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Interview: Artist Austin Young Puts His Heart On The Chopping Block For You

Artist Austin Young stands on a cloud all on his own, making art from within and presenting it to you to feed on, in glorious colors and intrigue. Art can be a culmination of influences from those around you, or, it can be a unique expression of ones soul and their experiences from their own life, the good, the bad, the ugly and my favorite, the pretty-ugly! Austin Young’s art, from videos to photographs, have a life of their own, breathing neon colored flames onto his subjects creating the most unusual and exquisite visuals. He manifests images that gender fuck your mind.

Like walking through an apple orchard hand picking each and every fruit to fill his basket, it seems as though this is how Austin hand picks his muses: Raja, FADE-DRA, SQUEAKY BLONDE and the list goes on. The Finest “broads” this side of the Mississippi (said in southern twang). Let’s get to it.

Self portrait by Austin Young


Accidental Bear: Oh god, I just watched Raja’s video Diamond Crowned Queen, Hot, Hot, Hot! I will jump right in and ask how it was to work with the force known as Raja?

Austin Young:  He’s a hot guy and a hot girl. He’s like a unicorn. If you’ve ever seen Raja perform live…. it’s breathtaking how incredible he is. The video was spontaneous and done on no budget. I’ve been photographing Raja for 5 years. Raja has been a great muse for me. It took us about 5 hours to shoot. My work is simple and low concept.

In fact, I generally like to make something very simple appear to be complex.

I rallied Fad-Dra and Squeaky Blonde to help style and got some clothes from Marco Marco. Raja brought her best. We just did as many looks as possible. It was fun to have Raven there, I love Raven’s blank stare in the video. None of this was planned it just happened. Carmen Carrera hung out with us. Mario Diaz and Tommy Joe Ratliff make sexy cameos!

A B: What are you currently working on?

Austin: I do this series of video shorts called ‘The Worm.’ It’s a surreal existentialist art/dark comedy. I’m working on episode 11 which stars Margaret Cho, Nadya Ginsburg and Selene Luna.

I’m going to show it in a group show called ‘CONSUMPTIVE’ at the Garboushian Gallery in Beverly Hills Nov. 11th. David La Chapelle is going to be in it also! I’m going to do a sale of limited edition prints on FAB.COM staring on November 12th for 5 days. This is your chance to get a signed limited edition art print for a super low cost.

Also, I’m working on my coffee table book- ‘The Art of Austin Young.’ I’m in the art collective, Fallen Fruit. We did a year-long show at LACMA last year, and we are making a beautiful photo book about it.

A B: What are you currently wearing (in an old creep man heavy breathing phone voice) right now?

Austin: LOL! Blue gingham underwear from urban outfitters. I usually wear old jeans and a simple t-shirt and I spice it up with a Hermes belt. The underwear is important though, it must be sexy. I’ve been working the ascot for a while.

I have a couple perfect black vintage suits that are getting a lot of play at fancier gatherings. I’m on an artists budget so I will buy basics at H&M, some Urban Outfitters, thrift store t-shirts and step it up with a couple nice designer pieces that go with everything.

A B: Were you raised in a liberal family and surroundings?

Austin: Absolutely not. My family is quite conservative. I LOVE them. Some of my friends had parents who were bohemian artists or intellectuals, not me.

A B: Has the definition of Pop-art changed since Andy Warhol days?

Austin: Art is fashion. When Warhol helped creat that genre in the early 60’s- it must have been so mind glowingly beautiful to be at the forefront of this movement.

It’s all been done now. Pop-art is nostalgia. I’m sure I’m playing in that arena but I’m trying to make it modern. A lot of art I see, for a long time, is about obscuring and masking meaning. If you can’t read into it…. you can’t find fault in it. Art that excites me right now is authentic, vulnerable, personal and naive. I love mistakes.

I love the courage to risk putting your heart out on the chopping block.

A B: What sticks in my mind most when I think of you, and I often do, is your series Tranimal. Could your describe that series a bit. All I can say is amazing and indescribable, please elaborate.

Austin: TRANIMAL Workshop is another collective I do with Squeaky Blonde and Fade-Dra. TRANIMAL Workshop came out of my work with Fallen Fruit, which is a public art project.

Everything Fallen Fruit does engages place and people- for example we invite people to make jam with us in a museum or gallery.

Machine Project Gallery in Echo Park show’s work of this genre; art becomes about doing and making things, and is not about objects, wall work, or sculpture. I wanted to bring this participatory practice into my personal work and I approached Machine Project with the idea. I conceived the piece based on the way Squeaky Blonde created his own look and also Fade-Dra. The three of us made a conveyor belt factory where participants are transformed into TRANIMALS and then I photograph them.

It’s really exciting to watch people transformed into something else.

We’ve also done this at the Hammer and BAM and have had other amazing people on board like Jer Ber Jones, Mathu Anderson, and Andrew Marlin.

A B: Is there a trend happening right now in art, music, fashion, media or all of the above that totally makes you cringe?

Austin: I started cringing in 1998. ‘Hit me Baby One More Time’ and ‘Genie In A Bottle’ spawned some kind of amnesia and cast a spell that the world is finally waking up from.

I eventually stopped paying attention. There is so much good music and fashion out there right now. The Los Angeles art scene is incredible. I like the fact that ART is so popular these days!


A B: You have paid your dues in the business! Do you think, today with the internet and instant fame, that artist and musicians should be getting the same recognition?

Austin: It’s so easy to get lost and loose sense of yourself within the omnivorous social networking web. I try to wake up everyday feeling grateful to be here. I try to look within myself for inspiration.

If I look around too much and think about what other people are doing or what they may like, I can start to feel like there is no place for me. The voice of my insecurities and doubts can take over.

The only way we can make something special is to enter our own moment fully.

A B: Gangbang or romantic candle light dinner for two?

Austin: I’m a romantic. Candle light dinner first.

A B: What projects do you have coming that we should be aware of?

Austin: I want to publish 3 or 4 art books in the near future. I want to workshop a musical on stage and then make it into a film. It would be great to travel with my show, YOUR FACE HERE 

A B: I am obsessed with model Andrej Pejic. Have you had to chance to work with him yet? He makes my boy parts tingle and question my homosexuality when looking at him in a dress.

Austin: Oh I wish. Andrej is BEAUTIFUL. I love when gender fucks you in the head. I’m inspired by Alaska Thunderfuck, Zackary Drucker,Squeaky Blonde, Jackie Beat, Fade-Dra…

A B: Bullying is the hot topic right now across all media. Do you have any personal stories on the subject and words of encouragement for oddball youngsters?

Austin: I was tortured when i was a kid. I want to forget it. I don’t want to identify as a victim. I also don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Yet it made me who I am.

I would say to a youngster: let everyone know what you are going through. tell your teachers and principal . Tell your parents. See if you can remove yourself from the situation. Remember, that you are a magnificent creature at all times. I kept everything to myself and believed there was something wrong with me.

Doing things to hurt yourself is not the answer the people doing the bullying and those who stand by and do nothing are the ones who are fucked up, not you.

Times have changed since I went to school, things seem so much more open-minded now, so also be thankful that you live in these times.

There would be no DIVINE or John Waters in a climate where everyone was accepted and treated with respect. Strife and pain make good art, use it.

A B: Where will you be in 10 years?

Austin: I will live in a villa in Mexico with my (future) husband. I’ll have at least one academy award. I will be loving life. I will be making art.

Austin Young





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