Intro by Andrew Reynolds
Interview & pictures Sébastien Zanella
I’m not really looking for artists to decorate my boards, and I’m not that interested in what others do, simply because I am surrounded by amazing creative people all the time. Take Kevin « Spanky » Long for example, who skates for Baker, and extremely well. He paints too, and has just done a show in New York. I have this painting at my place, of two snakes intertwining, that his girlfriend and him did. It’s pretty crazy shit, their work, and I really like it.
Yep, you definitely gotta go see his place, discover his world.
Los Angeles – 22h38
It’s been a while since Spanky and his girlfriend went back home. Accompanied by Dustin Dollin and his fiancée, who also work for the French magazine « Jalouse, » they’ve just had a good time in the Californian desert, doing a fashion shoot for their mag. Exhausted, they’d been driving for 10 hours straight, and told us all about what Dustin’s girlfriend did on the road, where they’d almost ended up at the morgue. After a while, we started talking about the reason we were here, his paintings and animal drawings that cover the walls of their apartment. On the table, a sculpture of a papier maché bust waiting to be finished and in the middle of the living room, a tent.
We didn’t know that you’d started to paint.
Spanky: I’ve always done art, or at least drawn stuff, whether it was graphics for my boards or just for me.
It’s just become a bit more serious these past few years.
How did you meet Nina?
S: Thanks to a friend in New York who also comes from South Africa. She’s been here for a while now, and I don’t think she’ll be going back any day soon! (Laughs)
Nina: Yeah, you could say that, I reckon I’ll stay for a while!
What inspires you?
S: I draw animals mostly, creatures that don’t exist.
N: He’s not the type to really think about what he’s doing. He just sits in front of a blank piece of paper, or he’ll wake up in the morning and draws something he’s dreamt about, like a weird rabbit in the air (laughs).Yeah, you see, he gets up all of a sudden, with one of his crazy ideas, and just starts to draw.
S: Can’t really describe how it works, my creative processes or why I do it, it’s pretty weird.
Maybe it’s because you watch animal documentaries late at night….
S: Fuck, man, I don’t know.
N: But you do! You’re always watching programs about animals!
S: Yeah, true, I do, I love them. Actually, I don’t think there’s anything else cooler in the world than animals (laughs)
N: You don’t know really.
S: Are you gonna answer all my questions like that? (laughs)
I’m not just an animal loving freak, I do draw other stuff, even if it’s always to do with nature. To be honest, I don’t spend my time analyzing what I do, I just do what I like, what I feel like doing. A bit like skateboarding, the important thing is to just go, do it, and express yourself.
So you’re not trying to say something through them.
S: They do have a meaning! It’s what I feel at that time, what’s deep inside of me.
N: It’s because you don’t intellectualize what you do, that’s what makes them interesting. And in a certain way, not being intellectual makes you intellectual! It’s because you don’t think before doing it, that’s why it doesn’t mean anything particular when finished.
Not sure I follow you.
N: Well, that’s why Spanky and I are so complimentary. Me, I think things out too much and conceptualize every single thing I do; Spanky is the exact opposite. Together we’ve got an interesting artistic balance… Spanky paints like he skates.
S: Yes, she’s right. Nina gives me another perspective, another way of seeing my work.
You guys must fight constantly…
S : Not really, we learn a lot from one another. We talk a lot, we help one another.
It beats couple’s councilling..
S: ( Laughs) Yes, you could say that!
Before the show we did in New York – last week – I’d never drawn or painted anything with such consistency, determination. I did it when I felt like doing it, when I felt creative. It’s the first time that I had to project myself into my art, to conceive something worthy, and I had to paint enough to fill a gallery.
All of a sudden it became more serious.
N: The show we did in New York with Spanky just happened, we didn’t expect it.
We hadn’t done anything really before they asked us to do the show. They even asked us to write the speech, the press release before we’d finished the artwork.
S: Yeah, we did the whole thing backwards, and we only had a few months in order to fill up a whole gallery. On the press release, we just wrote shit, and then we had to try to make our creations fit with what we’d written (laughs), a bit like if you did the trailer before the film.
N: What we actually learnt from this show is what we didn’t want to do again. We want to take our time from now on.
Rushing things can kill your creativity.
S: Yes or it can boost it. Either one or the other. Stress and wanting. I remember how we worked right to the last hour, the last minute. During the show, paint was still dripping from some of the paintings, they hadn’t had time to dry.
Do you have any regrets having done the show?
S: You know, I think it’s like a skate video part, you’re never a hundred percent satisfied with the result, with what you’ve done. That trick that I should’ve placed, the finishing touches I should’ve added to that painting, etc. You’re never completely satisfied, proud maybe, but to be satisfied would just be downright dangerous.
It would mean that you’ve done your best, which you can’t go any further.
N: Yes, proud! Remember how scared we were that no one would come to the vernissage! We even thought about reducing the space in the gallery so it wouldn’t seem too empty.
And finally it was a success. Are you going to do it again?
S: For sure! We just need to learn how to work together a bit better.
N: Communication is the key, it’s essential to art.
We’re back to the couple’s therapy again (laughs)
S: Yes, therapy through art!