Pat Gierhart is the zombified-brains behind the sculpture and mask powerhouse that is ‘Atomic Vomit’. Pat and his brand primarily release masks – both full human sized, and minis – but also produce sculpts in collaboration with other artists such as Alex Pardee, Skinner and L’Amour Supreme.
(Picture below of an ‘Atomic Vomit’ mini mask)
With a new website up, a recent sofubi release with Mishka dropping at San Diego Comic Con, and lots of new masks recently released, now is the perfect time to get to know Pat and his creations.
Get to know Pat and ‘Atomic Vomit’ in the interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Pat Gierhart 1979
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Lombard IL, Denton TX, Los Angeles CA
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Atomic Vomit’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, Halloween highlights, college… ANYTHING man.
(Picture below of a full size mask by ‘Atomic Vomit’)
* age 10 – pre pubes:
I made a Haunted House in the bathroom in our house in Illinois. I stuck a glow-in–the dark Skeletor mask on a dummy and stuck it in the tub. I threw baby powder all over the place to make “fog”. The entire bathroom was covered. My parents were pissed. HAHA.
* age 15 – pube rage:
I was kind of forced to go to an art program for the summer for being a total asshole at home and at school. It actually turned out to be pretty cool. I saw Akira for the first time and it kind of blew my mind. My roommate in the dorms was a pretty weird guy though. He was way into drawing trains.
* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:
Thinking the world was going to end at midnight on New Years Eve 1999 and being bummed that NOTHING happened!
(Picture below of the ‘Atomic Vomit’ Skuzzy Krueger mini-mask pre-paint)
Acid Witch, High on Fire,..The soundtrack to The Keep
Favorite TV show(s)?
I haven’t owned a t.v. in years but I’m into Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Adventure Time, Super Jail, The Mighty Boosh, and Shark Week.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Cubs. Purely for nostalgic reasons and the fact they haven’t won a series in something like 105 years!
Summer School, Nightbreed, Beyond the Black Rainbow, and Battleship(the movie)
(Picture below of some ‘Atomic Vomit’ masks pre-paint)
Favorite books and comics?
Black Hole, The Killing Joke, Zombies vs. Robots, The Goon, Hit Monkey. I just read a book called Bury Me at Wounded Knee…it was about Indians.
Specifics on Art
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Probably all 3.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (masks, drawings, paintings, anything)?
(Picture below of a drawing by Pat Gierhart)
I’ve been drawing since I can remember. Always monster stuff. For some reason everything I drew as a kid had a Mohawk, hockey mask, or tank tread legs. I’ve painted here and there. Used to be all into Graffiti. I didn’t really start sculpting until about 8 years ago. I used to paint Warhammer miniatures as a kid too. Loved those things!
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle full time?
I moved to L.A. to do Special FX and quickly decided it wasn’t my thing but I still wanted to make masks. I started doing local art shows and got a pretty good response from people. I didn’t really start taking it semi seriously until about two years ago though. I’m figuring it out as I go.
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
I went to a really overpriced Special Effects School on the east coast.
(Picture below of a 2-headed full size mask by ‘Atomic Vomit’)
Why the name ‘Atomic Vomit’?
It’s catchy and it rhymes. Haha. There’s a long version that makes more sense if you’re stoned but the short version is that it reminds me of all the toys and movies that I was into as a kid. Everything in the 80’s had snot and barf on it.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
EESH…a ton! I’ve worked with some of them! I’ve been a fan of Alex Pardee’s work for years and used to check out his site when I was stuck for ideas. That’s where I saw Skinner’s stuff for the first time. I lost my shit and wrote him geeking out on his work. He turned me onto L’Amour’s stuff and I got way into it. Besides them though…Ashley Wood, Eric Powell, Jim Phillips, R. Crumb, Wayne Barlowe, Tim Bradstreet, A.J. Fosik, Pushead, ESPO, NeckFace, Coop, Banksy, Phil Hale, Chet Zar, Nychos, Stephen Gammell, Charles Burns, Giger, Frazetta, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Sam Kieth, Ron Mueck, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. So many!…just found Alex Young on Instagram…his stuff is ridiculous! I’m constantly stoked on my buddies work too… Chris Grondin, Otto Marlowe, and Josh Wasylink
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Falling into the trap of letting sales dictate what I decide to make.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
People getting into my work and being able to pay some bills. Working with other artists that I’m a fan of rules too.
(Picture below of the most recent ‘Mishka’ x ‘L’Amour Supreme’ x ‘Atomic Vomit’ mask)
Mask and Toy Questions
Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$ and time?
Nerds with money rule!
Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)
Boglins! Mutant Vinyl Hardcore kicks ass too.
You often collaborate with L’Amour Supreme, with him supplying mask designs and you sculpting – how did you 2 start your artistic relationship/bromance + how has collaborating with him affected your practice?
Skinner turned me on to L’Amour and Mishka. I wrote Skinner gushing about how cool he was and he showed Alex and L’Amour my work. We did those first three masks and it kind of just mutated from there. I think I’ve done the most work with L’Amour and Mishka. Those dudes rule!
You have an upcoming Sofubi in the works for ‘Mishka’ that you have completely sculpted. What was the inspiration behind the piece, the process involved in producing it, and when is it getting released?
(Pictures below of Pat’s original sculpt + final sofubi, for a ‘Mishka’ figure soon to be released – at SDCC in 2013)
L’Amour knew what he wanted, sent me a few reference pics , and let me go at it. At one point, I ended up sculpting on it in the back of Mishka Hollywood during a calendar release. There was a huge party with a bunch of strippers and drunk dudes asking me what the hell I was doing sculpting while everyone else was raging. Haha…goodtimes.
You often work with the NYC brand ‘Mishka’ + artists associated with them. What are your thoughts on ‘Mishka’s position and role in the toy-art scene? They seem to be a much loved company.
Yeah..totally. MISHKA’s HUGE! I see that eyeball everywhere I go!
You collaborated with some artistic gods – Skinner, L’Amour Supreme and Alex Pardee – by bringing their creations to life as full sized wearable masks in 2012. What was the process involved in collaborating on each of the masks – from design to finished piece?
– The L’Amour Supreme mask:
(Picture below of the 1st of many L’Amour Supreme x ‘Atomic Vomit’ masks)
L’Amour knew he wanted to do the Cyco Simon. I only had one black and white pic for reference. He wanted it to look like the Mugato from Star Trek so that’s what we did for the first one. We’ve done a blue “flying monkey”, and a purple “Hornhead” variant since.
– The Skinner mask:
(Picture below of the Skinner x ‘Atomic Vomit’ mask)
Skinner was cool with whatever I wanted to do. I started on a totally different piece but ended up scraping it and doing the “Twisting Maw” piece. I still want to do some variants for that one. He’s always been super supportive of whatever I want to do.
– The Alex Pardee mask:
(Picture below of the Alex Pardee x ‘Atomic Vomit’ mask)
Alex sent me a bunch of different designs. All of them were great! Way out stuff! Anyone of them would have been awesome as a mask but we both decided on the “Aroma” piece. It was just such a great design for a mask. I still want to do some of the others eventually.
You release both human-head sized, and mini masks. Why the decision to produce mini masks? I ask because you have mentioned to me in passing that they are the perfect size for putting on cats…
Yeah dude, Cats..babies..whatever. Mini masks was the original idea. I thought it would be funny to make masks for infants. They’re fun to sculpt too. A lot of opportunities for variants, etc.
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
Everyone has always supported me in anything I want to do artwise. My parents took me to a lot of museums and would buy me art supplies here and there growing up. I made my mom drive me to this huge Halloween store in a pretty rough neighborhood in Chicago all the time so I could geek out on all the masks when I was younger. My girlfriend thinks its cool.
Atomic Vomit Art Questions
Describe the method of making a typical Atomic Vomit piece? (dot point all o.k.)
It varies. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to sculpt and I make it happen. Other times I just let it evolve…those are usually my favorite pieces.
Are all your works by made by yourself? If you use collaborators; whom and in what capacity?
I do everything myself. Sculpt, mold, cast, paint, and hair. Hopefully at some point I can get somebody else in there to help out. I hate making molds.
(Picture below of some of Pat’s moulds used in making ‘Atomic Vomit’ masks)
Do you use digital technology in your work at all? If so how, and what has it added to your practice?
Nope..not really. Maybe somewhere down the line. Digital sculpting is putting people out of work here!
You have recently released your first Atomic Vomit t-shirt – all evil and it even glows in the dark! Plans for a full Kid Ink t-shirt or apparel line in the future, or just the occasional drop?
(Picture of the recent ‘Atomic Vomit’ GID t-shirt)
I’ve been screen printing off and on since I was 18. I’ve always toyed with the idea of making my own t-shirt line…so yeah..maybe. We still have my buddy Chris Castro form @sillypantsart’s design and L’Amour’s A.V. logo treatment coming out down the road too.
Does your self-directed work all exist in its own ‘universe’; such as the ‘Atomic Vomit’ universe? (Yes; I am basically asking if you see your characters all interacting in your head.) IF so, what do they get up to?
They’re all assholes. Tracking dog shit into the house, drinking the last beer, hitting on your girlfriend..stuff like that. They’re the worst!
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Hopefully! I’m stoked when other artists want to work with me. We’re talking to a band about a possible collaboration and a few other artists but nothing solid yet.
Any major projects you want to hype man?
Just keep your eyes peeled on Instagram and the new site Atomic-Vomit.com. I’ll have a booth at Monsterpalooza in Burbank CA in October with my buddies under our joke brand name Nightmare Force too.