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West Central Tribune: Linkin Park's Rapper Goes Artsy

Friday, February 11, 2005

Linkin Park's Rapper Goes Artsy
November 2006

Mike Shinoda takes break from recording the latest Linkin Park album to talk about his paintings with RYAN PEARSON.

Mixing genres wasn't enough for Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. He's mixing media, too.Shinoda formed the hip-hop group Fort Minor as a spin off from his main band last year. And as Linkin Park wraps up its new album with superproducer Rick Rubin -- they're winnowing down from 18 songs now -- he's spinning off into painting, with a recent art show at Gallery 1988 -- http://www.nineteeneightyeight.com/.
Shinoda, who studied to be a graphic designer before music stardom came his way, explains his style thus: "I'm influenced by comic books, newspaper comics, cartoons I used to watch on Saturday morning. Mix that with the Japanese ancestry and the fact that I've always loved graffiti art as well. ... I want to ride that balance between something that looks kind of funny and fun, and also is not happy. There's a creepiness to it."

His works are a bit messy -- he likes to paint fast -- and are filled with gambling imagery, which he says is inspired by the unpredictability of his career. "You can't bank on it. My whole career, my whole schedule from week to week, I can never tell you what's going to be going on. I don't know when the Linkin Park album's coming out. I don't know where I'm going to be in January. I can never tell you anything."
We asked him to tell us a few things about five of the paintings on display in his recent show. Below, he explains the works and their inspirations:

The reason it's called Accidental Crossdresser: I'm half-Japanese. ... I wanted to do something using cliched Japanese tourist-type imagery. I did this painting of this guy with his daruma and his maneki. Daruma is the little thing that looks like a gourd. Maneki is the cat. I didn't look at any reference material for the kimono. I drew it the way that I thought it would look good. My brother is fluent in Japanese. He lived there for a few years ... and when I showed him the painting, he said, you realize that the outfit that the guy's wearing is basically a woman's outfit. I had no idea. So that's why the title of the painting.

I don't know where this one came from. I think I just watched a bunch of sci-fi movies. I'd seen "Mars Attacks" recently. The scene where Sarah Jessica Parker's head is on a Chihuahua and Matthew Broderick's head is in a jar. The whole idea of the head in the jar, it's just one of the creepiest things to me. I was thinking on this one, it adds a level of creepiness to add the little happy fish and bunnies, to the decapitated head in the jar with basically half its muscles on its eye and its forehead showing.

The painting started off with the airplane scene. You see the bombers in the back with the big eagle. There's so much on the news about Iraq. ... When I see a painting with bombers and eagles, I think it's going to be a silly print in some Vietnam vet's house with a bad swap meet frame. Usually those paintings get reproduced. The way they're presented over time, I always see them at swap meets or garage sales. So to use some of that cheap imagery I thought would be really funny. I'm always looking for new dynamics to throw into the mix that play off peoples' emotions. Then over the top of it I put this crazy rising sun and a skeleton. I just keep drawing the skeleton because I think he's funny. He cracks me up.

I did a series for Fort Minor of ten paintings. In this one you can see the color scheme, the style of them. ... I'm thinking of "In Stereo" and "High Road" -- those songs. In this one there's definitely a sense of a fight, something to prove, and there's a nervousness that you can see in the lines. Most of my more masculine characters don't have feet, and a lot of times their arms aren't connected to their bodies. I joke that it's like a Rorschach test meets a coloring book. I just paint whatever comes to my mind. ... I'm just vomiting from the brain.

I think symbols stand out so well in paintings. When you've got any kind of recognizable symbol, it's a fun thing to take that and play with it. There's a long history in art of doing that. I like to mess around with it. It ends up being just a visual joke. The red spade shows up here, and I echoed that in the arrow and in the strawberry. The trio of those things sets it off. Then you've got the gremlin dude being fed what you can assume is a strawberry-related substance. And for some reason the big scary man reminds me of Hellraiser.

thanks to lptimes.com