Dave Pollot is an American software developer with a secret life as a rather witty painter. Pollot cleverly mixes pop culture references, humour with old thrift art pieces. Characters from Super Mario Bros., Ghostbusters, Futurama, Toy Story (just to name a few) suddenly appear in old paintings under Pollot’s brush strokes, making the viewer scratch their head in wonder if they’ve always been there…
We managed to get Pollot to put down his brush for a quick chat.
THE METROPOLIST: Can you present yourself in a few words for those out there who don’t know who you are?
Dave Pollot: I’m Dave, a software engineer by trade. I’ve always loved to paint, and now I spend my nights doing just that. I live in a small town east of Rochester, NY (US) with my fiancee and our two dogs. It’s a pretty perfect life.
TM: How would you describe your art?
DP: I’ve always lovingly referred to it as art with a sense of humour. Taking the pop culture of my generation and placing into the pop culture Americana of another (my parents and their parents) in a way that makes you certain that it belonged there from the beginning… That’s the essence of what I’m doing. I’ve always thought of it as something of a parody on pop culture.
TM: How do you proceed when you’re painting; do you paint the whole piece or are you “simply” adding pop culture references to old paintings?
DP: The latter. I have a basement full of unaltered pieces that I mull over on a nightly basis. Sometimes I’ll have an idea well in advance, and others it’s very spontaneous. In either case, it typically starts with a great beer and working up the courage to make that first brush stroke.
TM: Why did you choose to mix Pop Culture characters and references with art?
DP: I sort of answered this above, but again, I just love the idea of taking something from our generation and making it relevant within the context of another. These are also the characters that I’ve grown up with and loved, and these parodies are other ways to see them.
TM: Can you explain the notion of Thrift Art?
DP: Thrift stores have been around as long as I can remember (my parents sometimes bought our clothes there when I was younger). The idea is to donate the things that you no longer need or want… and art is no different. People are always donating these old mass-produced prints/paintings to local thrift stores. It’s a great thing for me to help them find new homes by making them appeal to our generation.
TM: On your portfolio, you say that bringing new life to old art pieces always brings new challenges. What challenges are you talking about?
DP: It’s actually pretty tough to take something that seems so inherently different from a particular setting and place it into that setting in such a way that it seems like it just belongs there. That’s the difficult part. Each new piece of thrift art has its own particular style. I try to transform my additions in a way that seamlessly blends them with their new surroundings. It’s as though I’m learning a new style each time I start a new piece.
TM: What was the most challenging painting you did? Why?
DP: It’s hard to say, but I’d definitely put “The Buzzing Of Flies” up there. If you’re going to paint Vigo (from Ghostbusters), you cannot mess up. He’s tough enough by himself, but then painting him in the style of the print he was added to… That was pretty tough.
TM: Still on your portfolio, you say that you’re repurposing discarded thrift art, what is that new purpose you’re intend to give to old paintings?
DP: Hopefully, I’m helping them to find a home with someone who shares the same loves that I do. That’s purpose enough I think.
TM: Before mixing pop culture and art, you used to paint architectural paintings and landscapes. Is that something you would like to go back to? Do you think you’d paint them differently now?
DP: I’d still love to do that from time to time, but honestly, I’m having so much fun now that it’d be tough to go back. I think that I need to work on my attention span a bit as well. Those painting were a labor of love. It was great to see the finished pieces, but getting there was more an exercise in patience than anything else.
TM: What are you working on at the moment? Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
DP: I’m just trying to keep up at the moment. I have a commission list a mile long that I need to get through. I still write software during the day, so that also keeps me pretty busy. I have a number of shows (locally) during this summer, but I’m also getting married to my wonderful fiancee in the fall. Lots to do!
TM: Where do you see your art in 10 years time? Have you got some projects in mind?
DP: I couldn’t begin to guess what I’ll be doing in ten years! I have a few ideas in terms of where I might go with painting, but nothing that’s ironed out or set in stone. I think that I’ve grown fond of “not knowing”. Where’s the adventure in a plan?
TM: You’re also software developer, what’s that like? How do you combine your work and your passion?
DP: It’s great! I think it’s really important for me as well… it takes the pressure off the art, which just allows me to have fun and produce without adding unnecessary constraint. It’s also a great way to keep the left and right sides of my brain balanced. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to make the full transition from computer science to art, but I know that art is now something that will always be a part of my life.
In terms of balancing the two: I sleep a little less these days.
Follow Dave on Instagram @davepollot
His shop: www.davepollot.com/shop