Krystopher Sapp: “Our Guns Never Tire”

2011-08-05 21.03.06I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw that Violet Hour was promoting a mixed media assemblage for their August showing at the Fullerton Art Walk. What does an assemblage look like? Imagine discarded toys that have been converted into detailed depictions of a fictional creation. It is all spawned by the mind of Krystopher Sapp, whose roots as a local artist branched out as he attended Fullerton High from 87-91.  His career in art first started at Black Hole Records right off of Harbor Avenue, and since then Sapp has illustrated band posters for bands like The Adolescents, The Damned, and Tiger Army.

How long have you been doing art?

I’ve been actively doing art in the galleries for about a good ten years. I do have an art background. The reason I [originally] wanted to become an Illustrator was because of the comic book craze in the mid 80’s, early 90’s. I was doing my illustrations but it was very scratchy like you would look at with a Rudimentary Peni cover or underground stuff. That’s what my illustrations were like. It wasn’t clean, flowing lines like the industry would want.

You mentioned Rudimentary Peni. Are you heavily influenced by punk music? It doesn’t come across in your art work.

2011-08-05 20.09.14No I like punk, but really… for me? Honestly I did five years at black hole records with Bill Evans. I was a customer when I was 17, and when the opportunity presented itself I worked with him. He really mentored me in a lot of stuff because when you’re growing up with art or music, you’ve kind of just got blinders on. He taught me stuff and I actually met a few cool punk bands, and because of his connections I was able to work doing band posters for some punk and psychobilly bands. So for me, music wise, it’s not just punk. I like classical some classical stuff, some 70’s stuff, and some of the 80’s and 90’s experimental industrial stuff that came out of from Chicago.

So music was part of the basis for your art career I guess, huh?

Yeah a little bit, because you get to zone out and think of things. Prior to that, I was playing with military miniatures and painting them. I would get the magazines and the books and I would have this military figurine, but in the picture it would be different. I’d think, “Why is it different? It looks exactly like the figure that I have, but his legs and arms are like this”. That’s how I learned about conversion. That’s cutting wedges out of elbow areas and bending it in more. So I started learning about that, which actually propelled me to do it more, and then I wanted to see where it could take me. But I’ve always liked some the three dimensional art work that I saw.  In general, all of the 3D artists, we learn from one another. I have just have boxes and boxes of men, canons, figures, and stuff.

Where do you collect the objects from? Are these all toys that you’re taking and reusing?

Some of these toys that I’ve found are completely broken. I’ll think, “what can I scrap of this?”, before I throw it in the trash. Or I’ll go to garage sales and flea markets to find stuff. [One time] when my bike was falling apart and I went to the bike store and said, “Listen. I know you’re probably just going to throw this stuff away here. Is there any way you could break apart the gear assembly for me”? That’s when I started doing a series called “Gears” where I try to blend inorganic with organic materials.

2011-08-05 20.07.22Where’s your head at when you create a new piece and mutate these objects?

I just think about what I can do for the theme, and then I imagine it more and more. Sometimes it’s influenced by what I’m reading, or even a video game. I might see a color and get fixated on it in the video game. I’ll start thinking about it more and more. I guess Terry Gilliam is a big influence for me too (Time Bandits, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Just about anything that’s visually stimulating for me; I use.

I know some artists are very meticulous, but it sounds like you take a theme as you’re going, and then you tweak the details as you go?

Yeah sometimes I’ll sit there and have everything mapped out. I’ll have my sketches around me and it doesn’t work. I have to take a few things out, and then a certain piece I thought would work, didn’t work. Then I’d work on another piece and it would be off in the opposite direction. I’ll have all my study pieces out and everything just flows.

How long did it take you to do one of the larger pieces on display? I saw one where the devil is main figure.

Oh, Dante’s Inferno? Dante’s Inferno was actually done in seven days. No pun intended in any religious meaning.

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