Portrait: FAYSOV

Our first tee shirt collaboration is with talented Toronto artist, FAYSOV, who's Instagram is a shot of coffee for the eyeballs with detailed fluoro illustrations that jump off the screen.

FAYSOV The Idea Machine, tell us about the origin of your name?

I jokingly always imagined “FAYSOV” as the first name and “Idea Machine” as the middle and last lol. But I’ve always been a fan of aliases and had a couple in the past, FAYSOV was just one of many but it was the one that stuck. There was no final decision to be like, okay, time to be FAYSOV forever, I kind of allowed myself an exit strategy from the name but at this point we’re in pretty deep to change from FAYSOV ahaha. Plus I think it sounds cool… The name itself was something I had in mind for the primary reasons that it was a symmetrical 6 letters with a “Y” and a “V” which just feel really satisfying to draw. Sharp letters, you know? The second half, idea machine was kind of an additional surname to drive home the idea that I am always working, always creating and making stuff. I’m happiest when I’m churning out ideas one after the other. I wouldn’t call it a consistent or well oiled machine, but it’s a machine nonetheless. 

What mediums and tools do you use to create your digital pieces?

The game changer for me was getting an iPad where I could directly draw on the screen. There was little to not learning curve for me compared to my past endeavors with artist tablets which I’m pretty crappy at! Before the iPad I was drawing on paper with brush pens, sharpies, anything I could get my hands on. Then I’d just take a picture of it off my phone and toss it onto Photoshop to clean up. Nowadays, it’s pretty streamlined for me to begin and end all on the iPad (for better or worse).

When did you commit yourself fully to art?

It was the final year of university (2019) where I was graduating with a major in Communication Studies and the gradual realization came to me that what came natural and what I was best at was drawing. I had always been my biggest enemy when it’s come to art school and formally developing my skills as an artist. I didn’t want to acknowledge or formalise my art passion which probably would have helped me now but I just never thought it I was good enough. During university I never stopped making art I just took periodic breaks until the final year my laptop broke so I resorted to handwriting my notes for class. That’s when my passion for art came back full throttle, where my drawings took up more space on my notebook than actual words. I figured hey, why not toss this up onto an Instagram since having a personal Instagram was never really my thing I thought my art would speak for itself. Something for me to just have fun with, nothing serious. Eventually, my drawings began picking up traction and people were buying commissions for me. After graduating, I just applied for graphic design jobs while simultaneously posting my art journey under FAYSOV. Since then, it’s been happily ever after…

Who are your favourite artists / influences?

California graffiti artist David Choe was my first and largest influence as someone who was very anti-establishment, very punk, and someone who I could identify as a prominent art figure who had no formal art education. He’s a first generation Asian-American and that sort of broke the mould for me to believe art wasn’t reserved to privileged rich kids but poor Asian kids could make it as an artist too. As a first generation, there’s a lot of pressure to be financially successful and stable and creative industries aren’t exactly the most stable or safe option. When I discovered David Choe’s work at 16 it blew my mind and changed how I approached art. It doesn’t have to be clean, it doesn’t have to be refined or correct, it just has to feel and that’s what I love about his art the pure rawness. He’s so sick.

Asides from him, I’d also say George Condo’s surrealist paintings were something that also made an impact on my art style when I was still figuring stuff out. What resonated with me from these artists were their subversion from the traditional and formal, entering more within the realms of unrefined chaos which I always found myself having the most fun when making art that doesn’t abide by any rule.  

You've done some Daft Punk and MF Doom pieces, how does music influence your art?

 Music sets the tempo to my art. There’s this awesome quote that’s like, “Art decorates space and music decorates time”. That’s precisely how I feel about art and music, where there is a parallel relationship between the two and I try my best to match my art to the music I enjoy. I rarely work in silence and I’m always listening to something. Right now, it’s The Weeknd’s AFTERHOURS album. Super good vibes. 

It’s funny you brought up Daft Punk and MF DOOM though, as those are artists whose entire career is done in front of a mask. But it wasn’t these musicians I took the idea of personas and masks from. It was WWE and wrestler personas like Mankind and Rey Mysterio that made me think woah. This shit is cool. To me, these personas and ideas allowed normal people to be larger then life. I love me a good persona. 

Music aside, I take a ton of inspiration from films that most of the time aren’t even animated or drawn. I pull a lot of ideas from strong atmospheric tones in classic horror flicks or psychological thrillers. That’s my shit for sure. To name a few, Perfect Blue, Taxi Driver, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Sometimes I’ll just put a movie on mute while I’m listening to music to really get myself engrossed in inspiration while I’m drawing. 

There are no pictures of FAYSOV, who's behind the mask?

 I have yet to figure that out. 

How did you come up with the design for the collaborative tee with Zatacoza?

I figured it’d be neat to make something that commentated on the temporality of things. Snow was melting everywhere at the time and winter was coming to an end. I felt it was appropriate to make a dropped ice cream cone with a friendly face accepting it’s inevitable fate to be melted into yesterday. Sometimes you can’t do anything but accept what’s going on and that’s pretty much the Zatacoza collaborative tee, a celebration of things that don’t last.  

Are you afraid of clowns?

Not anymore!

How can people get in touch with you?

You can reach me on my Instagram @FAYSOV where I post probably more than I should.