In this weeks installment of ‘Meet this Zinester,’ we get to meet 40-year-old Wizard Skull, an artist from Brooklyn, NY. His career began when he picked up and immersed himself in the world of skateboarding. In this world, he designed t-shirts, skateboard graphics, and appeared in various local skateboard shops videos. He eventually went on to design board graphics for skateboard companies in various parts of Europe, as well as in the United States. Later adopting the name Wizard Skull, he abandoned freelance design work and began wheat pasting his artwork all over New York. His most notable work is “Sexy Ronald,” a buff version of Ronald McDonald wearing underwear with fries sticking out of them. This specific piece of artwork was photographed and shared on social media so much so that it eventually went viral, leading to the exposure of his artwork to a larger audience. Wizard Skull has shared his artwork through the medium of zines for a very long time now.
Who is Wizard Skull?
Where does the name ‘Wizard Skull’ derive from?
I had this one drawing I kept making on all my skateboards and everywhere I could. It was a skull wearing a wizard hat and a beard, and it said wizard skull. When I started wheat pasting posters around NYC, I wanted to come up with a name to use so I could be anonymous.
When did you first discover the world of zines and what was your reaction to them?
I think I first learned of zines through Thrasher magazine. In early 90’s they would review zines. I was excited about them immediately because I had no idea how to get into a magazine or make one. But I knew how to photocopy paper and fold it in half, so to be able to share my photos with others was something I wanted to do.
When did you start making zines and what kind did you make?
My first zines were skateboarding zines, they didn’t have any drawings. Mostly photos of me and my friends skateboarding around NJ, NYC, and Philly, with a little writing about places we skated at.
Why did you choose to display your art through the medium of zines?
I wanted to share my art with people. I had no idea how to get into a gallery, and there was no social media at the time, plus I liked being able to personally hand people I met zines of my art.
Tell me about your process— how do you make your zines?
I draw all the time, even now I’m more focused on my paintings but they take so long to finish one, so I like to take breaks to do quick loose drawings. All my zines usually have a theme and specific style of art, for example one zine might be all marker drawings of dogs, another might be all colored pencil drawings that are self portraits. I try to use a different material and theme or style for each zine.
How has making zines impacted your life?
I met a lot of other artists through making zines. Not just artists but a lot of people in general. It was more fun before Instagram, I’d be so excited to finish a new series of drawings. Everyone at Staples Copy Center knew me cuz I was always there making my zines, and I’d give them my zines. I’d pretty much go all over Brooklyn giving anyone I met a zine, random people on sidewalks, people at shows, people in the Bodega, neighbors, coworkers. I gave out so many zines that sometimes I’d meet a random person and give them a zine, and they’d tell me their roommate has it or someone else had shown them already. I gave away hundreds and hundreds of zines for years before I ever realized I could sell them.
When you first started creating zines where did you distribute them? Was it hard to distribute them?
It was hard to distribute only because of the cost of making them and I didn’t sell them, but Staples self-serve copiers years ago were different. You could make as many copies as you wanted, you were just supposed to write on a piece of paper how many you made and tell them. If you were sneaky you could make 50 and just say you made 5. Nowadays you can’t operate it without inserting a credit card. Eventually I started getting into art book fairs and zine festivals which were really fun because until then it was really hard to find other people who made zines. I only knew a couple by chance.
Do you still make zines and if so where can people purchase them?
Yes. I usually sell my zines when I do art book fairs. I’m finishing up a hardcover book of every zine I’ve made over the last 10 years.
Name two of your favorite zinesters/artists whose work has inspire you?
Anyone who makes a lot of zines.
How would you describe your art?
That’s one of the reasons I started making zines, so I don’t have to describe it and can just give someone a zine.
Where does your inspiration come from when making art like “Pop Culture Mutants,” “What aBart Bob,” and so forth? What is your main inspiration when it comes to making art?
I don’t know why I do this. Why am I doing this?… I don’t know. I started doing it and I kept doing it. I keep thinking of things to paint or draw, and I haven’t finished drawing the ideas I already had.
Are you currently working on any projects?
Finishing my book. Working on paintings.
What is your process like when working on a painting? Do you listen to music? Do you isolate yourself? What gets you working?
I don’t know what gets me working, I just start painting. I listen to podcasts or music.
What else do you do aside from making zines and creating art?
That’s all I do.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just getting into zines/art and wants to start creating?
Photocopy pieces of paper with your art on it, fold them in half and staple it.
Wizard Skull’s Links:
Stay tuned for next weeks installment of ‘Meet this Zinester’ with Mia Maxwell, creator of Fem Zine.
Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by Wizard Skull’s Instagram and the web.