Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

TRANSIT INTERVIEW → L'art Pour L'art → By: Baha Danesh

Amidst the endless celebration of the new, it is refreshing to see an artist immensely in love with the abstraction and representation of telling a story.  For Todd Hirsch, also known as “thh7Ø”, this is the norm.  He brings textured paintings to life with the motivation of having fun and a merging a reflection of his inventive surroundings.

Baha - When did you first start creating?

thh7Ø - Well, I've always been creating in one fashion or another. I actually started in music, writing and recording at age 12. I was always writing. By the time I was 24, I had a multi-album record deal and was enjoying that. But a part of me was feeling like I wasn't being challenged artistically and wanted to try something new.

Around the beginning of 1999, I was collecting a lot of paintings and drawings by Davmo, an artist based in Virginia. That got me to try my own hand at creating paintings formally. When I showed some images of my pieces to Davmo, he basically said "sell them, sell them now!" That was essentially the genesis of my painting career, so I've always owed a debt of gratitude to Dave.

I come from a pretty interesting family, artistically-speaking, though mostly in music. my great grandmother was the drummer in the first popular all-girl band led by Ina Ray Hutton, and my grandfather played clarinet and sax with Tommy Dorsey and Les Brown's Band of Renown. Both my great-grandparents were actors. My mother is a beautiful singer, so I always sang with her when I was really little. Also, I was a little actor in all the school plays and such. So, I guess you could say that my upbringing really is what interested me in art. Whether it's painting or making music, it's all art…you just use different brushes.

Baha - How has your work has developed throughout the years?

thh7Ø - My paintings started out very crude and raw, and focused mostly on just text: quirky sayings, plays on words, cunning linguistics, with very minimal imagery. After a few years, the street art explosion helped to usher in my use of stencils, which I used in my work for a couple years. But, after everybody and their mother was using stencils, I felt like it became "dead technology"…at least as far as the work I wanted to create. It was then that I really got into using charcoals and graphite to create my own imagery. Over time it got more developed and three dimensional, and then utilizing watercolors to create my own palette of skin tones, it grew into where it resides now. The text is still there, but now it's not the focus that it once was initially. And with where I'm taking my work now, the focus becomes even smaller, as I'm embracing a more abstract approach in certain pieces.

Baha - Where do you gather your inspiration for your art? How did you become interested in your subject matter?

thh7Ø - I gather inspiration from a variety of different places as far as the text is concerned. I always look out for the way words play upon each other: the way they flow, and that certain pentameter and rhythm when you speak them. It'll just make sense to me in one way or another to where I just have to play with it and try to push it in a different direction. Even when the words don't make sense, they still make sense… if that makes any sense!

JRR Tolkien once said that the two words in the English language that were the most beautiful put together is "cellar door". I totally get it. It just works for me.

As far as imagery goes, I always like painting women that have a really interesting look on their face: the way their eyes are set, the way the mouth is positioned, the way the line, the dimension, and the form of the body is. Something just speaks to me and that's where I get my desire to capture it in a painting or drawing.

As far as how I became interested in the subject matter that I paint, when it comes to pieces where my focus is on women,  what can I say about women that hasn't been said before? Growing up in a family of women, I just love everything about them and it strikes a chord in me how complex they are, not only as a gender, but physically speaking. There is just so much detail…so many layers to explore. Painting a woman always presents a new challenge.

Baha - What do you like best about the creative process?

thh7Ø - What I like best is that there are no rules. You can go wherever you want with it and do whatever you want, because it's completely yours. You actually make it up as you go along, and there's no right or wrong answer as long as it is true and honest.

I love that specific point during the creation of a piece when you feel that you can't take it any further,  that you've gone as far as you think you could possibly go. All of a sudden, there appears that one little fork in the road that can take you off into an entirely new direction to provide a whole new wealth of avenues for you to travel down. it's never ending.

Baha - What do you like least?

thh7Ø - Well, there's never enough time to get it all out there. The ideas don't stop, and it's just difficult sometimes to quiet down the voices when time is not on your side. It's a balance that I struggle with from time to time. But, I would say that's more of a frustration, per se. I don't think I could ever say I truly like something about the creative process "the least".

Baha - What does “being creative” mean to you?

thh7Ø - "Being creative" is such a subjective term to me, and can mean so many things. But at face value, it means being an open vessel to let ideas flow and not be judged. To not only push the envelope, but to disregard the envelope altogether. I try not to be bound by any rules when I create. The only rule I follow is that my work has to have a sense of balance. Beyond that, all bets are off. In the grand scheme of things, though, it means that there's a whole other internal voice, a whole other internal clock. I think that's one of the reasons why I create work under an alias, because it's this whole other person inside of me because this identity switches on when the paints come out.

Baha - What motivates you to keep creating?

thh7Ø - Straight and simple: because there is always a new song to be sung, paintings to be painted, idea to convey. Once there's no more of those, I'll stop. But, I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Sorry. ;-)

Baha - What is your preferred medium and why?

thh7Ø - Mixed media, whether it's acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, spray paint, house paint, whatever. Each piece has it's own road map, and I don't limit myself to using what needs to be used to tell the story.

Baha - Is being an artist your main profession?

thh7Ø - For 12 years, it was. I was fortunate and blessed to be able to live off of my work (big up to all my collectors!). But, in keeping with my nature of being interested in so many things, I am now a partner in the family business, focusing on providing eyewear to celebrities (my family has been in the eyewear industry for decades). I'm essentially a stylist, and it's a lot of fun helping an actor create the character that you end up seeing on the big screen. So my painting career is still there most definitely, but now it's much more of a blessing because the stress of having to create to pay rent is no longer there. It means what I create is now born solely out of passion, and after not having that precise feeling for over a decade, it's nice to experience that again. It brought back a level of fun, and I'm loving that.

Baha -  What are your creative dreams?

thh7Ø - To keep evolving. To embrace the process and not be afraid. To always pay it forward. And to keep my hands dirty.
Those have always been my dreams, and ones I've always tried to follow. Sometimes they are the path of most resistance with what life can throw at you, but have always remained my focus.
So, until the day I die, I am just going to continue to make art my bitch. So there.  :-)





© Copyright 2013 → L'art Pour L'art