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Art & Life with David Phillips

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Phillips.

David, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere Oklahoma to a single mother of 3 boys. We grew up poor and work was all of our spare time. My grandmother was a painter and would help watch us kids. When we got into trouble she separated us into different rooms. I was always banished to her studio room. We didn’t really have things like TV or video games so I drew and painted from a very young age with an extremely high frequency. One day she took one of my paintings to a local frame shop.

The owner couldn’t believe a 12 yr. old had painted it. He offered to frame it for free if he could put it in his shop window and sell it. The painting sold and I quickly learned that making money from painting was way better than working on the farms, roofing houses, and picking up cow patty’s. I’ve painted incessantly ever since. After creating art all through High School and College in Oklahoma I packed all my art supplies and a guitar into my shitty car and headed West. I never turned back and have lived in Venice Beach, CA for 17yrs.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My work has been reviewed, labeled, talked about as some form of “Americana Avant-Garde”. I don’t have an opinion of that title. You have to keep in mind I could really care less what anyone calls my work if it sells, or what happens to it. I create because I have to. It’s all I know. I’ve always told every critic or collector to call me whatever you want…but don’t call me late to happy hour. The first gallery I signed with back in 2004 told me I needed a website. I saw it as an opportunity to brand the work and my lifestyle. I went back to the gallery and told them to call it “wino-strut”.

The term is original but pretty much sums up my life. I came up with the term “wino-strut” after reading a story about Willem De Kooning. He was down and out in NYC and couldn’t sell a painting to save his life. A collector contacted him and offered him a case of wine for one of his paintings. The only way he could get the painting to the collector was to hand carry the painting from the Lower East Side of NY to the Upper East Side.

Today that painting is in Amsterdam and worth millions. I called his walk “wino-strut”. I create work in just about every medium. My primary focus is an oil painting but I make films, collage, drawings, and I write songs. I have a full backing band and gig out all over Los Angeles as “wino-strut & Friends” a release music under the name “wino-strut”.

Every painting I make is completely custom. I hardly ever go to art stores. I wouldn’t be caught dead using a pre-made bought canvas. I have a woodworking shop inside my studio and I make all my canvases, frames, pigment. Fucking everything is made from scratch or recycled materials. The materials typically dictate how a picture will come out. If I recently found a bucket of green paint… then the painting will have a shit ton of green. If I found a half-empty can of dark brown wood stain… then the frame will be dark brown. The actual imagery I use is typically some hybrid of growing up in the Oklahoma country/Indian land and the contemporary California sunshine.

I am not too concerned with a “message” and personally, I don’t prescribe to “inspiration” or “creativity”. For me, art is more like a hard-work ethic or carpentry. I always tell people if you want to critique a painting start with the back. Make sure the artist built everything themselves. Make sure it’s original as fuck and has archive worthy materials. If people actually did that it would cut out 90% of the bullshit in the art world. So maybe that’s my message… I want people to see the work and be like “holy shit, who the fuck is this guy!?”…”He’s the Jesus Christ Holy Crackstar of Creativity and doesn’t even believe in creativity and I think he’s pretty drunk”. Something along those lines.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
Personally, I try to remain as insular as possible when it comes to current events, icons, or politics impacting my work. Of course, an artist is only human so… I suppose in such volatile times it’s only natural for some of your personal beliefs to creep in. I rarely work with popular imagery. I try to create custom imagery… i.e. pictures that do not exist. I have no interest in painting The Hamburglar or Miley Cyrus over and over again.

Personally, the only “role” I have as an artist is to pay the bills and provide for my wife and family. I try to keep the process and the work coming from the internal rather than anything external such as culture or events affecting my work in any way at all.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I post a majority of my shows through my website www.wino-strut.com. I also dig using Instagram because it ties all that online bullshit together and you don’t have to format for multiple platforms. Plus memes are hilarious. I currently have pieces at too many galleries to list, offices all over LA, and over 150 homes and 6 countries. My band and I play out all the time in LA and I’m on Spotify as “wino-strut”.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Robert Cook , Mathias Fau

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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