James Verbicky is known for creating complex, layered artworks that reflect the over-saturation of media in the modern world. We caught up with him to discuss his inspiration, influences, and what he’d do if he wasn’t an artist.
What is your first memory of art?
I saw a very early museum exhibition of Douglas Gordon when I was pretty young. Until that
point I had been exposed to mostly traditional works of art, and seeing conceptual art for the
first time rapidly changed what I understood art to be. It shifted my perception of how you
could express the sudden, strange ideas that come unbidden and dare you to show them to
If you could spend a day in the studio with any artist, who would it be?
Kurt Cobain. He had an incredible mind and view of the world. He was a modern poet.
Who are your greatest influences?
The role of religion in society is fascinating. I focus my work on the influence of image and
language, and religion is the Great Influencer that unites and divides cultures across the world
now and throughout the past. I am also fascinated by the underbelly of society, the dark
shadow world that some people spend their entire lives inside. I have to travel to find
inspiration: when I spend too long working on commissions in my Southern California studio, I
am suffocated by the sameness, and have to go somewhere different to remember what real
life is like. This always helps me birth some new idea that has been germinating inside my
If you weren’t an artist, what would you do?
Smuggler. I’m fascinated by borders, probably due to my experience crossing the border and
trying to get into the USA before I legally immigrated. It is crazy to me what people do to get
across, or to scam the system.
What do you listen to while creating your art?
I listen to classic punk music, because it transports me out of adulthood and back to being a
teenager, where my mind was less distracted with mundane, adult things. As Iggy Pop has said,
when you’re a kid you run on instinct. This helps me tap into a more primitive and pure reserve