Feature: An interview with OBLVN

March 09, 2012


Oregon-based artist, designer, and cartoonist, OBLVN, will be opening his solo exhibition tomorrow at Klughaus Gallery in New York City.  The artist will be debuting 100 painting in his classic cartoon style, many with a mischievous tone.  We wanted to catch up with OBLVN, so we enlisted the help of his friend Skip Class of Super Duty Tough Work blog to conduct an interview.



Interview by Skip Class of Super Duty Tough Work


I tried to think of some over the top incident involving OBLVN that would start this interview off with a bang, but I came up with nothing. It's really hard to step back and describe someone you know in just one sentence. I could say OBLVN is one of the most talented and humble artists I know, but that doesn't really describe anything specific about the guy even though that statement is 100% accurate. Some artists rely on smoke and mirrors or they try and give you the ol' razzle dazzle, but my dude OBLVN sticks to a formula of just purist cartoon illustration/brush work paired with his own sense of humor.  I think the results more or less speak for themselves, but if that isn't enough for you here's a few words from the man himself...


What made you want to paint 100 characters for this show? Was it just an arbitrary number or are you just a glutton for stressed filled time lines?


Well, I really wanted to push myself here.  I suppose I am sort of a masochist in that regard. I tend to feel like I'm being lazy if I don't have a million things going on at once. Selfishly, I wanted to see if I wouldn't improve a bit and in the end I think that I have actually seen a fair amount of that. Plus these things are sort of small and I wanted some impact to come from the amount of pieces. Ten or twenty wouldn't quite do that and I almost settled on 50, but hell, why not really go for it.




As far back as I can think of you have always had the same tone/style when it came to your characters, would you say you find solace working with just classic Americana cartoon characters?


I think that hand drawn cartoons are seemingly simple, but there is something very expressive in each line. Cartoons are approachable, there isn't a pretentious quality to the art form and I feel that almost everyone can relate to them and if nothing else, smile when they look at them.




Not everyone is privy to the fact that you enjoy yourself some "righteous" tunes a.k.a classic rock n' roll. Can you list off five of your favorite bands (besides Sabbath) that people should check out?


For a while now I've been in to that 70s hard stuff. Mostly bands that didn't make it that far or are generally overlooked as classic pioneers of the heavier jams. I am listing bands that I can honestly jam to their whole albums start to finish not one or two tracks.


- Iron Claw

- Granicus

- Captain Beyond

- Budgie

- Uriah Heep




Besides your pension for rock you are also known to throw down in the kitchen on some pretty serious sandos (sandwiches for the uninitiated) please list the ingredients/recipe needed to make one of your favorite sandos.


My approach to food is similar to art. I'm not trying to be pretentious or distance myself from anyone. In general I think food should be easy going, fun and taste good. Basically it's a formula that once learned is easy to follow with several variations.


Recently my friend was visiting from LA and we were hanging around the house chatting and I just started to make some sandwiches. We had these grilled chicken breast, bacon and provolone on a toasted rustic roll "sandos". I made a quick rub for the chicken with dried herbs, garlic, paprika, s&p. I slathered some mayo on the halved rolls and toasted it until the edges of the roll had some light charred crispy spots and the middle of the roll was warmed and melty. I layered Roma tomato slices, shredded lettuce and red onion that I tossed in a quick homemade vinaigrette, the grilled chicken with bacon and the provolone melted on top in between the crispy roll halves and served it with some rustic potato chips, a peppercini and cold cokes. No big deal really.






Cliche question, but necessary, what direction do you want to go with your work after here?


Dang. I guess I plan to keep painting. I sort of feel like I'm attacking this art career backwards as it wasn't my goal to be an artist in the traditional sense. Honestly, I just enjoy creating fun things and the more I do that, and the more people ask me to this type of work for them, the closer I get to that point where I love what I do for work. I would definitely like to revisit the hand cut out characters I did a few years ago. I have a few other ideas upstairs, but I think those are best left there until I have something to show everyone.








Opening Reception:
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012
Time: 6:00pm-10:00pm
Location: 47 Monroe Street New York, NY 10002


Klughaus Gallery is proud to announce the debut of “100 Paintings,” a solo exhibition of brand new, one-of-a-kind illustrated works by Portland, Oregon-based artist and cartoonist Aaron OBLVN. In honor of his first ever east coast show, OBLVN has been hard at work for months preparing one hundred illustrations exclusively for Klughaus; highlights of the character and cartoon-heavy exhibit include contemporary, tongue-in-cheek remixes of classic cartoon characters like 'Felix The Cat' as an art thief and 'Dennis the Menace' as a vandal, as well as many original works, from mischievous spray can characters to runaway inkwells. 

Aaron OBLVN is a Portland-based artist known for his cheeky, mischievous characters and clean and playful design work. In addition to an extensive background as an aerosol artist working throughout the country, Aaron has exhibited at many prestigious galleries along the west coast. Most recently, his work was featured in MoCA's highly praised “Art in the Streets” exhibition in Los Angeles. Last but not least, Aaron has designed for many well known commercial projects and brands including Nike, Dell, Ecko, Upper Playground, Winners Circle, Clout Magazine, and more. Some of his favorite cartoons include Thundercats, GI Joe and "definitely Scooby Doo."