samaras, without a word of a lie, is my favourite artist. It was a dream to speak with her.

Allison said...

Not only is her artwork provocative but she's sexy too!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Skip-Raid! Isabel is so nice and super skilled! I have been a fan of her for for years now. Always nice to hear what she has been up to and learn more about her. Thanks!

Amy Kollar Anderson