EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY YOUR MOVE

Your Move - Talent in the City

Todd was named the official artist at this year's GRAMMY Awards - the musical equivalent of the Oscars - in February, where he was commissioned by the Recording Academy to promote the prestigious music event.
In Liverpool. Some of his new UK canvas editions are on sale.  Todd's work is available to buy from £200 up to a staggering £10,000.  However, one painting of foil music icon, Ryan Adams, can be yours at £20,000.  With such top end prices it's no wonder Todd can count Hollywood stars such as Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Vin Diesel and Macaulay Culkin amongst his clients.
Can you explain the idea behind your tour of the UK?
It's really just for me to get a feel for all the people in Europe and to expose my work. It's been really busy for me in the States. So it's been good that I've had a chance to take a break this year and come visit the UK.  It's just nice to get out here.  The show at Hepplestone Fine Art Gallery in Ecclestone, Chorley was amazing.  I don't ever get the opportunity anymore to get out and meet people, so it's really nice to be entering this new market.  So, we're doing a 12-city tour and getting to meet a lot of people.
Have you visited Liverpool before?
Never.  This is my first time. I'm excited to be here and love what I've seen of the city already. I wish I was staying in Liverpool longer, but, due to bad scheduling, we've got to leave early in the morning so I'm only in the city for one night.  But we're having fun.
What was it like growing up in Texas for you?
Well, I left Texas when I was very young at 20.  All my memories about Texas involve doing sports and my time at high school.  By the time I arrived in Los Angeles, I started to get my 'legs' as an animator/artist.  While I grew up painting in Texas, the whole time with my mam, it was only the sort of thing you do as a child.  But the great thing about growing up in artistic family is that I was encouraged to pursue painting as a career.  Every kid likes art, but as you get older people put the pressures of the real world on you.  However, my parents were never like that.  I was encouraged to paint.  And the opportunity arose to get out of town and head for California, which I took.

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Is it true that you worked on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon?
Yes.  It was my end and final curtain job and last step in animation before moving into the fine art world.  I have been a character designer on several shows before the creator, Stephen Hillenburg, contacted me.  It was a great show and I worked on five seasons in six years before I made the jump into the fine art world.
Did you ever expect Spongebob to be the global success it is?
Yes.  I just felt Stephen Hillenburg and his team had something with it.  There was something so charming about the drawings I would do and I kind of never really understood them, but I sort of knew there was something there.  And I just polished up on some of them and it became what it is today.
You seem to emphasis people's hands in some of your paintings.  Is there a reason for this?
Well. The paintings are all about telling a story and the way people use their hands to talk.  In fact, body language is 50% of communication and I just feel when you get someone who's going to have movement and voice to their body when they're talking, it's going to be a lot more interesting than just watching a robot or puppet move.  I love the reaction and all the movement in the paintings.  The toughest thing about it is coming up with that rhythm and flow and to keep composition in check.  And to be able to tell a story in a set space of 24" by 32".  So, it's both trying and rewarding all at the same time.
Are the people in your paintings at Rennies Gallery based on those you've met?
No. They're all based completely on images I've had in my head.  Except for the Ryan Adams one.  This was kind of a homage painting because I listen to his music so much.  I saw this photograph of him and I liked the face and the way his hair was, so I thought, 'I've got to paint this'.  And he is the only one where I wasn't commission to do, I get a lot of celebrities wanting to commission me to paint them.  But Ryan Adams was never solicited.  And I really like it, it is one of my favourite paintings.
What compliments do you get from celebrities who buy your work?
In order to really make it in the film / entertainment industry, you have to have your own personality that is bigger than life and I think they really see themselves within my paintings, as we all do.  They identify with it.  And I think it's people in general, celebrity or not, who perceive a painting, and have done for many years, as an ambience piece in the background, in other words music that is just a background noise.  But now it's starting to come around and there are some artists doing some really great stuff about relating to and recognising a painting which is great.
Are you still practicing the Ju Jitsu art form?
Oh yeah, I train three days a week. And it's the only thing I do to stay in shape and stay sane.  But when you work for yourself and work really hard, you don't have as much contact with friends every day.  I'm usually telling people what to do and acting as a boss all the time, overseeing everything, so it's really good to go there and get my head driven into the ground! It keeps my feet on the ground so they say!
How would you describe your property?
Y'know, I live in a pretty small place.  It's like a moth's house! Seriously, I spend so much time in my studio / gallery, which is like 2500 square feet of a warehouse, which I really love and enjoy being in all of the time.  My house, however, is just somewhere I watch TV and sleep in.  I eat out all of the time.  My cousin lives with me and my girlfriend stays a lot.  It's a pretty nice old place with a back yard for my dogs.

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