Art Whore

Art Talk – Nik Gernert of ‘Skumbags’

Nik Gernert - Nik 003

Nik Gernert is a UK based sculptor, illustrator, designer and one half of art gang ‘Skumbags’ – along with close friend Chris Parrish.

Together,  ‘Skumbags’ produce high quality sculptural works for the discerning weirdo.

Alone, Nik is an accomplished artist and all round gear head.

Nik’s hyper detailed line work and sculpting can be placed firmly within the outre/lowbrow/weirdo-art scene in, yet imbued with a very unique vision.

Nik describes his artistic position and worldview:

I’m not that bothered about being remembered personally but it would be ace if some kid in x amount of years time found a Skumbag at a yard sale or charity shop, and it gave them the same feeling it does me now if I find something rad in a similar place.

(Picture below of some ‘Skumbags’ promo art)

Skumbags - Logo

With lots planned for the future, and the ‘Skumbags’ brand well and truly off the line and speeding fast, now is the perfect time to get to know Nik and ‘Skumbags’ by reading the Art Talk interview, below…

Basics/Getting to Know 

Name and D.O.B?

Nik Gernert
22/05/1984

City, State n Country you’re Repping?

Currently Stamford ,Lincolnshire ,England.

(Picture below of some art by Nik)

Nik Gernert - Greenfreak

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Gernert’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, crime… ANYTHING man.

* age 10 – beginnings:

Around this age it was all about Wrestling and drawing monsters so nothing has changed.
I remember one of my cousins asked me when I was about this age why I never drew anything nice.

* age 15 – getting serious:

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school and art was the only thing I was really interested in.
I went to a pretty crappy secondary school, which was more about messing about and general skullduggery than doing work and preparing for the future.
I got an interview for Art College but I had no work to show because our art lessons at school were a joke, but I managed to blag my way in.

* age 20 – adult mode:

I left art school part way through a degree.
It was the first year they had run the course at that particular place and it was an unorganized mess.
I had totally lost interest in the course, because it seemed to focus on the pretentious side of things more than actually producing work.
It put me off art for a while and I went to work in a hardware shop, which was ace.

(Picture below of some art by Nik)

Nik Gernert - Chopper

Personal motto?

Dance to your own tune.

Favorite band(s)?

At the moment I’m listening to The  Melvin’s quite a bit, especially the new record.
Also Tad,  Fatso Jetson and Earth are getting a lot of play too.

Favorite TV show(s)?

*silence*

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

Legion of Doom.

Favorite movie(s)?

El Topo, Fantastic Planet, Old Boy.

(Picture below of some ‘Skumbags’ resin)

Skumbags - Resin - Warmongers + Shrunken Heads

Favorite books and comics?

Books wise I like a bit of dystopian fiction, Brave New World is probably my favorite.
Quite a few history book and biography’s and am currently reading one about The Russian Gulag system and one about Jerry “the king” Lawler.
The only comic I really read is American Splendor.

Art Questions

Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?

There is so much ace work around at the moment.
But if I had to pick favorite’s I would say defiantly Robert Crumb and Arik Roper are up there.
There are to many to list.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

Trying to get work out there and seen can be frustrating.
Also people ripping other artists and makers off seem to be getting more common.
I’ve had a few friends recently who have had there work copied and re produced.

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

The amount of great stuff being produced at the moment all over the world.
Also things like Instagram giving everyone a showcase for there work is brilliant, I’ve found out about some incredible artists on there that I may not have come across without it.

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

All of the above.

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?

When I was a kid.
For as long as I remember I have drawn. I used to spend ages making books of robots and monsters and wrestlers and so on.

What did you draw as a pre-teen child?

Monsters, wrestlers and cars.

What did you draw as a teen?

Girls, monsters, wrestlers and cars.

(Picture below of some art by Nik)

Nik Gernert - Loser

Nik Gernert - Hip Freak

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

Kustom and lowbrow art are a massive influence on me and I guess always have been with out me really realizing it.
My fascination for drawing monsters as a kid stemmed from a combination of seeing Big Daddy Roth’s Rat Fink and Derek Riggs’ Eddie from the Iron Maiden album covers.
I used to spend hours trying to re create them and doing my own versions of them and I think that is in part how I learnt to draw.
Also Robert Crumb’s work has had a big influence on me, in style and in content with his more tripped out weirdo work.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

I dabbled a bit doing stuff for friends but I really got into it when I got layed off a few years back. It started as a means to an end to get money to survive.

Describe the method of making a Nik Gernert work? (dot point all o.k.)

* your highly detailed pen and ink work?

I guess they usually start with an initial idea.
That can be anything from something I see, to a line from a song, or a feeling you get from something, and then it kinda takes on a life of its own from there.
I’m a sod for leaving things unfinished and then going back to them months later because another idea gets in the way too.

(Picture below of some art by Nik)

Nik Gernert - Creep

Nik Gernert - The Skate Escape

* your resin sculptures?

Again sometimes I’ll have an initial idea and sometimes I’ll just start blind.
The originals for the sculptures I mostly make from sculpy polymer clay and occasionally add existing parts; like the hammer from a hammer head figure was cast from an actual hammer.
When the original is fired I’ll take it to the the other chief skumbag, Castmaster Parrish, and we will take a mold from it and then a resin cast from that mold adding colour and such according to what finish we are after….
And then inevitably it’ll have to be moulded again a few times because there are always problems.

You have 3 series of sculptures so far under the ‘Skumbags’ label – What are the character’s back-narratives and bios for…

The character concepts came first really and the bios have not  been finalized yet really. But eventually each character will have a back story and will hopefully be in comic form.

(i) ‘The Warmongers’

The war monongers came from idea came from the old biker look with the spiked helmet really and then kind of combined with my liking for dystopian concepts.

(Picture below of some art for ‘The Warmongers’ by Skumbags)

Skumbags - Warmongers - Ad 001

Skumbags - Warmongers - Logo

(ii) ‘Workshop Weirdoes’

The work shop weirdo’s came directly from Hot rod and kustom kulture aspect and the idea of figures made out of tools.

(Picture below of some ‘Workshop Weirdos’ art and resin by Skumbags)

Skumbags - Workshop Weirdos - Ad 001

Skumbags - Workshop Weirdos - Herman H - Ad

Skumbags - Workshop Weirdos - Pierre P. - Ad

Skumbags - Workshop Weirdos - Pierre P. - Resin

(iii) ‘Tikis of SkumIsland’

Tiki tends to tie in with kustom art very smoothly.
I have carved quite a few out of wood in the past but when I moved into a smaller place with no room for a woodshop I began to look at making them from clay instead of wood.

(Pictures below of some art for ‘Tikis of Skum Island’ by Skumbags along with some of Nik’s early wood work)

Skumbags - Tikis - Ad

Nik Gernert x Clumsey Kate - Wood Tikis

Who is the mysterious other party involved in ‘Skumbags’?

I note your site states how,

Skumbag is a new project inspired by two guys’ love of figures, lowbrow and weirdo art.

That’ll be Chris Parrish.
Before Skumbags was Skumbags I had made some of what became the prototypes and was thinking of selling them as one offs.
Then one drunken night we got to talking and came up with the idea of trying to mass produce them instead.
I hadn’t done any casting since college so Chris took it upon himself to learn resin casting and it all went from there.

(Picture below of Mr. Chris Parrish of Skumbags)

Nik Gernert - Chris Parrish

Odds n Ends

What role did toys play in your childhood?

A big one…  Being a child of the 80s I was and always will be a fan of action figures.
Hasbro Wrestlers were my childhood toys of choice.

(Picture below of some of Nik’s favourite toys, the wrestlers released by ‘Hasbro’ in the early 1990’s)

HasbroAd4

Please describe your experiences growing up in the UK?

Where I grew up it was very flat and open, with a lot of farms and fields to go make dens in and generally bugger about.
I had a pretty idyllic child hood I guess, going out and making our own fun.
It was kind of the same when I got to pub age.
Our local had a great back room where we would put on punk and metal shows and play in bands of our own.
For a 4/5 years or so we had a really good run there, but as all good things do, it came to an end in the worst way.

What does car custom culture mean to you and why?

A lot of influence for my work comes from the Kustom Kulture world (I have no idea why its spelt with ks).
Growing up there was always an element of car culture surrounding my family, mostly through stock car racing and my folks liking for American car culture. This definatly had a big influence on me and on my work.
I remember as a kid flicking through my dads old hot rod magazines and trying to copy pictures of custom cars and hot rods from them.
Also seeing artwork by Big Daddy Roth as a kid had a big impact on me… I used to go to American car shows with my folks and be drawn in by all the amazing artworks and paint jobs on display, and hanging round the trader stands completely drawn in by all the imagery.
Now days, a massive amount of diverse work could be covered by the Kustom Kulture banner.
There are some truly exceptional artists whose work ties in with the scene one way or another.
Its rad.

First crush and why?

Yvonne Craig who played Batgirl in the old Adam West Batman series… I think it was the outfit.
Incidentally A good friend of mine’s 1st crush was on the ballerina shoe out of the shoe people.

(Picture below of some ‘Skumbags’ resin)

Skumbags - Resin

Does sex change everything?

No.

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

I was in some kind of running man scenario, and trying to evade the law after doing something wrong…
I get that quite a bit… On the run for doing something bad but it rarely includes the actual act.

Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?

No comment.

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I’m not that bothered about being remembered personally but it would be ace if some kid in x amount of years time found a Skumbag at a yard sale or charity shop, and it gave them the same feeling it does me now if I find something rad in a similar place.

(Pictures below of some of Nik’s sculpts for ‘Skumbags’)

Skumbags - Resin - Warmongers - The General - Sculpt

Skumbags - Herman Hammerstone Sculpt

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

They have their place in the world.

Please describe what you think the UK Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

There seems to be a lot of political ranting these days but little action.
Everyone has an opinion on everything (often a miss or ill informed one) and feels the need to spout it about, particularly on facebook and such like.
The world is full of injustices and everything seems to be in a steady decline but sitting behind a keyboard moaning about it all does no good what so ever.
But then The British people are great at moaning…
Moaning and queuing…

Favorite British Monarch of all time and why?

I’m quite partial to the current queen.
She’s lived through a hell of a lot of social change and survived massive shifts in public opinion of the Monarchy.
I really like the idea of old institutions like the Royal family; they make the world more interesting.

Benny Hill – genius or sexist lurch and why?

Genius is a bit of a stretch..  He wasn’t that funny.. As far as sexist goes, it was a different time…
Daphne from Frasier was one of his “girls”.
He also died whilst watching teletext… sad way to go.

The Future

Any collaboration on the horizon?

I’m going to be producing some designs in collaboration with fabric designer ‘Clumsy Kate‘ shortly for her range of accessories.
I’m working on a couple zines of nonsense with Ricky “french Toast’ Gough.
One that’s going to be wrestling based titled Diehards and Unitards and the other which has no fixed theme called PUKE.
Also I’m in the process of sorting collaborations with ace Uk Pinstriper Nefarious and in talks with Brooks England bike saddles about a something in the future.

(Pictures below of some plush/fabric creations from ‘Skumbags’)

Skumbags - Plush Pizza

Skumbags - Plushes

Any major projects you want to hype man?

I have a few zines of my own on the go and I will hopefully have them done soon.
Also working on designing some new Skumbags for the new year.
Ill be posting stuff about future projects on www.skumbag.co.uk and on the skumbags facebook page and also my own one nikgernertdesign..
Ta.

Links

Skumbags - banner logo

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