Artist (Tattoo and Otherwise) Scott Campbell Wows the Crowd at OHWOW

Scott Campbell inaugurated OHWOW’s new L.A. gallery in true Hollywood style, packing hordes of the artfully disheveled into the La Cienega space, along with more than a few of his A-list friends: Chloe Sevigny, Devendra Banhart, Robert Downey Jr., and Jared Leto, as well as fellow artist Rosson Crow. Those lucky enough to make it through the crush were treated to the artist’s latest appropriations of printed money and the delicate patterns therein. In Noblesse Oblige, as the show is called, he draws with abandon from his days as tattoo artist to the stars (Marc Jacobs is a longtime client), but amid the skulls and crossbones there emerges a softer side of Scott, and perhaps a new direction. We caught up with the mild-mannered artist after all the ruckus…

The pieces in the work seem to be an ode to the nobility of tattooing, but also a swan song. Do you feel removed from that world?
Tattooing has changed so much since I first started, but I don’t think I’ve ever been settled enough in one place to feel removed from it. I get asked pretty frequently, “Are you still tattooing?,” as if it’s something to move on from now that I’ve established myself in a fine art context. It is, of course, gratifying to see my work resonate and move beyond an individual’s personal biography. But there’s an intimacy and sincerity to tattooing that I really enjoy. Being exposed to so many lives and intimate stories certainly lends inspiration to my work in other mediums.

There’s also a lot of delicacy in the work, very fragile surfaces. How did these come about?
The eggs came about pretty naturally. The first one I made was for a gift. I spent hours drawing on the inside of an egg shell and then glued the pieces back together, smoothing over all the cracks. The result was a perfect egg with a painstakingly detailed drawing hidden inside. I really liked the idea of someone breaking it to see the drawing inside. There was an amazing tension in realizing that by breaking the egg, they’ve shattered something that I had obviously labored over for hours. I guess it gives a nod to the notion that sometimes our enjoyment of a thing inevitably destroys it.

What’s next on your plate?
I’m currently creating work for a couple of group shows, one with Raymond Pettibon at Marc Jancou in New York, and then a show with Wes Lang at OHWOW. Wes is one of my oldest friends and inspirations.

Do you have any favorite spots in Los Angeles? Secret hideaways?
I often stay at the Chateau or with friends. If there is nothing planned for the evening, I generally eat at the same two little sushi places pretty much every night, Nishimura or Jinpachi. After the opening last week, we had our friends join us at Paul & Andre, a new spot off of Hollywood Boulevard. But I actually don’t know Los Angeles very well!

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