The work of Oakland based artist Eddie Colla is a powerful collection of expressions illustrating how individuals on both sides of the fence react to the constant threat of social and political desire for conformity. His multi layered visions of people in the throws of isolation, oppression and conformity are beautifully crafted in an assembly of aesthetic retinal fantasy. His visual imagery is subtley defiant and allies itself against the forces that stain what lies deep in the heart of all his work, a celebration and a passion for freedom.
One of my favorite quotes from your work is “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission”. What inspired this quote and what does it mean to you?
It’s just about controlling your own fate. If you make your success contingent upon the approval of others, you’re kinda following the formula for failure. There are few great achievements in the history of the world that were not, at first, met with doubt or fear or both. For every person who achieved something great, there were 100 who told them it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done.
Your characters are often donned in surgical mask and gloves, The metaphor infers a protectiveness against not only the physical, but psychological reverberations of our society and the oppressive forces both on a micro and macro level impose on us. How and when did the surgical mask make it into your works?
I started working with the masks about a year and a half ago. They represent this dynamic of fear and protection. I’m not sure how they made it in there. Sometimes things make it into your field of view repeatedly. It’s like the world is trying to tell you something, showing you the same thing over and over. Placing the same things in your path. It gets you thinking.
What is something important that you have learned as an artist that you wish you new earlier in your career.
1) No matter what you do, someone will thinks it’s shit.
2) Guys who wear blue dress shirts are generally thinking about what they’re gonna do after work while you’re telling them about your idea.
3) Defining things often ruins them
4) Your girlfriend will be mad at you sometimes
5) Reds fade
How would you best describe your nature, optimist, pessimist, angry, hopeful?
Realist. Which would include all of the afore mentioned in various measures. I tried the angry thing for a really long time. As far as I can tell, all it got me was a few enemies and a bunch of smashed furniture and phones.
If resources were not a concern, would your art change and if so what kind of art would you be making?
It would probably be much different, and not in a good way. limitations force you to really stretch your creativity.
Your work overall has a general theme of overcoming oppressive forces. The oppressive force of the law, the city, injustice and society in general. Where did this come from?
There was a period when I was growing up where it seemed that everything was in the control of other people. My family, our finances, our future, all of it. I spent a long time being angry and a bit crazy, until I figured out some better solutions. I’ve probably carried some of those experiences with me all this time. Control and authority are funny things, they really only work with a passive majority. People have way more power than they realize
What if one day you were informed that Sarah Palin had purchased on of your pieces and she wanted to meet you. What would you do?
I’d love to go to her house because I’ve never seen Russia.
What is your opinion on the Jeffery Deitch Blue Controversy?
Best publicity campaign EVER. Everybody in the whole world now knows about the show, about Blu and about Deitch. You can’t buy that kind of advertising. Prior to the controversy there was gonna be an art show at a museum, big fuckin deal. Now it’s an international news story. Fucking Brilliant!!
Is the process of making art easy for you, do you have to struggle, do you plan, is it spontaneous?
It depends on the day and on the deadline. Sometimes you’ll plan something out, make a big production out of it, be really meticulous and the result is crap. Sometimes you grab a bunch of crap that’s been laying around the studio for months and an hour later, you’ve got something. You have good days and bad days. It’s best not to think about it too much, just keep working.
What is the most important thing to you?
Friends, because there is no such thing as a “self-made” man.