OverUnder’s work explores the relationships people have with things that can be overlooked. In his exhibition "My Sentiments Abstarctly", OverUnder takes notice to the tenacious weed, the abandoned building, the quiet worker, the personal story, to continue his dialogue with public space, and those that struggle to better it. We recently caught up with our November artist OverUnder to learn more about his recent exhibition, where he got his name, and where he's traveled to over the years. Read the full interview with the Reno artist below.
Athen B: OverUnder is a fun unique name to get up with. Where did it come from?
OverUnder: Originally I wrote Nevs but when I moved to NY in 2007 I didn't want to push a name that was up by two other writers. I wrote Nevada for a minute but it just felt too long. OverUnder is way longer although I rarely hit that up. Instead I pushed my simple birds as a way to make non-letter based graffiti and stand out amongst the chaos of non-legible legibility. As the world progressed more into a social media fueled reality and less of a shoe box under your bed one, the name OverUnder got linked up to my work.
Whats the story behind why every so often you change your name from ou 35 - ou36 on pieces?
Since I never really understood or liked being OverUnder I wanted to slowly disintegrate the name. OverUnder quickly became OU. Then to differentiate my growth I would add my age to the end. So technically now I just hit OU37.
Where was home before Reno? Didn't you used to live in The Bay?
Oh man, too many places. Seattle, Olympia, Sparks, LA, Brooklyn, and yes SF for a little less than a year. I would have stayed longer but Other (Troy Lovegates) and I met in Lisbon, Portugal and biked across Europe to Copenhagen for 50 days. Somewhere in the middle my girlfriend in SF broke up with me and instead of coming back to SF I just moved back to NY. I can't blame her. Artsy boyfriends are tools. Sorry Tay.
How did you get started as a full time artist? Did you go to school? What were the steps to get to where you are now?
I kinda took the right steps. Just in all the wrong places. But becoming an artist was always the passenger seat. I studied Digital Media at the Uni in Reno. Once I finally graduated I got into Parsons on a great scholarship for their Design + Technology masters program. It wasn't until graduating and working a year coding that I really started to pursue painting.
Are there any artists working right now that have caught your eye?
Tons! Bosoletti, Ruinz, Jean Nagai, NDA, Sebas Velasco, Manolo Mesa, Axel Void, JohnXC, Lunar New Year, No Touching Ground....
Where do the paper planes come from? What do they signify?
They came from the folds on the back of an envelope. I used to mail friends a lot and started drawing envelopes flying through the air. Over time I simplified the illustration into a one-liner and it became my bird/paper plane/envelope. More recently I replaced the top line with text to be able to expand on "my tag".
What about the title of your solo exhibition "My Sentiments Abstractly", where did that come from?
I'm kind of a dork when it comes to wordplay. I also do a bad job articulating so words get mashed together often. Originally I wanted to do a show about being a new dad so the theme of "sentimental" was weighing on me. A lot of parents were saying 'enjoy and remember this time with her because it will be over before you know it'. My memory is pretty terrible so I was thinking about how sentimentality is really just a glorified snippet of factual history. This led into the title which signifies abstracted instead of exact memory.
You've worked, painted and traveled with some of the worlds most lucrative and interesting creatives minds in today's art world. Have any of these individuals give you any advice you still hold onto?
Definitely. I can't think of any direct advice but I've picked up more on their principles and the examples they set. I've worked with Joseph Delappe on a few projects and he's taught me to keep a healthy distrust of the art world while focusing on impacting real people. Mierle Laderman-Ukeles taught me to get dirty in the process and laugh a lot. JohnXC in Norway taught me about being giving and my step dad taught me always have a second exit.
Do you have any fun chase stories?
Fun? More like heart palpitating! I actually have too many and they all take so long to tell. If you really want to hear one I'll tell you over a beer.
How has it been being the stay at home artist dad? Any positives or negatives?
It's been amazing! It's taught me so much about time management. It's actually helped my practice so much because I've been focusing more on concepts and processes that work as opposed to experimenting.
Any 2016 goals?
No goals, no masters.