Wet Stuff : The Art of Painting a Business

Guest Starring David Nakabayashi (4)

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Wet Stuff: The Art of Painting a Business
Episode 8
Guest-Starring Independent Visual Artist David Nakabayashi

visit www.davidnakabayashi.com 


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

David Nakabayashi, “I know. Do you like it? Do you feel good about it?”

KD Neeley, “I love it because my mother can buy artwork she like my father can buy artwork he likes and they’re not rich. Anybody I know who has a regular income can afford my artwork my art is for everyone my originals are not but the image itself if you love the image you can have it in some form. And I’ve been told, I have been told for example I’ve had somebody tell me Oh I’m just devastated that you put your artwork on magnets the more magnets you sell every time you sell a magnet it makes that image worth less and I don’t understand that way of thinking because if a 100,000 people have purchased a magnet of an image doesn’t that make the original worth more? Because it makes it famous it makes it something that people have proven that they adore if I’ve sold 100,000 magnets of that image what would somebody pay for the original and yet I’m told that there’s a restriction that makes art valuable so that the fewer people see it, the more it’s valued like having no reproductions this is the only one.”

David Nakabayashi, “Exactly which correlates with the exclusive restaurant thing we were talking about if you make the restaurant hard to get to everyone wants to go to it and you know that’s legitimate, but it’s a kind of calculation that I don’t know how to make.”

KD Neeley, “ultimately the person who decides is the person who’s willing to buy the painting.”

David Nakabayashi, “Right, I think that’s what it is, and my job really is to make the best painting I can and that’s hard enough right that’s hard to do I struggle with my own judgments about my own work every time I’m looking at the work I’m a harsh critic about my skills this is not good enough this is terrible I change this so I have to struggle with that just to get the image out there all I can do is just be present myself in an honest way try to speak clearly and coherently, and I’m not trying to sell myself but I want to explain to people whatever question they have I try to answer that question honestly I’m not a flashy sales guy I’m not trying to seduce people or anything like that I just want to present my work in an honest way and if there’s a market there if somebody wants to buy it then I would be perfectly happy to sell you a painting and that’s really all I really think about wouldn’t that be great?”

KD Neeley, “I’ve often had the sense that this hope I have this wish I have is that my artwork won’t be judged by me and my life and my decisions my hope is that my artwork whatever artwork I create will be innocent of the life that I live I hope that that’s the case I hope that somebody sees the image and they don’t even think about me that I”m not even in the question that they just have a relationship with that image.”

David Nakabayashi, “Maybe you’re just mysterious enigma or something, or maybe they try to find out who you are wouldn’t that be nice? If they were like who made this, I wonder I don’t know that’d be plenty.”

KD Neeley, “That would be fine but at the same time I want the artwork to speak for itself, I want to be invisible.”

David Nakabayashi, “And isn’t that why we are always struggling with it because it needs to stand alone We shouldn’t be explaining it we shouldn’t have to explain it right we shouldn’t have to say where it comes from or what motivated that.”

KD Neeley, “And we don’t necessarily have the chance When my artwork is on the wall, and somebody comes across it and they see it I have no say in what experience they have and what they see and what they translate now somewhere I may have an artist statement written, somewhere I may have a little epiphany about the painting is written where they can read it if they decide to read it, somewhere they may come across a podcast that I’ve done and heard something that I’ve said that painting or they may write to me and ask me about it but that moment that they come across the image, and it’s just them and the image, and they see it for the first time, that’s an experience I don’t have any connection to other than the coincidence that I made the painting at that time in my life but even once after we make a painting we change.”

David Nakabayashi, “right don’t you often do you like your paintings afterward?”

KD Neeley, “I go through stages.”

David Nakabayashi, “right.”

KD Neeley, “When the painting is finished I love the painting and I know it’s finished I have this moment where it’s like that is done I know it’s done I just know it’s done.”

David Nakabayashi, “then maybe a little later-”

KD Neeley, “maybe a little later-”

David Nakabayashi, “Some doubt comes in or-“

KD Neeley, “It’s not doubt it’s that I feel like well it depends on the painting when I was in my adolescence and still learning how to still developing my skills as an artist I went through these stages where I feel like it’s finished and then I felt so proud of it for a little while and then I would reach another point where I would see differently and once I would see differently that painting just became embarrassing.”

David Nakabayashi, “Exactly.”

KD Neeley, “Absolutely embarrassing and I didn’t want anybody to see it oh how was I ever proud of this? Oh, it’s shameful!”

David Nakabayashi, “Exactly how could I possibly. Right then you.”

KD Neeley, “I’m past that now, now when I finish a painting I never reach a state of shame I see these paintings and I don’t even feel like I’m the one who made them I’ve lost that personal relationship even that pride I don’t have that pride when I finish work anymore I’m just like that’s it that’s what it looks like it’s just a matter of fact, that’s what it looks like.”

David Nakabayashi, “I still I think I still struggle with it I mean I don’t know that it’s a struggle I have a love hate relationship and maybe it’s why I keep leaving my comfort zone I don’t know my paintings they’re constantly rotating in and out of acceptance with me I like them and then I don’t like them I find something flawed about them I don’t look at them for a while and then I see them again and I’m like who was the genius who painted this painting? I wouldn’t say it’s random but it really is constantly changing and I think that’s because I’m really self-critical but I also really like attention and we haven’t mentioned this about why would you do art why would you want to expand your audience I really like it when people like my work and tell me that they like it It’s a big thrill that’s not my motivation for doing it, but it’s like the biggest reward it’s even beyond sales it’s nice to sell a painting, but it’s even better when somebody just falls in love with it, and they tell you.”

KD Neeley, “I used to feel that way I remember I used to feel that way and that is a high it’s a fantastic high.”

David Nakabayashi, “It’s a kind of addiction for me the whole art thing is my addiction.”

KD Neeley, “I don’t feel that way anymore I lost that when I lost my shame I’m shameless now I look back on all of my work from every stage and nothing embarrasses me nothing I just see it as a growing process and in fact I’m willing to share it because I feel like it might be inspiring to somebody to see the process that you go through where the developmental stages that you go through between you know we were talking earlier today about anatomy Danielle asked me if I have trouble with anatomy and I do I am challenged by anatomy but I’m less challenged by anatomy than I used to be and when I was starting to do more realistic paintings I remember there was this angel standing in a graveyard she had like a torn shirt on and torn jeans and she was standing in this graveyard and she was giving one of her feathers to this stone it was this watercolor painting that I did and I was so proud of it when i was done she’s beautiful this is what her arms look like this is what her body looks like I got her wings to look real this is this angel and then about a year later I looked at it and I was like oh her anatomy is all wrong her head is this her arms are too long or whatever mistakes I could see I was I was so embarrassed by this painting that I was once so proud of I don’t know if I have a picture of that painting anymore but when I think back on that painting if I could find a picture of it I would share it immediately it wouldn’t bother me at all I wouldn’t be embarrassed by it but I would still see all the same mistakes like yeah her anatomy was wrong I didn’t understand the way the arm muscles were put together I didn’t understand the way that the abdomen was shaped or how many muscles in the abdomen I didn’t understand exactly where the breasts were supposed to be placed There was all this knowledge of anatomy that I just didn’t have at the time but whatever knowledge I had at the time that made me proud of it whatever shading I did or whatever point that I achieved that painting was a point of achievement the the way that I had painted it was a way that I wasn’t able to paint until I painted it I achieved something with color and value with paint that I had never achieved before and at that moment that I finished that painting it was amazing because it was a new accomplishment I had figured something out when I made that painting there were still things I had left to learn so many things I had left to learn that I would be ashamed of it soon but what I did learn made me proud of it when I finished the painting so I no longer feel ashamed about the idea of sharing that painting because I know this now.”

David Nakabayashi, “I feel the same way I can tell you about this portrait I did of my grandpa. And that happens if you sell work or give it away it’s out there and there’s really not a lot you can do about it it’s not that I would want anyone not to see it but it’s not a great portrait I was young I think I was probably still a teenager and I painted my grandpa from a photo and it was alright I was into airbrush at the time and so I did a whole bunch of portraits and you know they weren’t that great they weren’t very good I was young I didn’t know what I was doing they weren’t that great so I gave the painting to my mom and well she thought it was great it’s her dad and he’s sitting in his chair and he’s got his overalls on and this white shock of hair is turned up and he’s looking over at the viewer and to her it’s her dad and she has had that hanging for whatever 35 years and every timeI’ve gone to her house there it is every time there’s a family reunion everybody is gathered around that picture when she says my son is an artist she points to that painting and everyone’s all oh this is your art and yeah it was 35 years ago what does it matter here’s what you’re looking at they think it’s great and I went to visit her she moved to assisted living in Austin there’s the painting and sure enough staff come in and she says look here’s the artist he painted this painting he’s the artist who painted this painting and everyone says oh you’re the artist so really it doesn’t even matter what I think about the painting it is pleasing my mother for 35 years and it’s perfectly fine and so it really doesn’t even matter what I think about it anymore I always just say yes thank you thank you so much it’s been a great life too I have to say sure there are other easier more secure ways to go about life monetarily or even just emotionally but the same way I didn’t really choose to be an artist I don’t think I could ever choose not to be an artist I wouldn’t choose a different life.”

KD Neeley, “Right It’s not a choice it’s just what we are.”

David Nakabayashi, It’s not a choice I love it I love making art I always think about making art every time I look down at a scene I think about how is this an artistic or how could I make this into something or could I make a sculpture about this or is this a story I might write or make a movie about or is there a play happening here could I write a play about this? Everything is a creative way of looking at the world looking at the world through a creative lens I might achieve one out of every hundred ideas I have, but that’s not bad that’s not a bad way to go about things at least.”

KD Neeley, “There are worse things you could be doing with your life.”

David Nakabayashi, “Exactly.”

KD Neeley, “one of my favorite people is Willie Oteri he’s a jazz musician over in Austin and I interviewed him a while back for his own podcasts I was talking to him asking him questions about how to be a musician how do you make it as a musician because it has so many similarities to being an independent visual artist is being a musician, a musical artist and one of the things he said was I asked him something about criticism because I remember being an adolescent and hearing music I just despised I don’t have that experience anymore either with music where I hear something and I just can’t stand it but I used to and I used to love heavy metal and I don’t particularly love heavy metal anymore but I don’t hate it either it’s just kind of like noise but there was an emotional experience that i used to have when I would hear certain kind of heavy metal where it was just blow me away and I would be mesmerized and I would love it I would absolutely love it and the way that I adored music then is a way that I can adore music rarely now but I don’t hate music either I used to hate country music I would hear country songs and I would absolutely be in pain and I don’t have that experience anymore when I hear country music I don’t have that experience anymore when I hear any kind of music it’s almost like I’m numb but I remember hating music and thus hating the musicians who made the music having this artificial it’s like an artificial hate I’ve never met these people I don’t know anything about them or their lives I just hate their music it was an adolescent stage I asked Willie something about that I asked him how do you handle I don’t remember exactly the question I asked him but I remember his answer and his answer was I’m making music that’s what I’m doing with my life I”m making music there are worse things I could be doing it’s not like I'm killing people it’s not like I’m setting off bombs or shooting anybody in the head I’m making music I’m making art something people can adore something people can love it’s not a bad thing to do with your life it’s not a bad way to go.”

David Nakabayashi, “Not at all.”

KD Neeley, “yeah.”

David Nakabayashi, “well I’m going to keep doing it despite my episodes of depression just so you know I’m going to stick with it.”

KD Neeley, “Alright well thank you so much for coming here today.”

David Nakabayashi, “Thank you for having me it was nice.”

KD Neeley, “thank you for opening up and sharing your life.”

David Nakabayashi, “I appreciate the opportunity.”

KD Neeley, “I hope it inspires other artists I think it will.”

David Nakabayashi, “I hope it does too because that’s what we’re looking for all the time is a little inspiration.”

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