Monday, November 2, 2015

The David Gluck Show: An Interview with Carl Dobsky Part 1

Posted by: Dave

Your atelier is called "The Safehouse Atelier." The word “safehouse” is defined as a secret place for sanctuary or a place suitable to hide persons from the law, hostile actions, or from retribution, threats or perceived danger. So like, what are you running from, bro? You do some messed up shit in the past we need to know about? Is this why you grew that beard of yours? 

Nah. Nothing like that. When we first opened it, it was just called “Dobsky Studios.” But business was REAL bad. Nobody was showing up. Then one day as I was walking by the soup kitchen, I noticed that their business was booming. That’s when lightning struck. So I went and picked up a few dirty cots, changed the name to Safehouse Atelier and BOOM, now we are the busiest atelier in town. Granted none of the vagrants that we give shelter to here can draw or paint, and you have to break up the occasional rusty knife fight over a piece of bread, but hey, students are students and we are PACKED. The beard is mostly just to blend in with the patrons. It makes them feel comfortable- like someone they can trust. Whatever keeps the customers happy!!! 

If a wizard said you could have unlimited money for the rest of your life, but every day at a random time you would crap your paints, would you do it? (the original question was supposed to be "pants" not "paints," but it still works)

Is this a trick question?!!??!! I don't see the downside. Its an obvious win, win. Obviously, unlimited cash is a good thing but if I could crap paints, regardless of the unlimited money, I would be a happy man. Can you imagine? I bet my crap paints would make Old Holland look like that shit they give to old people to paint with. Hell, I would just sit around eating fiber all day and crap out paint. Now that’s the true path to unlimited money.

We know you prefer to work from life, is this why you don’t paint mythological beasts like dinosaurs and unicorns?

It's true. I do like to work mostly from life. Since I have this mountain of money laying around from painting fruit in bowls I can afford to hire as many models as I want for as long as I want. The other thing is that I'm just not a big believer in this thing called "imagination." I consider it to be a gateway to empathy, and as we all know there is no room for empathy in art. For me, painting from life is the only thing that makes sense. I do have trouble with that from time to time though. Some things you can't capture directly from life. Not because you can't find that situation out in the world but more because of the limits of the law. For instance, I'm working on a painting with a bunch of people at a pool party with the Hollywood Hills on fire in the background. At first I was thinking that since it was summer and everything was really dry on account of the drought and all, I could probably get a pretty good fire going, set up my easel down on the Boulevard, and capture all of those houses getting torched. Of course, when I checked with my lawyer, he told me that the fines and jail time might be a bit more than I had expected. So I decided I was going to have to sacrifice my ideals a little and figure something else out like a diorama or something. So I took all my six year-old niece's doll houses and set them on fire and got to work. It probably would have been better if I had set the hills on fire. But, hey, we all have to make sacrifices for Art and that includes my six year-old niece. I could paint unicorns or dinosaurs if I really wanted to. God knows we have enough of them in Southern California. I don't really paint them though because...well... it's just nerdy and you get beat up for that around here. People down here aren't as wussy or as nice as they are up in Canada. 

How do you settle upon the subject matter of your work? If the answer isn’t interesting, make up a better one... that involves dinosaurs. 

Normally it's when I'm walking through the kitchen and I see a bowl of fruit and I'm like, "Damn! That shit's money!!!" Or sometimes it happens when I see a chick and I'm like, "She's hawt!!! I bet I could sell a picture of her!!!" Sometimes I get all introspective and try to come up with something that will embody my thoughts and feelings. But, as you would expect, that usually turns out pretty stupid. You know how it goes. I try to not beat myself up for it because I know we've all done it. At least that's what I tell myself. But, hey!! I can always just walk back through the kitchen and BAM!!! Problem solved! I haven't tried dinosaurs yet but maybe I should since you keep mentioning them. Maybe there's a market for wussy things like that in Canada and I could make a killing on it. I'll keep that in mind. 

What advice would you have for kindergarteners to make their finger paintings better? 

Well, there's something that they need to understand. Their finger painting technique could be absolutely killer, but that's not enough to make it out there in the real world. They need to realize it's all about ideas. So my advice to all of these kindergarteners would be to step back a minute and ask themselves why they're doing what they're doing. Is it relevant to today? Are they engaged with the contemporary dialogue? Is finger painting even relevant to today? Do they have an original point of view or are they just rehashing the same old finger paintings we've all seen before? This is the thing that is going to push their work past mere technique.

Many people have described your work as being at the crossroads at a crossroad, which is pretty much a four way stop. With that in mind, who gets the right of way? 

Oh, this happens all the time down in this part of the country!!! You guys up in Canada might not have heard of it yet, seeing as how you're the newest state in the U.S., but it's called a Mexican Standoff. You all arrive at the intersection at the same time and then wait a minute to see who's going to make a move first, but nobody does. Then you say to yourself, "f##k it. If no one's going to go, then I'm going!" Of course everyone else is thinking the same thing and so you all wind up going at the same time. It gets a bit hectic in the middle and only the one with quickest reflexes and the most luck makes it out. Making art is definitely like that a lot of the time so I think the crossroad analogy is a good one. 

What was your favorite scene from Mad Max Fury Road? I mean, there are so many to choose from as it’s pretty much the best thing mankind has ever created, including space travel and antibiotics. Oh man, remember that one guy with the flamethrower guitar? Or how awesome was Imortan Joe’s skull breathing apparatus? Or how Furiosa would cover her face in axle grease right before she was about to ruin someones day?

Wait. All that happened??!!! Well, I missed out... I feel stupid admitting it, but I thought it was Mad Max: Furry Road and that it was going to be a bunch of Furries running through a post-apocalyptic world where in the end it all winds up with some disgustingly perverted furry on furry action. I was wondering why everyone was so into it. For a minute, I thought everyone had lost their minds. I guess now that I know that there aren't any Furries involved I'll check it out.

How has having a crying crotch goblin destroyed your will to do art? Do you now bore people with lame baby stories like “this one time, my baby was staring at a spoon, it was soooo cute.”

I don't think it's really destroyed my will to do art. I never really had any will to do it in the first place. Art is pretty wussy when it comes down to it and I'm really only in it for the money. Actually the only reason why I tell those baby stories to people is to see which ones are popular. Those are the ones I'll make paintings of because that equals stacks of cash. Maybe if I combine pictures of babies with pictures of cats I could make some serious money.

(for more information on Carl Dobsky and Safehouse Atelier use google)


  1. This is a great interview. I typically lose respect for artists when I read interviews with them. Not the case here - Very refreshing. Congratulations to all parties involved.

  2. Laughing my a@# off... sorry for the strong language...Canadian you know, I don't usually swear, but this interview is excellent.

  3. Hey Carl, I've been leaving you messages for like, weeks bro. Seriously, I don't care how you get the money - lying to reporters, steal from your old lady, sell some fruit doodles for firewood down at the swap meet.. just don't be leaving me holding the baby like this. I mean, you do want it back, right?