Local Artist Spotlight: David Russell Talbott – “PULPCORE”

By Jed Sanders.

David Russell Talbott is a multi-talented artist and musician who likes to paint the Hustlers, Hit-men, and B-movie Scream Queens of yesteryear. His paintings are reminiscent of the pulp fiction paperbacks of the Roaring 40’s and Fabulous 50’s with a twist and relevance to the modern world.

Pin-up girls and gangsters jump out at the viewer with a reminder that the past was far from innocent. His work visually narrates the ironic tragedies of Hollywood and depicts the facets and dark sides of human nature through a series he calls “PULPCORE”. Recently, David had a book release and art show at the Tractor Room ( www.TheTractorRoom.com) where we had a chance to catch up with him and ask a few questions:

What is “Pulpcore” and what is it all about?
Pulpcore is really my moniker for what I do visually. I was hooked on 40’s and 50’s comics when I was growing up, especially EC’s horror and crime books – you know, the stuff you had to hide from your parents. Ever since then I’ve been drawn to that time period and all the pulp magazines that existed in that era. I felt I could take that almost exploitive style of dime store novel graphics and make them contemporary by using modern themes. The ‘core’ part came directly from music genres; “Hardcore”, “Emocore”, and “Grindcore” – you knew exactly what you were getting when you bought an album of that style. I thought it should be the same with my artwork. In 2005, I started the Pulpcore Letters series that is now called “American Pulpcore”. It’s a collection of eight panels where each panel contains a letter and when you put them together they spell out P.U.L.P.C.O.R.E. I’m working on series number 8 right now.

I see a lot of Hollywood influence…would you care to elaborate on that side?
The Hollywood stuff started long before I quit my day job to paint full-time. My aunt was an actress in Hollywood during the 1950’s and 1960’s, and her stories about the hidden secrets of Tinseltown inspired me to write a book. But instead of doing another “Hollywood Babylon”, I wanted to do a fully illustrated book about the rumors, deaths, and scandals that had been whispered about for years. The concept was to make it look like a supermarket tabloid from the 50’s – a la Confidential Magazine that even contained fake ads for products that didn’t even exist. I started working on it in the late 90’s, but had to put it on the back burner when Skydiver started taking off. At the time, we were being courted by some major record labels and I just didn’t have time to finish it. Over the years I have released a few zines that contained parts of the book, but as of now, I’m waiting for a publisher to get involved before I put out the whole project.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in the bohemian mecca that is Eugene, Oregon. I grew up in the 70’s, which was a very fertile ground for creativity.

How long have you been in San Diego?
I moved here with my parents in 1983, and like a lot of people, I got so use to the incredible climate that it’s hard to think about moving anywhere else.

How long have you been doing your art?
When I was a child, I would sell greeting cards with various birds and wildlife on them at weekend craft fairs. When I turned 12, the music bug bit me and being a musician/songwriter took over my creative energy for many years. It wasn’t until my last band Skydiver broke up in 2005 that I became fed up with the music biz and devoted all my time to painting.

What do you enjoy playing and what were some of the bands you played with?
My main instrument is guitar, but I also play other string instruments and the piano. The two bands that I played with the longest were Infantry and Skydiver. Both were around for about seven years. In that time I got to share the stage with artists like Joe Strummer from the Clash, Devo, Concrete Blonde, Mike Watt, Archers of Loaf, Imperial Teen, and Pinback – great memories for sure. Even though I wasn’t painting very much then, I definitely got a reputation as an artist for all the Casbah flyers I made during those years.

Do you feel that being a musician has helped you with your visual art career?
Personally, the two mediums seem to come from different places within me. Playing guitar and writing music is very kinesthetic for me. It’s almost like my fingers are deciding what to do and it all comes from deep within my core, if you will. With painting and drawing, it stems more from inside my head.  Although the inspiration may be driven from feelings inside, the brain takes over and guides my eyes and hands.  Unfortunately, I can’t even listen to music when I’m painting, especially guitar driven bands, because my fingers start to play along with the songs. That kind of sucks sometimes.

What part(s) of being an artist do you find most rewarding?
For me, it’s about making a social statement through the artwork. Not that I’m standing on a soap box, but this is how I express my dissatisfaction with the world around me. If I’m able to make my message clear and then have people acknowledge that they get it, I mean “really get it”, it makes all the time I spent on the canvas worthwhile.

Do you have any proud accomplishments that you would like to brag about?
Recognition by one’s peers shouldn’t matter to an artist, but it does help keep you focused on what you’re doing. Susan Kismaric from MoMA in New York chose to exhibit one of my pieces in a show earlier this year, which felt really good. Just the fact that people continue to buy my work in this economy is an accomplishment.

Are you available for commissioned work?
Yes, please! I love commissions because it’s usually the only time I get to step out of my series work and into something completely different. I just recently started doing some dog portraits called “Pupcore” – you know, dogs with fedoras and martinis and such.

Besides art, what do you do for fun?
I still enjoy playing music from time to time, but food is also a very important part of my life. Going to the farmers market and building a meal from all the great produce I bought is really fun for me. I have to always be involved in creating something or I get a little nuts.

Where is the best place to purchase your artwork?
I have an online store on Etsy (pulpcore.etsy.com) or you can contact me through my website (davidrusselltalbott.com). I have both original paintings and prints laminated on wood available. Also, my last two fanzines “Potboiler Summer” and “Precautionary Tales” are available on Etsy.

Are there any new projects in the works?
My latest project is a series devoted to the Seven Deadly Sins. They’re all large scale paintings dedicated to each sin and full of details that require the viewer to spend a lot of time dissecting the meaning.  Because of that, each one is taking months to do. I started nearly two years ago and I’m only half way through. Besides American Pulpcore and the Deadly Sins series, I’m continuing to look for new ways to bring my work to a bigger audience.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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