Together with Paper Hat Productions, Hyphen will be hosting its first-ever illustration show, ALIEN/ATION, on July 10th. In the days leading up to the show, I'll be conducting short interviews with some of our awesome featured artists. Today's artist is Rob Sato.
KL: Tell me a bit about your background as an artist, as well as about your current work.
RS: I've been doing art, drawing, and illustration for as long as I can remember. I went to California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and San Francisco. I got an illustration degree there, but my illustration work afterwards has been relatively limited. I've been mostly working a part-time job and painting. I've gotten a few illustration jobs here and there, but it's not something I've pursued too heavily. Since college I've been more interested in doing painting and exploring different avenues -- illustrating my own stories. Gradually I've become more of a gallery painter. I guess that's where the success has started to come. I've done and still do some illustration work, but it's really only about two or three jobs a year. The rest of it is painting.
How have you been involved with Hyphen?
I've done one comic for Hyphen. It's in the Hybrid issue. The comic I did is called "Animal Husbandry" -- it's about bestiality. Erica [Hyphen's creative director] had asked me if I wanted to contribute to the Hybrid issue, and I already had had an idea in my head about a narrative about a guy who falls in love with a fish. Half-dolphin, half-man -- or half-woman, I guess. The comic follows the course of their relationship to its sad end. It's about forbidden love and achieving that forbidden love, and then squandering the benefits of it. (laughs)
What are you going to be exhibiting at the show?
The original panels from "Animal Husbandry." And then some other prints I've done.
How would you describe your personal style?
Hmm, I guess it's -- I don't know. (laughs) It's very detailed, and I'm told it's grotesque. I guess I can see what people are talking about when they say that. It's classical, in a way.
There's a piece of yours that I really like, titled "Peace at Last in a Future Passed." I think it's very interesting, with all sorts of different themes and moods layered on top of each other. What inspired this painting? What does it mean?
That's the one with the big rotting robot, right? I was doing a series of paintings on machines. And that one, it's about a kind of nostalgia for the way that I thought about robots and machines as a kid, and the fantasies I had watching Robotech and Transformers and that kind of stuff. As a kid you just kind of wished that these things were real and that they existed.
Now that I'm grown up, I'm extremely glad that they never existed. You have these fantasies about being a hero when you're a kid. Wars are fought in your imagination. The piece is about combining that imagination with being a grownup and realizing that things are a lot more complicated with war; it's about trying to combine fantasy with reality. It's about growing up. It's this giant monument to all those battles that were fought in my imagination when I was a kid, and really trying to feel for what a nightmare it would have been if it had actually been real.
So it's not so much lamenting the death of an old dream, but it's more about reflecting on fantasies from the past.
I'd describe it as "rotten nostalgia." A lot of people don't reach that stage!
Yeah, maybe, especially in light of the popularity of the recent Transformers and Iron Man movies.
It's probably harmless but maybe the violence never dies. (laughs)
ALIEN/ATION will be held on July 10th at Space Gallery in San Francisco. For more information about the event and more interviews with the featured artists, follow this link.