Peabe

Do you ever notice all the sad, tired and just plain expressionless faces that ride the rush hour trains? Peabe did, and instead of letting it drag him down, he used them as a source of inspiration. After gaining some local recognition in his hometown of Chicago, he’s recently moved to Cali and has been hitting up the local galleries with his zombified, and always sexy cartoon paintings.

You can check out his styles at four different gallery shows and events in the bay area this holiday season, (The More The Merrier-Super 7 Store, Veni Vidi Vici-Juxtapoz/ArtnowSF Holiday show and the Fabric 8 Holiday Show also in SF) and we hope to see him in many more.

“I used to ride the subway, and the riders would look like zombies.  The people in my worlds eventually came from these trains sketches.”

Format: How would you describe your style?
Peabe: I’m not entirely sure, I struggle with this all the time.  It’s like a Technicolor world of zombi-esque people and monsters walking around a world full of colors and shapes but just starting to realize the beauty of it. Or, like being there to
witness people during their epiphanies.  I’m an ‘80s baby too, so all the typical ‘80s cartoons like The Transformers, GI Joe, and Silverhawks, had an influence on me, in terms of colors that I use.

Format: Where do your characters come from?
Peabe: I was born and raised in Chicago. Pretty much after grade school you got to take the train or bus to get anywhere.  Riding the train everyday, I’d see all the graff up and down the subway lines. In between noticing the graff, I’d notice the same folks looking like drones on the train, like cattle being shipped to and from slaughterhouses.  

Everyone looked dead tired or hating where they were going and just zoning everything out.  It was sad because there would be all this dope graff to stare at on the way to wherever they were going but they would ignore it and just stand there looking like zombies. That’s when I would bust out the sketchbook and just start sketching the people I saw.  The people in my worlds eventually came from these trains sketches.

Format: Can you cite any untraditional methods that you use to create your canvases?
Peabe: I think that almost everything I do is untraditional. Not in that “I’m so creative and out there that no one is like me” type shit but more like the “I never took a real painting class so I’m possibly doing everything wrong” type shit.  I took one painting class in high school but the teacher sort of let us do whatever we wanted, so I never really picked up on traditional techniques.  I should sneak into art school painting classes and learn something.

Format: Were you influenced by the comics or cartoons you watched growing up?
Peabe: Man. Cartoon wise I was all about the Transformers, Ninja Turtles and funny enough Silverhawks to name a few. It seems like no one dug the Silverhawks because they were the shiny lame space version of the Thundercats.   I was crazy about comics as a kid.  I used to really be into X-Force, Dead Pool, typically all the really bright shit [laughs].  I fell off of comics but have slightly gotten back into them only cause my best friend has and he’s been telling me all the loco shit that’s been going on.  I may get hooked again.

Format: There’s a lot of sexuality in your work. What can you say about that?
Peabe: As far as the sexuality goes, I want to say that there’s a deeper meaning behind it but it’s really simple, I just like painting and sketching girls. My characters are my interpretation of the sexes. Guys can be brutish and we’re generally dopey while girls are just beautiful and graceful.  In my mind, women have beauty, grace and strength while it seems like no matter what guys do, we always come across like goofy ogres.

Format: Can you tell me some stories behind your paintings? 
Peabe: I don’t know if there’s a real solid story behind each but a lot of my pieces have to do with how I’m feeling at the moment.  I wont even pick up on stuff until way after.  My sister will be like “hey did you notice this, this and that” and
how it’s relevant to me and I’ll be like “oh shit, I never thought of that.”  I usually just start painting and let it all come out.  Dr. Aquard, one of my characters, is me I guess.  It’s a mix of my love for the color aqua and how I can be an awkward dude sometimes.  I have the most/least fun naming pieces and shows. The piece called “Dr. Aquard” is a loose portrait of me and my girl riding on my aqua Puch Moped.

Format: Another one of your pieces touches on some historical protests. Can you tell us more about the Chicago Seven?
Peabe: The piece is based on the Chicago Seven from the ‘68 democratic national convention that happened there.  I did the piece for a show called “Hello, my name is Chicago” in which we had to do pieces about what Chicago was to us.  I knew a bit about the Chicago Seven but not too much detail about them.  Seeing as how my other piece was loosely based on Al Capone, I wanted to do another piece that would be somewhat educational or force someone to do some research, it worked and it got some press in Chicago.  It was nice to hear people tell me that they’d never heard of them but google’d them because of the piece.

Format: So, you are appearing in four art shows this December.  That’s kind of incredible.  To what do you attribute your success and popularity?
Peabe: Hmm, I don’t know if I’m at success or popularity just yet, I’d say I’m still just hustling and climbing that gallery ladder.  I don’t know if people dig my work because they really feel the happiness I get from making these pieces and that energy rubs off or if people just think my work “looks cool” but either way works for me.

Format: What vinyl toy projects have you worked on?
Peabe: Nothing serious.  I was approached to do a run of a certain toy a couple years ago but I’m pretty sure that has fallen through by now.  Other than that, there have been various shows that I’ve been invited to for customs and what not.  I used to just paint them before for fun but I don’t think I like painting 3d objects anymore.

Format: I’ve noticed a lot of web site designs on your site.  Is this what pays the bills for you?  How do you like working on the business side of design?
Peabe: Yeah, the design stuff totally pays the bills.  No more freelance for me though. I have a 9-5 as a senior designer over at Pandora, so when I get home I try to stay away from a computer. But the job rocks, it’s not a corporate atmosphere and creativity is encouraged.  It’s definitely a great place to be at right now.

Format: Your work is steadily getting more and more exposure.  What’s left out there for you?
Peabe: I tend to be hard on myself but I really don’t feel like I’ve done all that much. I’m still trying to get into the big dog galleries out here in the SF and I still really want to get into some more galleries in LA and NY.  Then of course I want to do more international shows.  The day when I can paint all day long, survive on it and keep my addiction to fitted hats going, maybe I’ll be half a step closer to success in my eyes.

More Info:  http://www.pea-be.com

Jesse Ship
I'm currently Managing Editor of this little web mag here.
Jesse Ship

Latest posts by Jesse Ship (see all)

10 comments

  1. Been with PeaBe since his days in graffiti. He created this party flyer for us and he drew an angel with daisy dukes and a pager. Didn’t make sense to us – but he kept going with his characters. I wish I still had a copy of that to show everyone. This was in 1996.

    His style has remained the same – but has become more sophisticated in his technique and imagery and depth. Kudos on this interview – everyone should know about PeaBe!

    It’s funny it took more than a decade for people to catch onto his style and characters.

  2. I’m sat ina room with 15 tigers around me (various) and just about remembering babysitting young lad with older sis whom smokes and an ‘dodgy’ elder brother whom would be behind them and then ‘mum’ the artist with head of images would arrive home to release me so I quite enjoyed scrolling this. Happy days. (p.s. lol@ Squirrel. (“Mum knows!”)

  3. Trill recognize trill. My uncle doing big things, huh? All the hard work and dedication you’ve put into your occupation, you deserve nothing less. Be easy. Your nephew doing big things too! Finally got the oppurtunity to take a breath! lol. You know who it is. 1 Love.

  4. Peabe is a real down to earth dude and he deserves all that comes to him. You only get out of the game what you put into it..and this guy is constantly on the grind. Peace from the CHI.

  5. these paintings are total rubbish. I seems like enyone can get up in “the art world these days”. As mentioned in the interview, there is no real motive, the techique is unrefined and the out come is nothing short of ugly(not the good kind) and worthless. Give up.

  6. i like some things about this art but i feel like it has some weaknesses

    i’d actually like to talk to the guy about it

    obviously a lot of time and effort went into this stuff though, props on that

  7. hehe. thanks for the love and the hate everyone. both are much appreciated.

    all art has to have direct/conscious motive? it cant just be the subconscious wanting to vent visually? cant art just be daily observation? children create the purest pieces of art, because they were never taught or trained – it’s straight from the soul.

    coldfish, get at me whenever. lets have a discussion, my email address is on my website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>