Interview with artist and illustrator PLOID

Today our guest is J. Ben Moss ("art name" PLOID). He is an artist & illustrator from Shreveport, Louisiana. He tends to do a sort of edgy comic book/lowbrow/graffiti-inspired kind of style, often at odds with the prevailing culture in which he lives, the southern USA. We have conducted an interview with him.

Why did you choose 'PLOID' as your "art name"?

That’s actually kind of a silly story. A few years ago, when I first started really getting into graffiti and street art, I was in an art crew. Of course, it’s far easier to spray paint a tag name than your full real name, so I decided to choose one that reflected my background in comics.

The term “plewd” was coined by famous cartoonist Mort Walker to denote those little “beads of sweat” that were sometimes drawn above a character’s head to express excitement or anxiety. I misremembered the term as “ploid,” and went with it.

I later came to realize my mistake, but a lot of artwork I do deals with gender role stereotypes in (mostly) western culture. In chromosomal studies, the suffix “ploid” is used in words that describe the number of chromosomes in a set… like diploid, hexaploid, etc. It fit, so I kept it.
I kind of just like the sound of it, too.

Why is an art name important to define your art and yourself as an artist?

For the sake of doing quick tagging/graffiti, it works because it’s much faster to spray paint a four- or five-letter name than my full name! From a branding perspective, it sort of helps identify or define your work to potential patrons.

I’m not sure it is strictly necessary. I will say that it is probably one of the factors that has contributed to my slightly increased recognition in my immediate region.

How did you become an edgy comic book artist?

Comic book art is my absolute foundation in art. I have been making art as soon as I was able to pick up a crayon, but it was comics that really unlocked the urge to create in me. I eventually went on to a degree in art, but even so comics remain my biggest single influence.

The “edgy” style is just a natural outflow of emotion infusing my art. The Expressionists knew what was up. It’s very therapeutic for me to channel anger, depression, disappointment, cynicism into images that I create. I am fortunate to have that as an outlet. I think maybe a lot of people don’t.

I think I might differ in some respects from some artists who are considered “dark” or “edgy” in that I like to use COLOR to communicate emotional states. A deep, vibrant red or an explosive yellow-orange communicate so much more to me than blacks and grays.

Why do you like the lowbrow/graffiti-inspired style?

Comics, lowbrow and graffiti are the art forms of common, working people like me. I have studied and understand the aspirations and ideas of “high” art, but it doesn’t appeal as much to me conceptually. Much of fine art is nebulous and rarified in concept. That’s not to say that it has no value, but I much prefer the visceral emotional power of comics, lowbrow and graff.

Whose work inspires you the most?

There are a lot of artists who inspire and influence me. First and foremost is Jack Kirby, who is the artist that created most of the Marvel Universe and a good portion of the DC Comics universe. His art has such power that to this day is unsurpassed, in my opinion.

The Abstract Expressionists and Fauvists rank high for me. Their wild color and action-filled brushstrokes are something that I strive for.

More recently, David Choe’s huge range of technique and edgy style just blow my mind. That dude is a genius! I also love Barry McGee for his sure-handed lines and ability to capture human expression.

How would you rate spontaneity in art production?

I value it highly. I think it’s important to have a pretty decent idea of what I want to accomplish in a piece, but I always leave room for serendipity. Happy accidents can lead to breakthroughs in style and technique. Even ruining a painting- then having to rescue it- teaches me a lot.

Very often, I will be painting with a specific idea in mind. But I can’t be rigid about it. Most of my best work has come through allowing sudden inspiration to guide me.

Which piece of work do you consider is the most creative and where is it located currently?

That is a very hard question. I can’t necessarily say one is more creative than others, but I am quite proud of the work I did on American Monsters, which was a collaborative show I did with Linda Dickson. We created a sort of mixed-media lowbrow hellscape of the American political scene that pretty much roasted every faction of the last election cycle. It debuted in December and hung through January. Now parts of it are hanging in Shreveport, LA and in Chicago, IL.

The answer that I want to give is: “whatever I am working on currently.” I am trying to keep raising the bar with each new thing I am making.

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