When I met Dalek in 2003, ostensibly for Mass Appeal #24, I was already a huge fan of his work. I was just tuning into contempory/post-graffiti/outsider art and at the time, his colorful and perfectly round Space Monkeys, with their glassy eyes, and occasionally wielding little knives, really spoke to me. Mass Appeal sent me to do a little feature on his Vanimal Zoo vinyl figures, but I was really just a big fan, super excited to peek into his home studio, and pick up some toys. Dalek’s story illustrates that it doesn’t hurt to email an artist whose work you like, and see what happens next, even if that artist is Takashi Murakami. So nearly seven years later, I shot James Marshall another email asking if he’d be down to do an interview here, and much to my surprise, he was.
Where are you today? At home typing on the computer at the moment.
Are you still living and working in Brooklyn? No…I moved to Raleigh NC a little over 2 years ago. Much more room to breathe… Brooklyn is a great place, I enjoyed my years there but it was time to move on.
What are you working on? Various things. Nothing too exciting…mostly paintings for private collectors. Not too many shows or projects planned right now fir 2010. Keeping it loose enough to see what pops up.
What is your favorite recent work? Hard to say…I don’t really pick favorites amongst what I do, I just enjoy the process of working and making things. I don’t give it much thought after that. I’m always sort of focused on the next thing.
Where have you been finding inspiration lately? All over. It’s everywhere. I don’t tend to specifically identify something as inspirational or not. Things strike you in different ways at different times. I let it sort itself out.
Right. When did you decide to pursue art as a career? Probably about 10 years ago…late 1999, early 2000.
How did you go about becoming Takashi Murakami’s assistant? I emailed the studio and they emailed me back and told me to drop by. It just sort of worked out from there.
Do you currently have assistants who apprentice with you in the same way? I have had a single assistant on and off for years. Right now I am working by myself. At some point I need to bring in more people to help. We’ll see how that goes…
Your artwork has evolved stylistically in the years that I’ve been following your work. It seems that you’re working with a lot more colors, patterns, shapes, and textures. Do you care to talk about the process of that evolution? Evolution is simply evolution… I think work changes as people change. As life changes, the world changes. I think its about exploration and information. Figuring things out and then figuring them out more.
Do the Space Monkeys still embody the same spirit they did when you first started exploring their universe? That’s a definite. They are just off on their own journey right now, running around behind those landscapes…
Paintings aside, have you been working with any new media? I’ve been working a bit more in Illustrator on things, exploring ideas in that medium as a little more of a finished product.
Do you have anything on the horizon for 2010? Like I said…pretty open at the moment. There are things going on for sure, but better to wait and see, I figure.