Can you talk about how pop culture influenced your vision at an early age?
Those were pre-internet days… also it was before cable TV. I didn't have much contact with the art world at all. All I knew of art was Saturday morning cartoons and advertising. That definitely shaped what I liked to draw as a kid.
How did attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago elevate your vision/process?
It actually didn't so much, it was a weird time. Photoshop 2.0 had just come out. The teachers were already really old school and didn't want anything to do with it. I had to take a class on how to draw type. They wanted you to either major in graphic design or fine art. I do not care for painting landscapes so I just went for graphic design. I always loved portraits, but one teacher told me not to bother unless I wanted to spend my life down at Navy Pier doing caricatures for tips. I actually stopped doing artwork for almost a decade because I was pretty discouraged. After the internet gained mass popularity, and connected us all, it made me realize I could do whatever I wanted, without depending on anyone else to show my work or "employ" me. I embraced the way I wanted to do art.
You mention “horror movies, Barbie dolls, Hollywood, and reality tv” as references. How have these cultural phenomenons become touchstones in your work?
I love taking iconic images and twisting them in parody, or just painting them because it's stuck in my head. I paint for myself. It's stuff that makes me happy. Sometimes an idea just makes me laugh, and that is reason enough.
Golden Girls, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol are some of the pins offered at ToF store. Can you talk about the crossover of queer culture and pop culture?
I think we are just way more visible now. There is a lot more gay representation on TV and in media. I don’t think I can answer that objectively. Im queer, so I see the queer pop culture more because its what I relate to.
What about pop art as erotica? Is this a common union, or do you find it to be more transgressive?
I think porn can be art for sure. I'm sure in the old days people beat off to the statue of David, but it was— you know… “art”. I love that people used art as a way to get around feeling guilty for wanting porn. Or at least that's kinda how I see it, ha-ha. I love that now it's more in your face… and I think erotica and pop art go well together. I think what makes someone sexy is a little sense of humor. Pop art definitely has that.
I love the “nudes” print, available via mug, card, or magnet… What inspired that design?
I wanted to do nudes in my style because I just thought it would be fun. I didn't have a goal in mind really… I wanted to paint guys of all shapes, but I couldn't find enough guys to model for me with all kinds of different body types, and were willing to do full nudes. Most guys I asked wouldn't because they were worried about their acting careers... ha-ha. I'm like, have you even seen my art, seriously. I had all the guys model for me for reference pics. It was really interesting being on the other side of the camera… until then, I was always the one getting photographed naked.
In a way, Tom of Finland created his own version of pop art. If applicable, can you talk about your relation to that artist?
I think Tom’s main message to me is be gay and own it. Tom was certainly talented and is iconic. I love how the Foundation brings queer artists together.
Has living in the gay pop art capitol Palm Springs changed your work?
It hasn't changed my work, but it's given me a wonderful place to have a gallery/store to show it off!! I’ve got a great space at 386 N Palm Canyon Drive.
Has the genre changed in the new millennium?
I'm not sure. I think it's more accepted by mainstream culture than it was back when Lichtenstein or Warhol started. I think things like photoshop, illustrator, 3D printers, etc. have all become a part of modern day pop art. But it's still the same at the core to me. I think art will always progress with the newest tools available.
Will you be making art that addresses the current pandemic? Is it pop culture?
It could fall under pop culture for sure. I don't think I'd want to try to do any art based on our current situation, because to me it wouldn't feel right. I like taking dark imagery, like the Horror Banana series, and making it fun. I think this current situation is so serious, I feel like it would be disrespectful to try to make it funny. I'd rather distract people with my art of naked men!
How has the California lockdown affected your production/process?
It’s stopped me. It's a mental block. I only opened my gallery/store 7 weeks ago. So I, like millions of small business owners, am applying for small business disaster loans. It’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of waiting. I should be working on new ideas, but I'm so worried about trying to get through this I can't focus. I have learned one major thing about myself over the years— don't force it! It's a good time for me to work on other things that have been pushed aside for my business… projects around the house, gardening…
What can we look forward to from Trevor Wayne in the future?
I want to make a line of hats and socks. I just want to focus on branching out. Making more fun items that my art lends itself well to.