Dave Carender: An Impermanent Thing

Dave Carender's crazy comic-book style made me stop dead in my tracks. I fell in love with it immediately and insisted he share his work on ALSO THAT. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his style and process as well.

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MT: When did you first start making art?

DC: I’ve always been artistic, but really nothing more than sketching and doodling. It wasn’t until later in life that I started messing around with stenciling, which lead to street art, stickering. wheat-paste, all that. Eventually someone left some acrylic paint at my house, and I started messing around with incorporating it into my stencils, and that led to where I am now. Stencils still play an important roll in my artwork, many of my pieces incorporate them. But as far as when did I start making the art that I am now, the more kind of defining art, I would say within the last 3 or 4 years. 

MT: How did you develop your distinct visual style? Can you name some influences?

DC: I think my style is a result of a stencil-centric background, being a stencil artist first helped me to visualize art in layers. I like the idea of layering and how it can be used to create, or hide, depth in a painting. Some of my more obvious influences are Dan Paladin who is the artist for The Behemoth, the studio that made the video games Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater – his work is great, and mine’s very similar to it. Same with Jhonen Vasquez, I’d been a fan of his for a very long time and there’s no doubt he’s been a huge influence. Derek Hess, and Ashley Wood are also major influences.
The idea of expedition in my artwork is a major factor as well. I typically paint 3 to 5 paintings simultaneously, and they usually take no longer than an hour to create. The idea of fast art is interesting to me, that I can create large volumes of artwork quickly I think challenges me to refine my style as well as and technique. I do a lot of “live” painting, at clubs, street fairs, public events etc – I’m intrigued by the idea of the making of art being part of the art, that in-process public spectacle can be part of it. I think that’s probably a result of a street art background – with street art it’s like once you complete the piece, it doesn’t belong to you anymore, it belongs to whoever is seeing it, consuming it – and it’s, by its nature, an impermanent thing, right? It’ll get buffed, or tagged over, or fade with time. So I like the idea of being inclusive to the creation of the artwork because witnessing the act is also impermanent, once the art is made, the viewing of the process is complete - but that viewing aspect can be just as fun, or thought provoking, and personal as the completed work itself. 

MT: I love how you've created this cast of characters within your body of work. Have you ever considered making a webcomic or video featuring them?

DC: Thank you, and, no, I hadn’t, really – though you aren’t the first to mention it. Animation isn’t in my wheelhouse or skillset – I’d love to see some of my characters animated though, that would be cool. If anyone would like to collaborate on that I’d be down!

MT: Based on your website, I see you've done some stickering. Would you ever branch out and put up some wheat paste posters or spray some stencils?

DC: Yep, like I said, I very much come from a vandal street artist background, I’m not operating “unsanctioned” in the streets as much anymore though. Mostly I keep to stickering in that regard. The majority of my art-proper is on canvas for private sale or art shows. Stickers are fun though, I think that stickers are a neat kind of “popcorn” art, easy to make, easy to distribute, they can be a kind of currency to trade with other artists, you can put them up quickly and they can be a real enhancer to an area, which I think is very cool. 
I think as a street artist you should own some of the responsibility that comes with that – if you have this inherent capacity to create artwork, and you choose to move that artwork into the public space then you should be aware of how that’ll affect the area, or the people who may see and consume it – you could just put whatever up wherever and have it just be that, and certainly plenty of people do. But I think that’s seriously negligent - I'm pretty cognizant of where I place my stickers, I try to place them on things like utility boxes or light poles etc, and ones which aren't close to or on mom-and-pop type establishments - I try to keep to places like back alleys or parking structures etc. Don't get me wrong, it's still vandalism, and I'm certain plenty of people would find it disagreeable but I try to place them in a place where they're at least a reasonable enhancement. I like to think that someone might glance up by chance and see one of my characters hanging out and that would make them smile.

MT: I saw that Edgar Allen Poe stencil tutorial you posted recently. Would you consider creating more tutorials in the future? How do you feel knowing that other people could potentially creating your designs?

DC: I love the idea of artists making tutorials and walkthroughs, it’s always neat to see how someone made something. You could learn something new or it might click in your head to try something you hadn’t previously considered. I’m certainly considering making more tutorials, especially for the r/sticker community on reddit, that is a community that seems like it’s on the come up, and I like the positivity and encouragement I see on there.  
I’ve actually had my designs “borrowed” before. Recently I found a guy on tumblr randomly who had art very similar to mine, and the more I looked into it I realized it wasn’t just similar it was pretty blatant, and as I looked back through the history of his tumblr there was a very obvious, very clear, shift in the design on the art that he had been making; about three months prior he had suddenly started basically ripping off my work. It was then that I realized that it was a same person who had started following me on Instagram three months before then. So it was obvious that he found my IG and start ripping off my work. So I wrote him, and was very civil, and told him his art was cool, I liked it, and that it almost looked like something I had come up with – I was very facetious. I thought to myself “I’ll never hear from that guy, he’ll probably just block me”, but to my surprise he actually wrote back and fessed up. He basically said “yeah you caught me, I really love your artwork and what you were doing is what I’ve been trying to do for so long and haven’t quite been able to make it work, so I thought I’d copy you and see if I could get my own thing started”, which I thought was cool. It was cool that he owned up to it and it was flattering that someone would thinking highly enough of my art to try to use it as a catalyst to ignite their own. He’s since shifted away from my stuff, and I hope he continues to refine his stuff. 

MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?

DC: Always be sketching, always be doodling, look at (but don’t rip off) other artist’s work for inspiration – and don’t be afraid to throw your stuff out there online or wherever and ask for some input, use your fellow artists, ask them what they think, ask them what materials and techniques they use.