ANTA is an artist, clothing brand, and overall cultural conduit for the Coachella Valley. After making a name for himself at a young age in Coachella with Eye Skate Shop his work can now be seen across the valley with products in stores like Epidemic Skate Shop and Fresh Out The Box. This Friday he will be debuting new work in a solo show at Venus Studios Art Space.
Steven Preston: What can you tell us about your show this Friday, “Drawings of Stuff and Things” at the Venus Art Studio in Palm Desert? What kind of work can we expect to see?
ANTA: “Drawings of Stuff and Things” is a collection of various works ranging from drawings, to paintings to graphic designs and sculptures. It’s a presentation of the different kinds of works that I have done so far at this point in time. They are a collection of my personal drawings as well as compositional work for the A.N.T.A line. What you can expect to see is a lot of crude, very colorful and somewhat insightful bunch of graphic cartoons and illustrations that will definitely give you the giggles.
SP: How long have you been prepping for this show, what is the process of preparing for a show like for you?
ANTA: This is my first time having any kind of solo exhibition and the amount of work is much more than I had originally accounted for. A lot of the preparation all comes in getting everything display ready. Making the drawings and coming up with the concepts behind the work comes naturally. Figuring out where it all ties in together, what goes next to what and framing and wiring all of the pieces is where all of the work comes in. With the help of my girlfriend Allyson, I’m getting closer and closer to getting everything together and ready for the show.
SP: You produce a lot of merchandise, when did that start?
ANTA: As early as 2004. When I started A.N.T.A people started liking the designs and asking if I was going to put them on shirts… the rest is history. A.N.T.A slowly developed into a shirt line.
SP: What is it like to show your work in a commercial or product environment?
It’s kind of weird having your work presented as a commercial product but I never had any problems with this because for the most part A.N.T.A has been a one man operation in terms of art that goes on the garments. Having that control means I personally put in the effort to make sure that we’re releasing isn’t just crap for the sake of production.
SP: When you started producing in mass form did that change the way you work? Did your creative process change knowing that you’re creating something potentially to be reprinted and worn by other people?
We only recently started producing in mass quantities. Even now, it’s my main effort to make sure what we’re leasing is dope! A lot of it is produced here in the valley too! From time to time, I personally still sew on tags and help the homies, Aaron Hansen and Rick Rodriguez when printing the shirts.
As for the creative process, it’s all the same. The only thing is the A.N.T.A line is consuming a lot of my time and it does affect how often I produce personal work – but that’s why I don’t sleep, to get as much work done as possible. I still find time to develop ideas for new products and new paintings. I feel like they both feed into each other, the shirt graphics sometimes start to look like the paintings and the paintings start to look like the shirt graphics.
SP: You collaborate with a lot of other artists it seems, what do you like about creating with other artists?
ANTA: I like collaborating for one simple reason; it’s just fun for me to work with others. I like seeing what ideas they have I like getting feedback on my ideas or giving my two cents on some of their ideas. Developing ideas and works together is a fun process; it’s a nice change of pace to working alone in my cave.
SP: A lot of your work references common social evils that are a part of every day life, like alcohol, cigarettes and junk food. Where does that come from?
ANTA: All of the most recent stuff is a combination of my refusal to grow up and my immature perspective on people and life itself. The alcohol, food, and cigarette references all reflect the idea of what I once that was cool as a kid, now becoming a grim reality of life long depressing and self destructive behavior. Almost as soon as I turned 18 I got a job and in that working environment I started seeing people and our behaviors in a totally different light. I began to see the reality of everything my friends and I were doing now and what was soon to be; the “cool guy” who never gave up partying is now some fat guy stacking boxes and cat calling under aged coworkers, the now 30-something wild party girl with 5 kids and no father to the children, the obese guy who can’t put the cheeseburger down and all of the lively characters that made up my work environment… realizing the people who make up the world around me.
I think that’s the best way to put it, these works reflect my transition into adulthood and the reality of the people around me and all of our different behaviors.
SP: What is your connection and relationship with the Coachella Valley?
ANTA: I was born in Indio and raised in Coachella. Growing up here in the desert, pretty much only in Coachella, is what made me who I am. I’m a desert rat born and raised.
SP: Who/what inspires you?
ANTA: The people that inspire me are the people around me. I’m constantly observing myself and others and taking bits and pieces from everyone – constantly observing. Other artists who have inspired me are all of the sticker/street artists I worked with back in the day. The local artists I continue to work with now and the artists whose work I admired and whose newer works I continue to admire also. I feel like a sponge sometimes, I’m constantly soaking up everything that’s presented to me.
SP: What do you like to do when you’re away from creating art?
ANTA: That’s a tough one; unfortunately right now all I do when I’m not working on the A.N.T.A line or my personal work all I do is work for others. I’m a graphic designer at a Screen Printing/ Embroidery shop in Palms Springs and I put up with extreme couponers and hot headed managers at a grocery store. Occasionally I find time to knock back a few, maybe go cruise on my skateboard (crossing my fingers that I don’t get plowed again), or stay at home and catch up on some Simpsons reruns.
SP: What’s the most common misinterpretation of the acronym A.N.T.A.?
ANTA: Most common misinterpretation of A.N.T.A is Anti Ninja Turtle Association. It’s actually Anti Ninja Turtle Alliance. How I got to that name is a whole other boring story to tell! Ha-ha!
SP: Top 3 tips to enduring the upcoming summer heat?
ANTA: Three tips for beating the heat? Tank tops, sun screen and sherbet.
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