COOP's 'Idle Hands' Show Fuses Influences of Comic Books, Cars, Pulp Magazines and Punk Rock
See more of Shannon Cottrell's photos in "Inside COOP's Studio: Huge Paintings, Pinball Machines, Toy Collections and Cute Dogs."
L.A.-based artist COOP, famous for his references to cars, comics, devils and hot girls, once built a Model A Sedan.
"Obviously, I had as much help on it as I could," he told us when we visited his downtown Los Angeles studio.
"It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't done it, but when you drive a car where every nut and bolt of it you've held in your hands, it's just a totally different thing," he says. "It's kind of a hunk of junk, but the car has a soul to it and it's kind of difficult to express. It's like a painting to me that I can drive around in and it has a lot of meaning to me to have that car."
COOP finished building the car at around the same time as he put together a show featuring six foot-by-six foot panels presented as one painting called "Parts with Appeal." In fact, he drove the car to the opening.
Shannon Cottrell Cars have long influenced COOP's work
"It was an interesting parallel," says COOP of the two projects.
The 2004 endeavor was a significant point in COOP's career, with the show marking the beginning of his large-scale pieces. Similarly massive paintings will be on display in his latest show, "Idle Hands," which opens at Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City on Friday night.
"When you're working this large, there's such a considerable time investment that you have to make sure you know you're going in the right direction," says COOP.
The artist does a lot of planning for his pieces.
"Because I have a plan, it's okay to deviate from the plan if there's something that looks better a certain way," he says. "That happens almost all the time, which is again part of the process of it."
He starts with sketches, then moves on to line drawings.
"I scan all of that stuff into the computer and then start moving things around until I find something that looks like a painting," he explains.
After configuring pieces on the computer, he prints out the images and uses either a projector or transfer paper to begin the painting process.
"Oftentimes, I'll start with a color scheme in mind and then, as I start doing it, I realize that it doesn't really work. Things get moved around. It's really a lot of little things," he says. "If I showed you the original compositions in the computer, it probably wouldn't look that much different to you."
COOP has to keep the paintings fresh, if for no one else but himself. Each piece can take anywhere from two weeks to a month of daily work.
"Also, if I'm not interested in it, I don't think anyone else is going to be interested in it either," he says.