Strange, Sad, Silly:
I typed “diewiththemostlikes” into the search bar of objkt.com and pressed the enter key. The first image was black and blue, with two grey figures — one of them was spoon-feeding sloppy red beef to the other. It was called, Hospital Sheets. The second image showed a couple sleeping next to Yankee candles on a Disney Cruise — one of them had their arm cut off. The mix of horror and humor disturbed me. This was art that played a prank on people.
Some of it was comical.
“bloomin human” (2021)
Some of it was crass.
“nft thrusting” (2021)
Most of it was commentary.
“the most disappointing comic ever made” (2021)
As if it dared people to look at it – or away from it. Either way, it won. I wondered: what kind of art did he make as a kid? Was it disturbing and strange, like what I’m seeing now? Or was it “innocent” at one point in time? What does he want people to feel when they look at these pieces? Confused, offended, and uncomfortable? Or does he want us to laugh at the ludicrousness? And what does he feel when he makes them?
Let’s start from the top.
What is the first piece of art you remember making as a kid?
A drawing of my teacher holding two atomic bombs with a face conveying unimaginable agony and ambiguous intentions.
I was in second grade, attending a Catholic school in small-town Indiana. My teacher told my class, “Every time you sin, you hammer another nail into Jesus’ hands and feet.”
At seven years old, I believed I was puncturing someone's flesh every time I did something wrong. It fucked me up. That drawing was a reaction to the anxiety — a need to dissect my own head. I’m assuming that my child-brain chose bombs to symbolize doom — or the deadly consequences of making a mistake that would tear the flesh from our perceived savior. My teacher didn’t like it. But that only increased my appetite for the obscene — and creation in general.
Sophomore year of high school, during my commercial design class, I had to design a new Chevy vehicle. Everyone drew a traditional bike, but I created the Strider 3000 — a human-being-shaped motorcycle that cried when you rode it. You had to lube it up during the winter, or its skin would dry out. My teacher said he hadn’t experienced something that sad in some time.
I was still attending a Catholic school at the time, so everyone said I was “doomed for eternal suffering.” Maybe I am — but it’s still a cool fucking motorcycle.
Is that what you want people to feel when they look at your art? Confused, offended, or uncomfortable?
Yes and no. I love that my art can spark a visceral reaction, but it’s not just about that. I’m a writer, so I always have a fantastical world in my head. Sometimes, words come before the artwork. Sometimes they don’t. Regardless, I feel like one is incomplete without the other. They evolve together to tell a story.
When I observe things around me, I exaggerate and embellish them. I might see someone eating slop via suppository in a scooter, sitting outside of a Best Buy, worn out from a life they never lived. I’ll take that and push it to the extreme. That’s our savior. That scooter will propel us to an afterlife that doesn’t exist. Fast casual consumption is our altar.
Best Buy is where people go to die a good death. It’s a retail outlet that pulverizes flesh into used DVDs and dreams into skid-marked rugs underneath Nintendo 64s.
Those exaggerated drawings offer a glimpse into what I believe might become our collective future in two or three years. Or maybe we’re living it now.
That’s a bleak outlook.
It is — but that’s what I have.
You can blame the Catholic school for teaching me that I was torturing Jesus by breathing. You can blame it on the same shit we all go through. Or, you can blame it on feeling too much. Whatever the case, I can’t help but see life through a hyper-realistic lens that leans toward pessimism.
I made a piece in 2014 called, die with the most likes (which became my Twitter name.) In my opinion, it sums up modern life — a bunch of people attached to respirators, dying in hospital beds, relying on digital adoration in their final moments.
It embodies the absurdity of human nature, the gradual decline of humanity into diligent insects, tasked with extracting meaning from a “like”.
Your art is strange — but it is also silly. What do you think about people who perceive your art as comical?
I think they’re right.
There’s more to my art than making people sad. It’s satire. It’s the ability to accept the fact that life will hurt you, haunt you, and fail you — so we might as well laugh. There is true comedy in our demise and the absurdity of the idiotic shit we spend time on to not think about our collapsing meat bags.
It is sad that we seek to be vessels for products and brands in an effort to feel alive.
It’s sad that we sip on pharmaceutical cocktails and broadcast indifference into a sea of similar mundanity in an effort to enjoy our time.
It’s sad that almost all love is conditional — we need to receive it from the other person in order to give it back.
But that is life. It’s depressing and fucking glorious when you think about it — which I do too often. But when it’s depicted like this — a man fucking his phone, two people high as fuck at Chili’s (a regular indulgence for me), or a couple embracing each other’s meat suit — it transforms the unbearable into uncanny and hilarious.
Mixing silly with the strange makes the sadness palatable. I use art to find humor in our failures. Without laughter there would be no air to keep our corpses from the asphalt beneath.
Interesting. I bet a lot of people look at your art and reject it simply because it is “silly and strange.” Has anyone ever told you that you don’t like your style?
When I began this journey, I was somewhat self-conscious because I would occasionally receive negative feedback on Twitter. But, in those instances, I would just respond with a bizarre meme or something too bizarre to endure. My unconventional approach would usually prompt a "what the fuck?" reaction from the other party, and they would disengage from the discussion.
But, one particular experience stands out.
It happened when I self-published my first book, An Eye for an Eye and Your Other Eye and the Rest of Your Family — which remains one of my favorite accomplishments.
One lady wrote a review on Goodreads, and it was the first review that I had ever received for my novel. It was a scathing one-star. She expressed that reading the book made her physically ill, criticized the main character as a psychotic brute, and wished she had never opened it.
Initially, I thought, "What the fuck?"
Her name was “Cinde Lu”, like the little girl from The Grinch or something. I wondered how a woman with a name from Doctor Suess could be such a tremendous scourge on humanity. But when I reflect on it now, I take pride in the fact that my words had such a powerful impact on someone. My words made someone physically sick — that’s fucking crazy. And — to be frank — it’s fucking awesome.
What about you — what do you feel when you’re writing or drawing?
To me, art is not a choice. It’s a necessity. I have to create things.
I posted a tweet making fun of market conditions and ridiculing the obsession we have with observing them, commenting on them, justifying them, worshipping them, fucking them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to sell pieces — but I think it's easy to sell a bit of yourself alongside them if you're not careful. Perpetually feeding on the latest popular offering, constantly shifting in the wrinkled and writhing hands of internet strangers. Essentially succumbing to the inevitable evolution of being a manufacturing plant — making art to make money and not for creation or exploration. And that’s nobody’s fault. We all have to make a living and I suppose that's the beauty of art, a lifeless pile of shit can mean something to someone. But no matter what the market is doing, I’ll be making art. It's something that lives inside of me. If I don’t find a way to release it, I’ll rot from the inside out.
In a way, they’re self-portraits. They capture fragments of memories, emotions, and deeply personal experiences. It may seem contradictory because they're often cartoony and filled with fucked up imagery, but when you read the accompanying poetry, prose, or short story, they become highly reflective. They are created for others to relate to, allowing them to enter that weird world if they want. But, at the core, I create them as a means to explore my own boundaries, push the unresolved issues in my mind, and examine the things that bring pain, suffering, or rare moments of happiness.
“how i price my NFT art.” / View on Twitter
I can be quite obsessive when I latch onto something. I become relentless and go all-in, pushing myself as far as possible until it's done. In the past, when I worked on longer-form pieces, it felt like there was more pressure and ritual involved. Lighting incense, making tea, and creating the right environment. But nowadays, as I focus more on shorter prose and poetry, the pressure is reduced. I can simply grab my phone, capture a crazy feeling, jot it down in my notepad, and later edit it on my computer. It allows for more spontaneity and interpretation — when the words don’t fully explain the piece, there is room for people to attach their own meaning and emotions.
In short, my pieces serve as a reflection of myself, but they are also an invitation for others to connect. They are a form of exploration and self-expression, creating a bridge between the fucked up world inside my head — and the world we live in together.
Is there a specific piece that holds more significance to you than the others?
There’s one called Hospital Sheets. It was a collaboration with an incredible artist named Xer0x. It has a backstory about a person dying of dementia in a hospital bed. It’s an emotionally intense piece because it draws from personal experience. It’s about someone I knew who died of complications from that.
“hospital sheets” (2022) — “he forgot everything that brought him joy before forgetting how to breathe I guess he would have preferred breathing be taken first as it was pointless without the memories that accompanied the inhales and exhales a man in a white coat put his hand on my shoulder and I cried, feeling the guilt of relief and the departure of someone who no longer recognized me.” / View on Objkt
It was brutal — one of the worst things anyone can ever experience. It fundamentally changed who I was as a person. But it also inspired me. It was another instance where I had to use art to express myself — there was no choice in the matter. I wrote a 5,000-word story to accompany it, which took a lot out of me, but that's why it's one of my favorite pieces. There was no other way for me to communicate what I was going through, or explore what I was thinking. Until I made that piece of art, it felt like a piece of me was unresolved.
“see those pegs
at the base of that tree
dad put those there
so we could reach the branches
they’re still there
but we don’t climb anymore”
Another piece I really love is big! election! day! It's absolutely insane. I dropped it for Escher, and it also has a long, short story accompanying it. This piece delves into the realm of nostalgia and growing up, questioning why and how to leave your hometown. It explores memories that may not live up to your expectations, like realizing the recipes you thought were good actually weren't, or the time when a stale sheet cake was thrown in the garbage at your birthday party. It's a strange longing for the past while also recognizing that it sometimes holds us back. I see a lot of myself in that piece.
You make a lot of references to “digital waste” — criticizing society’s obsession with abundance. You use “beef” as a metaphor for humans — criticizing the way we pulverize, package, and consume cows as if we are any better than them. As someone who makes art in a digital landscape, how do you feel about the part you play in producing “waste” on the internet?
As much as I hate it, I’m still human — so, I do it anyway.
There's a certain freedom that comes with it. I find myself creating a tremendous amount of work, contributing to the endless stream of digital waste. However, within that onslaught, I reach a point where I stop obsessing over perfection or expectations. I can communicate adequately without burdening myself with what others think or how it performs in terms of likes or retweets.
“where did the likes go?
are they the red running down my thumbs?
are they back into the blue?
i wonder where the likes went?”
“where did the likes go?” (2021) / View on Objkt
As I mentioned earlier, creating is a necessity for me. Once I feel that primal urge to bring something into existence, I pursue it relentlessly. Once it's done, I blast it out into the world and move on, rarely reflecting on it again. This approach liberates me from overthinking or overworking my creations. There's a distinct feeling of completion that comes with knowing when something is truly finished, and the more I create, the more familiar that feeling becomes. When a piece is done, it's just done for me. I don't dwell on it or revisit it extensively. It exists out there for others to collect, reflect upon, and find what they need within it. I've already extracted what I needed from that specific moment or experience. I'm constantly driven to explore new ideas and concepts with each new piece I create. Repetition and monotony would drive me insane
Plus, it feels good to connect with people.
One of the aspects that amazes me about this journey into the digital art scene and the community we've formed. I've received messages from collectors that have been so heartwarming and mind-blowing, knowing that my art has had a positive impact on them. It's astonishing to think that something I've created could change someone's day, week, or even month. People have reached out to me about Hospital Sheets in particular, sharing how it helped them reconsider their own experiences and gain new perspectives. When I receive those messages, it brings me immense joy to know that I can offer someone solace or a reprieve from a difficult day. That’s what drives me. That’s what gives me a sense of purpose.
It fuels my desire to create more, to write more, and to continue providing that positive impact. It's like a reciprocal energy exchange where I can contribute good energy to the world, and people can consume and benefit from it. It's truly a dream come true, and it still feels surreal to me that you're here, listening to me and writing this, and that anyone wants to listen or engage. It's pretty fucking rad, to be honest.
Thank you, die.
Elle's review of
An Eye for an Eye and Your Other
Eye and the Rest of Your Family