GQ DROP IN
In this interview Sachs gives Mark Anthony Green a tour of his basement workshop in Queens.
“If you go and make a piece of Art that's been made before, no one cares. If you make a piece of art that no one's made before, no one understands it. And you might an if it's a really great work, it's going to be beyond your own ability to understand it.”
“Do what you love. Like make it fun. This is not out of duty. This isn't homework. This is for you. This is your time.”
00:00:03 Mark Anthony Green: Back again with another one. Two a days. Two days two days. I am very very very excited for our next guest on the drop in. If you don’t know, I am Marc Anthony Greene. This is GQ’s drop in peace and love. Thank you for being here. Thanks for rocking with us. We have. Um? A man who is one of the most interesting people on the planet joining us today, artist Tom Sachs. He is one of my favorite, if not my favorite living artist. And if this is an introduction to him for you today is going to be. You, you’ll never be the same, so as always put your questions in the comments below. We’ll check a few of those at the end, and um. For those of you that know Tom, you know this is a go. So you know. Just waiting on the legend, but I see he joined. Tom What up? Let’s see if I could grab him. Alright. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. Did it work? We appreciate your being patient. Tom Sachs you beautiful man, comment below. And then I’m gonna. Uh, just comment anything and then it’s easy for me to find you that way. I do, I do not smoke weed no. No judgements, but there you go. Am I on? OK Alright. There he is. What’s up man?
00:02:09 Tom Sachs: Mark Anthony, what’s up?
00:02:12 Mark Anthony Green: You know, just chilling at home.
00:02:15 Tom Sachs: I’m adjusting, I’m adjusting my tripod. OK, you guys gotta be quiet over there or else. Or else I could mute you, but I think I want to hear you in case we.
00:02:27 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah yeah, hey good you look good man.
00:02:31 Tom Sachs: I know. So do you.
00:02:35 Mark Anthony Green: I need a haircut. How have you been holding up?
00:02:39 Tom Sachs: A great I’m I maybe shouldn’t admit it, but I’m having it. I’m I’m living my best best life yeah. So if you don’t know who I am I see questions on my name is Tom Sachs an artist and I’m in my apocalypse bunker basement studio.
00:02:58 Mark Anthony Green: I’m gonna there’s no way that you you’ll be entirely too humble to give the real introduction. Tom Sachs is an artist in the most simplest form, but really, he is like an Explorer. He’s like the last living actual Explorer. Um, and he has what we at GQ consider like. One of the most interesting, brilliant minds. He’s kinda like that kid, you know there’s there’s always that one kid in the class that you like. There’s a 99% chance this kid is gonna grow up and be really strange. But there’s a 1% chance he’s gonna grow up to be a genius. Tom Sachs is the 1%.
00:03:46 Tom Sachs: Thank you.
00:03:48 Mark Anthony Green: He has obviously done Gallery shows all over the world and has a studio which is. I’ll let you explain the studio. It’s like a living. Growing art project ideology in itself that is extremely, extremely fascinating. Is there a simple way to explain what? The studio wait, what’s your studio is?
00:04:21 00:04:21 Tom Sachs: Sure. So yeah, so um. There are twelve of us in the studio or a coven where studios in Soho and it’s a multi-media studio, so we have it’s it’s sculpture studio so we have like a welding setup and then an equipment for making. Paintings and woodwork and resin everything in 3D and now of course we also have computers. And in a way I’m in the I’m. In my basement right now, not in the studio at home. And this is kind of like a mini version of the studio. We don’t have every single thing set up here, but I can take you on a little tour of this studio and show you how it’s like the big one. And just to give you a sense of big, we do like big art projects. For example, we have our own space program. It’s called NASA, just like the other space program that we all paid for the taxpayer space program. This one’s private. We’ve done a few missions, went to the moon in 2007. At the Gagosian Gallery, and the Mars in the Park Ave Armory in 2012 and Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter at Yerba Buena Center for the arts, an. In San Francisco and in this fall, we’re going to. The asteroid Hamburg Germany. Me at. So operation for that. So some of these that you’ll see today maybe will. You’ll see it fully realized there.
06:00:00 Tom Sachs: Maybe this is a good moment to like to describe the. A discipline that we employ, whether it’s this month, in in shelter, at home, or in the studio when we go to other planets or the other, NASA we all employ this discipline called ISRU in situation resource utilization. Lot of words. What it means is you’re in this situation. You’ve got resources. Maybe you got a little of ‘em. Maybe you got a lot. Maybe you got something in between. I don’t know. We can talk about that, yeah? Then how do you utilize those resources now? The other mission, the you know the the other. NASA uses a ISRU device sends it to another planet like Mars and sets it up. A generation later, astronauts arrive in that machine made. Rocket fuel for the return trip. Home drinking water and. ACS breathable oxygen out of the existing methane so you know, for you and me today, it’s how do we use what we’ve got at home to make the best of our lives? Most of our lives, yeah.
00:07:27 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, I love that and so you as obviously the the leader of the studio you’ve started, this kind of movement with sru to where you’re basically challenging. Not I don’t know if it’s challenging, but like. Encouraging people at homes to do what?
00:07:53 Tom Sachs: So. I think. Really what I’m I think when I’m and I will. Get into this in depth, but the. There’s a, there’s a, there’s a. There’s that wonderful thing. Wonderful opportunity that we all have here. Oh, is that a creature? What do you got there?
00:08:14 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, it’s a It’s it’s my Cat Horse. Is your cat a rex?
00:08:19 Tom Sachs: Yeah no, no no. He’s a sphinx.
00:08:23 Mark Anthony Green: You you have a very cool litter box. In your studio. Yeah, litter robots amazing John out to little robot. Yeah little you have a litter robot yet. But we don’t because where we don’t know if he’d use it this. This is not why people signed into. Get into litter, but this litter conversation.
00:08:42 Tom Sachs: I endorse the litter robot, he’ll, he’ll, he or she will use it. He or he’s beautiful, oh.
00:08:49 Mark Anthony Green: He’s good and I can’t. If I wanted him to sit still, he wouldn’t. He’s just, but if I wanted him to do, he’s just interrupted. Is what he does.
00:08:56 Tom Sachs: Just turn down the heat. Open a window and he’ll go right up to you.
00:09:00 Mark Anthony Green: I know, I know, I know, I know.
00:09:02 Tom Sachs: I am sorry, yeah so. So. Alright, so we’ve got this wonderful opportunity here in sheltered home to deal with the existential abyss. Like what are we doing with our lives? What are we doing with our time? What’s really important? It’s a great opportunity. The bad news is we have to deal with the existential abyss. What we do with our lives. What’s really important? Yeah, it’s it’s very, very scary time for a lot of people, and artists are really all artists that I’ve ever met are experts at dealing with uncertainty. Yeah you. If you go and make a piece of Art that’s been made before, no one cares. If you make a piece of art that no one’s made before, no one understands it. And you might an if it’s a really great work, it’s going to be beyond your own ability to understand it. Yeah, this is kind of a difficult thing to come to terms with if you understood it, why would you even bother? And then that’s a huge paradox in in making art. So what what ISRU is about is? Utilizing a few tricks. To trick your mind into pulling that information out, giving you some confidence to make some work. And I don’t want to call it Art, ‘cause I think that’s a dirty word, but some activities that help you to dig deeper inside of yourself and express yourself either. Privately or publicly I I wanna like really layout. It’s so important that when you do this work you do it for yourself first. You don’t need to show it to anyone if you wanna show it. We want to see it and you can. You can post it Tom Sachs, ISRU or GQ or there. Sorry hashtag. Tom Sachs ISRU OK? Yeah maybe I’ll throw up a card at some point, Yeah?
00:10:59 Mark Anthony Green: Well, we’ll make sure after this will will put everything in one place so that it’s easy to find. So if you’re at home, you don’t have to take notes right now just vibe out with this will make sure.
00:11:10 Tom Sachs: Thanks. OK thank you but but you’re doing it for yourself first. So the first exercise of ISRU if I can jump straight into it.
00:11:18 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, of course.
00:11:23 Tom Sachs: First thing in the morning. Before you look at your email or Instagram or the newspaper, or make a phone call or whatever. Write. Dance sing touch clay. Draw output before you input.
00:11:45 Mark Anthony Green: Say it one more time, say, say that, say, say one more time and I will. Hold on a second. This is why we brought this man. To you. When we when we decided to do this, you would want the first people that we talked about and it’s because I knew. Tom Sachs that you had gems like this.
00:12:09 Tom Sachs: I’m gonna give a shout out. To my Homeboy Edward Tufty He and he’s another great resource. Maybe have a little like list of things we talked about. Someone take notes and will post it as like a little in the story or something, yeah?
00:12:25 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, I know it’s a little overtime. Yeah, of course.
00:12:27 Tom Sachs: So Edward Tufty we’re not going to get into who he is, but you’ll you’ll find out. But he taught me this lesson and I employed this so. When you’re sleeping, you slept for whatever, say 8 hours. You’re spending 8 hours with your subconscious mind. Making sense and nonsense, right? Like regular life is crazy enough, but the surreal mind that the subconscious explores doesn’t make any sense, but it’s our erracht. It’s part of our brain trying to make sense of the things that we can’t make sense of during the day. It’s very regenerative. That’s why we dream. It helps our minds kind of reset. Now. First thing in the morning when you wake up you got. Exclusive access to those dreams, right? Some people say, write down your dreams, that’s a great exercise. I’m not saying that’s the one to do. You should. If you don’t know what to do, definitely choose that one first, because what you’re doing is, you’re you’re translating your subconscious mind. You’re the crazy stuff into your rational mind. You’re using pen and pencil and paper to translate it. You’re using words that we all know. And letters and characters that represent ideas to articulate an idea. Soon enough, the phone will ring. Do you have an alert? Some fucked up thing will come into your frame of consciousness and you’re blasted out. If you got baby screaming. But if you, if you steal those first 5 minutes first hour, depending on how lucky you are and how busy you are. Yeah, everyone can spare 5 minutes. Just set that Clock 5 minutes early. Don’t watch another episode of fucking Ozark or whatever is yeah, fun drug TV’s bullshit that you’re enjoying ‘cause I like that one, but it’s like it doesn’t bring you anything that the the gold is in your subconscious. ‘cause that’s who you are as part of you that you don’t even know. So yeah, power there. I they you know I like to do drawing first thing in the morning. Um? I like to touch clay. Um, those are an write? Those are the things that that I do. And well, I have I ever looked at Instagram first thing in the morning. Of course, we’re all guilty of it. Yeah, this is just a compass. A direction for you to consider, yeah.
00:14:41 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah no, I love that. I love that I love that. OK, so that’s the first step.
00:14:46 Tom Sachs: Yeah so yeah.
00:14:48 Mark Anthony Green: I’m gonna try that tomorrow. Yeah. And everyone at home. We highly recommend. That you try that and let us know. How it goes?
00:14:58 Tom Sachs: I think it. I think it’s a. It’s a great. It’s a great trick because people always ask me. You know how do you? Do you get bored? How do you keep making art? How do you stay motivated? These are all the same question, like how do you get your arse out of the bed? How do you? How do you? Do stuff I touched clay someone just asked because I I do ceramics. That’s one of the things I do and you could look up my Japanese Tea Bowls, my Chauhans and we can talk about that, but that’s a separate topic question. How do you? How do you channel the thing that makes it special who you are? And sometimes I get bored. Sometimes I look at Instagram first thing in the morning like everyone else. I’m not special but I have tricks and one of the tricks is do it first thing in the morning. Number 2. Do what you love. Like make it fun. This is not out of duty. This isn’t homework. This is for you. This is your time. If you don’t like it, do something else but but like engage with it with your active mind and if you’re gonna play video games, play Minecraft so you can build something you know. I love Grand Theft Auto but in a way it’s kind of. Passive, it’s hard to be creative. When I played it a lot, I used to smash cars together and build pileups of cars and see if I could make a sculpture using the cars as an element.
00:16:19 Mark Anthony Green: You know, but not do everything I’ve heard about.
00:16:21 Tom Sachs: Thank you, but if you don’t mention. If you do a mission, you’re solving a puzzle right? And and then there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a different activity. Like I, I don’t. I know some people are doing lots of Jigsaw puzzles and I think that’s good because it activates your mind, but in a way it’s also do something else too, because I think you do different kinds of things. So number number one is first thing in the morning. And someone just wrote reading, yeah, don’t read first thing in the morning ‘cause reading his input I just saw question reading is not it is not write.
00:16:56 Mark Anthony Green: So yeah, so output before input.
00:16:59 Tom Sachs: Yeah, output for input. Do something that you love, number 2. #3 your setup, that’s everything your setup is your. Paper and pencil minimally so you have to have a piece of paper or notebook, a clipboard and a pencil, and maybe in a backup pencil in case that breaks first thing in the morning so you don’t spend your creative like the first thing like Oh well is an amazing idea dream. I saw gold at the end of the rainbow. I just gotta write down. I got this widget and I’m gonna be, you know set for life and then but where’s my pen? And then the memory fades is. The muses so fugitive. That you must be set up to capture her.
00:17:51 Mark Anthony Green: Gems, it’s so. Listen, listen. It listen. Tom. This is it. So you’re saying whatever you’re gonna do, if it’s the clay. If it’s writing, if it’s dead, whatever that should be set up so that as soon as you get out of bed to go, do that very fun thing. It is right there waiting like there’s no, yeah.
00:18:17 Tom Sachs: If you’re gonna dance in the morning, move the furniture. The night before, yeah. Yeah, roll up the rug. Like have your. Socks or no socks or your whatever your outfit ready to go like layout yourself. It’s called getting your it’s called your set up and again I’m gonna give props like this. I read from David Lynch is catching the big fish and I highly encourage that as the books on tape because you get to hear David Lynch. Scream the whole book at you. In his own voice, and he does sound effects with like wind. Noise is wonderful if you’re on a long road trip. Yeah, perfect, yeah.
00:18:58 Mark Anthony Green: That’s awesome, so that is awesome. OK, yeah? OK, how many things? We got three so far.
00:19:06 Tom Sachs: There’s so many, but let’s just go back to the top. We’ve got checked. You got a output before it put input. Do something. I love, the setup is set up. Um Erum, What is it? What else is on our list? I mean, there’s so many more really, but I I, I think.
00:19:30 Mark Anthony Green: That’s pretty, I mean. Getting to work, you know?
00:19:35 Tom Sachs: I think that there are there are more details, but here let. Me, I’ve got a whole list. Actually have more, but I want to give you and I’ll just show. Them to you and you can screen grab this.
00:19:45 Mark Anthony Green: Oh, that’s cool.
00:19:46 Tom Sachs: And this is these are called the paradox bullets and we can post this too. Yeah, let me great. We did a story so. You know things like. Do the easy things first, as a warmup to do the hard thing. Yeah yeah, make it easy. Don’t like kill yourself or #2 do the hard things first. To get it out of the way. Yeah, that’s another thing, but. Let let’s just maybe what we can do is ‘cause I know that there are other bullets, but I’m gonna bring ‘em in casually. Maybe I can show you around the studio a little bit.
00:20:22 Mark Anthony Green: We would love to see that if you don’t mind. If were not intruding?
00:20:24 Tom Sachs: You’re not intruding? No, not at all, but but I will warn you that then you’re gonna be like, Yeah, this guy’s an asshole, this place is super organized. It’s really disorganized right now and I know you’re you’re rolling your eyes but like for me and you know I’m like. I’m uh. Whatever OCD, maybe, but I’ve managed to make it work for me. I think that the secret to being a successful person is finding your own standards of excellence, not anyone elses. And like you said, the one kid in class who’s gonna maybe be like a weirdo or baby BA, um? Like a genius, I was going saying fuck you Coleytown Junior High School without believing. Very painful time. Westport, CT yeah fuck you guys.
00:21:12 Mark Anthony Green: Guys, I assume that. You know, you know, there’s not a lot of a lot of. There’s not like a knolling club. At the you know what I mean. At most high schools.
00:21:24 Tom Sachs: Yeah, but it wasn’t for Knoll. It it you know for me I. Struggled for years until. Pretty much I like right after high school. I started to find my own standards of excellence. Yeah and. Then everything kind of got. I don’t wanna say easy for me, but the challenges became more reward we could let you more rewarding results like the 1st 20 years of school was like very painful. I was a C - D student. I did 9th grade twice. I didn’t do summer school like 3 times to get to the next year. I was remedial I. I did not, I couldn’t do anything successfully. I would like not a single subject that I Excel in, but I just didn’t understand how the system really worked and then I found a way. I got really lucky. I I. I got to go to Bennington College and there were no grades there and it was pass fail and I discovered sculpture and. Through my love of sculpture, I managed to apply. That energy into the other classes I managed to do well in almost every every class ‘cause I was motivated and I think that goes back to bullet #2 do what you love and it’s very hard to find what you love and I know that a lot of people are watching and they’re doing things that they don’t love to do for living. And maybe this time in quarantine is a way. To like give us a little perspective about finding priorities in our lives and doing what we gotta do to really. Put those things forward. Absolutely yeah. Yeah, it’s tough one but.
00:23:04 Mark Anthony Green: Like the best time to whatever that that dream was. This the side huslte the you know whatever it could be the smallest thing and like you said it could be something that is private that you never showed anybody. You know. Got nothing but time on my hands now, you know.
00:23:19 Tom Sachs: The whole side hustle thing. And by the way, I’m an expert at side hustle. Yeah, should I tell the story about how I became a professional artist.
00:23:29 Mark Anthony Green: And we’d love to hear it.
00:23:31 Tom Sachs: And we will walk around the studio, but maybe go back and forth so. I when I first moved to New York in 91, I didn’t have any money and but I learned how to do welding through making sculpture an I convinced my landlord, who Edward Trackman, who just died this year. Anol Sholem. Uh, too, and he’s still. My landlord is his sons are. Um? And and you know, it’s like family and he’s like he’s like an uncle to me and he gave me a job, welding fire escapes and fixing elevators. Um, to pay the rent for a decade and I did 90%. Um? Elevator repair and 10% art and then over the years I kind of slowly flipped it around and now I do. Almost 100% are and then there’s one day of the year if you ask me on that day I will accept a welding job as a way of keeping grounded because it’s important to stay connected with your roots.
00:24:40 Mark Anthony Green: Now hold on. So you mean to. Tell me that if I were to call you on that one day and I was like, hey. Tom, you know my my fixture fell off an I need to think you’d be like yeah I’m in it and you.
00:24:52 Mark Anthony Green: Show up and you would.
00:24:54 Tom Sachs: I if it was that day.
00:24:56 Mark Anthony Green: TaskRabbit, one day out of the year?
00:24:58 Tom Sachs: I do TaskRabbit stuff and.
00:25:01 Mark Anthony Green: Can you imagine task rabbiting and then Tom Sachs shows up?
00:25:07 Tom Sachs:
I’m really good still. I mean welding so I have to wear reading glasses though when I Weld now. So I I’m so I’m so old 53 an I can’t see the detail that well but you know the thing about welding is it’s not really about the weld just more about the weld preparation. If you clean the materials and you have the settings right and there’s no rust and everything’s. And everything’s organized and well fitting or like the Weld welding parts. Easy, yeah, well, preparation prevents piss poor performance.
00:25:38 Mark Anthony Green: Every time every time show us some studio, yeah.
00:25:42 Tom Sachs: OK so I’m gonna do a little. I’m gonna do a little sort of like I don’t know Panorama tracking shots so. You come down the stairs, right? And then I got this fucking stupid JVC life on record boom box. I don’t know if you guys remember this, they’re so beautiful but just very painful to operate. They just counter intuitive but looks really cool. Japanese designed in Portland OR by an independent firms kind of a cool thing. You gotta like reset it every time the buttons are touch sensitive. It’s very fragile. I love TDK. There were the tapes that I just bought on Canal Street and it’s just like you know to me. It represents home piracy. How can I? OK. So. And you know, because I’m in the basement, I mean, these are like Old Records. I haven’t listened to in a long time, really into Tapestry.
00:26:47 Tom Sachs: Uh, this Thelonious Monk is my favorite. I don’t know if you know this image, but yeah, he’s he’s in a barn playing the piano with a Sten gun. He’s got a Nazi tied up behind him. Yeah, he’s drinking scotch. It’s called underground. He’s like a French resistance fighter with like dynamite. What a cool set they like set this whole thing up for this picture mean. That was, those are the days. This is a good record.
00:27:15 Tom Sachs: This is a cardland turn. It’s called a P1. And that’s Isamu Noguchi. He’s a big hero of mine. He, the mayor of Achari, said hey, we’re the car is the town in Japan that makes these lanterns out of Mulberry paper and he said, hey, electric light bulbs are putting candles out of business. I mean electric light, a candle, candle lanterns out of business. Can you help us? And the Noguchi was the guy who first put a light bulb inside a paper Lantern. Yeah, and the Mulberry Paper, the Mulberry bark. It’s not. Paper transforms the photons into something warm again. So that’s like you put a really white bulb in there, like an LED and when it comes out the lights pretty warm. So that’s that’s like an invention. The Gucci was an amazing inventor. Besides being a great sculptor.
00:28:15 Mark Anthony Green: You made one of those right?
00:28:16 Tom Sachs: Well I I took one and I drew on it and I’ll I’ll probably do a second edition on this one for this please. I’m working on it an an I think that you’ll be able to get those in Tokyo in July at Isetan. We’re doing this thing called retail experience at Isetan. Uh, Shinjuku, and that’s that. That’s a really great. It’s like maybe the best Department store in the world.
00:28:42 Tom Sachs: I’ll move him over. This oh, by the way, this is a fantastic… Prosthetic. This is by bad dragon from Phoenix, AZ. They’re fantastic. We look them up. They make the most insane sex toys. Check him out there really cool bad dragon. Beautifully crafted.
00:29:06 Mark Anthony Green: That’s the first on the on the GQ live. Yeah, but you know, again, quarantine.
00:29:12 Tom Sachs: Enjoy. Yeah, that’s another. That’s another rule for quarantine. Someone asked me about is important to kept boundaries and stuff. And keep a schedule. Yes, you must schedule intimate time. With if you’re there by yourself, you must schedule it. If you’re there with a partner, you must schedule it. You must schedule it so that it happens enough, but not too much running balance. Yeah, so they get this.
00:29:38 Mark Anthony Green: World needs more love Terios. That’s it. Yeah, and we’re pro love at GQ, yeah?
00:29:46 Tom Sachs: Yeah, this is. This is where GQ and Tom Sachs studios world like Venn diagram. That’s it intersect yeah. OK, so like you know, hey this is. Cool, this is a boom box that I made in stoneware that which is which is clay that’s fired in again and we did it in in Austin, TX at the at the Austin Contemporary Art Museum and these are. Porcelain Hello Kitties and this it’s it’s got it cracked so it’s held together again with carbon fiber. Tape I think I’m the only idiot to combine carbon fiber and stoneware. No, there’s no reason to use that. I just use it ‘cause it’s. Black and strong and looking. Yeah, it’s cool tape, bring it, bring it in you can see. Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s epoxy that’s seeped into the pores of the clay and the speaker. So I’m working on that. I’ll be finishing that hopefully this this month.
00:30:50 Mark Anthony Green: And when you have something like that Tom. Like you don’t work on it everyday, right? So what makes you go to it or makes you not go to it?
00:31:01 Tom Sachs: Because. So oh oh OK, this is another like writers block trick. This is another bullet. Um? Too, like how to when you don’t know what to do as an artist. From paradox bullets and by the way, here’s another one. Watch paradox bullets on. Uh, not Nike craft.com an you can see this amazing movie that we made narrated by Werner Hertzog, starring Ed Ruscha. Fantastic, and I’m going to skip straight to. Um? Patience is a curse. Huh? And another way of saying that is procrastination is a good thing. If you don’t know what to do if you’re like by the way this boom box, I started two in 2015 and it’s still not done and it’s not done because I don’t like like I don’t like the color of the resin here. I don’t really know what I’m doing since like steel against clay like that’s gonna break. I don’t like these little. White feet I want to make those black. I don’t there’s stuff I gotta do but I guess here’s here’s here’s the secret if you don’t know what to do. Or I should say this list. So if at first you don’t succeed. Give up immediately. Seriously, but but, but I mean not really, seriously like. Give up immediately. Move on, I’m going to get a better picture of this boom box. Move on to something else. Work that problem until you get stuck. Move on to something else. Work on that problem so you got stuck. By that time your subconscious mind.
00:32:52 Tom Sachs:
I was working on those other two problems an you circle back this if you if you have enough time. This is not something that you can do under duress and you circle back your subconscious mind your maybe something you discovered while you were sleeping, ‘cause your brain is active even when it’s sleeping right? Solves the problem and then you come back to it. Oh, I just have to. Put a little, put a little black paint. You know, right here, a little Golden Golden acrylics carbon black. Yeah, you know. Just like dab it on. Look at that. Can you see it in there?
00:33:28 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah I could. I could see you just cavalierly painting on a thing you haven’t finished since 2015, in front of it.
00:33:36 Tom Sachs: But look here, but there is just look at that look at the difference. I’m gonna leave one unpainted. Can you see is just like blends in? You don’t have this gross like brightness there, just it makes the foot go away so you can concentrate on. I gotta paint on the inside too. I’m using my finger. I was so impulsive I don’t even use a brush. I have a brush like 1 foot away. Look at that. It’s just like it just goes away anyway. So if at first you don’t succeed, give up immediately.
00:34:07 Mark Anthony Green: Love it.
00:34:08 Tom Sachs: Right, let’s keep moving first, but I am going to put the cap back on, yes. Golden acrylics. Alright so I’m working on a painting. Called Fanta Black. Alright, so here this is. This is I’ll show you the three steps so. This is the original art. I think Serena Smith. An I did this on procreate which is like photo shop for. Everybody else, it’s an amazing application for iPad and use the iPad pencil an it really turned me around. The first time. I’ve really like. Loved working digitally. Yeah procreate. It’s really really fun. It’s easy and intuitive. Couple a couple hours learning curve and that’s it. I mean this is there’s a lot to do with it anyway, so I did. This graphic is my only this black and white printer here so this is. You know black and white and blue Fanta letters. An orange oranges in a green leaf, but you can imagine right? So I did that. Print it out and then one morning before checking my email or looking on Instagram, I did this drawing. Which is sort of by hand and you can see so many errors like over here. I ran out of space, so I wrote it on the side. You can see it’s not even right. It goes past the line, yeah? So then I took this. I took a photo of it with my iPhone and put it into the into the iPad and then using procreate. I move the letters around. I don’t know how well you can see it, but I shrunk them and and so like I put him in the right place. Right, so yes, I make mistakes. I like make a lot of mistakes and I embrace mistakes and we’ll talk about that, embracing mistakes. That’s really good. We have time, so I did that. Now if I was in the studio right now, I would take the. I would take this and make a transparency of it on a photo copier. And I put in a projector. Like Marc Anthony when you were my studio, you saw Projectors there and then I would project it and then paint it really meticulously and capture all the irregularities in my handwriting. I never, I don’t projector here in Quarantine, so I’m just doing it the old fashion way by hand. Yeah, so.
00:36:46 Mark Anthony Green: That’s cool.
00:36:48 Tom Sachs: So what I do is I just do you know I I take I like to start from the original always. I think that these are rehearsals to understand where I’m going to have problems like we did a lot of letters. Drawing in a row. Mistakes are compounded kind of like traffic. Like if you if you leave. Early in the morning on a journey, you’re going to get there on time. More likely than if you start late because delays are compounded. That’s why early morning flights are always on time and one in the afternoon or always late. So if you have more cars in the road, you’ll have more error. And yes, when you look at my original drawings so more letters, the more fuck ups I had. But as you practice you get better. So then like so I just started. I just like blasted this down real fast and I want to. I want to look like I made it because you know Apple. Products are so perfect, but they. They don’t have any evidence that a human being was there, and that’s the one advantage that I have is a maker over over Apple is that is that there’s I can you know I am somebody I was. I was here right? So I and this is. This paints a little dry but. So I’ll just do it fast and then fix it later and that way it shows the evidence of my handicraft and I might go back and forth four times over that. And I might leave some of these little smudges and I might. Chrisp, this up a little bit.
00:38:18 Mark Anthony Green: So for the artist at home, I want to make. Sure that this is distilled. You can never make an iPhone right, but it, but Apple could never make the thing you make. Yeah, that’s the there is the individuality and the humanism as you put it. Do you like that’s what makes it humanity correct, yeah?
00:38:42 Tom Sachs: But at the same time. Like don’t get cocky people don’t think that you can make a mess and that others are. People give a shit about it.
00:38:53 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, there’s balance.
00:38:54 Tom Sachs: That yeah, you gotta. You gotta really work hard like my mom said when she’s trying to get all my sculptures out of her garage. All those shitty sculptures that I made in college she was like. Will you get that junk out of the garage? I can’t even. Pull my car in the garage ‘cause it’s all filled with all your crap and and I was like but. But mother, I am a genius. You know I said. He said maybe but it’s still crap and. If you are art is too messy. When you die. No one’s gonna care about it. Yeah, so my mother and her Dan that Sarah sacks art at Sarah sacks art on insta she she’s extremely meticulous maker and genius and she does great needlework. You can see her art there, but. Uh, I think the The The thing about Messier and I love Martin Kippenberger and Jason Rhodes, and Diderot and all these fucked up people that oded you know, these messy maniacs even Basquiat to some extent, although I think he’s extremely meticulous as a maker. But like there’s a messy edge I love that I wish I could be that way. I’m not that way. I’m a little messy. I’m yeah I’m oops. Oops, something happened, it reversed. I’m never good. But there we go. Yeah, there you go. Yep. There we go. There you go, there you go. I’m a little messy. Yeah, that’s that’s the amount of messy I I know who I am. I’m a little messy, yeah. And it’s it’s kind of like you know. How they when? Distortion electric guitar distortion happened in the 60s like I don’t know, the best example is maybe Jimi Hendrix. For example like that’s noise. That’s controlled noise and there was no one. Except maybe Prince is more precise than Jimi Hendrix. An like that noisy sound is the sound of everything going wrong, but it’s within control and there and there’s some. I don’t know. It’s it’s cool. I mean we all love that when it’s done with restraint. Not like you know terrible like fucking Soundgarden and all that bullshit fake Rock.
00:41:17 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, but like purpose.
00:41:20 Tom Sachs: And precision and care. You know? Wow.
00:41:29 Tom Sachs: That was my. 2 year old or something slamming on the ground.
00:41:35 Tom Sachs: Another another good point, Erum’s. Throwing in here right now, forgiving yourself. For your perfectionism, this is another inversion of what I’m saying. I want to like. I want to contradict what I just said. ‘cause important to contradict yourself. YouTube commenters, which are the most racist, xenophobic, sexist, Anti Semitic? They’re the worst people really. They’re only problem I’ve noticed. I’ve like read them ‘cause you know you’re not supposed to as a film director not supposed to read the comments on YouTube, but like you do. And like, yeah? Trolls hate contradictions because it’s a challenge. It creates uncertainty, and that’s the role of the artist. Is to is to create uncertainty and to challenge you, that’s. What we do otherwise it’s. Just fluffy entertainment and I’m not interested in that right right I I enjoy consuming fluffy entertainment like you know, Breaking Bad or you know the wire or whatever or Family Guy, but I don’t want to make it. Um? So.
00:42:44 Mark Anthony Green: I love that.
00:42:49 Tom Sachs: So you gotta forgive yourself, especially when you’re perfectionist like I am. Like Serena Smith is like you got to. Um? Make those mistakes. Yeah, learn to live with them. Sure. Try harder next time. If you want. You know, I think there’s something to learn from those things. ‘cause sometimes like you make a a sculpture. Sometimes you make a sculpture and it’s It’s terrible. I do that all the time, yeah, but there might be a corner of it. That was successful. Or there might be something a kernel of genius in all your stupidity and that might be the stock for the next week soup. That might be the thing that you build the next idea. But if you don’t take that risk, you only do what you know. You’re not gonna get anywhere the the an artist’s best work lies just beyond his ability to understand it. An artist’s work lies just beyond his ability to understand it. That’s Sol LeWitt. Um? Because if you like I said before, if it’s already been done. It’s easy to do, but who cares? It’s already been done.
00:44:02 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, and and do you ever you know? It it, there’s a lot. Of times where an artist you don’t know when something is finished. But I feel like for your work. Part of the. Beauty of it and the originality of it is how unfinished certain things are right now. Do you? Do you have you ever like shown something? And then wanted to change it after. The fact right right like yeah.
00:44:33 Tom Sachs: So yeah, they can say they say a thing in ceramics, like when you fire a piece of ceramic. You can fire it endless times. You can put it back in the kiln and Re Glaze it. You can paint over it, you can change it endlessly and that would hear some at Anderson Ranch. It’s not done until it’s. Sold. Or broken, and even if there’s an even when it’s broken, there’s still epoxy.
00:45:00 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah yeah yeah yeah.
00:45:02 Tom Sachs: And even when it’s sold, you can maybe make a deal like I’ve definitely walked into peoples houses and been like that’s not right or I got like a conversation with the Guggenheim Museum about a piece and it’s like there’s something wrong with it, and because I’m alive I can lobby. For changing it once I’m dead, it’s locked, but like right. I can fight and. A good. A good custodian of one of my works of art, will willing, will want to engage with me on it. I yeah, that’s that’s a That’s a. That’s a good question. Well, how do you know when it’s done? Um? Yeah, I don’t know. But I don’t know how to tell you how to how to how to do it. I would just say you know less is more.
00:45:57 March Anthony Green: Yeah, so if you guys are just now tuning in, I’m Mark Anthony Green. This is GQ’s drop-in. We’re here with the one of a kind human being artist, explorer genius astronaut, good human being. The Mr. Tom Sachs, who has just shown us around the studio and most importantly is really giving. What I’m taking from this is kind of a framework of how to navigate in this confined space to try to make something great, and how to kind of be great during this unique circumstance. You’re the man. Is there any more studio letter or can we? Can we start? Yeah.
00:46:49 Tom Sachs: Let’s let’s keep going. Let’s keep going so OK, so this is like painting Corner, Yeah. Alright, we’re gonna this is kind of tools. ThIs my snappy set? This is the one one of the things I grabbed running out the door. I thought I was going to be in the studio for like 4 days. I don’t know it’s gonna be 80 days. Yeah is there all my most important drill bit sizes. There’s the wall of of Makita drills nice. I use Makita. I don’t think it matters what brand use but I do think it’s important that you get all the same brands so you can swap batteries see on the battery here. But I’ve got a lot of extra batteries and that’s that’s key if you are setting up your workshop, that’s. That’s. That’s important, Yeah, Oh, another workshop set up thing. Bench grinder. Buy an old Craftsman 1 from eBay. It’ll be like 35 or $50. You’ll probably spend more than that shipping it, but these things are monsters. You can shape anything. When I was a kid. I was forbidden to use power tools, and there was one of these in the basement in. Like I use it to shave like Cardboard. You know, or wood or whatever it’s meant for metal, but you can put anything in it and they’re really vicious. You gotta be careful. Wear eye protection for their great. Also a vice is really fun, especially if you got kids in the house, because you can put a golf ball in there and cut it in half. That’s really fun tool. And you know you can. Amplify your power as a child of the vice was like my favorite favorite thing, yeah?
00:48:41 Tom Sachs: OK, let’s keep moving. See play dough This is my junk drawer. I just grabbed a bunch of shit running out of the door of the studio. Um, on the way here. Um, yeah. When the apocalypse struck on March 18th. Yeah, this is my collage station and here I’m working on a pretty elaborate project for a Deichtorhallen and which is the next space programs mission. I can just repeat it that we’re going to the planet. The asteroid Vesta. At Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany, Vesta as the the like, the second largest asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the only after you can see with your naked eye, and we’re going there too on a mining mission ‘cause we’ve run out of cell phone. Rare earths rare earth elements like cobalt and platinum and Palladium and gold to make cell phones. So we’re going there to look up to get cell phones an an, but on the way there we’re gonna probably do a thing where we actually sacrifice our own cell phones. And what I’m doing is I’m taking all of these. These batteries from cell phones you can see them and I’m making some portraits of people. These are some of my high school look over here. This is better. This is better setup. These are some of my people like Peter Sellers and Charlotte Rampling and Ginger Rothstein and Mookie Wilson and Jodie Foster.
00:50:14 Mark Anthony Green: Prince.
00:50:15 Tom Sachs: Yeah I got a couple of times ‘cause I love him. Bruce Lee. I got… I got a pencil and G dragon.
00:50:26 Mark Anthony Green: So what and then what are you doing with the battery? What what’s happening with this amazing thing?
00:50:31 Tom Sachs: Lois Griffin Alright? So then this isn’t really done, but what happens is I take the Vibrator. You know the vibrator from the that makes the phone ring and then I kind of like glue it to the back. And then. Also let me let me get this setup. So it looks like.
00:50:57 Tom Sachs:
Yeah, yeah. And then I I can’t do it. I glued to the back and then I take the Walnut and I cover the Vibrator and then you push the button and the whole thing shakes and it becomes like a stimulator.
00:51:10 Mark Anthony Green: Ah, that’s cool.
00:51:11 Tom Sachs: And then got some other ones over here. They were working on and this is ‘cause like if you take the cell phone and you divide it in half. There are kind of two parts. There’s like the body and the soul. The body is like the battery. That’s what dies an that’s what you recharge with the charger or you feed it or you put it to sleep but eventually it just dies and we’ve done. But the the the phone itself has the chip in it. It’s got the little the the SIM card and that’s like your Apple ID. That’s sort of like your soul lives on in the mind of others after you’re gone, it kind of lives forever. If you think about it, you know we’re our life expectancy is expanding. And we might get to this point of immortality. And if you lower your expectations of what life is. Oh shit. I gotta turn this.
00:51:59 Mark Anthony Green: That’s alright.
00:52:02 Tom Sachs: Expanding So if you if you if you. If you do that, then you, um? Anyway, so these are some other portraits. Is some more portraits of people.
00:52:21 Mark Anthony Green: Oh amazing.
00:52:23 Tom Sachs:
00:52:26 Mark Anthony Green: When was the last time you ate a Cup of noodles?
00:52:28 Tom Sachs: Um, you know, I I have. I’ve been eating on because we know this whole project with a Cup, a noodles and uh, the one I like is the cheese flavored one. Ah there, it’s not. It’s not bad, but here’s the thing you gotta you gotta like drain off, drain off liquid. Just eat the noodles. Put some vegetables in it’s OK. It’s not. I mean I know it’s it’s. It’s not great, but yeah, it sometimes hits a spot.
00:52:55 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah OK I I eat much worse. I’m sure I just that’s always been a a thing for me. Cups of noodles. Yeah, I don’t know.
00:53:04 Tom Sachs: You don’t, that’s like you’re line?
00:53:05 Tom Sachs: You don’t go that they now. I mean, we ate em grown’ up. It’s just like the packet put in. I just can’t something about it.
00:53:12 Tom Sachs: But wait, so you’re talking about the The Rahman packet or the Cup of noodles? I mean, it’s pretty much the same stuff, but there is a difference.
00:53:18 Tom Sachs: The packet is what grosses me out, but I have just alienated the whole thing because of said packet. Hey so yeah. I mean I hear ya. I think the packet technically is a little bit better because you can use just half of the MSG package. The little yeah, salt pack like those that so potent. That’s enough for like two or three.
00:53:42 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah yeah, trust me I do. I’m I’m I’m definitely not a healthy eater, but that. I don’t know, but this looks very cool.
00:53:53 Tom Sachs: Yeah, but you’ll see, but that’s something I wanna save in a way and show you in depth when after the apocalypse in in September we can hopefully. See one another works.
00:54:06 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah yeah OK. So in six minutes? Yeah this live is going to cut off because Instagram only let’s you do an hour. What we’re gonna. Do is we’re gonna get right back on and finish this out. OK, yeah, so don’t fret everyone if that happens we’re gonna get right back in. Tom, just like last time, say something I’ll come and call you boom were professionals. OK you know alright what’s next?
00:54:35 Tom Sachs: OK, so other parts of the studio are got. This is my Walker Turner Bandsaw from 1951. I got kind of a little bit of, uh, this is. A little bit annoyed because they’d never tell you on a band saw how long the band is. So I did take this thing apart. And measure it and it’s 84 1/2 inches long. So that’s kind of a really useful tool. That I’ve got in my shop. And that’s that’s special . Fill a light there we go. Plywood.
00:55:30 Tom Sachs: This is my com station. This is where everything sort of this is really worth. Talking everyone because I don’t wanna. So I’m so grateful that I have a. This amazing shop I’ve been actually enjoying spending some time here with my family and spending some time in the basement by myself. But really, it all happens here on this desk and so that you know I have. My my censors, the people who prevented me from saying terrible things, shouting at me on the laptop machines. And. Uh Stopping me from. Embarrassing everyone too much and then these are my notes on. If you saw this is the drawing idea. Or the Instagram on my Instagram feed which you can look up at Tom Sachs. Um? Doing some sketches. Everyday I do a list and I think it’s important to see the to do lists. So this is yesterday’s To Do List here. That was Saturday. I don’t do it every day, but that’s another trick that I have another like how to make your how to make it that you don’t go crazy and how to deal with the existential abyss is make a list. Sit down and do do a list first thing in the morning or before you go to bed so you get a plan. Wanna see some more lists?
00:56:56 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah yes, OK. So why don’t we do this? Will come you’re gonna get cut off during this list? OK, I’m just letting you know now. Alright, so once you off will sign right back on.
00:57:07 Tom Sachs: OK, but we also are kind of approaching our hour, right? Maybe where.
00:57:11 Mark Anthony Green: We’re at our hour. I just didn’t want to leave it unfinished, you know?
00:57:16 Tom Sachs: But let’s let’s.
00:57:18 Mark Anthony Green: We wanna try to make it 1. Let’s say one minute.
00:57:22 Tom Sachs: OK Alright so here I’m just gonna. You know Alfonso Koran? An Alejandro Inarritu are my two of my favorite directors, but because I’m such a Gringo, I get them confused sometimes ‘cause they’re like real leaders in the Mexican Mafia. So I wrote down all their movies that they made, and then I’ve made this list of Chiva Lubelskie who is there? Their DP so he hears his list. So maybe like really that’s what I’m into. He’s kind of like the linchpin that holds them together. So sometimes like when you’re feeling like you’re not being politically cool or you being like racist ‘cause you get your Mexicans, Mexican film makers confused like put in the time. Make a list. Figure it out. You’ll see that she goes the the, they’re both. They’re all awesome geniuses and below I’m doing it with Korea with Bong Joon Ho and Park Chan wook trying to make sense of it all. Um, so those are two of my lists, but maybe. Maybe this is a good time to wrap it up.
00:58:25 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, so I want to say this. After you should go and you should follow Tom Sachs. Tom Sachs super easy at Instagram and using this time. Show him what you’re making, you’re gonna repost some of the ones that you think are cool, right? Yeah, but yeah, and these tips this time you know this is, let’s let’s turn this negative into a positive and really make the best of this situation. And I love everything that you’re doing. Everything that you’ve done. But you know, really, the thing that you’re preaching now is making. The most of the supplies you have making the most of the situation and I feel like that’s what we all need to hear.
00:59:15 Tom Sachs: Mark Anthony, you are the my favorite interviewer. This has been so much fun we gotta like I do this another time. I love this. There’s much more to say.
00:59:25 Mark Anthony Green: We’ll take this show on the road so.
00:59:27 Tom Sachs: We’ll go back and do it on Center Street after all this, yeah.
00:59:30 Mark Anthony Green: Yeah, exactly exactly. Alright guys, Tom, thank you thank you thank you. Thank you so much and will follow up. Thank you alright.