CHICKENHEAD PAST: DEREK HESS
interview by debbie

DURING OUR FIRST YEAR, FROM SEPTEMBER 1999 TO AUGUST 2000, WE WERE KNOWN UNDER THE MONIKER CHICKENHEAD. DURING THAT FIRST YEAR, WE INTERVIEWED A LOT OF PEOPLE. NOT ALL OF THEM WERE GREAT INTERVIEWS. YOU CAN TELL THAT WE WERE JUST STARTING TO FIGURE OUT OUR STYLE. BUT WE'VE PICKED TWELVE INTERVIEWS OUT FROM THAT FIRST YEAR THAT EPITOMIZED WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO. DURING JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST WE WILL BE PLACING THESE OLD INTERVIEWS ONLINE FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. THERE WILL BE FOUR NEW INTERVIEWS EACH MONTH. ENJOY THIS BLAST FROM TASTES LIKE CHICKEN'S PAST!

INTERVIEW: DEREK HESS

ORIGINAL PRINT DATE: NOVEMBER 1999


IS IT A NEW WILL SMITH MOVIE THAT STARTS WITH TOMMY LEE AND ENDS AT MEDIA PLAY? NOPE. IT'S A CONVERSATION DEBBIE HAD WITH INTERNATIONAL PRINTMAKER DEREK HESS

Debbie: What are you up to these days?

Derek: I just got done working on Tommy Lee's Methods of Madness album. I did eleven illustrations for the booklet and CD package. Three of the images were promptly censored by Wal-Mart, which is cool. It's cool to be able to say, "I've been censored by Wal-Mart." I just did a March of Dimes benefit where I auctioned off a piece of art with a group of Cleveland artists. It was all for charity. I'm also preparing for my New York show. That opens up December 8th at CBGB.

D: Have you had many shows this past year?

D: Oh yeah. I've done shows. I did Germany this past May.

D: Was Germany your first international gig?

D: Yeah. It was in Hamburg. I've been dealing with a gallery there now for a number of years. I got a job doing the CD covers for a magazine insert. It's a magazine called Visions. It's what Rolling Stone is to America. In every issue they have a CD insert sampler. In '99 they hired me to do all the covers. They did an article on me to give me some exposure. We figured it would be a good time to go over there. You know, while there was some momentum.

D: Were you well received in Germany?

D: Yeah. The people were all into it. Funny thing is, I've got all these tank tattoos on my forearms. When I have show openings in America, people bring up the tanks, but then they go on to something else. But in Germany, they were all about the tanks! Everybody wanted to talk about these tattoos on my arms. It's just interesting, ya know; the cultural differences.

D: Any other big shows?

D: I was just recently in Detroit at the C-Pop Gallery for their grand re-opening. Mark Ryden was there with Niagara and Glenn Barr. In all, there were about 40 artists there. C-Pop is gonna be promoting my kind of art. It's for more of the stuff that isn't conventionally accepted by the older art establishments. The art of this generation has to be picked up and carried by its peers. The baby boomers aren't gonna support it because it's not about them.

D: Are there a lot of galleries like C-Pop that are supporting the artists of this generation?

D: There are beginning to be more of them, yes.

D: How do you feel about the work of young artists not being put into bigger museums and galleries?

D: I don't really worry about it. I don't really care for the way things have been run, so I don't wanna play by their rules. If they accept me into their realm, then great. But I'm not really shooting for that.

D: Do you consider yourself, along with Barr and Niagara, as modern versions of the old masters, like Michelangelo and Caravaggio?

D: No. I don't even want to compare myself to those guys. We're accessible and affordable. Our work generally goes to a non-art clientele. A lot of the patrons of the arts, traditionally, are people with money that live in the upscale suburbs-- at least, stereotypically. The "average person" is buying my art; people who've never been to art galleries. Kids will come to my openings and say, "This is the first time I've ever been in an art gallery." I think that's cool as hell, because it's not for the elite. Art is for everybody.

D: Do you have any modern artistic influences?

D: Not really. I don't look at a lot of art. Never did. If I like something, I'll go out of my way to say I like it. A lot of the new comic artists' work is stunning and striking. But it seems like most of them are worried about style; developing their own look, as opposed to learning the anatomy. If you shortcut the principles, then you just end up like Jae Lee. You know, that just blows, man! He doesn't know how to draw. It's one thing to be real stylish if you can pull it off. But if your whole thing is just flash, then it won't hold. That's just my opinion.

D: Do you feel like you're making social commentary through your work?

D: My stuff generally deals with the human condition and spirituality, or a lack thereof. Sometimes, I don't have a really heavy theme.

D: Are you living a rock 'n' roll lifestyle?

D: What?

D: It's a Cake song.

D: Oh. Well,.. no. But I wish I was!

D: No wild times with crazy musicians?

D: No. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not wild and crazy.

D: Do people recognize you on the street?

D: Once in a great while.

D: How does that feel?

D: It's weird. I mean, it's cool and flattering. When they start running up to me with guns, I start worrying about stalkers.

D: What do you see happening in the future?

D: I don't know,.. I'd like to buy a widescreen TV someday.

D: Good answer.

D: Yeah. To be able to buy a widescreen TV and pay all my bills. I don't ask for much.

VISIT DEREK HERE.