Art & Design

Artist Dzine on His Childhood, Nail Polish, and Nicki Minaj

Art & Design

Artist Dzine on His Childhood, Nail Polish, and Nicki Minaj

The back inside cover of BULLETT’s Spring 2012 Obsessed issue is filled with artist Dzine’s fetish: goopy, glorious nail polish. But making our magazine pop isn’t his only job. We interviewed the born and bred Chicagoan about his collaboration with Standard Press Imprint of Standard Hotels, to produce the book Nailed, a celebration of the underground nail-art world, released this past December.

Tell us more about “Gang Green,” the piece you selected for the back cover of our new issue that was made with OPI Nicki Minaj nail polish.

I love creating artwork in a really unorthodox manner, and the fact that we were able to create these pieces with enamel, with nail polish. Which is not a tool or a medium that you usually find with artists to create paintings. It’s a project that invites a different community into the institution, the gallery and the art world. I had chosen one color, but I’ve got to tell you, it was really difficult for me because I am not a Nicki Minaj fan at all. There’s not one drop of talent going on there.

So where did the inspiration for the Nailed project come from?

When I was growing up my mother created a bootleg salon in our house. She was a first generation Puerto Rican and when my parents first came to the States, there just weren’t a lot of jobs and there wasn’t a lot of money. So having four kids, in order to supplement extra income, she had her beautician license, so she basically started this salon inside of the house. And people would come over and then have drinks and I got to meet all these new people that were just hanging out at the house and chit-chatting. There’s this whole idea of community it created that I was fascinated with. I wanted to create that same feeling.
And this went a step further after the New Museum.

For the New Museum project we had the nail appointments. What I did though is in order to create the real experience I actually reproduced my parents’ living room. I literally took it apart from Chicago and I shipped it to Miami. It’s the real deal. It’s the real chandelier, the TV that I had growing up.

So you had a good childhood?

Those are some of my best memories. And I think I’m just trying to recreate that, I’m trying to recreate that energy with my artwork in the studio.Were you a cool kid?

I was a total rugrat. But I do have a pretty sick boom box collection.

How would you say your home city of Chicago has influenced your art?

You know, a lot of people actually get up and pack bags and move to New York because they feel like it’s the center of the art world and that’s where they have to be. But I actually use it to my advantage. I’ve always embraced the fact that I’m from Chicago and my Latino heritage. Being based in Chicago allows me some distance so that I don’t get caught up in the incestuousness. The art world can be really selective. At times, early in my career, it created this weird dichotomy of me being Latino and an artist.What’s next?

We’re going to do a book signing in Japan and part of the Nailed installation in LA. For the piece for LA I’m taking it a step further, I’m going to do a scaled version of the exterior of my house and the same interior. So I’m actually going to have a scaled version of my real house and of the living room and dining room. I’m also prepping for two big museum shows that are opening up in 2012.