Unedited Interview with legendary Dr. Revolt By RPH

Dr. Revolt has been decorating the streets of New York City with his ‘psychedelic’ spray paint stylings since the mid-seventies. Here, in this completely unedited interview, Dr. Revolt discusses his upcoming live art installation at the upcoming Sneaker Project (March 29 & 30) being held at the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. (Interview conducted by Ryan Patrick Hooper)


Where am I speaking to you from?

I’m in my laboratory lair type of space. I’m reviewing an episode of the Simpsons and I’m eating lunch. I’m having rice and beans.

The strangest thing about sneaker culture is that everyone appreciates it – from the mainstream to the hipsters to the young kids and everyone in between, everyone adores a well designed, different looking pair of sneakers. What do you think the mutual attraction is?

I think it’s a utilitarian thing straight up. Lifestyle – people got tired of wearing these bad shoes that do nothing but cause pain. The technology – we have much better technology available. Also you have the whole styling thing. Everyone wants to be fly and super fresh and looking good. With all the many shoes and many different styles, many different styles of sneakers…natural progression there. 50 years ago, you weren’t wearing the right shoes…if you came out with Chuck Taylors, people would say, “You can’t come in here for dinner with those shoes.”

Have you ever worked with sneakers before?

I actually have work in the Puma Clyde book and I’ve worked on a couple of Puma campaigns for the Yo! MTV Rap cross over sneaker. I’ve done some advertising for that. Upper Playground put out a limited pair of hi-tops and oxford cut with my work on it about two years ago.

Was the experience enjoyable?

Yeah, I would like to do it again. I would like to have a little bit more control over the design and how it’s actually done up. But yeah, I’m totally game to do another one.

You’ve worked with a lot of different mediums, but what is your particular favorite?

Favorite medium to work with…well, it’s a toss up between the traditional tools of cartooning and illustration – the pen, the brush, the pencil, the marker and the spray can.
I mean, that’s where it happens. Concept, pencil, marker and then spray paint.

What’s the big difference between being a pirate graffiti artist and being a refined designer? What changes do you find yourself making to fit the mold of designers instead of being out in the streets and tossing something up on the subway train?

As a designer, I get paid (laughter). The graffiti art, generally, we do not get paid for if it’s actually true graffiti meaning if it’s illegal, public view, shouldn’t be doing it, private property, etc. I don’t do that so much anymore at this point. I do pieces but its all hunky dory cool stuff. They want me to paint there. Got to get paid, got to work, you know?

Is there types of artistic changes that you make or do you bring your street mentality?

I always adapt. That’s part of the thing about being a graffiti artist is that we’re always adapting to the surfaces or so-called mediums or media – to the surface of whatever it is. When I paint a train, it’s different than when I paint a wall. Trains didn’t have any bottoms so the pieces rested on the bottom of the train one way or another. With the walls, you have to have a little bit more design. And sometimes, you have to adapt to the different styles of wall.

How would you describe your artwork to someone who has never witnessed it?

Colorful, figurative, psychedelic, delirious. Well, I’ll let other people say that. I don’t say that about myself. I try to be a little bit more modest. You are only as good as your last piece.

Your art can be seen everywhere from the streets to the gallery to the corporate display. How does it feel to not only be appreciated by the unknown, but also have the corporate world take a look at your work and put a price tag on it?

I think they put price tags on everything. So I don’t feel like they are singling my out that way. But I think that it’s like a partnership and branding in the sense that these corporations want to perpetuate the young, hip, fresh styling. They want to reach back and do mini-lines based upon a concept they have. They want to do sub-lines within lines and limited edition, limited number of products. It’s all a whole crazy sneaker culture thing. It’s like guys standing in lines for days to get a pair of some limited edition 25, 100 pieces available type thing. They are trying to help feed the buzz and create buzzes. By doing this with the co-branding and what they consider to be in vogue and in hip and maybe not necessarily right in the middle of the center, but off center. It makes them look cooler and hipper. I’m not saying that they are not. It’s definitely a co-branding thing. I think it helps the artists, it helps the companies and it helps everyone. It helps them generate more buzz because they have all these limited edition products.

What appeals to you about coming out to Detroit for this charity event and what will you be doing for the art installation?

I think it’s a good cause and part of the so-called ‘culture.’ Mr. Tristan gave us the big heads up and said, “Come on, it’s going to be fun! We’re going to party!” That, too. What are we going to do there? We’re going to do some live painting I believe. I’m not exactly sure. I just talked to Tristan and I think we’re going to have a meeting sometime next week and figure out what we’re going to do and take it from there.

What do you think you’ll take away from the experience of having your artwork literally create opportunities for inner city kids?

Hopefully I’ll have a personal sense of satisfaction of a job well done and being able to help those in need. It’s a terribly good cause. I think that is basically the point of us doing it. What do I take away from it? Hopefully a slight hang over.

What was some of the art around your neighborhood that really got you into the scene and really got you into the idea art?

As a kid, I was really into comics, science fiction and horror movies. Growing up in New York City in the late sixties and early seventies, I saw a lot of the original graffiti art come into play alongside the pop art movement – Peter Max and Warhol and the rest of those guys. I’ve been exposed to a lot of the stuff on one side, yet on the other side, doing this graffiti thing and seeing graffiti in my neighborhood. Growing up with it and being friends with graffiti artists before I even got into it. I mean, it’s varied. I’ve got low art. I’ve got middle ground art. I’ve got supposedly your high art. And I find a little bit from everything. I find that I might not like everything, I might not understand everything, but if I give it a chance, I can at least get a gleam of what’s the highlight off of it and I store it in my memory. Hopefully this will give you some sort of inspiration for future days. I see that as inspiration. | DetroitArtist.org

Comments are closed.