Tuesday, 27 November 2012

[READERS CORNER #1] Meet Agent Cortez aka Robin Wessberg

Welcome to Readers Corner, a new section on the Streets of Beige Blog! We are getting to know members of the extended SOB family by asking them a few questions and inviting them to showcase their work. This is the first entry so lets get into it! Allow us to introduce the talented, Agent Cortez aka Robin Wessberg.

SOB: Who and what are you? Where are you from?   

I’m robin, a transplanted, crusty, old skateboarder from Los Angeles who has spent the past 7 years living in Bangkok, Thailand.   These days I’ve traded in the skateboards for paintbrushes and I spend most of my time at my house/studio hanging out with my girlfriend and our short-legged dogs.

SOB: Did you like art back in school? Were you any good at it then? Did you have an inspirational teacher?

My parents always encouraged traveling and doing art.  My dad is a sculptor who does wrought iron welding for a living.  He taught me how to look at things in different ways, to see things from different angles and to be open to various musicians and artists.  And my mother is an art enthusiast who would always drag me through galleries as a child.   At the time I often hated it since I would rather be out skating but it definitely exposed me to a world I’m grateful for knowing.

SOB: Would you encourage young artists to attend University to study their art form or do you think it is best to create your own path after leaving education?  

This is a tough question because it depends on the person.   If you were a disciplined student in high school then going off to University is a good idea because it won’t be much different.  You’ll probably enjoy it because it’s a similar routine with a wider variety of classes.  But if school isn’t your thing then dealing with all the bullshit of required classes and bitter teachers’ critiques might just dissuade you from art. School seems to have a way of pushing artists in the wrong direction since the focus is on making money.  With that said,  I have found that art students seem to have excellent life drawing skills so there is that.

Click the link below to continue reading....

SOB: Is this your full time job? If so, how long have you been a professional artist? If not, what other work do you do? What is the worst job that you’ve ever had?  

Nope, this isn’t my full time job.   Painting is a full time obsession that seems to creep into everything I do.   It does help with the bills but it is still far from covering all the daily costs.   I’ve been working as an English teacher since 2005.   I love teaching and it helps divide the day.   Having time away from painting helps keep the ideas flowing.    The worst job I ever had was right after high school when I got a job working on the Jurassic Park Ride at Universal studios Hollywood.   For a very long and excruciating 2 weeks, I had to wear a safari hat, tapered tan cargo khakis, a jean shirt, LA gear boots, and a red scarf.   My job was to stand at the front of this very new and very popular boat/roller coaster like ride.   I was given this cane, you know like the cane that the old man in the movie used with the mosquito frozen in amber on the top.   I would use this cane to measure children.   If kids were smaller than the cane then It was my job to tell them that they were too small to get on the ride.   Basically, I was the harbinger of doom, making children cry all day long and having their parents yell at me in different languages because their child was too small to get on the ride.  That job fucking sucked and I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy watching Jurassic Park again.    

SOB: Do you have any skills apart from artistry?    

I used to be very good at mixing a respectable glass of Johnie Walker and soda.  However these days I’m drinking more coke zeros and soda waters than booze and hard liquor.

SOB: Is music an inspiration for you? If so, what genre(s) do you explore? What or who have you been listening to lately? Top 5 favourite albums?    

I don’t trust anyone who says they don’t listen to music or who have trouble answering the question,   “what kind of music do you like?”   Music is essential for living and definitely needed in the background while I work.   Underground hip hop or I suppose backpacker hip hop (as its called now) got the most play in my 89 Honda Accord as I would drive from skate spot to skate spot through the streets of Los Angeles in the late 1990s.   I love many types of music from Cuban Jazz to classic rock.  Soul, metal, indie, there’s a lot that I could name.    However, I’m constantly searching for new beats.  Cannibal Ox changed my life 12 years ago.  When I heard that dystopian sound along with the creative wordplay, I was hooked.   Most of the artists on the Definitive Jux label and the others related to them like DOOM, Blueprint, Illogic and those who were similar just made the music that fit the post 9-11 world.   I don’t want happy or upbeat music.  I like it dark, angry, and moving.   There’s only so much I can take listening to someone rhyme about cars, money and weed.  These days, it is Action Bronson, El-P, Danny Brown, and Doom of course.   I’ve actually been listening to a bit of “trap music”.  Any thing that has a lot of energy.  Many people seem to hate on dubstep but I don’t find it too bad.  I’ll take that over today’s pop music and radio rappers any day.  

SOB: Musically, who would you most like to see live that you haven’t yet? 

Most hip hop isn’t very fun to watch live so it is going to be something rock or electronic.   I would pay top dollar to see Radiohead play during the “Kid A” days.

SOB: Do you like film? Which genre(s) are you keen on? Top 5 favourites?  

I’m lucky to live in the bootleg capital of the world so its much cheaper for me to buy movies on the street than it is to sit in a Theater.  For about $1.50 I can get most movies and TV series.  So I watch new DVDs every other day.  I love dramas and thrillers.   Any thing with developed characters who aren’t typical.  Good writing and clever dialogue is the key.  If a movie is all CGI, mindless action, or predictable characters and plotlines then I check out immediately.  

SOB: Are you a bookworm? What are you currently reading? Top 5 favourite books? 

I love nonfiction and biographies.   At the moment I’m reading “the dark stuff” by Nick Kent which is based on selected writings on rock music from 1972-1995.   All the good drug stories of famous rockers.   If you want depravity and debauchery then I would recommend any book based on the LA hair metal scene of the 80s.

SOB: Is there another artist (living or dead) who’s skills you wish you could steal?  

I would steal the color choices, clean lines, and work ethic of Augustine Kofie (Kofie One), the imagination and sour ink of Alex Pardee, and the cartoon elements and collage style of Pose and Rime. 

SOB: Do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?  

I’ve always wanted to illustrate a creepy children’s book of rhymes.  Like a cross between Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and Max Fleischer.   Watch the “Cab Calloway St. James Infirmary” cartoon on youtube to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

SOB: If you won the lottery, would you still have the drive to make art?  

I’ve been living poor and happy for quite some time now.  Being able to disappear in a foreign country and watch the US from an outsiders’ perspective has only helped solidify my idea that many Americans are unhappy because they don’t have something to do.   Having something drive you to create is better than money because it keeps your mind occupied.   If I won the lottery I would just travel more with friends, buy an endless supply of Nike Cortez shoes, have a studio stocked with high quality paint, and I would get the Royal Canine brand dog food for my dogs to enjoy..   Other than that, I don’t see too much else changing.

SOB: Do you have any advice for young artists?  

If something’s not working on a painting then take it out and go over it.  Don’t get married to a bad idea.  Don’t be afraid to make changes.  There’s nothing worse than finishing a painting and knowing that it could have been a lot better.  

SOB: Is social media a good thing or a force of evil for artists? 

Who can complain about having a never ending supply of free stock images, free music, and free porn.

Link with Robin 'Agent Cortez' Wessberg HERE.

A big thank you to Robin for taking the time to talk to us and for sharing his excellent work! 

1 comment:

  1. What a smart 7-year Thailand fellow you are. Enjoyed the interview and the work as usual. My next question is: Do you think that one day you will revisit the USA just for a short while and check in with parents? Jane Davis


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