Jesus Pieces has been painting sheets of flash for three years. And entering his home to visit and chat, there was no indication he’s interested in stopping anytime soon. Seriously. Throughout our entire visit, he was poised and focused intently on his work, while we maneuvered around and prodded him with questions.
He sticks to classic designs from tattoo history. Anything from hard-as-nails dragons and panthers to playful pigs and Wile E. Coyotes. “I wanted to be a cartoonist growing up. I fucking loved the Looney Tunes! And that stuff is what I find the most fun to draw.”
Other than Saturday morning cartoons and the anime he grew up on – Bleach, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z – he draws inspiration from legendary tattooers. Bert Grimm, Rosie Camanga, and Mike Malone were a few names thrown around.
He’s open to sharing tips with other budding painters – what supplies to use, how to achieve a certain look, where to find designs. “I feel that I struggled through learning all this shit and I wanna pay forward by helping those I see who have that same dedication and passion I have. I’m not insecure about competition. Regardless of what I show or teach someone, the time I’ve put in will always outweigh the ‘how’.”
And it’s evident. His three-year old Instagram displays only paintings. No works in progress. No family. No day-to-day shenanigans. Paintings. “Your audience is here to see your work, not your life. Take pride in your brand and display a finished product.”
He has stacks of finished paintings. “My plan is to finish 3 sheets a week for the next few weeks.” His commitment to the craft perpetuates the traditions of iconic tattooers. Banging out dozens of designs daily – he’s proving not only to others, but also to himself – that tattooing is the path for him. Tattooing is not a simple task. Hunched over every day – dealing with stiffs, flakes, and squares – permanently altering their organs to earn your honest keep.
None of his work is hung in his home. “After one to two weeks, I’m sick of looking at it.” He hopes to hone his distinct style over time, and works on custom pieces sporadically, but realizes the difficulty in standing out amongst others.
“With the abundance of tattooers and painters doing [traditional] style, standing out in any way is fairly difficult. So, for me – at least this early in my overall understanding and skill of the art – my style is always changing and developing. Hopefully over time I’ll find my way. Every painting is a learning process, even if I’ve painted that particular design 100 times. It always changes a bit, so I figure the more I paint, the better I’ll get.”
We think he’s killing it. Check for yourself.
You can find him painting sheets at Arizona Classic Tattoo Co. They’ve got him running aux cord duties…and we’ve gotta say…the man’s got eclectic taste. Here’s some of the heat he’s been throwing in the shop:
We expect to take some killer skateboarding shots, arriving to the charming Farmer-Arts District abode of Phoenix artist Adam Zanzucchi.
Upon opening the door, we notice the Arizona artist was rocking a swank shoulder bag, much like our own. Except his has some next-level strapping mechanism we aren’t yet keen on.
“I dislocated my shoulder skating yesterday,” Zanzucchi passively relays with a subtle chuckle.
Visions of vintage Dogtown grandeur, squashed. So it goes.
A septum piercing dangles crookedly between his nostrils. Messy tufts of hair tucked carefully behind his ears. Light-washed denim cropped just above a pair of HUF sneakers.
He quickly ushers us to his nook of the Tempe house, “I don’t spend much time up here, I’m usually back in my room.”
Darting past a wall of broken skateboards, the kitchen, and laundry – we enter Adam’s hybrid living/working/soirée-ing space. “It’s actually an add-on to the home, not an actual part of it. This is the secret dance room during parties – like Halloween,” he proudly states.
We kick it with Zucchini at his pad for a minute. By a minute, we mean a couple hours (for our older readers).
Yes – Zucchini. He says it’s easier to remember than his legal moniker.
Zucchini was actually the word that knocked us out of the 3rd grade spelling bee, so putting it to paper has been an emotional conflict in-itself. Two c’s – not two n’s – you fucking dolt. Anyways..
So yeah…we kick it with Adam for a minute. We’re surrounded by finished pieces, works-in-progress, and sea of acrylic-spattered paper plates – his tortoise, Matisse chillin’ in the corner.
He tells us he spent some time tidying-up before we showed. We kinda wish he woulda kept it in its original state, but we appreciate his hospitality.
The abstract artist squirrely darts around the room, spouting musings in a flickering stream-of-consciousness. He calls it rambling. We call it articulate spontaneity.
He often opts to show rather than tell – cutting himself off to fetch a visual manifestation of his loose verbiage. A testament to his personal brand of effective communication.
We chopped it up about his record collection, how he discovers new music, and a gold chain rockin’ Hamburger Helper dude.
Listen in on our conversation below:
“This is literally like less than. It’s like two years or less, ya know?”
There’s a Sun Ra sticker. What is that from? We see that dude (who created them) at Cartel all the time.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So Sun Ra was a pretty like outrageous jazz group back in the day. And they just made really experimental shit.
But yeah, people have given me certain stickers. The homie Vida, she made this like Anti Stupid one. Just slapped that on [the sketchbook]. Cause the cover’s a lil cheesy, so it’s nice to mix it up. But yeah dudes, there’s a lot of shit here.
It used to be the type of thing where I’d wake up and walk over here and I’d draw. But now, it’s kind of like [painting] is taking up a lot more of my time. You know?
Just like – I wanna start thinking about the art I’m making. Cause it’s fun to just mindlessly draw sometimes, but it’s like, I’m really trying to push some shit. You know?
*Looking at whiteboard* What are all these dates on the wall?
Application dates for when I thought I was gonna go to art school *laughs*. For master’s. And then I was like, “I need to take more time on this shit and figure out why I make what I make.”
And then I was like, “Maybe I don’t even have to go to Master’s school for art”. It was just a time in my life where I didn’t want to go to Master’s school for architecture.
Oh these are for architecture school?
These were for art schools, but it was because I didn’t want to go for architecture. I was kind of like, stressin’. I was like, “I don’t wanna go for architecture, I gotta go for something else,” then I was like, “maybe I’ll just chill.” *laughing*
Do you mostly collect old records?
I mean, not necessarily. OK – this is of an older time. Grant Green from Green Street Dreams. But it’s like brand-spankin’ new. You know what I mean?
If I do find a nice old record, then that’s fine. There’s this shop in LA. It’s all jazz. Like this is the Bill Evans Trio Live. This dude’s a gnarly piano player. This is an old ass record. This is legit. You know?
Yeah. That place is pretty rad. It’s the record shop I liked going to, because it’s right in Central Phoenix.
But, you know, I got some new [records] for sure.
And it’s mostly jazz?
For the most part, it’s jazz. Cause it’s like – I don’t know – I can just put this shit on and it’s nice. You know?
And you can work to it.
Yeah, but also the fun part is – it’s like…OK. Let’s see, for example, hold on give me a second.
*shuffling through collection*
Let’s just take the Mac Demarco 2. You know what’s gonna be on this. And yeah it’s nice to listen to some times.
But when I go to the store, and it’s like, “What the fuck is this disco record gonna sound like?” I don’t know what it’s gonna sound like. Let’s just buy it, see what it sounds like, ya know?
It makes it more interesting. There’s a lot of jazz records like that, where’s it’s compilations of different jazz artists. And I’m just like, “Let’s fuckin’ see what it sounds like!”
There are some [records] in here that are bad, and I don’t really want them, though.
We remember in high school – some of the best music we ever found came from skateboarding videos.
Yeah! So, that’s where a lot of my music taste comes from is that shit for sure. I just grew up watching mad skate videos every day. It’s just what I’d do before I go to school. I’d come back, watch more. So that’s another outlet for music as well.
There were a bunch of videos called the 411 videos. And it was just skating at the time. Just putting videos of anything really random together. And those always had some sick music. You know?
Skateboarding’s more-so just recreational for you?
Yeah, just hangin’ out with friends. A lot of the time I just skate alone. I just go to the skatepark and do that. Cause it’s like, if I’m not doing that – I’m stressing out a little bit. You know? Like if I’m not making art.
When I make art, a lot of the time it’s alone. So then when I go skating, I like this alone time, I’ll take more of it.
There’s always a couple friends I have and we’ll still skate. I never got big into big groups of skating. I know all those dudes – they’re nice and cool. You say hi to them when you see them. But it’s never people I’m hitting up all the time. That’s just me though.
No, it was all skating. I remember my mom did get me a longboard and I was pissed. I was like, “I don’t want this!” you know? *laughing*
But I didn’t know skate culture. I grew up playing Tony Hawk video games and I just thought, “That’s someone else, and they can do that.”
I didn’t realize I was capable of that. It’s kind of like a late realization. I remember this kid we took in and fostered for a year. He would skate sometimes. And he was like, “Yeah dude, you can flip the board with your feet.” And I was like, “Ah dude – just like the video games!”
I thought that shit was fake. You know? *laughing* It was kind of goofy.
We were pretty into skateboarding when we were younger. Never got into actually skating, but we always gravitated to the art on the boards.
Exactly. So my mom was just getting me Walmart boards. Which is chill. I didn’t really care at the time. I just didn’t want a longboard, because I knew I couldn’t olley on it.
I remember in 8th grade, I went to Cowtown for the first time. There was this board there, I really liked the graphic. It was the Hamburger Helper dude. He had all these gold chains on him.
Was it DGK?
It was a DGK board! It was so goofy, going there with my dad. He’s like, “What does DGK stand for?” And the dude behind the counter was like, “Dirty Ghetto Kids.”
My dad said, “You’re getting this board?”
And I’m like, “Yeah the graphic is so cool!” Hamburger Helper’s got like a gold tooth and shit. So funny.
I remember in 4th grade. My friend brought this really cool drawing of Goku [to school]. From Dragon Ball Z, you know?
And I was like, “Dude that’s so cool!”
And he’s like, “Yeah dude – I drew this!”
So we’d just always try and draw Goku in class. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school, I drew something that was my own, and have someone say, “Woah that’s sweet!”
I wanna show you something. From freshman year of high school, I’ll show you what I was drawing. Some goofy shit. I don’t have the ‘Gram’ on my phone, I got it on my iPad. Not trying to use [my phone] as much. I’m a goofy guy.
*shuffling through Instagram on iPad*
I gotta go way back, here.
I wish I could still think this goofy. Now things have to be, for me, better detail, better drawn. I guess I’ve become more of my own worst critic. But in a good way.
Here’s an ostrich with a machine gun. And he’s got an antenna coming out of his head. It’s some weird shit, dude!
I remember getting my first girlfriend, and it was cool, because it’s like, “Damn someone thinks I’m tight”. That feeling, you know? Like…”Woah – that’s sick!”
So I was inspired by that. Here’s some shit I drew from that.
It’s kind of like The Mask.
Yeah, yeah! I remember that was one of my favorite movies growing up. I remember all of those cartoon scenes, with the heart beating out.
Here’s a robot with some legs.
Even in the few photos you’re showing, your skill keeps getting better and better.
I remember my art teacher looking through, cause I was letting him look at one of my books. And he said, “Yeah I remember when I was a lot younger, fuck was a pretty popular word.”
I used to heavily fuck with colored pencil. I fucking hate colored pencil now. I don’t have the time or patience, you know what I mean?
The texture of it kind of bothers us too.
It’s weird. I agree. Before, it used to be fun. Whatever, you know? Colorin’. Then I transitioned into water color after that. This is tight. This is easy. But it’s hard to do watercolor this fucking scale. So I’ve transitioned into acrylics.
I’ve only been using acrylics. It’s been like a year now.
You were using all water colors before that?
Yeah kind of for the past 5-6 years, I guess. This is when I got into college, and really started doing it, you know? It was something that wasn’t really messy. Like [acrylics] are really fucking messy. I have to put a sheet down. Watercolors you can wipe that shit off if it gets on anything.
This is the nice thing about getting out of college. You can try new shit. I wanna get into some screen printing.
The making money off art fucking ebbs and flows. There’s no telling if I’m gonna sell a piece or something like that. It’s kind of why I want to get into screen printing. Put it on some shit that’s easy to sell, maybe, like shirts.
But I also don’t really like talking too much about the financial part of making art. You know? It’s a weird thing. It’s strange. *laughing*
Do you have attachment to your pieces?
I used to, a lot. And then this shit started happening. My room started getting cluttered. Like I need to get rid of this shit. People just need to have it if they want it.
Some people come over, and want pieces to take home. I’ve got a whole stack of shit you can pick through, honestly. Like for free. Cause I’ve just been like, “Take it! I don’t need it anymore!” You know?
Or maybe thinking of better ways to store it. I’ve been looking at trying to buy some flat files. But those are like $700. It’s kind of like an industrial metal drawer.
I was cleaning up before you guys showed. There was a piece here, a piece there. You couldn’t even see that thing, you know? *laughs*
Like I said, I used to be attached to shit. There are certain things I used to price out, I guess it just depends. It just depends who’s trying to buy it. It’s kind of tough.
Yeah he does! You gotta support other people. You know what I mean? So many people won’t do that. That’s such a big thing, like “I’m not gonna go to their art show cause I’m not too good of friends with them.” You gotta support other people!
That’s how you become friends with people – supporting them!
I’ve just met some people who are kinda sus about that. Or they’re too about themselves.
It’s easy to be too much about yourself. Because that’s what [art] is all about. You know?You’re sitting here, constantly thinking about, internally, making art.
You always gotta support the other people. It’s always good to do that. And you’re right, you make friends that way. That’s how it’s done. Sorry I’m just rambling.
This is kind of a corny question. Now that you’re older – how do you keep your imagination going? Does it come naturally, or do you still have to find ways – like watching movies?
There are certain things that do come from media. And movies. Most of the time, you’re taking stuff, but you’re making it your own, kind of thing.
Generally I’ve been trying to look more in-depth with myself. And the shit that’s happening. Shit that stresses me out. And try and make some art about that.
So I guess the creativity is coming from that. I don’t know, it’s just here-and-there. We take so much shit in, so picking through, filtering out what I want to try and represent, you know?
That’s why the sketchbook helps. Cause [the canvas] is serious, you know? I’m putting the paint on. This is where it’s going.
The sketchbooks, that’s why there’s so many of them. I put anything in it, and it’s kind of like, that’s where I pick and choose shit. Like, “Oh – I like the stuff I did here on page 37. But I like the colors I used on page 54.” And they’re totally different things. Totally different meanings. But maybe they can mix, you know?
Do you do that often? Sift through sketchbooks and take different elements from various pieces?
It’s typically the [sketchbook] I’m working on at the moment. That’s the goal when I move. Kinda go back through more of these and really analyze what the fuck I was thinking about. And seeing if it’s now good enough to put on a canvas.
I’ve done more thinking before just putting it on a canvas. Cause before I didn’t really have an experience with acrylic paint. I was kind of just painting to paint, you know? Getting better at it.
And now it’s like, alright, let’s do a bit of both. Let’s do some thinking. Let’s do some doing. Kind of find a happy medium.
Do you like movies?
I enjoy movies. They’re pretty cool. But my biggest problem is I can’t, like – it’s hard for me to sit in one place and watch something for a minute.
It was easier when I was younger, because I was glued to the TV. But there are some interesting movies I’m like, “Alright I’ll sit down and watch this.”
A lot of [my inspiration] was taken from books. So I’ve just been trying to read more, since I’ve got out [of school]. There’s this book by Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary. I’m reading that.
He is a fucking psycho! *laughs* Yeah he’s really wild. Maybe after I read the book, I’ll watch the movie. Compare and contrast. Take shit from it. But…I do like movies. They’re pretty cool, and they’ve inspired me, here I’ll show you, to get my own kind of camera.
*fetches video camera*
To film really anything on with.
Have you been using it?
A little bit here and there. I got this tape and one more. I gotta figure out how to convert it digitally. There’s cords you can use to hook up to it, and it can go into your computer, and what not.
Everything kind of interests me. I don’t know if I’ll really pursue it. But it’s fun to do it from time to time. Kind of compile it together.
There are other things that are like that. Like the acrylic. It was a time-to-time thing I’d do. And now, it’s like I’m doing it all the time. Same with the collage. So it’s like, maybe in the future I’ll find some time to do more of it, you know?
I remember taking [the video camera] to a couple parties, just filming random shit. Shit that didn’t really matter. But maybe I can cut and paste and make something out of it.
But there’s only been a couple things I’ve written ideas down about. Like a storyline. Maybe not for a big movie. But for a short movie. Something simple, with no talking. Kind of just – I wouldn’t say performance art, but it’s more just going through the motion of day to day life type of thing. And you kind of understand it that way instead of having dialogue.
Cause I feel like that’s another hard thing. You gotta find the right people who can act. And it’s like…no one has to talk. You can just move! *laughs* In that regard, I like movies.
Same thing with skating. You’re always filming, or you’re always being filmed. So that was a big influence growing up. That shit always fascinated me.
Same with the point and shoot camera. Let’s just take this out and do experience stuff. Whereas, someone like Jake [Hines]. He’s got a different perspective on the camera. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Same in the art world. There’s different perspectives on how you paint. Or how you apply shit to the canvas. [Jake and I] come from two different backgrounds with the use of media, like the camera.
I’m trying to use it as more of a personal experience diary type of thing. Here’s the homie Oscar climbing the fence.
We forgot to ask this earlier. The Breakup Shoes album cover. How did that come about?
Give me a second.
*retrieving original artwork*
Maybe I should give this to Nick, actually. Because, ya know, he’s in the band. Here’s the original. I framed it.
[Nick] saw the Hall of Lame stuff. He really liked that and how chaotic it was. I remember posting – oh fuck, I have it!
This is the actual album. I posted a picture of that on my story. And [Nick] was like, “We really like the collage mixed with these boxes, you know?” He wanted to use this as the front cover.
And on the back cover, I was like, let’s still try and use the boxes, but just make it really textured, you know?
Did you do the handwriting too?
Obviously not on the actual artwork. But on some trace in my own handwriting, then sized it correctly. Put it in Illustrator and tweak certain things, you know? I like that style. Have you ever heard of Girl Skateboards?
Girl and Chocolate. The dude who does a lot of their work, Evan Hecox, all of their names and graphics have that handwritten style. So I was trying to go for something like that.
How long does it take you to make something like this?
Well, these are pretty small. Maybe 5×5 squares. They were pretty easy. The dude, the yellow and blue in the background, and this text going across. Three separate things, I guess.
This one, I was cutting out words and making it rain on him, you know? It wasn’t too tedious. I tried making it not so tedious on myself for that reason.
This shit. *pointing at work in progress* It’s so massive to be putting, like, one piece and it’d overlap. Then I’d have to cut it correctly. So sometimes it can take a while. The one I pitched was a bit simpler, but I liked the way it came out.