In honor of his show, James Charles shared some insight (through email) on his work and the inspiration behind the intricate pieces on display at the Shooting Gallery:
Q: What do you want your viewers to take away from 333 Conspiracy?
A: I would like viewers to walk away feeling like they’ve seen something humorous, and at the same time something artistically substantial—a few laughs and some warm, fuzzy art feelings.
Q: You’ve used characters and celebrities from Willy Wonka to Dog the Bounty Hunter. What’s the thought-process behind choosing whom you will portray?
A: I gravitate toward different characters and subjects for different reasons. Usually, whoever or whatever strikes me as funny, important or relevant in some way. Sometimes my intent is to pay homage to an individual that I have admiration and respect for; and sometimes it’s to make fun of, or make a statement about someone or something I find totally absurd. Either way, I like to bring my sometimes twisted sense of humor to the work.
Q: There’s an incredible amount of detail that goes into your portraits and the lettering. How do you capture the intricacies and how long does each piece take you?
A: Small tools and lots of magnification. I learned to hold my breath during brushstrokes to steady my hand. Pieces vary; sometimes a portrait will fall into place and start to look nice in just a few hours; sometimes it’s a struggle that takes a few days or even weeks. That also goes for the lettering; it takes a bit of planning, measuring and patience.
Q: I believe you’ve completed an apprenticeship in tattooing. Have the techniques required in that industry affected the way you approach your painting and ink work?
A: I think that learning to tattoo has helped in steadying my hand in regards to line work and has improved my drawing skills in general quite a bit. Also, being influenced by tattoo imagery: It just sort of finds its way into a lot of my work, both in these small pieces, and my larger stuff. I also worked sculpting toys for a number of years; I did a lot of miniature portrait work back in the day that I think in some ways helped prep me for what I do now.
ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE