Split Personalities: Justin Hager and Tim Diet @ RVCA

October 23, 2013


Hannah Stouffer in conversation with "Split Personalities"; ironic and funny pop-culture illustrators Justin Hager and Tim Diet about their recent show that opened September 27th at RVCA in San Francisco, CA. The show runs through the end of November.


Hannah Stouffer: Tell me about the show real quick, the title, the collaborative stuff, the party…. how did it all go?

Justin Hager: Tim came up with the title, which I thought worked perfect for us since we both use similar imagery kinda, but have totally different styles. It works well together I think, and the show got an awesome response! I just felt super fortunate to work with Tim at RVCA since he has been a mentor of mine for a long time and I've been a fan of RVCA’s artist network program since it started. I wanted to change up my usual process for this show and take the text I usually use in paintings out so the viewer could figure it out like a riddle almost. These were also the largest scale I’ve shown so far so they were super fun to paint. We collaborated on a piece for the artist network program shirt we did with RVCA that were available the night of the show :)

Tim Diet: I was approached by Kenny at RVCA if id be interested in doing a show. He told me that he'd wanna have me do a 2 person split show with Justin Hager. Justin and i started brainstorming a bit about titles and the possibility for us to do an ANP tee shirt design. I told Justin that i wanted to do a play off of Richie Rich and he quickly responded "Cool im gonna draw Richie Richard Ramirez" and thats how the tee shirt design happened. I think the work was well received and the turnout was better than you can ask for. Thanks to all who came out to support.

Are you guys friends in real life or just in your art second life? 

JH: We're buds, Tim’s the best.

TD: I actually saw some of Justin’s drawings up in Atlas Cafe and quickly became a fan. I finally met Justin not too much longer after that and have become friends or, maybe I’m just a fan and he’s a really nice guy.

What did you eat for breakfast? (both of you, even if you ate breakfast together)

JH: McDonald’s breakfast. The best thing in the world.

TD: Egg and cheese on a sesame bagel.

What kind of TV did you grow up on? And cereal while you watched TV?

JH: Lots of cartoons like Popeye, Gumby, Ren & Stimpy, Liquid Television, and also stuff like Saved by the Bell and Full House. I remember eating lots of cereal while watching these shows nearly every morning. My favorite cereals were all the Count Chocula and Frosted Flakes. A good bowl of cereal is the next best thing to McDonald’s breakfast.

TD: I ate Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch while watching Hanna Barbera and filmation cartoons.

Cartoon crush?

JH: Jessica Rabbit duh!

TD: Vampirella.

Fictional character you feel most connected to?

JH: Wayne from Wayne’s World.

TD: Casper the Friendly Ghost. 

Lets talk about branding, logos, icons and junk food. Give me your top 5- judging on flavor or just visuals.

JH: I’m gonna go with the visuals on this. This is really hard! There are so many logos and icons that I like but my top 5 would be this in no real order.. Kool-Aid mascot, The Wu-Tang “W”, Chester Cheetah, The Devo hat and The Golden Arches.

TD: Hamburglar, Kool-Aid man, Mr. Peanut, Charlie Tuna and ICEE.

What do you listen to while you work and at what volume?

JH: I have a few things going on in the background while I work on stuff. Usually it’s my TV playing a show or movie on silent and my boombox turned up. Most of the time I listen to hip-hop, new and old, or some sort of old punk or grungy stuff. It’s also funny to do a super shuffle on my iPod because I forget about most of my music on it and it’s weird to recall what’s on there.

TD: The more ignorant and aggressive the better. I have all pleasure no guilt.

Guilty pleasure music? 

JH: New jack swing stuff like Al B Sure!, Keith Sweat, and other pop stuff like Stevie B from that same time period. I like how innocent pop music was back then, it’s way better than today’s crap on the pop radio stations like Maroon 5 or whatever.

Both of your work seems very nostalgically focused. Does this mean you collect a bunch of shit and you're really just a horder of all the McDonald’s toys we grew up on? 

JH: I have a small collection of stuff like that. One of my favorite things to do is nerd out and snoop around in a thrift store. And I have to constantly fight the temptation to buy all the amazing nostalgic things I find because I can’t fit anything else in my room.

TD: The last time i saw Justin he gave me a vintage McDonald’s mini Frisbee.

How much pizza do you think you could eat in a week? How much soda?

JH: Are we talking about Hot n Readys from Little Caesars? If so, a lot! I don’t really drink that much soda actually, unless I’m hungover and I have to have 7-Up or a Mexican Coke.

TD: Slices? Or whole pies? I drink a can or more of soda a day 

How many pizza boxes are currently in your house? Do you even like pizza? I'm being assumptive. 

JH: None, as much as I like eating pizza, I really don’t like fruit flies. Doesn’t everyone like pizza?!

TD: I just threw out 3 empty pizza boxes.

Showers: good for thinking or drinking beer?

JH: Good for getting naked in.

TD: Don’t think I’ve ever had a beer in the shower yet that I can remember.


Do you love pop-culture, or do you prefer the 80's/90's? 

JH: I definitely prefer the 80's and 90's. I think the reason why I use nostalgic things in most of my drawings and paintings is because things were more special, pure, and real back then. That goes for the way clothes and toys are made, the way music was, the way TV and movies were.. There wasn't as many politics involved and people put more thought into longevity more than just trying to make a quick dollar off of something cheap. I’ve always been a fan of the Ed Templeton quote, "Keep your mind youthful and in the gutter."

TD: Wu-Tang, can it be all so simple?

Do you feel like this just IS the 90's all over again?? Did they ever leave?

JH: Well I’ve always loved most things from the 90s, so they’ve never really left for me. But I wouldn't say that it’s back. Most people that are into the 90’s stuff that is resurfacing or being recreated now didn't experience the 90’s the first time around. It’s pretty lame that people are exploiting things they don’t know or care about just to make money off of it. Feels like Halloween to me.

Do you believe?? In ALIENS?

JH: Yes, very much so. There’s no way Earth can be the only planet with living beings on it in all of space. i saw a ufo once. and space jam is so good.

TD: Shazbot.

Plans tonight? Indulgences??

JH: Tonight I’m working on more paintings, can’t stop won’t stop! You might catch me at the Phonebooth Bar this weekend though ;)

TD: Sent from a bar stool. 


AMEN to that.


Interview by Hannah Stouffer with assistance from Hillary Plunkett

[All photo credit: Ashlei Quinones]