Q&A: Art of Chase
How does a brand attain that elusive cool factor that resonates with customers? One strategy is to work with influencers or set up shop in a town like West Hollywood where it’s baked into our DNA. Another is to collaborate with people who make their living creating things that disrupt our daily lives and make us look at things a little differently aka The Artist. Their work can make us feel things … disturbed, happy, melancholy, nostalgic. In the case of artist Chase Erachi, he strives to make us feel happy and optimistic.
I first discovered Chase’s work last month working on a West Hollywood Selfie Tour piece. His #PatternPark made me feel happy as my friend Rachel and I shot some photos early that Sunday morning. When I interviewed him, it made even more sense why this park made me feel some type of way and full disclosure, I may have fangirled just a little bit.
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What is unique about your art and the pieces you create?
I guess what’s unique about my art is that it predominantly lies in public spaces. It is optimistic, and the intent is to bring a happy atmosphere to an otherwise bland area or building. I think that is pretty unique as far as my art goes.
What about the eyeballs?
The symbol of the eye throughout the ages has always symbolized awareness, right? It also has a psychadelic connotation. For me, it’s derivative of a character that I created called the “awareness geezer.” Now it’s just sort of become a part of my DNA to always include an eyeball or eyeball pattern.
How did you end up doing Pattern Park in West Hollywood?
The public arts commissioner contacted me and explained that West Hollywood is doing an initiative called “micro parks” which incorporate art elements like painting and sculpture, etc. into public spaces. This lot was one of these areas that they had in mind. We had a meeting, and they said, “Look, if you’re into it we want you to think of something. How would you transform all these sidewalks and the parking booth?” So, I came up with a concept that would represent the playfulness of West Hollywood and the diversity of its inhabitants and it all came together that way.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
I don’t think there was ever a realization that I wanted to be an artist. It was more that I knew wanted to make things. For me, that came through skateboarding. Back then it was — and it still is — a very “do-it-yourself” movement. Seeing the magazines and the graphics, and the clothing styles and the videos made me feel like, “Hey you can make things too! Do what do you want to do! Make what you want to make.”
After doing something for a long time, you sort of become that activity. You become an artist because of all the action you take.
What piece are you best known for?
That’s hard to quantify. How do you measure it? How do I know if a mural has been seen today by 10,000 eyes or 20 eyes? But here is a piece called “We are all One” in Venice (CA) that’s been photographed a lot. It was in a music video that’s been watched 140 million times already.
When you need your personal art fix, where do you go?
I like to go to museums and just delve in. Here in LA, I like LACMA and The Broad. In Paris, I go to the Louvre. You never know what little idea the artist pondered over to developed a particular piece. Maybe there is a lesson in there and I like trying to figure it out.
With the right eye you see the beauty in all things. Anything can be art.
If you could paint anything anywhere, where or what would it be?
Ha! That’s a good question. I think I would want to do something totally out of context right in the middle of nature. What I would really like to paint is a whole rock section somewhere like Joshua Tree. I understand that these are important rocks protected in a national park and tell us so much about our history but there are so many of them! There is an endless amount … let me paint one of these rocks. I think that would be amazing. Imagine that you are in the desert and see your campground … some cacti … then surprise – a fully painted rock!
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Now that is an “Inside the Actors Studio” question. That’s sort of like asking, “If you weren’t a banana, what fruit would you be?” What would I love to make other than make art? If I wasn’t a painter, I would want to be a film director. Or a writer. Or a musician. I would still have to make stuff. It would need to be a gig where I can be in control of what I create. I’ve never had a job, I’ve always chosen this as my business. I don’t want to be told what to do.
Interesting, because you do work with some really big brands, how do you balance their business goals with your art?
All of these clients have agencies and they come to me because they already like what I do and it is often a truly a collaborative effort. For a lot of brands it may be the first time they are working with a street artist. Some of their initial ideas may be a bit obvious. They might say “Let’s just do this!” That’s where the collaboration comes in. It’s fun helping each other forward, seeing what their exact goal is and then working together toward the end goal.
What’s coming up next for you?
I will be in China later this month. I will be joining artists Futura 2000, MadSteez, Ron English and Bode. We are taking over this office space in a building that we’re going to paint.
When I get back to Los Angeles, I have a building in Echo Park and another in Boyle Heights. At the end of the month, I will be going to Paris.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Just my Instagram @theartofchase.