Anyone familiar with the graffiti “Fat Kids from Outer Space” will recognize the work at Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street this month, since the artist is the same: Tard, who has lived all over North America and Europe and called New Orleans home since 2004. Here, the self-confessed retard spoke with me, admitted wastoid Skylar Fein, about art influences, chili dogs and the problems of lactose intolerance.
What would you say are your main artistic influences?
Hanging out in convenience stores late at night and eating a bunch of junk food! That’s everything that’s affected me stylistically. I like nacho cheese. That’s what it’s about. That’s how I became a Fat Kid. My friend worked at a gas station– he was the late night dude, graveyard shift– and I saw a lot of stuff go down. When you travel, you eat a lot of gas station food, too. Two hot dogs for two bucks, with a soda! It’s good for living on a budget. They don’t charge you extra for chili.
So you’re using spray paint?
I’m using everything: spray paint, crayons, markers, brush paint, collage. There is some big stuff that’s spray painted. And there’ll be a big door wall. I have to disassemble it and move it.
A door wall?
It’s a wall made of doors– 20 doors, maybe more. It builds a couple different rooms in my house. But now I’ve deconstructed it and put it in the back of the gallery. I may do some throw-ups and invite some friends to do throw-ups on it before i mount wooden pieces on it.
When you work in the street, you mostly work fast, but when you are working on a gallery show, you can take as much time as you want. Does that make it easier or more difficult?
It’s still fun to get them done fast, because it’s kind of annoying when they take a long time. It’s not difficult. Same shit. It doesn’t change. You use markers or brushes instead of spray cans. Can’t get in there quite the same way. It’s more comfortable, that’s for sure. You can smoke weed, hang out in a room, listen to music.
When did you start doing graffiti?
When I was 17. I was a late bloomer! [Laughs] I started off doing faces. And I did run around just drawing dicks for a while. I thought that was funny. I did tags and they were pretty shitty. I wrote Knock Chef for a while and Gale DeWeather. I didn’t do much until I started writing Tard. And I felt like I could get behind that. And it worked out.
And the characters are “retards”?
Yeah! They’re like special forces, though, you know what I mean?
I think I do. Are you a “retard” in that same vein?
Well, we share a lot of things. I like ice cream. It never fails to upset me, when I get ice cream.
Why does it upset you?
I don’t like dairy so much– physically, my body doesn’t…
Some lactose intolerance, no doubt. What’s your ideal day?
Sleeping. Hang out, watch cartoons and sleep. Having sex is pretty good. Smoke some pot and go back to bed. But if you have to go anywhere, I like to have a beer, paint, then go home. I like nap time. I didn’t for a long time, but now like to rest.
What are your favorite places to paint?
Abandoned shits– factories and schools are cool. Good highway spots at night are really dope. Big roller places, that’s the juicy shit! But running the streets is what it’s about, just a walk from one part of town to another, but I’d rather relax and drink beer these days.
Remember the Mason’s building?
Dude, that shit rolled for a hot minute! That was so much fun. It rode for a long fucking time. That and the Tulane building on Canal, you could see that bird from the interstate– it was about 25 stories up. You could paint all day; no one’s looking up here, no one cares. You just had to walk up stairs for fucking ever. The first time I went in there, it was with another writer who’s well known here, and he took a dump in the stairwell. When I went back in there later that night it was pitch black and I had to remember which stairwell! It was nice though there was a ladder on the roof–
So you could board the blimps?
“Fat Kids from Outer Space” by Tard opens Saturday, May 12th at the Du Mois Gallery, 4921 Freret street, New Orleans. For more information, check out dumoisgallery.com