When we asked artist Kiyoshi Nakazawa for a tour of his studio, he invited us to Nomad Los Angeles. Locals might recognize the Dodger Stadium-adjacent space as a gallery and home for occasional special events (we stopped by Nomad for Wierd Fest last month), but it's also a fully-functioning, multi-media, live-work compound. Nakazawa doesn't live here, but he spends a lot of time inside Nomad while working on his silkscreens. When we stopped by last week, he was finishing up his pieces for the Post-It Show that opened at GR2 in West L.A. last weekend. He also currently has work showing in Giant Robot Biennale at Little Tokyo's Japanese American National Museum.
” Why it's so important for me to show you my work in the context of this space is because my work is informed by what happens in here, not just by myself but by the artists I work with,” says Nakazawa, shown here with Nomad artist Shawn McKinney. “It's always changing, what's going on and what they're working on, so I'm always being influenced by them and vice versa. There's a sort of feeding off each other in a very good way.”
“Everybody has a different approach to silk screening here, but it's all sort of based on the same principles,” says Nakazawa. “You can't really stray from the basic principles of how silk screening works. There are a lot of renegade techniques that I picked up from these guys that they'll never teach you in school. I think that one of the reasons is that they don't always work.”
He continues, “I used to have a rock poster attitude towards it, this was before I actually pulled ink. You would see these posters and they were perfect. Even though you knew they were pulled by hand, the way that the ink was on the paper and the way that they were registered, you thought this is how silk screening should look. Then you try to replicate that and it's impossible and you get frustrated, if it's off-register a little bit that's wrong, this can't be part of the edition. Then, later on, you realize that you don't like the perfect, homogenized editions. You find out that there are certain little things that they do, basically they are using machines, to make it look like that. I like a much more hand-pulled look. So, we started making things off-register on purpose, a lot of that was picked up by working with the guys in the studio.”
Ruin the Ending, seen above, is a 'zine comprised of Nomad-related art. Nakazawa also has his own 'zine, Drunken Master, which he publishes about once a year. “I've always been fascinated with self-publishing,” he says. “As much as I love the idea of getting published by a larger publisher, there is something about working on a project, even when it's done with cheap xeroxes, there's this little pleasure in making stuff like this even with new media and Facebook. Even if you're making 100 copies.”
Here, Nakazawa is working on his pieces for the Post-It Show. The image here is based on a piece he showed, and sold, at the “3000 Worlds in a Moment” show at The Brewery last year.
“I kept the image on a disc and turned it into a screen. It's a little bit smaller and a little easier to work with,”he explains. Each of the two pieces he created is based around a grid made up of Post-Its.
“I create the image right on a page, so I know where it's located and then I get the Post-Its and put them across to create a grid. It's not going to be displayed on this piece of paper. It will be on a wall without any reference in the back.”
“Shawn [McKinney] keeps a sketchbook of all the stuff that gets screened here. Every time I pull a screen here, I'll put it in his book. It gets layered and layered.”
Nakazawa also publishes two comics, Won Ton Not Now and Prize, which is about MMA fighters. His style in general is heavily influenced by American comic book art, particularly indies like Love and Rockets, and manga.
“I grew up with manga just as much as American comic books,” he says. “I couldn't read them, but I bought them at the store, the Japanese market, friends would give them to me or my relatives would send them from Japan. I was so obsessed with how they operate that I picture-viewed them. I can't read the text, I'm reading backwards and I can still understand the story, basically. That said so much about how they're telling the story with images, pacing and to use more highfalutin words, the pagination and the narrative flow. I was obsessed.”
Nakazawa says that Akira was particularly influential on him. He's also a fan of Hideshi Hino and Osamu Tezuka.
There are six artists living at Nomad and several others who, like Nakazawa, come in to work there. There might typically be about four people working in the studio at once, but sometimes that number swells to ten. With its large workspaces, artists can create without getting into each other's way. This is a common area in the residence section.
Nomad also hosts artists-in-residence, who stay at the compound for about a month to work on specific projects. Goldmine Shithouse, who are responsible for the piece here, were the first Nomad artists-in residence.
This is a piece by illustrator Joseph Muganini, who worked with Ray Bradbury and is the grandfather of Nomad founder Damon Robinson.
Robinson designed this cool, reversible hoodie sweatshirt. The mask option is perfect for snowboarding. “Everything you see, whether it's the beanbags or the apparel, is made in here, with a few exceptions,” says Nakazawa.
Before Nomad, the artists worked out of a space on the south end of downtown known as The Ghetto Mansion.
“Even though a lot of great things happen there– I always site that as being where I truly learned how to silk screen and make my own art prints from start to scratch– moving to this location when we lost our lease was a sign of maturity for everyone who stayed,” says Nakazawa. “That's when everyone said, 'We're going to take this more seriously, we're going to invest more money.'
But it's not all work at Nomad. The complex also hosts a skate ramp, bike station, pool and band rehearsal room.