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Monday, December 10, 2018

Craig Drake Solo Show V Interview

By Jonathan Bilski

Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice

In the early start of December I’m reaching out to Craig Drake via Skype all the way in Japan, Tokyo. He lives there now, though he called San Fran his home for many years. The reason for the move, it’s where his wife was. Still, the man digs Japanese culture.

And you might get a sense of that with his work based on Cowboy Bebop, soon to be a live action series on Netflix. But, it’s not just Bebop, his style, which references the look of Patrick Nagel 80’s influence, covers all media, be it Batman, Boba Fett or Beetlejuice. The man can make some sexy looking ladies or some sexy looking cars. For his new Solo show, which may or may not have a piece for Han Solo…probably not... after that movie, we’re getting many new pieces for some of our favorite media.

Back to our conversation, Craig was telling me how great Japan was. “As an artist, everywhere you turn, you will be inspired by signage, by architecture, just everything. And some day, it’s like you’re living in the movie Blade Runner. Original Blade Runner.”  A minute later, Craig stopped himself from talking about Japan as he knew he could go on for a long time about it. But, he kept going a little bit more.

Flower girl
“I’m a synth nut,” Craig tells me. Our previous interviews revealed Craig liked movie soundtracks heavy on synth. I’m sorry he missed John Carpenter’s live music on Halloween here in LA. “There’s days I’ll have synthesizers droning on a patch I’ve created,” Craig tells me about when he’s creating his art. “I did this by mistake once, y’know, I was just busy and I just let it go and I let it go in the background and I forgot it was playing and I was like, this is really great and I just started drawing. And it’s just the drone sound and it changes after time. And you let it go for two hours and it just changes into something different.” Craig was referring to a Japanese synthesizer he just let play on its own, a sort of white noise that he enjoys to get his work done too.

He was listening to synth while creating new pieces for his new solo show at Hero Complex Gallery, happening this December. “This round, these are just pieces, we chose, that are just classics. We chose some good sci-fi in there. I don’t want to give too much away, but the past two shows I stayed away from Star Wars content.” He said he would be bringing back Star Wars work for this show. 

“ In terms of anime, I don’t think we have any anime subjects.” Sadness was felt in the otaku community upon hearing the news. When I suggested Smash Bros, as the game will have just been released whenever this interview comes out, Craig told me he wished I asked him that months ago. So, sorry, no sexy looking Samus or Bulbasaur for you. There may be a video game piece in the show, but Craig is working on it last minute.

*The “we” Craig was referring to was him working with Adam Smasher, Hero Complex Gallery owner.

I then, out of nowhere, compliment Craig on his latest piece for Mondo, his take on the Batwing. It’s a follow-up as he also did the Batmobile. Given the chance, he said he do the Batpod from the Christopher Nolan Dark Night series. Then Craig said it would be great to just make one up.

“It’s this vehicle for us. And when I say us, I mean me and Adam ( If you read earlier, you already knew that) get to collaborate on subject matter and dream up ideas and how to print these things and what would be really good,” Craig  telling me how it is working on his latest show compared to working with Mondo on select work.

Not to leave Batman, Craig brought up a Catwoman piece he did for Mondo, “Michelle Pfeiffer got to see it and say, ‘Hey, I like it. I approve it.’ As an artist that was really cool to me.” Then I asked how Michelle Pfeiffer still had control over her image as Catwoman, and Craig just said her contract. So, remember future actor or anyone in the biz, put clauses in your contract to protect your image. And then maybe one day you can tell an artist yeah or nay to art they create of you.

Later on, I got into a discussion over the ownership of the art Craig Drake creates. If official art, Craig and whomever he teams up with be it Mondo or Hero Complex can only can create so many prints. After that, the studios/companies that they get approved by like Marvel or Universal own the art for good. So, they can basically do whatever they want with Craig’s work (per contract) and he doesn’t collect royalties on it. So pony up and pay for his prints if you like his art.

We also went over people stealing his art and putting it on shirts and what not online. Turns out he finds stuff almost every week. Be careful if you see anything online that’s his work unless released officially with an announcement though his social media channels. Some things you will find are officially released by Star Wars or the companies that own the rights to the property. But, if you see something on an online tee company, more than likely someone just ripped that art and Craig doesn’t get paid for it.

I asked Craig if there was any project that got dropped, even after he had finished it or was half-way-through creating it. He told me it happens all the time, but “Probably the most infamous one was for Prometheus.” Craig explained it was pretty much done, but just someone in the totem pole didn’t care for it, so, it was just over. And it happens all the time. I tell him he dodged a bullet, because that movie sucks, it’s beautiful, but it sucks.

We shift to talking about theaters in LA, he talks about going to the New Bev, he’s been out of the loop and didn’t even know it was closed for a year. He makes me laugh, he asks is the Alamo Draft House chain finally opened in LA. I tell him, not until next year. It was his favorite theater in San Fran.

Craig tells me what he’s really excited for in his new solo show, “The volume two art book, which will also, (exclusive)…it’ll have three volumes, it’ll be a three volume set, which you also by separately, they’ll be a re-publish of volume one and then the new volume two book and there’s a special portfolio addition, which is a lot of personal work and official work I’ve done over the years. It’s got everything from Star Wars to some Disney stuff, Marvel stuff."

Be sure to check out this artist amazing work for holiday gifts for friends and just yourself.

Opening Reception with Artist
Dec 14, 7pm-10pm
Additional Signing Session
Dec 15. 11am-1pm
Hero Complex Gallery
2020 S Robertson Blvd D, Los Angeles, CA 90034