I met Adross (Adam Rossiter) at the Newsstand, the first week we opened. He was a friend of Nick (Sethi) and was coming to drop off some zines. He ended up working there, and now he's behind most of the aesthetic of everything 8-Ball produces. He takes pictures, makes conceptual art, designs shirts for brands like FUCT but he's mostly known for being the mind that created the look of punk band Trash Talk. He also has very strong sense of value and "purity," doesn't like to compromise and hates selling out, which is why you probably never heard of him, and why I probably still work with him.
First of all, I want to know how you started. Aside from the artwork and production of art, you've made a lot of artwork for punk bands (and bands in general), right?
Well, I started when I moved away to go to school and I started doing show flyers.
At that time did art come first or music come first?
Art always came first, always. Since I was like a little ass kid.
What was the first piece of artwork you remember making?
When I was in third grade we had a project to make a representation of a chair and it had to be themed. So I made a “crab” chair. You know the animal a crab? So it was like a crab and the arms on the chair were crab claws. And then for this other part I used chicken bones cause when I was little I used to throw chicken bones off of the dock into the ocean at my grandmother's crib and fish for crabs…
Ok, so you had the connection there…
So, I had this little conceptual moment when I was young and they took my chair and they put it in the Worcester Art Museum.
Was that the first entrance into the art world?
That was my little “fame shine” when I was a kid and I’m addicted to it now.
Did you study art?
I studied graphic design and with that comes the liberal arts stuff, Art History and Art Theory. So, I wouldn’t say that I’m "studied" in art but I have "studied" art. And that’s always the thing with me -- I never know enough shit to have the confidence to put out a lot of my own work…
Where do you find most of your references? Do you get the same kind of reference for artwork, bands, and brands? When you have to design a logo or an artwork for a show do you work the same way?
It’s different because with a piece of artwork I already have an idea that I’m trying to convey so I’m looking for a very specific image but when I’m designing stuff for a band it’s more like I’m flipping through and trying to find an image first that I can do a flip on or use in a different way. So, in that sense I feel that it’s different but I can be inspired the same way for both art pieces and design pieces. I can see an image or phrase or get an idea and go from there.
But it is true that in your art pieces there is way more concept.
But I try to have concept behind the images I’m using in design.
You feel like you can express yourself in the same way through every expression of art? Obviously you can’t be as free when designing [for brands] as you can be with an art show because you have somebody dictating…
Sometimes I just do whatever I want to do. I try to not work with people who restrict me.
But sometimes with work you have to.
As I get more restricted I start to fight against that and then I end up like 'fuck you..fuck off.' But, the people that I do work for are my best friends (and I’ve had fist fights with everybody). I can’t go work for someone who I don’t share passion with. That’s why I’ve never gone to work for a creative agency -- cause for me the personal passion is stripped away and I don’t want to work like that. You know. You’re the same way.
Very much. Ok, what’s your favorite movie in terms of aesthetic?
I made a zine about “Full Metal Jacket” but it’s not [my favorite] because I’m interested in the aesthetic of the movie, it is [my favorite] because I’m interested in the politics of the movie, I guess.
What are the politics of the movie?
I’m not even necessarily interested by the politics of the movie, the politics of the time, [for example] The Vietnam War. I’m more interested in how movies like that effect the people who are watching them.
You’re very fascinated by pop art.
Yea. Because I think that pop culture, whether or not you’re 'involved' in it, you are involved in it. Whether or not you want to be involved in it, whether or not you think you’re "too cool" to be involved in it, you’re in it. Whether or not you want to be influenced by the new Rihanna song you are.
At least the society around me is.
You are too. You develop an opinion about it. About everything.
How does "Full Metal Jacket" play into pop culture influence?
It’s just a movie I saw as a youth that was fascinated by because it was so violent and it was so... raw. I feel like that’s where some of my art goes. Make people think more about how pop culture affects you subconsciously. Make people think about what they say and what they align themselves with. Like is that really what you’re about or are you trying to build an avatar?
So, what’s in the zine?
It’s just screen captures of "Animal Mother" with the subtitles on. So, it’s just like the lines he’s delivering that I see as memorable lines that could shape the way you think. And if you attach yourself to this character it can shape your character.
What are the lines he says, memorably?
Just really jarring stuff that I think can effect you as a person if you choose to align yourself with a specific character. The way people are affected by characters is fascinating to me. It’s the same thing with my zine "American Women."
What is in that zine?
It’s all close up crops of Lil Kim’s face over the years. A catalog. I could have done it with tons of different pop icons but to me she was the one I really connected with personally as someone who I’d seen as a kid, like when she first came out. More to come…
Give me the name of an older artist who has inspired you (older as in maybe not even alive today).
Man Ray’s "Gift" and Duchamp’s readymades changed the way I saw art. What could be art. What art could be. Art School 101. The dude who did the piece where he just put coke down on the floor and watched the whole New York art world get down on their knees. Genius. I’ll go to the Met and look at all the classic paintings, all the religious works, and see all these paintings I studied in school and that’s very moving to me but as far as my art it doesn’t effect me. Would I die to paint like that? Do I think I can paint like that? Do I think you can paint like that? Fuck, yea. I do. But it’s about having that desire and putting it into practice. For me, my art is more quick -- I want to get an idea out as quickly as possible. Sometimes it takes me a long time to process what I’m going to do and how I’m going to show it but as far as production of the piece, I want it to be as quick as possible which is why I use xerox and I make my lenticulars on the computer and have them produced for me.
You often use lenticulars. Why? Nowadays you could do video.
They’re interesting to me because a lenticular involves the viewer more. As far as their actual physical position in the room effects what the piece looks like. Then there is the contrast of that in that the piece is effecting where the viewer is standing because the piece can only look a certain way when the viewer is in a certain position. So, the piece is effecting where you’re standing. It’s literally moving you. At least right now that’s a relationship I’m interested in.
Out of all the things you make (zines, t-shirts, photography, lenticulars) which one is the easiest to free yourself when you want to release something.
Zines. If I want to say something, I’ll make a zine. Like the Legal Issues zine. That was all one night. I thought of it and just made it.
Are there any projects you have coming up?
Why don’t you pump your projects here? 8Ball Japan. 8Ball Vancouver. Trash Talk is opening a store in Los Angeles...
Any young artists you particularly like who you think should be mentioned?
I only listen to my own shit.