hey Gary, thanks for doing this with me! So what's up? You recently* got back from a collaborative show with Mark Ryden and Tim Biskup in Japan - how'd it go? Have a good time?
I had a great time with Mark and Tim. And I love painting with them. I really admire and respect both their work. I kind of describe the HELLO paintings like jazz, where you trust each artist to improvise on the work.
We used the Japan shows as an excuse to visit that wonderful country. I especially loved the ancient temples in Kyoto. I hope to go back to Tokyo in late spring to promote a set of toys coming out with Sony Creative and a book of my art.
I am hoping we have another collaborative show for the U.S.
When you're painting for yourself, do you begin knowing what you're going to create? Where do you get your ideas? What comes first?
Most of the time I have rough sketches of paintings I will create. But nothing is written in stone. My ideas come from this hole inside of me. I play with particular themes and images. Then work through them. I describe my work as where the line between genius and stupidity has been smudged beyond recognition. I attempt to find the balance between smartness and beauty and complete ridiculousness. Everyone that has come into contact with me knows I carry a sketch book everywhere I go. I think I create from the belief that I have no value. And if I create something of value then I have value.
Have you always had the same style as you do now? Do you feel like you've grown in your abilities?
I think it is the goal of life and of art to keep going forward and grow. So maybe the foundation of my “style” or “approach” remains the same, I always want to change and discover and take chances. You can’t learn without failing. And I fail a lot. But I succeed a lot too.
I'm curious Gary, do you hang your own artwork in your home? Do you collect anything out of the ordinary?
Sometimes we will hang my work if they are framed temporarily. But I love to collect art. I especially collect old surreal photos from the 20s, 30s, 40s to the present of kids or adults in Halloween costumes, masks, etc. I love them.
I can view your artwork, but as I always say, I love to learn about the artist. What turns you on?
What turns me on? Desire. Unattainable beauty. Humor. Absurdity.
What or who makes you want to get up in the morning?
The drive to create something of value. To accomplish my dreams.
Are there little kidlets or pets running around the Baseman home?
No, kiddies. But kitties. We do have 4 black cats. We actually had 13 black cats at one time. But found homes for most. We used to have an 18 year old dog, named Hubcaps who passed away last year. He was a good dog. He insprired me to create my T.V. Show, Teacher’s Pet. But at 18 years, he was like 400 in dog years. He had a good life.
When you're relaxing and just hanging out - what's your favorite thing to do?
I love to find time to swim. I enjoy flea markets, just roaming and discovering. I love to put the top down of my silver miata and just drive.
Have you ever made a real piņata?
The piņatas done for my La Luz show were produced in East L.A.
Ok Gary, final question. What do you want people to remember you by when you're gone?
Hopefully, that I created some great artwork. Touched some souls. Inspired some. Worked hard and had fun doing so. My dad taught me two things. He is from the “old country.” To be a hard worker and a good person.
Thanks Gary! It’s been fun! (You are a good person - your dad would be proud!)