Justin Aerni

by Horror Sleaze Trash on November 12, 2011

Pussy Galore” at the Hyaena Gallery in Burbank CA, Opening night Sept.22nd.

Scary-Art Collective Big Halloween Show at Sideshow Studio’s in Sacramento CA.. Opening night October 8th.



HST – Your work often mashes with words and imagery, how important is the text side of things to your work?

JA – I’m using words a lot more in my work these days. I like purposely miss- spelling words and adding extra letters to the front and back of a word. Give’s it a more unique “AERNI” look to it. I think my characters in my paintings are talking more when in the past they were just awkwardly staring out at the viewer. So yeah it’s become an important part of my newer style.

HST – You also have a new collection of poetry coming out, whats the news on that? How would you explain your poetry style? (any samples to tease us with?)

JA – Yes , I’m self publishing my third book of poetry because I have total artistic control over the layout , what I can say and pricing. If my fans want a copy I’d rather they get it signed directly from me. I would say my poetry style is like a early Leonard Cohen mixed with a drunk and angry Henry Miller.

HST – You are self taught, with no academic school back ground, I fucking like that – untouched by the bullshit, you feel that this is a benefit or a hindrance in the scene?

JA –Well I agree with you. I have no student debt load which is nice. I’ve always though of art school as a big joke. All my friends who went to art school have told me they wish they could have used all that money and invested it in themselves for branding and what not. Yeah you might get some local connections and shows from going to art school but I feel you can do the same and faster just by selling your work online. I’m sure there are some exceptions out there but I’m just telling you what I’ve learned.

HST – Are you paranoid or are they really out to get you?

JA – Honestly I think everyone is a little…so yes, but not as much as I used to be. Having a kid will make you twice as paranoid guaranteed! I’ve been tricked by the one’s closest to me and have had some run ins with the cops.. I’ve never talked about this in an interview before but I’ve been in some psych wards and there’s nothing glamorous there.. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I feel people get isolated there away from the world and their friends and become more depressed and suicidal.. It’s weird feeling like you could be crazy and it’s getting worse but not enough yet to be in there.. I mean how do you explain that ? I guess I can’t explain myself. I tried..

HST – You also photograph and sculpture, do you find some mediums offer more freedom or restrictions? pros and cons for either right?

JA – I don’t really don’t do any photography anymore but sculpting is a nice break when I get too burned out with painting. Sculpting actually seems to be faster for me and it’s nice to bring my character’s to life in 3d which is very gratifying.

HST – “The Lowbrow Art movement arose from Los Angeles like a cartoonish middle finger aimed at the established art regime of the 1970s and 1980s” is how The Hyaena gallery described the rise of the lowbrow movement, you agree?

JA – Yeah, that was Bill Shafer who said that and he’s a pretty bright fire cracker if you know what I mean. Yes I agree with that and the “safe for kids” cute shit is the only shit that get’s seen on a main stream level. That and street art which I feel is on minute 14 out of 15 in “fame minutes.” I know lots of kind of really edgy / say whatever they fucking want , this is my message and fuck you if you don’t like it , kind of artists sell out and go soft and mostly do children’s art now. For me it seems to be the opposite when I first started everything was kinda dumb and cute.. I’m not sure if their was really any message and I guess it’s been getting darker and more subversive as the years go on. . I guess it’s just me getting more and more .. I don’t know angry or sexually frustrated or what.. bitter maybe. I’m sure lots of my early fans are feeling pretty alienated by now.

HST – Your studio looks like a fucking mad house. How do you ever get work done, haha.

JA – I usually splatter paint on the walls when I’m in a new place. Helps me feel like it’s mine and kind of safe in a way. I think if I was stuck with boring white walls I probably wouldn’t get anything done.

HST – The proccess is just as, if not more important than the finished piece? The madness kinda sets the stage ‘ay?

JA – I’m always trying new techniques and trying to get a slightly different look then stuff I’ve done in the past. I’m always trying not to fall into the never ending pit of just imitating what I’ve done before. It helps me from getting bored.. and old. I always get that question in interviews but I never really know how to answer it.. maybe some day. ha. Yeah madness or chaos.. help to bring the raw emotion into the work.

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