Boxes of Death: An Interview with Tenderloin Television
The Boxes of Death artist roster includes world-renowned painters, illustrators, graphic designers, motorcycle builders, tattoo artists, assemblage masters, and print makers. With 50 artists creating coffins for this year’s Boxes of Death show, we thought it’d be a good idea to get to know some of them a bit better. San Francisco-based artist, Benjamin Clarke, better known as Tenderloin Television, creates “low-brow, psychedelic art” that reflects his sense of humor...
The Boxes of Death artist roster includes world-renowned painters, illustrators, graphic designers, motorcycle builders, tattoo artists, assemblage masters, and print makers. With 50 artists creating coffins for this year’s Boxes of Death show, we thought it’d be a good idea to get to know some of them a bit better. San Francisco-based artist, Benjamin Clarke, better known as Tenderloin Television, creates “low-brow, psychedelic art” that reflects his sense of humor and religious satire. With a unique style, we are excited to see what Tenderloin TV has in store for this year’s Boxes of Death show.
What does a coffin mean to you?
The end. That death is imminent and life won't wait.
How do you feel about death, and how does your coffin reflect your ideas about death?
Death is a powerful void that sucks up your life force. It's the end of the story that can sometimes come too soon. Choosing to not live in fear of it but instead embrace a life worth living. By not dwelling on the past or what is to come, but trying to focus on the present.
Coffins are kind of morbid in nature, do you feel that decorating one with art can start a more positive dialog about the idea of death?
Absolutely. I feel like a coffin can be viewed as a symbol of hope to seek your own truth and rise to life's full potential.
When making your piece, are you conscious of the fact a coffin represents a place to put dead people, or does it eventually turn into just a unique shape after several hours?
It had the opposite effect. Initially, I thought it would just be a fun/interesting shape to work on. The week I was working on my coffin, my roommate got in a nasty bicycle accident and had internal bleeding in her brain. That scare really enhanced my awareness of how precious life actually is. Then I found out that a friend had killed himself as I was painting. Hearing that news greatly devastated me and I definitely worked out some of those thoughts about fear, depression, gratitude, and my own choices into the box.
In what way does your coffin tie back to the “Boxes of Death” theme?
It's about keeping your composure through dark times.
Does your typical style of work contrast or relate to the idea of a coffin? Can you explain the relationship?
My style relates to a coffin because it’s typically viewed as dark. I like to view my paintings as a positive outlook for overcoming that darkness. It’s more of a celebration of life. Underneath this skin, we're all made of the same bones.
What originally drew you to participating in Boxes of Death?
Luke from Gauntlet Gallery thought I’d be a good fit. I really liked the concept and I am excited to be a part of it.
In terms of a canvas for art, how does a coffin compare to what you usually use?
Outside of sometimes building and staining my own frames, I don't usually work with wood. But I do love to paint on anything and everything, so I thought it would be a great push to break into a different surface and play with the unique angles.
See Tenderloin TV’s coffin, as well as 50 other coffins, at this year’s Boxes of Death tour. With four stops, this year’s show is going to be bigger than ever. Boxes of Death showcases artists from the farthest reaches of the continental US as well as some international artists and highlights an incredibly diverse range of creative backgrounds.
PDX Antler Gallery -10/3
SF Gauntlet Gallery – 10/8
LA The Chun – 10/11
SEA Piranha Gallery – 10/17