Hi Dwell, umm, Milan. Thanks for doing this with me. Sooo, what's up?
Not much. It's Saturday. That means I drink coffee, answer all the emails I spend the whole week neglecting, and listen to music much louder than my roommates care for. And I'm waiting for our houseguests. The Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players will be here soon.
I've been seeing your name pop-up here and there around town. How did you get yourself and your work noticed? You're not originally from Milwaukee, are you?
Nope. I'm from a really small town in Ohio, where Dean Martin was born. But moving to Milwaukee is what really helped me get my work out there in front of people. I suppose my work is getting noticed now, though the self-deprecating doodler in me wants to question whether it really is. Thinking that it isn't really being seen kinda motivates me to work harder.
How did you get into art Milan? Did you know that it was your destiny?
As soon as I was old enough to hold a crayon, all hopes of me having a sensible career went out the window. Whether or not it's my destiny remains to be seen. If I die tomorrow, then yup-- this was my destiny. If I have my way, though, I'll go to France and train to become a premier cat burglar. All the best cat burglars come from France.
Do you have a secret style of painting that you don't show anyone else? Like, somber and realistic oil paintings of scenery and farms and stuff? or is what we see is what we get?
So far, what you see is what you get. I do actually have another body of work that very few people have ever seen. It's mixed media, collage-type work, made from all the scraps of paper I find on the ground when I'm out and about. It's very text-heavy at times, too, and serves as a photo album of sorts for me. Slowly, I'm sure it will integrate it's way into what I give as dwellephant, but I want that to be a natural progression. When the time's right, it'll make its way into the world.
Why "dwellephant?" What's the deal?
I've always been a firm believer in the art being far more important than the artist. If there's any notoriety or fame to be had, I want that to fall on my work and my style, not me, the person. That's something I always admired about graffiti. Graf artists would go out, risk their necks making these amazing murals, but you never knew what they looked like. You could be sitting on the bus, telling someone about this amazing 4-color burner you saw, yet have no idea that the kid sitting behind you was the one that did it. There's something very cool about that.
On the other side of the coin, the day I came up with the name just so happened to also be the day I'd been reading about elephants. They have some amazing characteristics most people don't know. Things I can absolutely relate to. I felt like if I had to live-- or "dwell"-- like any animal, an elephant wouldn't be a bad example to follow. So, dwell +elephant = me.
Are you really as funny in person as your are on your web site?
People seem to laugh a lot when I'm around. Whether or not it's for the right reasons remains to be seen.
I don't see a big ol' bio page on your site - how come? Because of that I am forced to ask you questions that your fans would love to know about (that would be me!) but were afraid to ask.
This kinda goes back to what I was saying when I explained "why 'dwellephant'-- that I'm a firm believer in the art being more important than the artist. To be fair, though, you could click through the work on my site, and get a pretty good idea of who I am as a person. My work is me.
I did read that you have a ladyphant... any babyphants? fourleggedphants?
I do have a ladyphant, but the "phant" name has not yet extended to babies or fourleggedies.
How do you decorate your home? Is there art hanging all over the place? Eclectic? Neat and tidy or unorganized and "lived in"?
At the moment, I live with two other artists, and their two dogs. All our friends are artists, so most of the walls are covered with their work. The actual dwellecave, though, is filled with framed family photos, random paper things I have (like a press release from an NBC Holiday Special back in 1948, and my grandfather's Certificate of Appreciation from the Air Force), and misfit toys.
What's the first thing you do when you get up in the morning Milan?
Take a deep breath. I swear I don't breathe when I sleep. Then I kiss my Ladyphant. Then I try and remember my dream. Dreams are very important to me. It's something I inherited from my grandmother. We're not new age. We just have old gypsy blood.
Do you ever wish you could be doing something else with your life? Any big dreams yet to be realized?
Nope. I only wish I could do it more easily. Worry less about money. See my family more often. Take care of everyone I know. That's my biggest dream. Everything else is superficial and fairweather.
Finally (yes, we're just about finished) - how do you want to be eternally remembered Milan? What will you have on your epitaph?
Eternally remembered is a big order to fill. I'd settle for just having my friends and family remember me as a weird little dude who laughed a lot. That could be my epitaph. That, or "They never pronounced his name correctly."
Ok, we're done! Thanks again for showin' up Milan. You're a sweetiephant!
all pretty pictures (c) Milan Zori