Interview: Todd Francis "Thanks a Lot" @ FFDG
Todd Francis (featured July, 2014) is set to open a new show, Thanks A Lot, at FFDG in San Francisco showcasing new studio work with five charcoal drawings nearly six feet tall each and four larger water color paintings. A common trope throughout Todd Francis’ oeuvre is what he calls “environmental warfare.” This warfare ranges from Francis’ widely known decrepit and confused pigeons who continually appear facing a variety of byproducts of the human condition to larger studio works depicting struggle, violence and conquering between animals and man.
There are certainly startling or disturbing elements to some of these past works which only enhances their effectiveness. The dark humor seen in most of his work mixed with elements of commentary makes for a layered experience when viewing. It can go like this-a quick laugh, a grimace maybe followed by an approving survey of the skill and hopefully ending with a shudder of reality and an emotional reflection.
An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, January 8th from 6-9pm.
Juxtapoz: We like that name. It's a good name for a show. What's the story behind it?
Todd Francis: Hey, i'm glad you like it. The new work I'm showing is mostly about environmental stuff like global warming, overpopulation and conflict over our expansion into natural habitats... all really cheery stuff. So I guess it's a sarcastic, "Oh man, thanks a lot for fucking everything up" line, whether it's coming from the animals under siege or our future generations. But it's also the reaction I want people to have to seeing the work, as if they'd be walking out saying to themselves, "Great...thanks a lot for bumming me out."
Another consideration was my gratitude in having a solo show at Fecal Face. A number of people whose work and careers i've really enjoyed have shown here, people like Jeremy Fish, Josh Keyes, Mike Giant, and a bunch of others. Years of vision and hard work by John and Jessica Trippe created something really special, and now Rachel Ralph is continuing in their footsteps. So there's a sincere "thank you" built into that show title as well.
You are going big with this show. Big charcoal work to be exact. Do you like making large-scale work? Is that liberating?
I've been doing large scale charcoal drawings my entire life, they're a completely different challenge than the smaller work i often do. Frankly, you just don't see a lot of huge charcoal work out there today, so it's fun working in an underappreciated medium. Plus, the richness of the blacks and the process of addition and subtraction with charcoal and erasers is really enjoyable. It can be pretty physically taxing, but that makes it feel even better when it comes out as you'd hoped.
There's an added visual authority to really large, six foot drawings that I enjoy as well. Seen in a gallery setting, especially in a series, I really like the power of the scale, and hopefully it furthers the message.
What is your daily practice? Do you draw as soon as you wake up?
Man, I hate it when artists try and get all mystical about their approach to art making, like they're channeling spirits or something dopey like that. I wake up, and if I've got my daughters that week I feed them and get them to school. After that, I eat and read the newspaper... I love reading the newspaper. Then I drift out to my studio and get cracking, turn on something funny, whether it's Howard Stern or Phil Hendrie or some other source of laughs, and hop to it. Usually I've got a lot of deadlines at once, so i'll grind away, maybe take a break to either go jump in the ocean or go shoot some hoops, and then work until i'm feeling better about those deadlines. Lately that's taken me deep into the night.
How often do you make it back to San Francisco?
Since I do so much work with both Antihero and Equal Dist, I try and get up there every few months. I lived in SF for pretty much the entire '90s, so it's a second home to me. Plus, I sometimes feel like i've got more friends up there than I do down here, so I take any excuse I can to come up.
Can you thank a few people here?
I'd like to thank Fecal Face Dot Gallery for hosting this solo show, and both Rachel and John and Jessica for what they've done for the SF art scene. Thanks also to Yong-Ki of Equal Dist for helping bring this show together so smoothly. I'm very humbled this show is being sponsored by some of my best friends in the industry: HUF, Antihero and Stance, their support really means a lot to me. Thanks to Bloom Press for making the screenprints for the show, and thanks to everyone who can make it out to the show. And finally, thanks to Juxtapoz for your continued support of my work, which is incredibly meaningful to me. I guess i've got a lot to be grateful for!
For more information, visit toddfrancis.com