Left, Joey. Right, "Natasha" (graphite and gouache on toned paper)
Tell us a little bit about your process--how long does it take you to complete a piece?
I work pretty intuitively. There are times I feel like painting, times I feel like drawing and times I feel like cutting paper. It's hard for me to land on just one thing. I usually just jump into pieces; I don't do any preliminary sketches, but I gather reference material and go for it. I do end up scrapping a lot of work, I learn a lot from the pieces that don't work out.
As for reference material I look all over. For my portraits I work from people I know and usually take 100-200 images of them. Each piece can take anywhere from 8 to 30 hours for completion. The paper cuts usually take more time. I just finished the largest cut paper portrait I have ever done. It can be see in this video, by Christian Powers:
Do you have endless ideas or do you get "artist's block?"
I do get "artist's block." When I get blocked in regards to new work or new ideas I start doing nudes. It's really good to work through the "blocks." When I am having a hard time sitting down to work I go for a bike ride. I've always found that getting out there and riding around the city helps me greatly in re-centering and being productive in the studio when I get back to the studio.
Untitled Variant Limited Edition Print available through Joey's Indiegogo fundraiser
We hear you are trying to get to Iceland to study land formations! What turned you on to that specifically?
I am fascinated by Iceland. The land more than anything else there. The way the country was formed, how it is still forming and how it is continually changing (most of the time in small ways, but sometimes in explosive ways). I'm also intrigued by the way in which the ice interacts with and changes the land. The glaciers are moving at pretty rapid rates right now. It's insane to think of the way in which water erodes surfaces, what the land looks like now compared to what it looked like just five years ago. Land is amazing and this trip is just the start of a new body of work. The Indiegogo fundraiser is well under way!
What is your favorite piece that you have created?
Oh boy. I don't know. There are certain pieces I feel more affection for. I usually work on a piece and feel really good about it in process, then feel done and over it upon its completion. I think the piece I just completed is my favorite at the moment (the cut paper portrait mentioned earlier). It's currently untitled and not related to the new direction I'm headed with the landscape work.
"Hemlock" by Joey Bates
Which artists do you most admire?
• Lucian Freud
• Andrew Wyeth
• Keith Haring
• Egon Schielle
• Gala Bent
• Robert Hardgrave
If you could have one celebrity buy a piece of your work, who would it be?
Oi. I don't know. A large part of me doesn't care for celebrity. I don't really gawk over anyone other than my girlfriend and the amazing people I know. I would love for celebrities to start buying my work, dig out of debt a bit. Ha.
If you could only eat at one local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
There's a Thai place up north in Edmonds, Washington called Thai Cottage. The food is great and the staff is so amazingly nice. I could see myself stepping in every day feeling welcomed and good about where I'm at. I go every year for my birthday.
If you could live in any other location, where would that be?
Melbourne, Australia or Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I'd always come back to Seattle for visits. This is one of the most beautiful places on this planet and it's hard to think about leaving.
What do you do for fun?
Ride my bicycle, play MLB on the Wii (well actually I play the Wii to take a breather from long days at work), take walks with my girlfriend. I sound like such an old man, but we both live in great neighborhoods in Seattle: Ballard and Queen Anne.
You're stuck on a desert island which book do you want to have?
There is a book that has followed me most of my life in one way or another--Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
Thanks, Joey! View Joey Bates' website here and donate to his fundraiser for awesome treats and cool prints here.