Hi Ron, you’re considered one of the most well-known “contemporary pop artists”. Do you agree with this definition or consider yourself a folk artist?
I think I could pass myself off as either one.
Let’s do a little bit about your background. How old were you and how did you get closer to art for the first time in your life?
It’s always been a passion, or for at least as long as I can remember.
At the age of 22 you’ve started your own anti-ad campaign against Joe Camel (Old Joe), the advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes from 1987 to 1997. How did you come up with this idea and what was your purpose?
I didn’t think a big company should be trying to sell cigarettes to kids. If they need money that bad they should rob a bank.
Culture jamming is absolutely one aspect of your work. In fact you’re used to pirating billboard space by posting your own hand-painted designs over the existing ads. Except from Camel case that we’ve just considered, your work has many big targets such as McDonalds and Mickey Mouse. What do you criticize about them?
Basically I am offering the other side of the story. McDonald’s spends billions of dollars telling you how great their food even though it’s actually quite unhealthy. They never wasted two cents publicizing that fact. The situation cries out for a little culture jamming.
I was watching Super Size Me (2004) - an American documentary movie directed and starring by Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker - the first time that I saw your works. Did you already know him before that moment? How you felt about that experience?
Morgan saw one of my MC Supersized billboards that depicted Ronald McDonald as he would appear if he actually ate at McDonald’s, obese. He asked to use my art in his film and do a little commentary. The experience was wonderful. Morgan is a person who is committed to making the world a better place and has already made a huge difference. He’s a real superstar in my book.
You’ve also painted a lot of album covers such as the new Slash solo album. Which is the role of the music in your life?
I love music. It makes you smarter. I currently have a band called The Electric Illuminati. We just mastered our first record with hopes of releasing it this fall. I’m glad the Slash CD is finally coming out. I did the cover some time ago but he asked me not to talk about the project so I just told people I did a cover for the world’s greatest guitar player but I couldn’t say who that might be. Most of my friends just said “you mean Slash?” Yep.
Down in South Texas you’ve recently bombing some bovine (no cows were hurt). What was the message?
American’s aren’t that interested in art. It’s just not part of their lives, it’s some distance thing off in New York or Rome or somewhere. I am on a mission to bring art to people’s own backyard. Or barnyard.
Cows are leitmotiv in your work. Why do you love them so much?
We substitute cow’s milk for mother’s milk for our children, we eat them for lunch, they make great canvas’, what’s not to love?
Among your unique cast of characters there’re sexualized animals, Marylin Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts, the fat fast food presenter MC Supersized and last but not least, Abraham Obama, a mix of America’s 16th and 44th presidents. Have you got a favorite one or each one has a special effect on you?
Either MC Supersized or Cathy Cowgirl would be my favorite. I have written songs about both. Now that I think about it I have written songs about Marilyn, Mickey and Obama too. MC and Cathy are just so sexy you know.
One of the latest upload on your website http://popaganda.com/ has been a video named How to Explain the Art World to a Dead Hareduring which something quite grotesque happens to a stuffed animal standing in the middle of a road. What’s the meaning of it?
Joseph Beuys did a piece where he taught a dead hare about art, the dead hare representing the proletariat. So it’s a remake of that piece, with the fast car representing the Artworld and the bunny representing anyone trying to make sense of it.