INTERVIEWS & other nonsense
Magazine Death & Interviews
Given the nature of independent art magazines, websites, blogs etc. they often die. Like all things that die, it is important to remember the impact they had and perhaps still have today. I’m going to start putting interviews (from publications both living/dead) and other nonsense in this section of my website (like this old 'Pi-Kazzo' doodle I found). Viva La Resistance.
INTERVIEW: STUDENTS vs SENSEI
AUGUST 2021 - STUDENTS v SENSEI
STUDENTS vs SENSEI [EROL ZENDIS]⬇️
A few of Erol's senior students asked him some hard-hitting questions before his exhibition, which featured 3 Erol Zendis – BoardPusher decks (available at www.boarpdusher.com/erolzendis) as well as a variety of prints.
STUDENT vs SENSEI [EROL ZENDIS]
Mr. Zendis, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?
Haha, great question.
On a serious note, what is your upcoming exhibition about?
The manifestation of cultural origins, mechanisms, and corollaries of gender perception. The main emphasis is on atheistic existentialism, and the crisis of modern consciousness. It explores issues relating to the meaning, purpose, and value of human existence through a postmodern lens.
Haha, only joking… It’s basically some of my skateboards and some prints… that’s about it. It’s a cool little café owned by cool people, and it’s next to a skate park. So, hanging up some decks and related artwork made sense.
You seem to have a whole heap of crazy artwork, but you don’t do many exhibitions, why is that and why is this one different?
Thank you for the compliment. Like I said, these people are cool and (perhaps) more importantly they are good people. They are not pretentious blockheads. So far, I’ve principally dealt with pretentious blockheads or galleries from overseas. Although some of the offers from overseas were very appealing, I decided not to send my precious Zendian creations to galleries in New York City or Gelsenkirchen. Also, big exhibitions take time and I’m too busy teaching you scoundrels!
Speaking of ‘cool people’, it seems you’ve done a lot of great work for cool bands and people. Who is the most famous person or band you have worked with?
Well, I don’t really like to name drop... but, I’ll go with Nicolas Cage. He’s probably my most well-known client and I frequently think about Nicolas Cage when creating my pieces. Oyashiro-sama is another one that comes to mind.
What is your favourite Nicolas Cage film and will Nicolas Cage feature in any of your future work?
The one where they rip his face off and put it on John Travolta’s. That movie is a real tour de force. Yes, of course! One day I will dedicate an entire exhibition to him, and Mr Cage will be there as a guest of honour/MC and DJ.
From our in-class discussions, you are very knowledgeable, have very interesting views on a broad range of topics and yet your artwork doesn’t seem to feature any of that? I don’t mean that in a bad way, I think your work is incredible but it’s not political or anything and I found that surprising. Why is that?
You are too kind and also overly sycophantic! It would be easy to be political or controversial. It would be easy to play the role of a performance activist. It’s also easy to copy. As an artist, it is my responsibility to release the Zendians from their prison of non-existence… They are trapped in Zendian-Grømblegefängnis and I must liberate them… And on a slightly serious note, drawing is a form of escapism for me... it’s meditative. That might be why nothing I draw (at the moment) is overly serious in nature. That may change however… Perhaps at my next exhibition: Nicolas…UNCAGED.
I noticed you don’t have any social media, why is that?
Although social media has its benefits when used correctly and ethically, it is predominantly an ignominious cesspool of toxicity. The fact that I’m a teacher also has influenced this decision and unlike artists that actually make a living from art, I don’t need to “sell myself” in any way, so it’s better to stay away from the shadowy abyss - DARK SHADOW! As mentioned, social media has its benefits and (perhaps hypocritically) I’m always grateful when my artwork is shared by those who appreciate it. Social media can be incredibly powerful when used properly. I just don’t have that much time to do anything meaningful with it at the moment. Also, Mark Zuckerberg is a penis.
Do you think you’re a better teacher or artist?
Well… As you know, I’m pretty much like the Michael Jordan or the Saitama (One-Punch Man) of teaching and it’s how I make a living. So, I would say teacher. There are many artists that are MUCH better than me, that being said, my work is waaaaaaaaaaay better than most of the crap in the post-modernist sections of any major art gallery.
How has teaching impacted your artwork?
I was asked this in a previous interview (by Chaotic Utopian Magazine), and I said that teaching negatively impacted my work due to the time constraints it creates. However, I would now slightly alter my original response. Since I don’t make a living from art – I can draw *whatever I like. For example, I don’t have to work on some corporate commission that I’d rather not do. In addition to this, we spoke about social media before… As a teacher/artist I can avoid it, whereas if I was trying to make a living from art, I imagine I would have to be more active on social media, constantly network, and do the mind-numbing/stressful business side of things. Which really doesn’t sound fun to me. I’m not completely free though. As a teacher, especially as a teacher in a Catholic school, I can’t really draw any excessively violent Vince Locke style artwork (Cannibal Corpse album covers). Side note – Vince Locke is AWESOME!
I’ve noticed some of your work has weird language on it… What does it mean and what does it mean to you?
Ohh… That is a hard-hitting question. Good find! To those unfamiliar with El Mond dü Zendian-Grømbleschprek, some drawings may appear to be meaningless, but the strange little creatures and words you see before you are rich with allegorical symbolism, sagacious metaphors, voschmart sarcasm and ingenious stories of the Zendian-Grømbleschprek. I’ve always been interested in language/s, so making up a language, predominantly based on the languages I’m more familiar with, came naturally to me.
I’m like JRR Tolkien. Except he’s considered a genius and I am not…. Yet.
I think you are a genius.
Thank you, you’re a smart guy, so I’ll trust your thoughts on that.
Have you always been interested in skate art and do you skate?
Not always to be honest. I’ve drawn in this style for a long time though, and a few people said that my work would look good on skateboards, I agreed, so I thought I’d give it a go. I also really like the look of decks hanging on a wall. I think of skate art the same way I think about album art, it’s a legitimate type of art, full of brilliance and talent, and importantly - it lacks the pretentiousness that exists in many contemporary fine art/modern art galleries, movements and ‘isms’. There are some truly exceptional skate art artists out there. As for skating in general, I was a very good skater…. on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2; on the Nintendo 64 (great soundtracks by the way).
What’s your favourite album art?
Ahh that’s too hard. Off the top of my head, Reign in Blood by Slayer (all the Larry Carroll Slayer designs are great), Symbolic by Death (René Miville design). They are two of my favourite albums though, so perhaps that has unfairly influenced my decision. I mentioned Vince Locke/Cannibal Corpse before… It’s hard not to think of Ed Repka and his Megadeth and Death albums. Arise by Sepultura (illustrated by Michael Whelan), Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel (art by Dan Seagrave). Then of course, there are the Iron Maiden album covers by Derek Riggs. Like many out there, it was Eddie and the Iron Maiden artwork that initially drew me to metal in the first place. I will also throw in a ‘random one’: Yokai Genso - 妖怪幻想 水木しげる" Illustrated and produced by Shigeru Mizuki (most famous for his manga series "GeGeGe no Kitarō") The album itself sounds like me; when I’m just hitting random keys on a synth - awesome artwork though. I haven’t even mentioned any of the psychedelic/‘fuzzy’/trippy album covers. There are too many to mention, I recommend checking out the …And Justice for Art books by Ramòn Martos. They are currently my favourite art books (all metal album covers, featuring stories/interviews with the artists/bands). Anyway, you’ve asked me a question about something I’m really interested in and I’m rambling like an old man talking about how peanut butter was better back in the day. Let’s move on.
Can you tell us about the Erol Zendis Band Series Range on BoardPusher? I tried to talk about it before but you decided to speak about Nicolas Cage.
Haha, of course. That’s only because Nicolas Cage is such an inspiration. In short, all designs are 'band approved’ designs with their official logos/names etc. It’s not like I can just create a Metallica deck with a Metallica logo… Lars Ulrich wouldn’t be happy. I feel quite honoured that some genuinely awesome bands like Thee Oh Sees (O Sees/Oh sees), Slift, King Parrot, Dr Colossus, Sunflowers, Cosmic Reef Temple etc… are a part of it. I’m a fan of these bands, they’re genuinely super-talented, so I feel very privileged. If you’re unfamiliar with any of those bands – check them out now!!! The other thing is, for every Erol Zendis Band Series deck sold, a portion of the sales go towards finding a cure for PBFD… I personally don’t make any money from selling these decks. If you have no idea what PBFD is, please educate yourself and donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/beak-and-feather-disease-cure.
Well, the summer holidays are coming up soon (here in Aus) so I’ve got a few projects I’d like to get started – some stuff will be exhibited, and of course some designs will make their way onto some BoardPusher decks!
GRAVE FLOWERS BONGO BAND! They rock. And…Hopefully Steamy Nicks and Steamy Ray Vaughan.
What are your long term hopes for the future?
I would like to buy a manual lawn mower or one of those leaf blowers.
CHAOTIC UTOPIAN MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS EROL ZENDIS
‘Debut’ Erol Zendis Interview with Jesse Gussow of Chaotic Utopian Magazine - September 12th, 2018
CHAOTIC UTOPIAN MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS EROL ZENDIS
The artwork by Erol Zendis is akin to a Magic Eye piece from the 1990s mashed up with a Where’s Waldo. His pieces pull you in with how busy they are and keep you looking at them for hours examining all the different characters that make up the piece. His attention to details is phenomenal! His work is reminiscent of a bored student doodling on the side of a paper, only Erol has filled up the whole page and it’s absolutely fantastic!
Where are you from?
I come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder.
How did you get interested in art?
Reoccurring dreams. At the age of six, El Gato Félix appeared to me in Dalíesque dream… Like Virgil, he guided me through Hieronymus Bosch’s version of hell. He told me I that I needed to release the Zendians from their prison. Ten years later, I had the same dream except this time Félix was wearing a Slayer T-shirt.
What inspires your work?
The desire to release the Zendians from their prison of non-existence… They are trapped in Zendian-Grømblegefängnis and I must liberate them.
How would you describe your style?
Cartoon-infused surrealism in big doodle form.
What does your work say about you?
An artist I respect recently described my work as ‘generating its own energy’, ‘unique’, ‘powerful’, ‘funny’, and ‘scary’… So, I’ll go with all of those, but I’d also add handsome (for the ‘about me’ part).
What is your preferred medium to work with?
A black pen of some description and paper. Preferably a good pen and good paper.
How have you grown as an artist?
It is like collecting Pokémon; each creation is like a new ‘catch’, sometimes it’s something useless like a Weedle but that Weedle can evolve into something a bit better and every now and then the creation is more like a level 77 Gengar or a level 89 Rhydon, occasionally even a Charizard. I’m fairly new to the art world… I’d say in Pokémon terms, I’ve got approximately 18 Pokémon and I’ve just beaten the first gym leader. My journey has just started… but my plan is to be the very best…like no one ever was.
What is your process for completing a piece from start to finish?
It usually begins with me drawing something on a piece of paper, then unfortunately, (predominantly due to my obligations in the real world) it stays like that for a while… Whilst the process is very ‘automatic’, it is also sporadic because time is always the main issue, so I just incrementally add to drawings whenever I can.
Time... I need more time… I need a time transplant.
Do you know exactly what you’re going to make or do you change, add or subtract things while you are working on it?
This is a difficult question to answer, as it is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. That being said, I try to keep the work as ‘automatic’ as possible.
André Breton defined surrealism as “pure psychic automatism". Even though Automatism was developed as a means of expressing the subconscious, my work (like most surrealism) is not about accidental mark making where the hand moves 'randomly' across the paper. Even though my doodles are largely freed of rational thought (i.e. I don’t really overthink it), there is an obvious aesthetic to it… If I’m drawing a 90’s cartoon inspired psychotic walrus with hairy nipples, then my end product is going to look like a psychotic cartoon walrus with hairy nipples.
It also depends on the specific piece. For example, I’m currently working with a few bands. If they would like a human skull with the brain still inside, with flamingos eating the brains… Then that is what they will get (albeit with an Erol Zendis touch).
Do you only work on one piece at a time?
I try to, but time, wherever I’m located, and the size of certain pieces means that I usually work on a few different pieces whenever possible. As a result, I’ll usually work on two or three things at once.
What do you teach?
I’d rather not say because ‘Erol Zendis’ is not my real name…
I don’t really want parents calling the school asking: ‘why do you employ a teacher that draws psychotic cartoon walruses with hairy nipples?’
How has teaching impacted your artwork?
Negatively. I like my workplace and my job, but it is time consuming and as mentioned above… I need more time.
What are your hopes for the future?
It might sound narcissistic, but I’d simply like to open a book in a few years’ time and see some Erol Zendis artwork.
I recall flipping through a Surrealism book and of course, all the usual names were in there, Dalí, Ernst, Magritte etc… Then I noticed a piece by Conroy Maddox, I was not familiar with the artist or the artwork, but I was intrigued. What was this sharply dressed bovine-human hybrid doing and why was it sitting next to a well-dressed trash can-human hybrid (I think it’s a trash can)? What was their story? Then you look at the other characters in the piece and again, you think… What is their story? This is not a well-known piece but it’s awesome.
That’s all I want… Someone’s imagination to be ignited by my work akin to the manner in which my mind was captivated by the weird cow thing. Except sharply dressed bovine-human hybrid, will probably be replaced with something like pterodactyl-merman with hairy nipples and sock puppets.
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
Sorry, but I cannot provide you with an educated response to this question.
I don’t know what a Fudgee-O cookie is…. Sorry. Please feel free to send me some :)
That was my interview with Jesse of Chaotic Utopian Magazine. She’s an awesome person and like many other lovers of weirdo art, I’m sad to see the end of the magazine… Jesse, thanks or all the support, I have always really appreciated it and I wish you all the best with your future endeavors!!! Although the official website is now gone, most of the interviews have been archived here: https://web.archive.org/web/20181104212445/http://www.chaoticutopian.com/erol-zendis