Interview with Greg Frederick – Vinyl Pop Art

I didn’t realize it, but Williamsburg Cinemas (217 Grand Street) occasionally hosts art shows. They have a really good one going on through the end of April. If you go catch a flick there, you can also see the Vinyl Pop Art by Greg Frederick. His work depicts famous celebrity and cultural icons (the pop art) and he utilizes actual vinyl records reshaped and re-textured as his medium (the vinyl). Wow!

Greg is a multi-talented artist and his work combines many interesting elements into fascinating work. If you peruse his website, you’ll see that he’s captured people like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Courtney Love (who he has designed official merch for), Eminem, Notorious BIG, and more in his distinct style. Several of these will be on display at the cinema – the second time his work has shown there. I had a chance to ask Greg some questions about the project, the intersection of music, art, film, and more. You can also find out more via his Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram as @gregfrederick. Remember, the show ends at the end of April, so go see it!

GP: How did you come up with the idea to use vinyl records?

Greg Frederick: It was my love of photography that brought me to making my Vinyl Pop Art. Living in Brooklyn I was looking to get into art shows for the first time to help promote my photography. While attending shows, I noticed lots of prints. Which I felt were great in subject matter, but lacked in art value. I kept thinking the photographer could run off a thousand and they’d all be the same.  I started printing my photography to canvas and still felt it was lacking the original art feel. I started adding glitter, stencils, whatever I could find around the house.

While walking down Franklin St. in Greenpoint 3 years ago, I found a box of old 45s, some were chipped. I started chipping them more and adding them to a piece. Then I had the thought of removing the photo and seeing how it looked. Within in a couple of months of showing off my new art form I booked my 1st art show. Two of my pieces hung next to Andy Warhol in the Leslie Lohman Museum in Manhattan.

GP: What about vinyl records as a material appealed to you?

Greg: I feel in love with adding the vinyl after completing my first full vinyl pop art portrait, which was of Andy Warhol. I felt it was fitting as he’s the godfather of pop art! He’s been in inspiration before I knew I was into art. Anyways, vinyl shines like a disco ball, but you have to move to see it on my portraits. At closer inspection they are much more of a sculpture on canvas than a painting. Coming from a photography background I find it funny I now make art that can’t be properly photographed as they are best in person.

GP: How do you decide which icons to depict?

Greg: Starting off I only made portraits of I’d want to see everyday, mostly as if I don’t sell it I’m living with it everyday in my apartment. After bringing my art to social media I received suggestions and ideas, that have inspired me. Now that I’m lucky enough to through solo gallery shows in various areas, I try to make portraits of artists popular in those areas.  My 1st solo art show was in Las Vegas so I had to make sure i had a Frank Sinatra and Elvis.  In Manhattan I make sure to have mostly NY artists.

GP: What other artists do you admire?

Greg: Ron English is a mastermind, not only in 2D but 3D as well. My art focuses on celebrity. Mr. English’s focus on brands and media in a reverse propaganda towards media that I adore. Also, living in Brooklyn inspires me as there’s so much art around and I am constantly being inspired to work in new ways and discovering new galleries which I keep trying to get into.

GP: What else might have been in your head for other projects or ideas that clicked into place, that recognized this inspiration?

Greg: The next flash of inspiration after only using vinyls to make portraits was to try to get my muse’s attention to designed her next tour’s merch. I made a time lapse video of me painting my favorite design I came up with along with a photo-shoot of a hot blond. My social media friends helped me out by reposting/tweeting. A few days later I finally got the attention of Courtney Love. I ended up with 3 of my shirts designs and 2 limited edition screen prints on her tour last year. You can buy the prints now on godsavethequeenofrock.com. Here’s the video I made to get her attention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdddEX87UEE

GP: What is the process of creating these pieces like? Do the shapes have to fit certain standards or are there a lot of happy accidents when breaking the records into usable pieces?

Greg: Every time I’m making a portrait I think of my amazing Grandmother who taught me the world of putting a puzzle together. It’s a similar process, though I don’t know if I have all the pieces but at lease I can overlap!

GP: What other materials and objects do you use to complete the pieces?

Greg: On most portraits I use the packaging of the vinyls on the background. When appropriate I use CD’s, the best time was using them for Michael Jackson’s glove. Beyond that it’s lots of patience.

GP: How did you connect with Williamsburg Cinemas to host your artwork?

Greg: I love going to the movies and was thrilled when Williamsburg Cinemas opened. Best prices, pop corn and seats.  On one of my visits I discovered they had art up. Once home I contacted them and quickly set up a date to show my Vinyl Pop Art as the 2nd artist to show their work at the wonderful Williamsburg Cinemas!  I’m thrilled to think how money thousands of eyes will see my art when they visit. Extra bonus is you can just walk in and check out my art, though I know everyone will stay for a movie and snacks.

GP: Do you have a personal history with vinyl?

Greg: My grandmother gave our family a turn table with speakers and mixer.  Once it was out of my older brother’s room, I grabbed it. A week later there was a neighborhood yard sale. I found a home selling vinyls. At age 9 the sellers were shocked I was interested. they said make an offer. I had 2 bucks so offered then 1! To my surprise they yes and I got 50 vinyls including Cheap Trick, The Bangles and so much more that really got me into music of all genres.

GP: What are your favorite styles of music or musicians?

Greg: I feel lucky to have a least 1 favorite in every genre of music. Here are some of my top music picks:

Rock: Hole/Courtney Love
Punk: Descendents
Female Hip-Hop: Lil’ Kim
Maie Hip-Hop: Notorious B.I.G.
Group: Salt N’ Pepa
Country: Dolly Parton
Current Favorite: Jake Emlyn (best British rapper of all time!)

GP: Since the project is hosted in a cinema, what are some of your favorite films, directors, and actors?

Greg: Of course Courtney Love as an actress!  I hope she does more comedic rolls like she did in 200 Cigarettes with Paul Rudd and Christina Ricci! (who are my other favorite actors). Here are my top movie picks:

Comedy: She Devil with Roseanne
Drama: The Color Purple
Adventure: The Goonies
Tear Jerker: The Evening Star (sequel to Terms of Endearment)
Thriller: Léon: The Professional
Horror: April Fools Day (1986)

About Stephen F

Stephen does economic development for North Brooklyn businesses and writes about music at the online site Those Who Dig. He's only ever lived in Greenpoint while in NYC and he hopes it stays that way.

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