So, why don’t you quickly tell everyone who you are?
I’m Tristan Eaton, former New Yorker, now LA-based painter and muralist who is currently hosting an art exhibition called Strange Future in New York City in the Lower East Side from October 3rd to October 9th.
Tell me about the theme of the show and how its all put together. Looking at the paintings, although very different, there are many common themes and elements creating a cohesive unit.
So, we put together this show as a combination of imagery. They have to work as a cohesive body all together, and sometimes that means that every single piece isn’t an easy painting to sell. I want to tell the viewer a story through a combination of imagery, so that’s more important to me sometimes than making sure each painting is an identical formula or what is popular, you know? And it’s a big story, all the work has to work together as one big unit.
And for this show you used a bunch of different mediums, right?
Yeah! For this show, I’m trying to take a step towards the future and how I want to paint, which is not just painting a collage of textures, but using different materials to create the collage. So, this show has skateboard grip tape mixed with laser cut textures, mixed with acrylic urethane, spray paint, and canvas. All together it creates this kind of galaxy of different textures.
Right. You see all the works together, it’s definitely a united set, but you also wanted the pieces to stand on their own?
Yeah, the works have to stand alone, but… they also have to work together and that’s, to be honest, the part I really like about doing big shows like this, and typically, the funny part is that the last pieces I paint end up being the best sometimes because they’re the ones that tie everything together, because I can see the whole body of work together and know what’s missing.
It’s like a puzzle when there’s only little bits left you can identify the missing pieces easier?
Exactly right. Absolutely right about that.
So, these pieces definitely pull from your classic style of the pulp comic, pop art, kind of fifties Entertaining Comics style. And since it’s comic-con weekend….Were comic books a huge influence on you and/or the work?
Look, we didn’t plan to have this show the same weekend as (New York) Comic-Con, it was accidental, but good fortune none the less. But also right on point with the whole meaning of the show, because the way I started in designing the works conceptually was kind of from the perspective of imagining someone 50-years ago finding out what 2019 is actually like, and how our modern day reality sounds like a fucking sci-fi horror pop comic.
Hence the name of the show
Yes! “Strange Future”, so it’s almost like if we’re living in a sci-fi horror punk comic and this is the cover of the book.
Interesting. This idea is expressed amazingly through the black light print you made for the show. I was reading that it was incredibly hard to find a print house who still makes them in the original style?
Yeah, outside of paintings— paper; printed matter is my biggest love. You know I started out silk screening when I was 18-years old, and I take printing really seriously. I love messing with new printing processes, and the blacklight dayglo printing ink processes, mixed with the black fuzzy flocking is rare and almost extinct, so I was actually given the contact through Heavy Metal Magazine. It’s actually the contact of who they used to print the Jack Kirby blacklight posters from the late 1960’s and the 1970’s.
I remember those… Always wanted one!!
So we printed with this outdated process, where it’s a four-color dayglo silkscreen with the black flocking. There’s actually only one company in Wisconsin left that does that process. But as much as it was a pain in the ass to get these delicate posters produced, it was all worth it because the posters are beautiful.
It definitely has that 70’s stoner basement feel that Heavy Metal magazine represents to many.
Yes! Another thing about the show within the context of the pulp novel kind of theme is to imagine looking at our current world socially, and through politics, and all these different lenses, and imagining it written in a comic book form, so you can see it from afar with new highs, and experience that type of shock and wonder like when you were a kid reading comics.
And back to Comic-Con again I saw your anniversary Dunny you are releasing with Kid Robot there yesterday.
Kind of anniversary, it’s a self-imposed anniversary because I realized that it has been 10-years since I worked with Kid Robot on a Dunny toy. So it felt kind of fitting, and I didn’t want to return to making them unless I was doing some really epic and spectacular shit.
These are made of metal right? What’s the whole process on these?
It’s a chromed metal
Chrome metal… so they must be pretty heavy?
Yeah, they’re about the weight of a grenade. It’s the first project I’ve done with them (Kid Robot) in almost 10-years, and honestly it’s great timing for me because I was starting to transition into taking my painting work into sculpture form. I do a lot of public mural work, but lately I’m getting a lot of opportunities to do more public sculpture work. So translating my painting work into sculptures is a new challenge, and the way this new Dunny was sculpted is an easy transition into that for me. I wanted to go even more dramatic as if we have a giant sculpture that are in this Arcimboldo collage crazy style, but this was an easy way to apply my painting style of 3D where it’s just tears throughout the form. I believe in each tear there’s human teeth, there’s gold chains, there’s all kinds of stuff, and I have this history of making toys which are sculpture in my opinion. And I have a fan base from that world in history with my art, and a new fan base with my paintings and murals, and they don’t all know about each other, or about my history on both sides, so sculptures have become a big priority for me, and it’s kind of combining what I’ve done with Kid Robot and my paintings now.
I remember running into you at San Diego Comic-Con for your 3D book. You were doing a signing with Buff Monster and Travis Louie. In this new show you have incorporated lots of 3d imagery. Specifically the Heavy Metal collaboration you are releasing?
Yes, Heavy Metal magazine is something I’ve loved since I was a kid. It’s an art magazine going strong for around 45-years. It’s NOT a music magazine… people that don’t know Heavy Metal think it’s a fucking a music magazine, but it’s where artists like Frank Frazetta, and H. R. Giger, did covers in the 80’s. So it’s kind of a childhood dream to do a cover for them and what made it really fucking easy is that they just chose an existing image of mine. So the print we are releasing will also be the cover of their graffiti street art issue coming up this November.
Awesome, they must be moving in that direction because Ron English did the cover of Heavy Metal not so long ago.
Exactly, I think they’re starting to do more covers with street artists which is fucking great. But particularly when they came to me to do a cover, they chose this specific preexisting image of mine, so I said “alright, well should we do something extra special… why don’t we making it 3D? And can we put 3D glasses inside the issue?” So they were completely down with the idea, I translated the image into 3D, and every issue will include some 3D glasses!
If you came down to the show this week you would see that 3d imagery is everywhere… including the floor!
Yeah, we have a fully immersive 3D installation on the floors which to my delight does not work on Instagram. It only works in person, and I saw people last night trying to put 3D glasses over their phones with no success… so you gotta be in person to enjoy that.
I know you’re crazy busy and want to thank you for taking a couple minutes to chat with me, but before I go, what’s coming up next for you that you’d like to mention to people?
Oh let’s see, I have some big news I can’t drop to the public quiet yet, but we’ll be in Basel of course, and Strange Future is a traveling show, so we are bringing Strange Future to a few other cities including New Orleans.
Any particular reason for touring and the cities your selecting?
A lot of time when I do big murals in cities, I had leave in the middle of the night, and don’t have much public engagement, so this show is designed to be a little more agile, so I can pop it up in a city where I’ve contributed to the landscape, but this time I make myself a little more available to engage with the public.
Last night that was definitely the case…I think you were here for 7 hours hanging out with the crowd?
It was such a fun night… a long super fun night….
There’s also an open edition print that’s for the show which will be available and I’m assuming available online at the end of all this?
Yes. whatever prints don’t sell out this weekend are going to be available on my website next week, but the Strange Future poster is gold foil on cardstock and only fifty dollars, so it’s really affordable.
And they’re beautiful.
Thank you, thank you man, you know the price scales from like a $50 poster to $250 poster for the blacklight Edition and then the 3D heavy-metal poster is about $750. So I hope there is something for everyone.
Print Release Update:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10th at 3PM EST / NOON PST at www.tristaneaton.com ————————————————
17” x 35”
4 color day glow silk-screen with black flocking
Edition of 300
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11TH at 3PM EST / NOON PST at www.tristaneaton.com —————————————————
Heavy Metal 3D
36” x 52”
Archival inkjet (gyclee) Anaglyphic 3D Print on Moab Entrada 290gsm Cotton Rag. Comes with custom printed 3D Anaglyphic paper glasses
Edition of 100
All Photo’s & Text Copyright 2019 Matthew A. Eller. Follow me on Instagram @ellerlawfirm