D2 Art is introducing a new series of artist interviews, starting with Los Angeles-based painter and sculptor Kottie Paloma.
I met Kottie 2 years ago when he was living in Berlin and really liked his work. I commissioned him to do a small piece for one of my clients and also purchased a piece for myself. At that time, I also met his wife Meike and fell in love with her home textile product line bermuda. I was excited when I heard Kottie was moving back to L.A. and was looking forward to catching up with him and seeing what he has been creating since we last met.
Kottie Paloma is known for his abstract and figurative paintings that are often social commentaries with a sharp wit. He is also a renowned sculptor who uses different materials such as wood, acrylic color scraps, glue, glitter, and found objects.
Kottie works out of his studio in Chinatown, where I visited him last week to ask some questions about his approach to making art, the materials he prefers, and what he thinks about the L.A. art scene now that he’s back in California.
1. How do you choose the themes of your works?
I have been working in the theme of social commentary of about ten or more years. The ideas are based on personal and social experiences. I am also deeply inspired by music. I often appropriate lyrcis from the music I am listening to as the text you see in my art. Sometimes the text is actual things I have heard people say at social events or just from passer bys.
2. What are you favorite media to express yourself?
I prefer acrylic on canvas. I don’t have the patience for oils. I work fast, I get frustrated if a painting takes more than two days to finish. The sculptures I am making are also made of acrylic, These are made from the left over paint from one of my paintings. Fixed with glitter and silicone, they are like the 3D ideas that didn’t make it into the painting.
3. Could you please tell us about the creative process – from initial thoughts to completion?
Everything starts blank, then an idea pops into my head. I work it out for a bit. Then I erase it and take everything back to blank, I take a nap, I eat, then I work again, remembering past experiences, things people said to me, the way a moment happened. These start to flow with the paint till I feel the painting is finished, which means, there is nothing more I can add to it.
4. What other artist do you admire?
I’m really liking Joe Bradley at the moment. I love his abstracts and drawings. But I try not to take other artists into my studio head, same with the internet, this just makes me fumble around and nothing moves forward.
5. How would you describe the current art scene in Los Angeles?
I think the L.A. Art scene is at the top of it’s game right now. Growing up in Southern California, I never considered L.A. as a viable place to be an artist. I felt it was to kitschy and to close to home. Now twenty years later, I think it’s the best place for artists to be Everyone is really nice here and seems genuinely interested.
6. Are there any differences between the Berlin and the L.A. art scenes? If so, how ?
L.A. And Berlin are moons apart. Totally different scenes. I lived in Berlin for four years. It was a total struggle for me. Curators were always two to three hours late. No one has money in that city and it reflects in the upward career movement of the artists. I think great art comes from Berlin and always will, but there is hardly any local support. Galleries and artists need to develop an outside base to stay in business, which is difficult unless you travel constantly to make these personal connections. For me, Berlin was a great place to make art, it’s a dark place which inspired me. I also felt that the gallery openings were really divided in terms of meeting people. No one seemed interested in meeting anyone, everyone stayed in their social box. I tried to unite cliques, which is something I am usually great at and known for, but was never successful at this in Berlin.
L.A. is bright, rich, pleasant, vibrant. Everyone is coming to L.A. There is support here. People seem interested. You go to a gallery opening and walk away with new friends, inspired. The physical size of the galleries here are huge, impressive, something to inspire the artist.
7. What does “being creative” mean to you?
For me being creative doesn’t stop at the end of the studio day. It’s a constant that digs into your brain in a good way. I can turn it off at will, but If a few days go by where I haven’t lived in art, I go stir crazy, I get cranky.
8. What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I try to get to the studio around 9am. I sit at my desk for a bit, I look through my works on paper. Make mind inventories. After that, I pace around in what feels like circles, looking at the wall pieces. Then I start to work. Then I nap. Napping is very important in the studio.
9. What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
The best advice I ever received about being creative was just to work work work, If an idea is flowing, then just keep working, mess it up, destroy it, if it’s an idea that is meant to be, then it will find it’s way back to you.
10. What do you think about the future of the art world – will the gallery system be sustainable?
Everyone always speculates about the future of the gallery scene. It’s not going anywhere. It will always be there and artists can chose to participate at any point in their career. The artist and the gallery needs to have great communication with each other. Artists are typically horrible at selling their own art. Artists need the gallery as much as the gallery needs the artist. The gallery scene in any city is difficult to break into if that’s what the artist wants, but most important is that the artists develop an alternative way of financing their studio. I see the future of this already now. The internet is flooded with online courses to help artists thrive or financially succeed. But most of these courses are crap and I just see it as a way for people to capitalize on the growing art scenes.
A current project of Kottie Paloma is a flash sale of three of his paintings in collaboration with L.A.-and Berlin-based artflash, an online shop for limited art prints and paintings by established and emerging artists.