When pop art meets rock music, things tend to get loud – but that’s just how artist John Stango wants it. From the Beatles to Beyonce, Stango paints bold portraits of modern music icons that are as vibrant as the stars themselves. To celebrate the showing of Stango’s newest exhibition, the W Washington D.C. opened the event with a raucous and raging drag ball featuring the illustrious performers Ms Summer Camp, Donna Slash and Salvadora Dali.
We caught up with Stango about his inspiration, his everlasting love of Warhol, and how to live life loudly through every medium.
How would you describe your work?
Following in the very American tradition of pop art painting, my works relook at everyday subjects through the eyes of a pop artist. I use different mediums, from silk-screening to markers and acrylic paint. The latest are the rock portraits that are here at the W in DC.
How did you start painting?
My mother was painter and is probably one of the earliest reasons I started painting. She was a pretty badass artist, who also happened to be Norman Rockwell’s cousin. So I started drawing at a really young age.
What was the first piece of art you made?
I painted a batman, logo and all, for an art lesson in 2nd grade. I still remember exactly how it looks like to this day.
What are your three biggest inspirations?
One of my biggest inspirations is music: I listen to everything – rock, jazz, disco, you name it. I used to be a DJ so that aspect of my personality cannot be separated from my art and I use DJing as one of my biggest inspirations. I am, of course, inspired by popular culture and how to use those subjects in my work. Finally, and most importantly, it’s how art, like music, can bring people together. Because, although they can be tools for the most provocative messages, they are also both universal languages.
What artist are you currently obsessed with?
I am and always will be inspired by Andy Warhol.
What’s your favorite city for seeing art?
Washington D.C.’s art museums are pretty unbelievable – National Portrait Gallery, the Hirshhorn… the list goes on.
An insider tip on a cool artist to check out?
Helder Batista, the French sculptor who creates works of art using everyday objects encased in fiberglass.
And finally, where can we find you on a Friday night?
At home practicing to be America’s next grill master…drinking a cold beer of course.