Skullduggery on posterboard

Paul Imagine

Photo By Larry Dalton

You’ve probably seen his artwork on T-shirts for local bands or on hand-screened four-color posters hanging in record-store windows or posted on walls about town. You haven’t seen his artwork in Sacramento art galleries. Paul Imagine was the kid who sat next to you in high school drawing pictures of skulls with mohawks on his Pee-Chee folder. Paul is still drawing skulls with mohawks—and he’s gotten very good at it.

How long have you been drawing and screening?

I’ve been drawing all my life. Started doing artwork as soon as I could pick up a crayon. Started doing hand-pulled screen prints a couple of years ago and doing T-shirts for local bands.

What bands?

I’ve done shirts for the Hypnotic Four, Angora Machine Gun, Diseptikons, Shots Fired, E.S.D. and for comedian François Fly. I’m doing screen-printed posters now for shows at Capitol Garage.

How long do your posters stay up?

About 20 minutes before somebody steals ’em. It’s cool. It’s all good. I grew up stealing artwork off telephone poles in the form of punk-rock flyers, so I’m all for it.

How much time do you put into one of your posters?

They take a long time. I draw the drawings by hand, not using the computer or using it very little; I cut the Rubylith to separate the colors—that usually takes quite a while—so all in all I got about a week invested [in each poster].

It’s nice to see a club investing in poster art again.

Yeah, posters are my favorite form of artwork. My favorite artists are Derek Hess, EMEK, Alan Forbes and all those guys.

Have you submitted to any magazines?

Yeah, they did a story in a magazine called Head Press. It’s over there in England. They ran a story on me. I’m gonna be the featured artist in the upcoming [March] issue of Rant, a Sacramento music magazine. I’m gonna get a couple pages in there.

Do you do your art full time?

Yeah, I’m trying. I’m not really making much money at it. I have my own business, Insurgent Arts. I’m looking for a building [or a] warehouse to open up a storefront gallery and studio to do my artwork in.

You’re very political in your artwork.

I try to be. I try to expose some of the hypocrisies in government. [On] a lot of local issues, I tend to make fliers and posters and staple ’em to the wall. Like, different posters ranting about fluoride in the water, the traffic calming—I did some posters basically saying how ridiculous it is—and also I’ve done some artwork about the skate park in Sacramento, or the lack of a skate park in Sacramento. It’s pretty ridiculous; they always say they don’t have enough money, and yet they spend millions and billions of dollars on worthless things. The new jail. They spent I think it was $2.5 million on the park which sits, oddly enough, right across the street from City Hall, so they could have a nice little park to look at out their windows.

What do you think of the Sacramento art scene?

I’m not sure what’s going on with the Sacramento art scene. It’s kind of flat. I think Sacramento has some good artists, but I don’t think they get any exposure, because the people in Sacramento are looking for pretty pictures instead of artwork. Instead of something interesting, they want a picture of flowers so they can stick it on their wall. They don’t want anything controversial. A lot of graffiti artists get a bad rap, but I think if it makes a building look better than it started out, it should be OK. I’m not in for tagging, but as far as large graffiti murals, I think they should allow people to use the blank walls in the city, to use them as artwork. You see murals going up on a lot of these buildings, but spray-paint art is much better and much more interesting than a lot of those murals.

The music scene here is good for you and your artwork.

There’s a lot of great bands in Sacramento that are gonna be big, gonna live in infamy, hopefully. The punk-rock scene is really nice. There’s some really great bands—the Diseptikons, Angora Machine Gun.

Do you only like bands that use your artwork?

No. Pretty much I only give my artwork to bands I like, so it works out that way.

How come you never played music?

No rhythm.

Any schooling?

I went to public high school and spent my time doodling instead of paying attention, so I basically got free art school. I really had no training, I took no lessons to do things—basically just learned everything trial and error. Ended up costing me a lot of money in wasted product.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

Skulls with mohawks.