This weekend on May 15, at 8 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PDT), WEC fighter Chad “The Savage” George and the UFC’s Mac Danzig will be showing a collection of their art at the Coppola Art Exchange in Beverly Hills, in a show called “Reflection.”
Chad George is an accomplished traditional artist that works in pen and pencil when he is not competing in the WEC’s cage as a professional mixed martial artist. Mac Danzig is also an artist, but prefers the camera lens to capture his vision, and both have transitioned from training partners in the gym, to hosting and showing their artwork in a contemporary gallery.
The message of the show is to display that professional fighters have a wide range of skills outside of the ring and cage, and the goal is to break down the barriers and stereotypes of fighters, letting people and fans into another side of what these mixed martial artists are really about in other aspects of their lives when they are not fighting.
ProMMAnow.com recently caught up with Chad George to get his insight into his style, inspirations, and thoughts on the upcoming show:
ProMMAnow.com – Tell the readers just how Chad George and Mac Danzig made “Reflection” a reality as an art show.
Chad George – The way the show was put together, was, myself and my training partner and friend, Mac Danzig, we have been training together for a long time. Both of us have been artists our whole lives, but we have kind of been anti-art shows due to the business and politics side of it. We came across an opportunity to just do our own show, and not have to worry about the politics side of it, and to structure the show out how we see fit and to just kind of have a good time with it. The Coppola Art Exchange approached us and gave us the opportunity, it was something that Mac and I had to say yes to.
ProMMAnow.com – So you purposely stayed away from the whole “art scene” in the past then?
Chad George -Yeah, you know, I’ve been doing art professionally for a long time. I went to art school when I first moved to L.A., and while I was still in school, I was working freelance for companies, and later on started working for a couple of different companies, and some freelance agencies. I was doing that, but I had never done anything for myself. Everytime an opportunity was presented, I looked at the art that was being shown, and to me it didn’t seem right, it wasn’t a fit for me, and when this came around, I just couldn’t run from it anymore.
ProMMAnow.com – You seem to have a lot of hip hop and graffiti influence to your work, is that a big part of what made your style what it is today?
Chad George – Yeah, I grew up real heavy into hip hop, spraypainting, creating little black books, and that’s where it all kind of came from. Eventually it finally got off of that, you were no longer doing it on the wall and shit like that, a bunch of my friends were getting popped, and luckily I didn’t get into to much trouble and then I finally got out of it. Now I just keep it in books and keep it on canvasses, and doing that is actually what kind of made my style, and what it’s evolved into now.
ProMMAnow.com – Graffiti has definitely went more mainstream, it seems like more and more top galleries are showing former street artists, and some of these artists are big stars now.
Chad George – Yeah exactly. Even back in the day, people were like “Man, don’t be putting that up in galleries,” it’s not about the money it’s about the art. Finally people are starting to look at what the Graffiti aspect of it is as an expression, and that’s really what it is you know? People are really starting to appreciate it for just that. There are so many artists out there now. You got these poster artists, that are going out there and posting it up on walls and it’s pure expression, and finally it’s getting recognized as that, and people are really starting to open up their eyes and minds to what art kind of really is.
ProMMAnow.com – So who do you rank as your favorite artists?
Chad George – Justin Bua, he’s an amazing artist, he’s got to be one of the top ones. Then there’s an artist by the name of Daim, he’s a graffiti artist, then he kind of got out of graphics, got into sculptures, he has a 3D style of illustrations, and his work always blew my mind. Those two I think would be my top two.
ProMMAnow.com – How does the art lifestyle cross over into the fight game?
Chad George – The great thing about what we are trying to do with the art show is to show people that the majority of fighters fight because we enjoy it, we enjoy the training of it, but it is not the only thing we have going for us. That’s kind of the impression that a lot of people get. When we go out there and fight, we do have other options. I have my art, Mac has his photography, there are other guys that have high level college degrees, you have brazilians surfing, and competing in it. I think that people don’t realize that we do other stuff, with me, when I’m not training, I usually sit down, hanging out, drinking coffee with a sketch book. I don’t go out and I don’t party, so I’m usually relaxing with a pen and a pad and let my mind wander.
ProMMAnow.com – That’s funny because the average dude that may see you drawing, probably has no idea that you could whoop his ass [laughs].
Chad George – Probably not. But even before I used to fight, I used to do that all the time. It was my favorite thing to do, I used to love to people watch. I would go to the coffee shop, put on some shades and a hat, and draw people for hours and hours. It was about loose sketching, it was not even about seeing if I could get these people’s features down, it was about the gestures, how people move, how people interact. I haven’t done it in a long time but I used to really enjoy it.
ProMMAnow.com – I feel you on that one, most of my best work is not about the details at all, but it’s all about the flow and movement.
Chad George – That’s what makes art exciting. If you were to look at a lot of my illustrations, I don’t look to make something perfect. I sketch things out with a pen. I don’t like to erase things, I don’t like to use a pencil where I have even an option of erasing. I let my mistakes really kind of build the character of whatever it is I’m drawing. You look like it and it’s like “Oh it’s really cool” but when you really look at it, you realize that all the details is actually a bunch of mess, from me trying to figure out where I’m trying to go with the next movement or the next motion.
ProMMAnow.com – That’s what makes it right, when it’s rough and raw. Do you find yourself coming back to pieces you did years ago?
Chad George – Yes, I’ll sketch something and leave it in my book for a couple of years, and think that “That is shit.” Then I might flip through a book and be like “holy shit!”, and see something in it that I can work with.
ProMMAnow.com – Then re-interpret and rework it…
Chad George – Yeah, exactly. A lot of my pieces that I’m showing in the show are just that, I had started them in 2003, and now I’m just now finishing it in 2010, and it takes me that long to actually appreciate it, because back then I couldn’t even see the same image that I’m seeing now.
ProMMAnow.com – What is your favorite medium to work with?
Chad George – Man, I love just a straight ball point pen. Give me a pack of Bic’s and I’ll just destroy those things you know? I’ll go through it and if something catches my eye, I might grab a couple of prisma markers, and do a little bit of color like spot coloring, flash coloring, but I’m not too big on the color. I like to just use the pen and just let the details come out like a black and white.
ProMMAnow.com – So you mentioned the coffee shop and everyday people. Do you do the same thing in the gym with your teammates?
Chad George – I haven’t done that completely yet. I’ve done some sketches of the guys at the gym, in fact I’ve done like a caricature of all the guys at the gym from like my main crew. It’s a fun characterized picture of a few of the guys doing what they do in the gym.
ProMMAnow.com – Was the art show something that you and Mac decided to do out of the blue, or how exactly did that go down?
Chad George – It was something that I kind of brought to the table. I was kind of surprised because Mac is kind of a hard-headed guy, but he was like “hell yeah, that sounds like a great idea,” and he jumped on board. His photography is amazing, and I think it compliments my art really well. He does a lot of celestial and urban night shots, and it compliments my urban style really well. It gives people a chance to see an urban style with a pencil style plus what it looks like directly through a lens, so it gives them a good variety of things to look at.
ProMMAnow.com – Do you know of any other fighters into art, or any that are actually artists themselves?
Chad George – I don’t know too many guys but, a good friend of mind, he’s one of my other training partners, and he may kill me for saying this, but Dan Hardy. He actually went to art school, and he’s an artist himself. So again, there are a lot of people that don’t realize what fighters have going on, on the other side of the spectrum and we’re hoping to break that barrier with this show.
ProMMAnow.com – Can we expect to see more shows from you guys? Is there a plan to add more people to it next time around?
Chad George – It’s something that has crossed our minds, but right now it’s just like a fight. I’m planning this one step at a time. The show in many ways is just like a fight, I really don’t know what to expect, and we will take if for what we can get, when it’s all said and done we can evaluate the success of it and go from there.
ProMMAnow.com – I see that Projekt Label is also involved.
Chad George – Yeah, Chris Leo from Projekt Label is going to be doing a release of their new clothing line that’s coming out, and it’s hip hop influenced. It’s going to go right inline with what we are doing. They are going to deck out all the girls that are going to be working the show so it’s going to be awesome.
ProMMAnow.com – Sound like it’s going to be a great show! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at ProMMAnow.com, are there any shouts outs you would like to send out, or anyone you would like to thank?
Chad George – I have to thank all the fans, friends and family that have supported me in the fight game and the art game. It’s time to blend them together and maybe start a revolution with this thing. I want to thank all my sponsors, Projekt Label, In Spirit clothing, and if there is anybody else I forgot, I’m sorry, I love all you guys. We are doing this show for all of our fans, all of our friends, and all of our family!!
You can find more of Chad’s work at his site, and also check out Mac Danzig’s amazing photography at his official site as well.