By Monica Morones
Aliens, Sacred Geometry, and good versus evil are just a few of the many subjects discussed in my interview with artist James Martin aka “Godawful.” With such incredible attention to detail and a provocative name, Godawful provides a visual experience through his sculptures and mixed media that leaves the viewer intrigued. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with James, take some photos and discuss art, music, and life.
MM: You go by the name Godawful. Is that your art name or your music name? What does it mean/represent?
JM: Both. It basically comes down to that balance in the universe: light vs dark, good vs evil. It’s such an ironic term for something you like. I still find it amusing when people say it.
MM: How old are you and where are you from?
JM: I am 35 in earth years in the making. I moved here from Sacramento with my mom when I was 9. I have been in the desert about 25 years, and currently live in Palm Springs.
MM: How do you describe your art?
JM: I try to incorporate anything that inspires me. I have done acrylic work, graffiti, murals, letters, paper mache, but lately I have been more in to assemblage and sculptures. I am heavily influenced by what the god Rammellzee calls gothic-futurism, kind of alphabet manipulation into shapes and forms battling against all things standard in the universe, while also incorporating nature and sustainability through the use of found objects and items discarded by society. I try to present a balance, the light and the dark, one can’t exist without the other. Godawful.
MM: How long have you been making art?
JM: I have been taking it seriously for the last 12 years or so, but have been drawing and building things since a youngin, probably my biggest influence was my mom. She was always painting cartoon characters or doodling around the house. I always wanted to create stuff in all forms.
MM: Where have you shown your art?
JM: I have been lucky enough to show at: The Red Arrow gallery in Joshua Tree, Minna Gallery in San Francisco, the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, Venus Art Gallery in Palm Desert, The Coachella Music and Arts Festival, and at independent art shows all across the Coachella Valley including various tattoo shops and house parties. Most recently at the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s gallery in Cathedral City and countless public spaces throughout California on a more mischievous format.
MM: How would you describe your medium?
JM: I know it sounds cliche but I try to work in all mediums and always quote Jean-Michel Basquiat, “When people ask me what my medium is, I like to say Extra Large.”
MM: You use a lot of found objects in your sculptures. Where do you find them? What is the process?
JM: I collect a lot of things, I’m a borderline hoarder. People give me things, some stuff I just have for years sitting around. It’s strange because when I’m working on a project it starts building itself like in that movie “Batteries Not Included.” Things just start falling into place although sometimes it takes longer than I imagine due to brain time translation. Usually I will build things based off one item or an idea. I build it in my head and go to town on trying to get as close to that as possible. I have been lucky enough to develop a process involving dreams, frequency vibration, and psychometry.
MM: You use wood, glass, metal, and many other materials. How did you become so crafty?
JM: Through the use of marijuana, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, sacred geometry, and a strong network of close friends who are all suckers for knowledge. I obtained my degree in handling throw away treasures and painting through a desert filter pre-internet that forced me to be myself and find my own style, allowing me to use all elements to become an art alchemist. The isolation of the desert helps as well. Your imagination can run around like a dog with rabies, plus my hands were blessed by alien beings before my birth so that helps as well.
MM: Are you self-taught or did you go to art school?
JM: I didn’t go to art school but I can’t say I’m self-taught. My crew has educated me tremendously in the ways of the Jedi. Growing up here, it’s easy to get lost but I have managed to stay on a good path and am lucky enough to call some of the illest artists not just in the desert, but in California, my friends and crew members.
MM: How do you feel about the art scene in the Coachella Valley?
JM: I feel like there is the young scene vs the old scene happening. While it is evolving, this place is still tourist driven and a majority of the older generation don’t want to see the up and coming local artist community’s awesomeness. There’s so much talent but galleries are not open to it. They want to play it safe with their abstracts and southwest, Marilyn Monroe rat pack era, mid-century, and contemporary landscapes. I see the change happening with new legal murals, and a few galleries being open to more of the street art aesthetic: Venus in Palm Desert, The Coachella Valley Art Scene, 446 and M Modern, but that is just a handful compared to all of the possibilities. But if there is one thing I have learned growing up in the desert is patience. All things work out just the way they are supposed to. It may take a little while, but it always happens.
MM: What do you have in the works for the rest of the year?
JM: I’m working on some shows, releasing a small line of toys, and have some more shirts on the way. Just trying to stay consistent working whether it be music, art, or telepathic abilities. I want to better my techniques to fit this day and age.
You can follow James Martin and see more of his work on instagram @thegodawful