I paint/create under the name PITR or PizzaInTheRain. I’m based in Chicago and have been putting work up on the street for the last couple years.
When did you first start getting involved with art?
I got involved with painting and drawing at an early age. Probably kindergarten, when kids are encouraged to pursue creative endeavors and aren’t capable of too much outside of that. In middle school, a friend introduced me to graffiti and I began tagging. I always enjoyed the devious aspect of tagging but was more drawn to painting figurative things (portraits, landscapes, etc.). I didn’t do much creatively after grade school, but jumped back into painting four years ago when I learned I could couple my interest with tagging and painting figurative work by putting up large wheatpastes.
Two of my favorite pieces from you are your Paper Portraits series. What inspired these two pieces?
These two pieces are lino-block prints I made for a show at Vertical Gallery. They were inspired by a project I organized in 2016 called Paper Portraits. Paper Portraits showcased one large-scale piece from 10 local/international artists/collectives in addition to one piece from myself. International contributors included Expanded Eye, Ella & Pitr, and Collin Van Der Sluijs. Working off the same photograph, myself and the contributing artist(s) painted our separate interpretations of the photo on a paper canvas.
The reference photos used for this project were old portraits shot by my mother, a freelance photographer who shot primarily in black and white for 35 years.
All work was done in gray-scale (black/white/gray). Each portrait was painted on paper and then wheatpasted on the street. This was a 10-month project, with a different installation and painting each month. All installations were unsanctioned.
Following that up, this past year you decided to create another series, Good Example. What inspired this project?
Traveling and politics inspired this project. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to travel through France, Hungary, Austria, England and the Czech Republic. In each foreign country/city, I found the locals having the same political and socio-economic discussions we American’s are having. In most cases, these discussions revolved around polarizing “leaders” and political figures. While initially comforting and relatable (hey, you guys are having the same problems too), these ironically similar issues have begun to compound and are forecasting a rather bleak worldly future.
Good Example featured influential persons in an effort to reintroduce and highlight those past events/people that have positively impacted our future. Participating artists were asked to select one personal/regional influencer that enacted positive change, at which time myself and said artist painted our separate interpretations of this event/person. This project simply strove to showcase those that have done well.
Good Example showcased one large-scale piece from 7 local and international artists/collectives in addition to one piece from myself. Like the Paper Portraits project in 2017, each piece was done on paper and wheatpasted on the street and all installations (with one exception) were done on unsanctioned walls.
With 2018 just starting, are you gearing up for another series this year?
Definitely. I really enjoy organizing these annual projects and will continue to do so each year. I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of artists and each has helped me in one way or another. I’m still conceptualizing the theme/focus for 2018’s project, but it will start in early March and run until December. It will once again be a collaborative project where myself and another painter put work up in public.
When you create these projects and put them up around the city, how long do they usually stay up for? Also, how frustrating is it when they come down very quickly?
There’s no constant in terms of how long these installations stay up. I’ve had some come down in 3 hours, and some are still up from years back. It ultimately depends on the wall and whether the property owner is inclined to leave the pieces up or remove them. I enjoy the process of creating these pieces most. I am less concerned with the longevity of their time on the street. 90% of the work I’ve put up over the last few years has been removed because I put paintings up on non-permission walls. If I got upset each time a piece was removed, I would be a very bitter person.
How effective has being anonymous had in your artistic career?
I greatly value my anonymity. I don’t believe this has helped or hurt my work or “career,” it’s just something that’s important to me.