"Art Vibes from San Diego and Beyond" w/ Paul Ecdao of Thumbprint Gallery (BenjaCon 2022) - Mr Benja's ADD Experience #46

Paul Ecdao is one of the co-founders of Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla, California. He joins the podcast to talk about art and business, the La Jolla scene, making it as a fine artist, and possibly the most interesting person you'll talk to in the gallery.

2022-08-04 BenjaCon 3 Paul Ecdao (audio)

[00:00:00] Benja: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. This is Mr. Benja. BenjaCon three is still going on. BenjaCon 2022. Thank you all for joining us. Thank you for being here through all of these. Once again, we are going through a week long of awesome interviews with awesome people. Today, we have Paul Ecdao of thumbprint gallery coming through.

He's gonna talk with us about some of the things he's been seeing on the art scene how creativity and community comes together and we've known each other for quite a while. I kind of got my, really my professional art, you know, feet wet in in San Diego, along with the help of Paul and Johnny, who will mention a little bit later, they both work together, but we're gonna go ahead and get him on here real quick.

Not gonna delay too much on this one, cuz today is a double header and there's a lot to get through. So let's go ahead and try to get him on right here and we're gonna make this thing. Don't forget to subscribe on apple. Whatever other platform you got and we'll make it happen. What's going on, Paul?

What's up. Benja nothing much, man. I'm, I'm starting at like 4 0 1, 4 0 2 this time, because you know, I'm, I'm getting all my stuff together and I couldn't find the pin. I wanted to jot notes with and little something like that annoys me when I'm doing these things. So we got it together now. We're here.

We're good. And they got my parking oh yeah. You got the LA JOA parking out there, right? Yeah.

[00:01:30] Paul: Crazy.

[00:01:32] Benja: Geez. So how have you been, man? Just in general, I haven't really sat down and talked to you in a while. We used to do the, the meetups in LA or San Diego here and there, but how's things been,

[00:01:41] Paul: Lately pretty busy.

Yeah, as I told you before you know, I'm starting this new job. Still, you know, on top of the gallery stuff, but I also do little social marketing, medium marketing on the side. So just all over the place, but trying to, you know chill out a bit. So I could like focus a little bit better.

Okay. Focus

[00:02:00] Benja: on what then.

[00:02:00] Paul: Oh just like with the gallery, you know, cuz I mean we're still doing our offsite shows and you know, we booked the rest of the year already. Mm-hmm and already trying to book for next year. So trying not to drop the ball, you know, with certain things with that, but yeah.

[00:02:17] Benja: So, all right. Very cool. Really, really quickly. I, I know we know each other, but for the people who are just checking you in for the first time let 'em know just a little bit about who you are and what you.

[00:02:27] Paul: Sure. So my name is Paul Dow. I'm co-owner of thumbprint gallery. My business partner is Johnny Tran who you've interviewed in the past, and I listened to that podcast.

That was, that was a good one. So I, I recently started a new job and with the healthcare center doing marketing I mean, I don't mind mentioning my previous job, so I did, you know, I was working at t-shirt mark with, you know, it was like, like a hybrid role, creative, a little bit of operations in HR.

So it kind of busy, managing four store. And yeah, I do like I mentioned, I, I do a little social media marketing on the side, so for a couple restaurants. Okay.

[00:03:04] Benja: How long, how long have you been doing that?

[00:03:06] Paul: Past couple years. Like right when the pandemic started. Yeah. Okay.

[00:03:10] Benja: Okay. Yeah, definitely. A lot of people and the groups needed that cuz they really didn't know how to get out there and do the social media thing.


[00:03:19] Paul: yeah, one of the restaurants I started out with, they were about to close and you know, I kind of swooped in there in time and helped them out. So that was good.

[00:03:28] Benja: Did you kind, did, did you kind of plan on that or how did that, that fall into what you were.

[00:03:33] Paul: It's actually one of my cousins who I haven't you know, I kind of he started his restaurant the same time we started the gallery actually.

And you know, I haven't linked up with him in a long time and you know, I was just checking in on him and yeah, I wanted, see how I can help out, you know, not just with art because uh, he displayed some art over there too at his restaurant. And I was like, I became like a one stop shop because like, you know, I revamped their website, helped him out with their uniforms through t-shirt mark you know, again, hung some art in there.

So you know, just every angle trying to help him out. So yeah, it worked.

[00:04:09] Benja: That's awesome, man. You were definitely a, an interesting person to pin down. I don't think you've ever heard. I don't think you've ever heard me say it, but you're always like the most interesting guy at the art show.

[00:04:19] Paul: I'm curious why

[00:04:19] Benja: What, why do you think between the random facts? The you know, Hey, did you know, you could do this kind of thing? Just random connections with people you know, like little iPhone tricks or whatever. Oh yeah. I'm I always had the, exactly. You just always had these random things going on and I'm sitting there watching you like, huh?

I, I need some of this action. And you know, when I go to art shows and everything, I'm just kind of creeping around people, seeing what they're looking at and

[00:04:49] Paul: get weird out there.

[00:04:52] Benja: Definitely so yeah, thumbprint gallery. How that's been going on for how many years now?

[00:04:56] Paul: We just celebrate our 13th anniversary.

[00:04:59] Benja: So 13th. Congratulations. I was gonna say 12. I was off for a year. All right. Thank you. Yeah. How did, how did that whole thing. Of, you know, co-owning thumbprint gallery kind of start the there's. I, I don't, we don't have to go through the whole story. I just kind of want to know how that got started, how you got into the arts basically, and you know how you're here 13 years

[00:05:22] Paul: later.

Oh, sure. So I kind of met Johnny doing an art show. Like I was already kind of curating my own shows and he was doing that through bar basic and other clubs mm-hmm so I came up kind of, you know, doing a whole street art graffiti thing, as you know, mm-hmm, kind of built up a network doing that, you know, some built up some relationships and connections.


[00:05:45] Benja: Now, when you say, you know, doing art shows, are you doing them as an artist or as a curator? Both coordinator.

[00:05:52] Paul: Yeah. So you know, as I was like meeting people, I would like, you know, ask them like, Hey, you wanna do an art show here? So I kind of take over organizing it and whatnot. So yeah.

And when I met Johnny doing one of my first shows, I was like, you know, we're kind of doing the same thing. We should link up and do something together. So kind of joined forces. And we were, we started the gallery out of this space in north park called at the time it was called 18th center.

And we, we, we rented out the, the back space, which was pretty big and did a few shows there. We were there for a few months and then eventually moved out and got our own space just down the street. Mm-hmm . And it was like a little house deal. I was like divvied up into like three spaces. And so that's where we had those little house parties.

Right, right, right. The the driveway . Yeah. And then after so about two years north park and then yeah, made our way to LA JOA.

[00:06:48] Benja: So with you know, coming from north park to LA JOA, you said a driveway that doesn't sound like a that's that doesn't sound like a LA JOA kind of thing. So how, how did that transfer happen?

Because it sounds like, you know, you're talking a graffiti kind of working out of a driveway. I don't know. I didn't meet you guys until LA Hoya. So I'm wondering how that, how that transition happened. I mean, cause that seems like a pretty impressive jump actually.

[00:07:16] Paul: Yeah, it's kind of crazy. So, so two years into it it all started with an email, a random email.

Okay. So it turned out to be you know, at first you get these kind of emails, you think it's spam, right. And so mm-hmm but something was telling me, this is, this might be real. I don't know what it was, but I was like, we gotta hold onto this. Like Johnny was like, no, you know, even the artist who was they were inquiring about was like kind of skeptical, but I was like, no, we gotta, we gotta do something with this with, you know, what can go wrong.

Mm-hmm and you know, it was in some prints, you know, trying to ask for money or whatever . So basically it was it was a, like a random millionaire in Utah that sent us this email. Well, his assistant.

[00:07:57] Benja: Yeah, that sounds like a scam.

[00:08:00] Paul: Right. And so and they were asking about an artist who we worked with and this artist we, we gave him a solo show while we were still over at that 18th center spot mm-hmm and which is now queen bees.

And I guess, you know what their experience was was that guy that, I don't know, I can't remember his name, but he lives in Utah, but he would visit San Diego and he had a yacht. He has a yacht, maybe, I don't know, still here in San Diego. And while they were like you know, floating by, on their yacht, they saw the sculpture on the Harbor.

And I guess, you know, he asked his assistant to look into who was, who the artist was and everything. And I guess contacted us because his name was listed on our website. And I guess made it feel more like we validated him in a way. Okay. And yeah, so we basically brokered that whole deal with just a couple emails.

Right. So the build up to it was kind of fun and interesting. So they requested to meet with this art, with the artist and he specialized in sculpture

and to, to get through like the design and everything, they invited him to Utah. Right. Okay. And yeah, to kind of see the site and everything where they would install these huge sculptures, cuz they were requesting two huge bamboo tree sculptures and it would have to be shipped there in pieces and he would have to fly over there and assemble it on site and yeah, it was a big operation.

And so. So the whole thing about wanting to believe this is real was I think it was real for us when, when it came to flying the artist to Utah, they paid for his tickets. They paid, you know, it was all paid for. And then when he got there, it was funny, you know, he was like the tree guy to them. and yeah.

So, you know, in order for him to know where to drive, you know, to the, to the state mm-hmm from the airport, he, we had, we needed an address, right. So. You know, we Google mapped this address and from the satellite view, whatever, we're like, wow, this guy's got like a huge property with like, you know, tennis courts in the back.

And it was insane. And, you know, meeting with Johnny myself in the artist and, and we're like, oh man, we gotta, we gotta figure out how we're gonna price this work. you know? And so it, the fun part was oh, the crazy part was when it came to negotiating the, the price of the, the, the sculptures.

And so we the, the artist was in person with the with the, with the client and on the, with, with us while we're negotiating the price. And, you know, we had this game plan of like, we're gonna throw out this huge number you're gonna counter. And then I didn't expect the artist to counter again, but he did it and then locked in.

So, you know, threw out like a six figure number mm-hmm and then got it down to five figures, which was still good. And you know and then I'll spare the details on like the, okay. I mean, it's not too crazy, but like when they were designing the whole thing, the, the the client would be in San Diego on his yacht invite to artists onto the yacht.

And then they would just like sketch on the yacht and I'm like, where's my invite . But yeah after I was that, I think it was just a matter of like two or three emails and we closed the dealer and you know, being two years into the whole gallery thing our dealer thing, it was like, it was crazy for us, you know, and the commission we earned on that, that's how we got to.

LA JOA. And the reason why we moved to LA JOA is because, although we were in north park, most of our collectors were coming out of like Solana beach and, and LA JOA. Okay. Yeah.

[00:11:50] Benja: That makes a lot of sense. Okay. Yeah. I never knew exactly how that transitioned happened. So in all our discussions, it just kind of happened in my head and I never inquired about it.

That's awesome. Yeah. I wonder about you know, I I used to have this question and I suppose a lot of other people might also is why wouldn't someone just contact the artist themselves and, you know, and be done with it. Why doesn't that.

[00:12:13] Paul: I think it, it, it happens more now because especially cuz of social media.

Right. Okay. You be more direct to consumer and all that, but I mean coming the other way, right. You you're trying to commission an artist, I think, especially at that time galleries like validated the artist in a lot of ways, meaning, you know, it's like almost like a third party validation, right?

Yeah. Because you know, you, you look up, you know, that, who they've worked with things like that, who they have relationships with and that kind of gives them more security and especially when you're dealing with like a lot of money.

[00:12:48] Benja: So yeah, exactly. No, I when I first got started and I, I ran into you guys that was at one of the what was it with gosh, not bar basic, but it was down the way at the industry showroom.

You were, there was a One of the animal shows, I think, yes. Oh, power animal show. Yeah. It was a power animal show. And that's where I first started working with you guys. And I was kind of like, okay, this is how gallery operators kind of go about their business and kind of do their thing. So it opened my eyes up to a lot of different ideas.

And I think talking with, you know, you and Johnny a lot, you know, started giving me more ideas about marketing strengthening what I'm doing trying to build a, a more proper base than just sitting around, you know, in my, in my studio, my garage, you know, in my driveway or whatever, just doing, you know, whatever I think is art mm-hmm so I, so, no, I totally I, I, I totally appreciate you guys for that.

Just wanted to make sure I put that out there. I don't know how many art artists that you know, really understand and respect that, but it seems like it's a constant kind of. Education and collaboration with artists to try to keep them in the scene and on the marketing and business

[00:14:04] Paul: side. Right.

Yeah. Especially you know, with a pandemic going on, just being motivated and you know, trying to you know, you wanna be adaptable, especially like you know, especially with like recession stuff. Right. Mm-hmm yeah. And you know, like I could, I could sense it, like I could feel a little bit like, especially during the pandemic, like you want to, you know, artists are just like wanting to express themselves all the time and, and just find those outlets, you know?

So that's why I'm like happy to help provide, you know, those PRI opportunities to do that. Yeah.

[00:14:42] Benja: Yeah, no, that's that's definitely solid. And like, speaking of the recession, how has art been doing in our recession in general?

[00:14:51] Paul: I think well, I just think it's a struggle to understand how to, well, it's like the business side of it.

Right. Okay. Because there are a lot, there's plenty of artists out there. It's just Understanding the, the business of it that will, you know, especially trying to make a living off of it. Right. Just understanding the basics and I mean, that's the stuff that they're not really teaching too much of it in art school.

Right. Have, you know, make a sustainable career out of it. Which is changing, which is good. And, you know, especially with all the resources now, free resources it's just having the right perspective with it. Mm-hmm you know, we've had, we've had some funny stories with pricing, the artwork and, you know, things like that.

The, you know, people are just chasing status and whatnot, but so yeah. It's, and I've, I've be, you know, over the years I've tried to be less preachy with it. OK. But, you know, I only mean to empower and educate with that stuff. Yeah. I'm recording this incident. We had you know, you know, Victor, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. He had a funny, we had a funny experience at one of our popup shows where, you know, they would ask us or they were asking Vic you know, about pricing work. And then a lot of times sometimes artists can't separate themselves from the work and look at it objectively, you know, and what it worth in the marketplace and things like that.

So then when they were asking Vic how much they should price their work, you know, he was trying to be a gracious and you know, actually give him some benefited doubt and, you know, whatever price you gave, they were insulted. Right. They . And so out spite they're probably like doubling the price or whatever.

It's like, no, how dare you. like, but yeah, things like that. It is just looking at it more objectively and being pragmatic about it. I.

[00:16:41] Benja: Yeah, no, that's awesome. I think very, very recently, and I haven't been in the art scene, like in the art scene in a, in a couple years, and I have a reason for that.

But when I was I was at my last little art presentation showcase at at an art fair and I started, I, I decided to start doing a pay what you want kind of deal mm-hmm . So I, I would talk to the person that would say they'll say, Hey, you know how much for this? And I was like, Hmm. And we just started getting into a conversation, but I never actually answered the question.

And then at some point early on after I'd gotten some information, I would

you like to pay and you know, that kind of stopped them. And then they get kind of, well, you know, I don't, I wanna pay for what it's worth. And I'm like, no, no, no, if it, if it's not the right price, you know, we will find you another painting or whatever. And interesting. It's worked out like I'll, I'll start at, I'll start at a dollar amount and say, Okay.

How much are you trying to, you know, spend on art or whatever? I won't say it like flatly like that, but I'll basically ask how much do you wanna spend on art? What are you trying to use it for? And so I'll find out if they're in the low hundreds, the high hundreds, you know, thousands or whatever, and you just kind of poke around and find out.

And then at some point I'm like, you know what I could do. I have a painting that I haven't finished at home. It looks like this and I'll send them maybe a sketch or something or a mock up, or if it's partially done, then I have a picture of it. I'll send them that. And then we'll just kind of talk through it and say, well, I could finish this up.

You give me X amount of dollars and we'll make it a thing. And they're like, oh, okay, sure. And that worked very well for a lot of my smaller paintings. Cuz you remember I started going smaller at some point.

[00:18:22] Paul: Yeah. I remember that when you were doing shows in south park, right? Yeah. Right. Mm-hmm yeah.

Forget the name of that venue. But I remember that show.

[00:18:32] Benja: Yeah, there was the there was the ice cream show. Mm-hmm that was one of 'em. And, but yeah, I started going smaller and using the bigger pieces for other purposes, I guess. Different types of shows. Right.

[00:18:45] Paul: They make what good price anchors.

Oh yeah. Definitely anchor high. Right. So

[00:18:52] Benja: no, definitely.

[00:18:52] Paul: Bring that stuff from seafood, Dan .

[00:18:56] Benja: Oh yeah, exactly. Right. I've forgotten all about him. I have a few money around here somewhere. No, yeah. That's a Dan lock for everybody. Who wants to know also shout out to art business.com who, who you put me onto.


[00:19:14] Paul: awesome. Yeah. I, when I was like preaching, like, like stuff, like usually from that blog. Yeah.

[00:19:21] Benja: nah, man. I. At first, I was kind of like art business.com that just all right, whatever I started reading through and it was good stuff. And I think after I came up here to, to the Los Angeles long beach area, I really started jumping into the sales, marketing branding side of things and really started like, oh, okay, this is what it's like coming from the other side of it.

This is what it's like coming from the, not the creative side. But the business and social side. And I didn't realize how necessary that was. And I didn't realize how lost I was. And I think I still, I think I latched on to a lot of the branding because coming from video games, that's kind of what I understood best.

[00:20:08] Paul: Yeah. I really enjoyed your, your recent talks around branding, cuz I'm still learning about that stuff myself. So.

[00:20:15] Benja: Yeah. Yeah, it's a, I mean, it's an interesting thing, you know, how you impress yourself on somebody else's mind and what they go away with. So I like when I was back at rockstar games or even back at 3d, I started hanging out with some of the marketing and sales people at the company.

And I think that kind of gave me a, a respect for it. And then of course I met you guys and it just kind of kept building from there, but I, I don't, I started to realize that it it's just this, I still don't totally understand it, but there's this looking at yourself from the outside? Like how do people perceive your value and stopping and needing to cultivate that perception is a part of the art in itself.

And I got a lot of pushback from people where they're like, that's not art and you know, all you, what you're working on. Isn't part of the art. And I'm like, Guy when someone's walking through an art fair and you're saying the art's gonna speak for itself. Yes, it does. But you could also be saying other things.

Yeah. You know, there are things that may be misconstrued. And, and it is just like, it it's, it's been such an uphill battle, like talking to people and I was like, wow, this is really a, a large Gulf,

[00:21:37] Paul: right? Yeah. I mean, cuz I mean, if you're talking about branding, right. Especially like you can't really control it.

Right. Because it's, it's what other people perceive. So like you can do your best to influence it. So, you know, in kind of, you know, push people in that direction that you want, but it's still at the end of the day. It's what they think. Right. I, I don't know. I don't know if it was said in your In a previous podcast about, you know, branding, it's like trying to read the label when you're inside the bottle, right?

Yeah. So, I mean, I apply that to a lot of different things in life, but definitely with art, you know, so I even think of, it makes me think of you know, when artists they don't wanna label their work. They just put untitled, I mean, right. It's fine. But it's like, you know, it's great. It's good to like, you wanna hint, right.

It, it gives people a hint into what it's about. Yeah. You know, on top of it, you know, for archival purposes. But yeah, you, you, if, if you wanna help people understand, right. Cause you're, it's a visual communicator, right. Your art kind of speaks for itself in a way, but you know, if you really want, if you have more intention behind it, you know, you're, you're, you wanna control the narrative a little bit to get your message across.

I think, you know, branding's important. You're, you know how it's being told, right. The medium.

[00:23:04] Benja: Yeah. And, and it's missing the, the art by itself is missing the context of the artist and the situation. And I think that was one of the mental humps that I had to get over. Like when someone says they're buying, you know Hey, I have a, you know, I have a war hall or I have a, you know, li sign Picasso or whatever.

There's a whole story behind each of those artists that comes with the painting, you know, the, the period they were in, the things that they were going through, what led to it, et cetera, etcetera, the hands that, that painting has passed through, et cetera. Yeah. And you know that when I, when I started understanding that I was like, oh, this is like storytelling.

Mm-hmm . This is me putting an impression on somebody. So no matter what they. No matter what they take from it. There's still that extra context. And, you know, some people I don't wanna say need it, but some people push the brand more than others and some, it gets more conceptual versus more physical, but you know, that's a whole other, other discussion there.

So one thing I wanted ask you about quickly is do you have any actually who are some well-branded artists that you know, that you can like call out? That would be a good example to give people?

[00:24:19] Paul: I think NC winners, mm-hmm, Catherine Branick with her who we currently exhibiting here with her someday mouse.

Character. Yeah.

[00:24:30] Benja: I'm not familiar with her. I'll have to look her up some mouse.

[00:24:36] Paul: Yeah. So it's this little mouse, character named some mouse and it's like kind of drawn with what's a sting. Hmm. Okay. Yeah. To even sell, we sell a book here on how to draw some mouse, so it's pretty fun.

[00:24:52] Benja: Oh, nice. So one thing with branding, I want to ask, do artists like need, and this, I used to hate this word, but now I kind of, kind of okay with it.

Do artists need a gimmick?

[00:25:08] Paul: They need a U a UDF, right? A, a unique differential factor. Something that sets apart. I'll say that. Because I mean, if you're in a sea of a bunch of different artists and like, and you're all. The same. It's not, it's not gonna matter. Right? So you need something to really stand out.

It could be your, even if you look the same, if your art looks the same as someone else's, maybe your story is different. So whatever that is, you gotta play it up. You know? So that's why social media is very important. It provides that context, you know, the BTS, the behind the scenes stuff, how the created, so that, that could be unique to you, even though the end result may be the same.

I think there's, there's something that you can pull, you know, extract from your process or your, your, just your, your, your personal background and how you put things together. That informs your work. Something that really makes you stand out because I mean, who can be a better you than you, right?

Yeah. So,

[00:26:11] Benja: but it, it, it seems so hard to stand out, like, like now in in social media, you know, there's just so much right. So, I mean, what do you do to stand out?

[00:26:20] Paul: I think let me see. That's a good question. Well, I dunno if there's an example of someone who could who could, who could use some branding, but it, I think it, you know, that that really depends on the person and how much they even want care to, like, what is their intention with their art, right.

Because that affects how, what kind of store you tell? You know, cause I, I think of branding, especially as like a lens, right. And you wanna put, so it's like creating this lens that that's unique to you and whatever you put through that lens, that's filter, whatever comes out on another side.

That's kind of what I would say. You wanna put out there. And you know, it, maybe in the beginning, you're it is just refining it. I mean now fine. You kind of you just wanna get into the scene. And so you're, you know, a lot of times I'll, I'll use like calligraphy as an example, there are a lot of artists who use that graffiti artists who use that style.

And a lot of it looks the same. Right? Mm-hmm but then culturally, if you look into it maybe like there's a local artist he goes by ethos one, you know, his his style is influenced by Filipino writing. So mm-hmm, call him by buy-in. So you know, those kind of things, when, when you tell your story and you, you, you know, you tell, you tell that little bit that sets you apart.

That's what people are gonna tune into. I think.

[00:27:42] Benja: think so too. And I think that actually ties into the, the name of the gallery thumbprint gallery a little bit. Right? Cause you are about an identity thumbprint. I don't know. Is that a reach?

[00:27:55] Paul: No, it was, well, it's kind of funny. I kind of reverse engineer.

Well, so I like the idea of having a thumbprint as a logo for whatever reason. I dunno. And then I was like, oh, this has to have some meaning. So so I was like, oh yeah, you know, it kind of sticks out, leaves the mark and that's what artists should do.

[00:28:17] Benja: Right, right. Yeah. The piece that's, that's kind of what I, I gathered when I, I was like, oh, thumbprint.

Yeah, I did. It's that's what sets you apart? You're unique. And this is just what I went off in my head and it's one of those things I really didn't ask about until, until later I was like, Hey, what's the thumbprint about? And you kind of stated that right there. Yeah. It was awesome. So a lot of artists you know, you're working with art and you're trying to balance the fine art and what I call on the other end, like production art, where you're producing for maybe movies, games you're doing logos framework, maybe sign work even.

Do you suggest artists who are I don't know artists who are trying to, be fine artists, do they need to just, how can they leverage their production art against what they're trying to do in the fine art world? I know some people are happy. Just kind of like, Hey, I I'll do a fine art painting here and there, but I just kind of.

That production, art's my job. And they're kind of fine with that balance, but somebody who wants to go full, fine art, like what,

[00:29:21] Paul: what is production art do you mean? Just graphic designing,

[00:29:24] Benja: Basically graphic design, logo, design, you know, somebody ask them to do a sign for them you know, going out on art jobs, whatever.

[00:29:32] Paul: So the way I try to distinguish the two is fine art versus graphic design is just the function of it. Right. Cause I feel, you know, art's kind of like, you know, it's, it's not trying to sell you anything. And I think the, a big difference is graphic design. It's more, there's more a focused intent and it's trying to solve a problem from what I I understand.

Okay. Yeah. So and so if you're trying to get into the more fine art. Side of with, with graphic design it's I guess has to have that a little bit more ambiguity and tap into a more I guess have a deeper background or meaning to it because to me, a graphic design's very, you know, surface level.

It's very you know, it needs to get your attention. It's the whole function of it is just different. I think. Whereas art, I think it's more emotional it's visceral.

[00:30:32] Benja: Okay. So if fine art had a function, if you will, you said you're not trying to sell anybody, anything like you're not trying to make an ad or anything like that.

Then what would fine art's like intent be for people? I

[00:30:46] Paul: think it's. It doesn't have that. The intent is not really from the creator. It's more like, I, I look at it like who, who whoever's viewing the work. They're gonna get something out of it that maybe even an intent. Okay. If that makes yeah, yeah, totally does.

So you know, like a lot of times artists are like, oh, they just wanna buy my art. Cuz it matches the couch. I'm like, yeah. That's probably all they see, you know? . Yeah. But yeah, it's just different, you know, it's a reflection of the viewer. So mm-hmm

[00:31:22] Benja: yeah. That's a, that's always one that comes up because you always run into an artist at some point.

Yeah. And this hap, this happened to me as well, where I'm doing my thing and somebody comes up, Hey, listen. Can you do a cat sitting on, you know, a you know, sitting on a table and have it look like this. I think it's gonna go great in my living room. And it just totally throws the artist out of whack because they're like, no cats.

I'm, I'm, I'm painting tapes and doing this. And why, why are they asking for cats? And what, what do you tell artists in that situation? Or how do you, well,

[00:32:02] Paul: How badly to work, you know, it's one thing to, I guess, asking an artist to paint something very specific and then another to kind of to almost change their style of doing it.

So if like say it was a cat or whatever, right? Yeah. So if, but if I, I said, but do a cat in your style. Mm-hmm okay. Sure. You know, but I think, you know, it is kind of like with graphic designers, when you, you know, is like the client from hell is trying to just use you as their hands, but they're not appreciating, you know, tattoo artists are the same way.

It's like, you're not appreciating their individual unique style. Right. You just, yeah. You want them to cater to your vision, but that isn't their style. So they're not really paying attention to that, but I mean, that's an opportunity for the artist to, you know, they could take a different route in the responses instead of maybe being offended or whatever, just educate the person.

And if they're still kind of pushing back then it's kind of like, all right, never.

[00:33:02] Benja: Yeah. I had a situation with somebody out in near Riverside. What's the name of that area? Fontana mm-hmm guy was buying a piece in Fontana and he actually told me, he's like, Hey, I want it like this. I want it like that.

And you know, I drew it up in everything. We, you know, I told him what I was gonna do with it. The collage I was gonna use in the background, he were like, okay, that sounds great. And as I started into it, I'm, I'm like, I know these guy's house and I know the pictures. I'm like, oh man, this is gonna look terrible.

I needed to change up the color scheme. And it was just the colors that I wanted to change up. But I thought if I told him that he, he bolt on the project and just be like, nah, nah, I don't know what you, you think you're doing and whatever. So I totally painted it in the colors that I wanted and drove it out there to him.

And I was like, all right, let's see how this works out, because I think it's really gonna work, but I know he doesn't want these colors. He wants some other colors. He wanted like a red and white and he has a really muted place. And I was like, let me just go with some brown and orange and kind of match.

Even the neighborhood is kind of muted. Right. Right. So I brought him this painting and he was like, the first thing he said was, oh yeah, it's not what I asked for. And then he kind of stood with it for a minute and was just kind of like staring and I wasn't sure what he was feeling. Mm-hmm and then his wife walks in and was like, oh, Hey Benjamin, how you doing?

He's like, oh, that is lovely. Much better than I thought it would be. And he's looking at the painting like, oh he likes it now. Yeah. Yeah. Now he likes it. Cuz his wife all giddy about it. So. That was like one of the times I just totally said, you know, screw that guy. I'm gonna go with this. And it's pretty much worked so far.

But yeah, I know that's, that can be a it's a gamble. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:34:46] Paul: Did he did they pay you at all for like even the sketches or, you know, the concepts or

[00:34:52] Benja: I kind of, I kind of do like really loose sketches and say, Hey, here's what I'm thinking about. Here's the price I'm thinking about? And if they send something back or, or if, even if they don't I'll contact, 'em again say, oh, you didn't like that, or, well, how about, you know, and I just kind of go back and forth.

I don't have a very strict set of guidelines. I just kind of deal with the person as they are and try to sell them on whatever energy or vibe I have going on. And it's worked out so far, so. Nice. All right. Yeah. I, I do have a question though, with you're doing the art gallery thing and how is that?

How do you make art galleries not boring now? And the reason I ask is because I was looking up and when I was, when I was a kid, I thought they were boring. And then I kind of grew into them and understood the people, the connections, the stories behind the art, et cetera. But lately I've been seeing this, like, you know everything's an Instagram opportunity.

The there's like the museum of ice cream and all of these instant, all these things are happening and they're not really art. They're just kind of, Hey, take a picture in front of this, cuz it looks kind of weird and cool. And I haven't been around seeing a lot of people saying, Hey, I was at this gallery really doing this thing and.

I don't know, I'm wondering what galleries are doing right now. What thumbprints doing, even to stand out for lack of a better terms to, to get that UDF .

[00:36:19] Paul: I guess what we're doing a little bit differently is I mean, it could, it could, it helps with drawing you know, more people in that do by art is we have you know, like a music component to our receptions mm-hmm live music.

So and we, you know, we try to make it compliment the artwork that's that we currently exhibit. But yeah, like just creating new experiences. So, you know, when, whenever we have like a solo artist, especially, you know, I let them try to take over, like currently Catherine Branick are featured solo artist, you know, I allowed her to paint directly on her wall, do like a little indoor mural.

I allow them to curate the music even, you know, outside of the live music that we have scheduled. Just kind of, I always say, you know, attack all the senses and you know, kind of create the, you know, create your own world within our space. So yeah.

[00:37:13] Benja: Now how, how important is the relationship that you're cuz you guys are running kind of a, a three way relationship.

It's the gallery, the, the artist, and then also the community or the, the patrons that come in to see the art mm-hmm . So you've got this this, this triangle going on of like, Hey, we're presenting a. A certain style, you know, you're gonna see this artist again, maybe we've got some other artists coming up, so it's like a continually, a continuing relationship, right?

[00:37:43] Paul: Yeah. And it's, we're, there's like a lot of E and flow with it because you know, it is also affected by the surrounding event. And just just with the availability, I guess, of certain artists that could that, you know, we try to fit our branding as a gallery. But you you'll see notice sometimes throughout the year we'll take a chance on something different, someone, very different from what we usually show.

So it's going to be very diverse. Mm-hmm and it's a good. So I mean that even goes to how we brand our gallery because you know, it, whenever we're working with especially if it's a solo artist you know, they have to kind of, it's like a co-branding, you know, trying to keep things adaptable that way.

But yeah, so, I mean, we, we get people from all walks of life that come through, so it keeps it very in interesting, you know as far as like galleries, you know keeping things interesting, you know, because like a lot of people are just like, why go to a gallery when I could just see the work online.

Right, right, right. Yeah. But there's some things you can't you know, replicate online, like the in person interaction, you get at a gallery seeing the work up close, you know, the texture and things like that. It's just not the same. So that's just creating new experiences with the. Ever changing flow of you know, demographics.

So, and how

[00:39:09] Benja: much have you played with any, any virtual or live art shows? I mean, live online art shows. How much have you played with any of the, anything

[00:39:18] Paul: like that? Not much. I mean, it's funny, like pre pandemic. We even experimented with a virtual art show with a local artist named Tyro may and you know, we would release the work at a certain time online.

I kind of got the idea, you know, paying attention to, you know, Eric Nabo, a gr two giant robot. He did something and I was like, oh, we should try that too. And you know, we, we didn't do it again. It just didn't seem to fit our business model. But we wanted experiment. So we did mess with it a little bit.

[00:39:50] Benja: Have you heard of not. What not,

[00:39:53] Paul: no. Yeah. What not?

[00:39:56] Benja: yeah, no, it's it's this new app called what not right. Mm-hmm and it's basically a, a live auctioning app. So you go on there and you, you do a live stream and it's like, all right, guys, for the next, you know, hour, whatever I'm gonna be here, live streaming.

It's kinda like a QVC mm-hmm , but everybody has it, you know, everybody has their own phone and it's like, you see like the little prices and comments flying up on the screen. And it's like, oh, this guy just, you know, put in a bid for such and such. And, oh, this is crazy guys, you gotta get this. And it started out with Pokemon cards.

Mm-hmm it grew to like other types of cards, magic, UGI, baseball cards, et cetera. And it started to get out. And I noticed a few artists were getting on it. I don't know if I, I don't know what the scene out there is doing, but stuff like this has been popping up and I've been trying to keep up with it all, but there's just like so much, right?

[00:40:52] Paul: Oh yeah. It's overwhelming with what what's being done. I mean come to think of it. I actually recall there's another local artist that kind of did like, you know, the game doom. Yeah. Yeah. So he did like a, a thing similar to doom where it was, you know, his art. It was like a, a walkthrough gallery virtual gallery.

Yeah. I, I can't recall if you could, how much you could interact with it, but you can walk through and yeah, it, it was, it was like early, very early, like two thousands, I think it, but yeah, that was, that was a new experience for me anyway. But yeah, there's so many different ways that people are experiencing art now I can't kick off so, you know, but keeping it old school, you know, in a lot of ways, there are some things that, you know, it's the whole tactile, very analog versions of things it's, it's still effective.

[00:41:41] Benja: So yeah, it definitely is. I and you know what now people are, I, I wasn't sure what was gonna be the case after, you know, the major shutdown lockdown, and that was going on across America, but, you know, just recently with events like comic con and there was like a, you know, sporting event, you know, up the way.

And it's just like, the crowds are coming back out. They're like, ah, we want this. And so I was like, oh, okay, well, this is really coming right back. And at least that dedicated crowd is definitely coming back, but now you've got this added layer of. It's coming back, but everybody's more connected now, so we can do a little more, we can try a little more funkiness with how we're selling marketing branding, and it's just, it's just been weird and fascinating to me.

[00:42:33] Paul: Oh yeah. Like did you go to

[00:42:35] Benja: ComicCon? No, I didn't go to ComicCon this year. But yeah, I, I didn't go this year.

[00:42:41] Paul: Yeah. I, I went a couple days and yeah, it is a lot to take in. So I don't know if it's just me getting older or whatever, but I was just like, oh, I, I was getting burnt out just like visually.

I was like, it's a lot of it's. It is a lot to take in. So you know, when I, you know, have ring a space like this it, it just reminds me of like how much better focus I am and like a more minimalist aesthetic. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, I did go to the special edition. Oh,

[00:43:08] Benja: right in November. Yeah.

[00:43:10] Paul: Yeah. I think that one was a little bit more my pace

[00:43:15] Benja: okay. Some people called it like too silent and a little too peaceful, but nice.

[00:43:20] Paul: Yeah.

[00:43:22] Benja: yeah. I don't know if you saw Omar on Monday when he showed up on the podcast and he was talking about how he went to it and he was like, he was like, oh my gosh, this is like, you know, one of the early ComicCons where you could just walk around and, you know, leave your bag, like four booths away and people will still see it, you know?

And mm-hmm, , it's like, Hey, how's it going, man? And you could just yell across the, the way and people will wave back at you.

[00:43:47] Paul: Yeah. I remember those days, like I used to volunteer in the magic rooms, the tournament

[00:43:51] Benja: rooms. Oh, really? See, you just got all this random stuff that like magic. You know, I used to be a you know, I was a level four UGI judge.

[00:44:03] Paul: Oh, really? Yeah. And, and was like you volunteered to do that or is that something like you, you were there officially for, or

[00:44:11] Benja: no, I started playing UGI when I was in the bay area and I came down to San Diego and I found out that upper deck had offices down there and I was like, oh, upper decks got offices.

Well, you know, when I found that I was like, well, maybe I can bring my old Ugo cards out. And actually found out about that. Cause I was just hopping through office office parks and at one of the breweries inside an office park, they were talking about UGI. And I'm like, why are they talking about UIO at a random San Diego brewery?

And it's like, no, no, no upper decks down the street. And I was like, oh, that changes everything. So, okay. So yeah, I just started playing

[00:44:48] Paul: scene, but Yeah, I didn't Mely mess with Yugi, but yeah, definitely. I mean, that's how I got into art a little bit, because I would actually bring my cards to comic con to get, to meet the artist and have 'em sign my cards.

You know, you thought, you know, you would think, oh, I'm the cool guy with all my cards signed by the artist. But yeah, it was, it was fun.

[00:45:08] Benja: Nice. So getting into the, the arts, was this a path you kind of expected or did it just happen? Cause you, you know, you, you were going the graffiti art, the street art kind of route for yourself.

Mm-hmm and you said you met up with Johnny, but was this, was this something you foresaw or was it just like random things happened and you just went with the flow?

[00:45:29] Paul: I just went with the flow, I think, you know, was in college where I, you know, I learned about shepherd ferry. Mm-hmm probably that I was just like.

Communication. Okay. And I was like playing guitar in a couple of punk bands and then that, and then eventually I don't, I don't remember the exact time I, I came across shepherd Fair's work, but at some point I did and I got to meet him. And I think that's where it kind of like really gave me that boost.

So when I was like, I could do this

yeah. I mean, from, you know, him doing his street art, I was like I was like putting up my posters to stickers stencil, and then remember he opened up studio one and you know, I was like, oh, I'll open the gallery. You know? So yeah, he's a huge, he's a huge influence starting out him and David show, I would say as far as like getting that drive to really put myself out there and taking chances.

So, and it. It fast paced after that. Yeah.

[00:46:33] Benja: Yeah. So shepherd ferry, he would've actually been in San Diego for a little bit while you were doing your thing. Right? Cause he, he moved to LA at some point when he,

[00:46:44] Paul: yeah, I feel like I just missed him because there was a gallery downtown, I think, and 1156 that he was he did a show there with another artist.

Mike giant, you probably heard of right. He's local now. And he did that giant versus giant show cuz the obey giant Mike giant. And then, but I missed that whole window. I mean I looked back after, after already having thumbprint for a while, then I was like kind of researching like older galleries and that was a gallery that really I would've loved to uh, you know, attend their shows when it was around.

[00:47:17] Benja: Was that you say downtown? The first thing I remember was shepherd ferry installation. Down on fourth street or something. I don't remember, but I just remember driving by and was like, holy shit, that's a shepherder installation.

[00:47:36] Paul: Oh, was it just the original logo? Like the stencil face.

[00:47:41] Benja: It was the stencil face and it was all along the walls.

And it was round where the Adida shop was.

[00:47:50] Paul: I can't remember the only one that I can remember. That's still up, I think is

[00:47:53] Benja: the one by the museum. Okay. Oh, this one, this one was gone a long time ago then, but um, okay. Yeah, I remember it showed up and it just kind of like, holy crap, that's the guy and I'd seen him, I'd seen his stuff in San Francisco as well.

So that threw me back to that and that. All right. So, you know, I didn't know that about communication. You did went to communications thing. You did the the gallery thing. Now you're doing this. One thing I like about what you've always done, you and Johnny you're definitely always connected to the community.

The, I don't wanna say art in the streets, but you're connected to the people out on the street level. And you're still, you know, maintaining, you know, your, your high standards of art and artistic expression, et cetera. And now you're working with this health clinic, right?

[00:48:40] Paul: Yeah, this healthcare center.

So I mean, as far as my background with community I mean, it all, it all happened like simultaneously. So when I was doing the whole graffiti street art thing, I was also volunteering with several things like our local Phil Fest. Mm-hmm, the, a large Filipino American festival, I think the largest it's they say it's the largest inter intergenerational cultural festival in Southern California.

So I was a program coordinator for that, our program coordinator. Yeah. And around that time, I was also in a mayor appointed position at the natural city public art committee. So I did that about four years. And so, you know, I was kind of. On that side of it, but still doing stuff in the streets.

You know, and I, you know, doing the whole Rilla marketing thing, so, right. You know, I tasted that too. And yeah, so as far as working with the community until now I'm still like helping out especially the, the Filipino American community with you know, helping them find artists to exhibit at their festivals and things like that.

And so with the healthcare thing now you know, as I made this transition because of it was more fulfilling It's fun, you know, it was a whole t-shirt thing. But actually I wanted to give back it in a different way. Cuz that that's still artistic, you know, it's still creative. And what's funny is like, you know I was trying to stay away from the whole healthcare industry cuz you know, I have assist who was who was an RN.

My whole family is like in the medical field and it kind of still found me through marketing so

[00:50:08] Benja: well isn't yeah, go ahead. Isn't there always a there's always some type of push to have an art presence in a lot of these hospitals and healthcare facilities. It, it doesn't always work out well and it's not always you know, very alluring from the, from the view, from the viewer's point of view.

Right. But I've always I, who was it? Jeff Koons? He decided he would do like a project for like the MRI machines and. He paint 'em up and everything. And it was kind of when you looked at it, it's like, you know, why are there all these monkey faces and you know, dolphins in a, in an MRI, like it looked, it looked corny, but when you saw the kids react to it, they were like, oh my gosh, here we are.

I'm, you know, I can, I can relax a little bit. It's not so static of an environment. And when after I say what,

[00:50:59] Paul: no it's art therapy.

[00:51:02] Benja: Yeah. Is that a part of something you, you know, you may try, may bring to the healthcare community or at least that

[00:51:07] Paul: institution, maybe, maybe somewhere down the line. Yeah. Right now what's in, what's crazy is that so this, the healthcare organization I'm working for they're rebrand.

So they got a new CEO and everything. So you know, they wanted to bring me on real fast because it's a lot of work to be done. So I'm excited about it. And then hopefully, you know, I can get them to support some local art in their lobbies and things like that. So,

[00:51:34] Benja: yeah, I think that's always a, I don't know why there isn't more of it and just naturally being in these institutions and as a part of art therapy.

So when you hear art therapy, like what, what does that, what does that mean?

[00:51:50] Paul: I th well, I, I, depending on the person, what they, what, what they would need to. Feel, I guess not depressed, you know, become, be more calm. It, it, you know, what problem are they trying to solve? You know? So I think it varies.

And so it's hard to praise everybody. Right. And that's what I've learned doing community work, especially art in the community's like you can't please everybody. Yeah. Yeah, cuz that's another thing I, I do with you know, the utility box project, you know, you get complaints all the time and I, I, I, I think that the same,

[00:52:26] Benja: what kinda complaints are we talking about?

You said with like utility boxes.

[00:52:31] Paul: Oh, well just like just like one time we were painting a box and it, it wasn't even complete, it was just getting started. The, the neighbors already complaining, like they didn't want any color. They wanted some bland surface , they're just like, you know, combated that we're doing something new and getting attention with it.

I, I'm not sure exactly they were just driving by and just like hating on it. So but you can't, you can't prove everybody. So I, I I'm thinking that that's, what's what the challenges with displaying art, especially like in a hospital setting, you know, who knows maybe there might be something that could trigger a negative response and, right, right.

So things like that. It's, I'm still learning about it, but yeah. It's interesting.

[00:53:15] Benja: Yeah. When there's a hospital in new Orleans, I can't remember the name of it, but new Orleans you're, it's, it's one of those places where you're more likely to find random art just somewhere. And as I was walking through the halls, I noticed that.

Okay. We had these landscape artists over here, and then now we have people walking through a field and I'm like, wait a minute. I started noticing all the art was changing up as I was going through the hospital and I asked about it and they didn't a lot of the staff, I didn't have time to really research it.

And the staff didn't really know too much. So I couldn't find out like who was curating it, but I was actually impressed like, wow, this is a, a, a, a appointed effort to be very low key. You know, not like disrupt anybody's, you know, physical or mental state or whatever. There it's very much trying to be low key, but still it's obviously curated, you know, you have different floors and different areas with different types of art.

And I wanted, I wanna see more of that around. I'm wondering why it doesn't you got a guess.

[00:54:24] Paul: Oh, yeah. Johnny just walked in. If you wanna say

[00:54:26] Benja: hi. Oh my God.

[00:54:29] Paul: yeah, I didn't tell him I was gonna be here, but

[00:54:32] Benja: what's up Johnny? I, I was just chatting with him earlier like on I was just chatting with him online before uh, before we started this.

So seeing him in person good stuff. Yeah. So what kind of events do you have coming up

[00:54:49] Paul: events? Well, lemme see here, so we have our try going order here. So we have a closing reception for our current exhibition during the next first Fridays. What is that? So what's that tomorrow, right tomorrow, August 5th.

Four to seven I'm happy to announce we were nominated for best art gallery at San Diego reader. Nice. We made the top five and so the voting begins on the eighth. Anybody would like to vote for us. That'd be nice. We have a group show coming up at the gallery here. It's called a storytellers three opening reception, Saturday, August 13th from five to 10.

And then we have that live music with that seven 30. Yeah. Me see as far as like community work we're doing a, like a art showcase at festival in BDO park. It's called, sorry. Sorry. Means a, a variety mm-hmm so it's with everything over there. That's Sunday, August 14th. And then we have a popup show again, that bar basic called artist annex.

And it's my birthday, August 17. We're gonna be there from six to nine. Oh,

[00:55:53] Benja: congratulations. Thanks. How many, how many shows do you guys do like a, a year or a month now?

[00:55:59] Paul: I mean, we have a show here at the gallery every month on the second Saturday opening every second Saturday. And the bar basic shows maybe once a month.

All right. Yeah.

[00:56:12] Benja: So pretty good schedule. Everybody understands and knows the, the routine and God, I love that. I kinda kinda wish back down to San Diego and just our work right here. Yeah, that's a

[00:56:23] Paul: yeah. Wanna tell people about it.

[00:56:25] Benja: Am I supposed to tell people we got, we got you here, right? Oh, I wanna

[00:56:28] Paul: say that.

I don't know if you know about this, but like, was it two days ago? Oh, we had a guess. And she was like recording it and saying, oh, this would offend so many Filipino mothers.

[00:56:39] Benja: oh man. I didn't mean often the Filipino mamas. Yeah.

[00:56:44] Paul: But it was, it was just really funny.

[00:56:46] Benja: Yeah. Yeah, putting it all together. That was, that was one of the first time.

That was one of the first times I did a collage background with only one image. Cause I was trying to get like, cuz actually kind of hard to get the images down flat. If it's one, you know, just one piece getting the smaller pieces is fine, but getting that one large piece on there just right. And when I got it, I was like, thank you, Jesus.

All right.

[00:57:13] Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Are we last some stuff I wanted to ask you

[00:57:17] Benja: about? Oh let me throw in one question real quick, and then you can ask me guy Logan, Logan acting at one. No. Was there any certain piece in your history or whatever that you really connected with and moved you,

[00:57:29] Paul: Of my own or

[00:57:31] Benja: just in, no, just in general, like a piece you ran into?

[00:57:36] Paul: Well, the piece, well, the piece that comes to mind is, is my own it was from a long time ago and I don't know why I'm thinking of it. Mm-hmm but it was a piece I did is like an, a stencil piece of two angels holding hands, but they were one wing. Each person, each angel had one wing and the whole concept.

Was, you know, we're all one wing angels and we have to hold one another in order to fly. It's kind of horny, but it stood out in my mind because I ended up selling that to a, a newly married couple. I like

[00:58:14] Benja: that. I like that. Yeah.

[00:58:17] Paul: All

[00:58:18] Benja: cheesy. No, I mean, you know, whatever hits you hits you, so cool.

Thanks for that question, Logan. You were gonna ask me,

[00:58:26] Paul: oh I was very curious to ask you about the, I mean, it's a long time ago, but the David Cho

[00:58:31] Benja: experience. Oh my God, that was, that was insane. That's why I wanna hear so, so for those who don't know, David Cho Some sometimes known as the Facebook artist, he did up a lot of the the wall art and consulted with Zuckerberg to do a lot of the Facebook art got famous because of that ended up doing a lot of illustrations for the video game industry just, just kept creating art and.

He he's always one of the artists I really liked and followed because he just kind of did whatever. Even when he did his multiple podcast, you know, it was just like, he was coming out with crazy new formats and just being free with his art. And I was like, man, I'm so like uptight a lot of times with a lot of my thoughts and how to get stuff out and he's just going out there and doing it.

So when he said he was doing this you know, David Cho experience the Cho matrix and all that, I was like, all right, I gotta find a way to get in this. And I'd run into him a couple times before. So I sent him my application. He, he posted something on Reddit. I replied to it, we got into a little, you know, Hey man, what's up.

It's like, Hey, how come? You're not putting the fun back in funeral. And he was, he was looking for comments. That would be interesting. And I sent him that one and he was like, oh yeah. Okay. That's cool. You know, write that one down. And I was like, all right, Over time. He puts on this experience and says, Hey, we're taking applications.

And I'm like, how do you apply to go to an art show? What the hell is this? So I applied, I don't know if he remembered my name or I, I filled out my application correctly or whatever, but called me back and was like, Hey, we're gonna be doing this thing. His assistant kept calling and they're like, you better answer the phone when the assistant calls.

So I get a call and they ask me these weird questions, just like, so how do you paint a tree? And like, as violently as I would like, okay, thank you, bye. And they would just hang up the phone and I'm like, okay. And wait for another call. Like a couple days later. Anyway, go to the that's. I say that all to, to, to set up that this experience was just unexpected.

So finally we get like the dates and everything. It's like, Hey, show up here. At this random. Random building somewhere in LA, it's totally been, been cleaned out. It's old office building, not using it for anything we get there and they're like, all right, cell phones, pens, paper, empty, your pockets, everything, let us know about your medical conditions and all this.

And I'm like, oh, this is serious. You know, the taking out all these notes about us, our names and stuff, and they break us up, right. Say what? You had to

[01:01:06] Paul: sign a waiver. Yeah. Yeah. That's

[01:01:09] Benja: crazy. yeah. Signed a waiver. So we're all just kinda like, I don't know. What's going on signed a waiver to get into an art show and I'm standing out in, you know, with like a crew of what was it like 25 people out in front of this, you know, empty office, building, looking.

It was very sketch. You know, it just kind of like looked weird. Then they opened up the doors and they let us in the lobby. They've sectioned us off into groups. So now we're in like groups of five and six, right. So there are like five groups of around five people each and they just take us through this area.

We go to different floors on each floor. Like one floor was like a, they were playing hard rock and they were like flashing lights all over the place. So you're walking through this empty cubicle farm, you know, and there are people like sitting in the cubicles dancing and throwing confetti and you know, one guy was in the corner painting.

You tried to talk to him. He's like, leave me the hell alone. It's like, I dunno, I don't know what's going on. And then you hear like, over the PA you're at five minutes to get to the elevator and you're like oh, okay. And you go and into the elevator. There were special guests that I didn't know, like there was some Indian guru there that was on one of the floors who had like, this really zoned out experience.

And I didn't know who he was. Somebody was like, oh my gosh, that's guru such and such and such. And I'm like seems like a chill dude. Never heard him before. This is cool. We sat down with this guy and he starts talking about life. This weird experience of just going from Florida to floor lasted for like a couple hours.

And we're just going through different floors. We went through the cafeteria and there was like a big jam session of music in the cafeteria. And at the end of it, we get to like the top floor and David's there. He's like, Hey, hope you guys like the experience, like the, the music we did with the, what was the name of the group?

Mon Chi hammer or something like that. And You know, we met all the guys from the podcast randomly, and he's just talking to us like, Hey, so now you're gonna go with me. We're going to view the art. And he takes us into a completely dark area, like a completely dark floor, no lights, except for, you know, like the little exit signs or whatever.

So you can barely see anything. And he's just like, okay, tell me which way you want to go. And one girl was like left. So he starts taking us to the left and the guy's like taking out a flashlight showing us art. And he's like, you better keep up. You know? And he's like showing us these little glimpses of art.

So we can't see all the art, but it's just like this, this huge body of work that he put out and you had to go by follow this guy with the flashlight, or you just get left behind. We get to the end of this little walkabout. And he is like, all right, that's your time. If you didn't see all the art, that's too bad.

And, and at the end of it, they're like, Hey, you know, you can go sit down for a questionnaire. You know, there's some like milk and cookies over there. You can sit down and talk to the guys in front of the camera while you eat your milk and cookies. Talk to them about the experience. And I'm kind of sitting there, like I just spent two and a half hours getting thrown into weird weirdness from David Cho's mind.

Right. Mm-hmm . And I was like, how do you, was that an art show? Was that an experience? I don't know what it was. But then as I was leaving, you know, walking out of the building, it was like a guy in the corner talking to this older lady. He's like, he's like, yes, can you describe the piece again? He's like, well, was the guy with the guns?

And he was, you know, falling down and shooting people. I really like that piece. And I'm thinking this old, lady's talking about the Punisher piece. Okay. I saw that one. She's trying to buy the Punisher piece and it was just this wild experience. I, and I'd never seen an art show like that, where. I don't even know what it was still to this day.


[01:05:07] Paul: I regret backing out cuz I actually didn't try to sign up for it and I did get a call, but I was like, I got cold feet. So I was like, oh no. Especially when the whole wave thing came up. I was like probably not

[01:05:20] Benja: yeah, no, it was, it was legitimately weird, man. Yeah, there was a, there was a portion where we went into a room and there were a couple of us and they started asking questions.

Like David sat at a David sat at the head of the table and there were two people on the side of him. One this enormous and obese person and other on the other side of him was this very skinny, frail looking like they were about to die person. So of course a David chose set up. Right. And he's just sitting down with a piece of paper and he starts saying, there's someone in this room who was born in this city and da, da, da, da, da.

And we're like. Wait, what the hell? Cause he's like spouting out random facts about us and we're kind of looking around like, holy shit. And somebody is like,

[01:06:10] Paul: well, stuff like really personal.

[01:06:14] Benja: It started to get really personal. Yeah. And that's the thing, I don't know what was written on this paper. Like, but I, I believe somebody had been like working to go through all of our social media, maybe find out what they could about us.

But we were in this room talking and, and David's like, so I also understand that one of you is, you know, and orphan, and this happened to them and da, da, da, da. And you know, it's like, if you don't have to raise your hand, you don't have to tell us who you are, but would you like to acknowledge yourself?

And one guy raised his hand and he's like, yeah, that's me. And. The two, one of the, like the obese guys started saying, Hey, it's okay. If you need a hug, you can hug me. And it was kind of this David Cho weirdness it, like, okay, there's this, you know, enormous obese guy with these like flowing robes on, you know, am I gonna just go hug this guy?

And, and as this thing kept going on, the questions got weirder. And they were like, Hey, listen. The, the guy who was the orphan ended up, you know, bawling out tears, he is like, Hey, the rest of you, you know, if there's nothing more that you want from this experience, you can go on such and such. I'm going to stay here with like these two.

And I was like, all right, well that's a little too, too intimate for me right there, you know? So I went on to like another part, another room and left those guys there. But. It was, there were so many rooms and so many little different areas and I'm sure floors that I didn't see because when we got out, the whole point of us was to discuss the experience and we were like, Hey, did you see such and such?

I was like, no, I didn't see anybody like that. Like, oh yeah. But we were in there with the guys with the guitars. I was like, guys with the guitars, totally bonkers, you know, no photography or anything. So it's, everything is based on your memory and your discussion with each other. Totally blew my mind. I don't even know what to think of it.


[01:08:15] Paul: Wow. I kind of had an idea, you know, just knowing who David Cho is, but wow. I, I just never knew cause I didn't see anybody ever post what their experience was with that.

[01:08:27] Benja: He kind of I don't wanna say asked us not to, but he's like, this is a very personal experience. This is between you and the people who went there and.

As I said it's, it was just in general, kind of hard to explain because it happened so fast. There was so much stuff going on. At one point I was sitting on a laying back on a, on a bed with three people and they were wheeling the bed through the floor while all these lights and stuff were getting thrown over the bid.

So he was just like, he was like stare at the ceiling and understand what you're seeing. And there's like graffiti on the ceiling and we're just being pushed along on a bed. And I'm like, this might be the trickiest thing I've ever experienced in my life brainwash.

[01:09:09] Paul: And you don't even know it. You haven't sign it like an like,

[01:09:16] Benja: nah, no, no NDA, but you know, we, we kind of promised that we wouldn't like try to, I mean, he's put a lot of it out there himself in little bits and pieces.

Mm-hmm um, You know, like if you ever, any, if you've ever seen any of his weird videos with like people in mask running by or something like that, a lot of those elements showed up in, in person. Okay. Yeah. So,

[01:09:40] Paul: cool. All right. The other thing I was gonna ask you is I anything crazy in the LA art gallery scene?

[01:09:46] Benja: No, as I said, man, I've kind of been off the scene for a little bit, as far as galleries go, been really jumping head first into just the social media podcasting you know, getting around talking to people about sales, marketing, branding, et cetera, et cetera. I haven't done as much as I really wanted to, but this is what I want to do at the very current moment.

So you know, I still rock with the stack of sketchbook and I've got stuff coming out. So

[01:10:13] Paul: I'm like the like think space. The what space think space. Mm, yeah. Yeah. I just saw that they, you know, they expanded, they got like a two story building now with like a terrorist and everything. Oh, wow. So yeah, I mean, definitely new thing, you know, news that I, I know of, that's kind why I wanna visit pretty soon, but other than that, yeah, I'm not really updated on anything else, so, oh, well you gotta let me know when you visit, man.

Yeah, cool.

[01:10:45] Benja: Yeah. Well, that's all, that's all I got for this one. I think everybody I think Logan was the only, only solid question we got from there. I think we pretty much hit everything, man. So tell us how people can find you,

[01:10:55] Paul: On Instagram, thumbprint art gallery. I mean, cuz the thumbprint gallery got hacked.

So we had to, you know, restart that whole thing. We're on Facebook and our website, thumbprint gallery.com.

[01:11:06] Benja: All right. And you say you got a show and a birthday coming up soon. So congratulations on both of those Paul it's been awesome. One quick thing. Could you, could you get a little zoom in on that painting there?

Oh yeah, yeah.

[01:11:23] Paul: You wanna say something about it

[01:11:24] Benja: or yeah, yeah, I kind of do. So this painting, this painting, I did a while back it's basically a picture of the Christ and a bunch of Tetris blocks filling up the screen. It was basically an effort to kind of say, you know, this is my feeling about putting together my spirituality.

It's always this kind of. Puzzle right. This I don't wanna say a struggle, but it's just something where I'm always trying to figure out and get right and get better at. And whether that's through proper religion or just spirituality in general. So that's where that came from. And I forgot my exact, the exact title of it.

So could you read that off?

[01:12:06] Paul: Yeah. Fond memories of putting it all together.

[01:12:09] Benja: Right? I grew up in the church. That's right. So fond memories of putting it all together. Cool. Hey, thanks for that. Yeah.

So that is that one. We will definitely have you and Johnny back on this sometime maybe together, maybe separately. I know Johnny's got some political stuff he wants to, to get out there. So I'm gonna be take, say. Bring

[01:12:38] Paul: up NFTs again. That's always

[01:12:40] Benja: fun. Oh man. Not man dog. Got it, man. So many, so many bad actors in the NFT space ruined it.

So I'm, I'm glad I didn't jump in full, full, long with that, but I still have hope for NFTs and, and everything they're doing. And Johnny, Johnny argue with me about this later, but he's not, he's not convinced.

cool, man. So that's gonna be it for this one, Paul definitely want to thank you. This is Mr. Ben's a, the experience live going through my BingeOn week where I just talk with a bunch of great minds and reconnect, like I used to do in San Diego all the time around this period. And I'm on, I'm on a apple podcast, Spotify, all the major podcast streams.

So this is gonna be here on Instagram for a little bit, but then I'm gonna move it over to the other podcast stream. So if you want the, the replay or whatever, you have to catch it there. And I will be making clips out of this. So look out for those later. All right.

[01:13:38] Paul: Thank you again for having me.

[01:13:40] Benja: Absolutely man.

[01:13:41] Paul: Peace, peace.

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