I was saddened to learn from Hi Fructose on Monday that the "Lord of Lowbrow" "The Pizz" (born Stephen Pizzurro) had just passed (at only 57 years old). As noted by Hi Fructose, works by The Pizz "are considered as one of the original sources of 'cartoon expressionism'" and have graced various mediums -- from album covers to comics to boards to billboards to bodies...
The Pizz, heavily influenced by cartoonist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, worked for Roth's Rat Fink comics early in his career. [Rat Fink-inspired tattoos are especially popular among California's Kustom Kulture crews.] He then rose to fame in fine art circles, showing in galleries like La Luz De Jesus (the "birthplace of pop surrealism").
In a recent August 21st interview with Colorinkbook.com, The Pizz talks about his work and influences. Here's a bit from that:
You're a huge part of the Kustom Kulture, surf, skateboarding,
tattoo and tiki community. Do you surf and or skateboard or do any
tattooing? And or do you prefer to create awesome art that represents
Let's not forget hot rods and bikes! Mutually feeding off each other. I
tattoo, it's fun. It's very, very, focused. I like something that I have
to pay really close attention to, like driving really fast at night or
using sharp or high-speed tools. Or flames. I'm a washout with surfing, I
just flail as a swimmer. My eye to hand doesn't translate to athletics.
Most artists I know spent all their early years cooped-up, developing
their craft. Yes, I've designed a few skateboards, some surfboards, even
skis and skipoles. I like seeing my stuff in print, whatever the
surface, and I like the challenge of really odd fields, like skis.
Tattoos are such a challenge, just from where they go on the body, how
they fit into the topography. I gotta great coupla pals showing me what
they know, like Opie Ortiz or Jack Rudy. Working on a skin canvas that
grimaces and bleeds is far and away completely different than just
making lines on paper...
Do the stories you tell with your art come straight out of your head or life experiences, or a bit of both?
Usually I'm working with a form of life experience, and it might be
torqued-out and flavored with other stuff, like any good fiction. The
best stuff is unmediated. You don't wanna overthink it. One of my ways
to tunnel-in to that inner conscious is to crank up some music. If I'm
just drawing, and there isn't a steady stream of verbiage counter-acting
the flow, then it just pops outta nowhere. Music is excellent for
creativity, talk-radio is good for nuts and bolts activity. Put on a
record to get an idea, sketch it out. Talk on the phone while you're
editing it, revising, clarifying. Talk radio for the mundane aspects of
laying in colors...