Please Fuck Me Paintings
Tall with a bushy head of gray-brown hair, Ellis had an easygoing vibe as we talked about writing, art, and the new explicit direction of his pithy canvases, which are full of unmistakable punk rock and pop culture references, appropriated and flatly subverted to create a cartoon universe that is all their own.
What made you move in this kind of sexualized direction?
I wanted to make people uncomfortable so they would have to either say something or leave or… I wanted to get some sort of reaction rather than just have typical boring pieces.
This isn’t everything you’ve ever done, of course?
No, there’s like stacks, works on paper. (We head to another room in the studio) These are pages and pages of morning sketches, just one after another and they’re all on different paper, thousands and thousands - those are coming out in three volumes of books called Doing Lines with David Craig Ellis.
What was the style of music that you did?
Oh, really hard rock.
Like heavy metal almost?
No, like rock n’ roll, let me get you a cd. Do you have a cd player? I have boxes and boxes. That’s a Nitromusk cd - it’s like a very strong sexual odor.
I’m surprised you don’t do cartooning, you clearly have an interest in it.
I don’t want to try to be funny, you know? There’s those comics like Doonsbury where there’s not really a punchline, or a joke at the end. That I could do, but… the books I’m going to be coming out with are pretty much cartoons with no punchline. They’re funny like these are funny, but you don’t really have to get in on the joke, you can just be like, okay, this is funny.
More humorous, tongue-in-cheek. So how are you approaching finding press for this?
I have a gal who’s supposedly this great writer, but she’s kind of fallen off and disappeared. I may just write the press release myself. The press release would be the jumping off point. Basically it would be the truth, short and sweet. And the truth is, I’ve had a horrible year. I’ve been making these fun paintings, and they’re still fun and poppy and immediate but while I was making these, my building was on fire, I got evicted, I lived the whole winter with no hot water and no heat, and eventually I had to leave that building.
Was this in Brooklyn?
Yeah… I was run off the road. My studio flooded three times. That was all filled with water, it fucked up all my shit. I’ve thrown away a truckload of stuff, it ruined a lot. I was audited by the state. They came and went through all my books and went through all my shit. I went broke…. So all this shit has been happening over the past year. But the point is, through all of that, I’ve managed to adhere to making fun art, not letting it affect my work— I mean I’ve kept making this stuff and it’s still a lot of fun. So that could be the basis of a story, right there. That’s the sort of pitch, here’s a guy living out of his truck— I live out of a pickup truck now.
Really? I would just live here [at the studio].
Well, yeah, I mean I stay at my girlfriend’s sometimes, I mean I shower there or whatever. I wash my hair in the sink here sometimes. But for the most part, I’ve got a bag of laundry right here, this is all my laundry. Bag of clean t-shirts here.
Just livin' some life.
It really went down the tubes. Everything went down the tubes. And it was all stuff that was just bad luck.
You’ve basically been struck by lightening, that’s really intense.
There have been a couple of different women who claim to have put spells on me. So I’ve been doing some spiritual battle.
You’ve been hexed!
(laughs) I’ve been fighting it, spiritually. I’m burning a money candle, which I charged, with a Wiccan sort of thing.
You need a thousand candles, and a cat. Me and my friend joke that my cat casts counterspells for me all the time, and I’m like starting to sort of believe it.
I need to get that cat. Did you bring that cat with you?