Jeremy Fish’s trademark bunnies and skulls have helped him parlay his work as a freelance skateboard designer into a limited edition sneaker gig for Nike, a cartoon on Nickelodeon about the scruffy bunnies that didn’t qualify for Easter Bunny status, and two gallery shows a month for the next six months.
And he completed his entire Painted Room on one foot.
“I did it on crutches,” he says. “I almost ripped my foot off in a skateboarding accident in March. Doing the room was super-good for me at that time, though. I had spent two and a half months on my couch. That’s horrible for your body. The room distracted me, but also helped get me back up physically.”
This year Fish celebrated the anniversary of twenty years of skateboard riding . . . laid up on the couch. For the hotel project, he enlisted the help of friends who would monitor him as he painted from a ladder. After six days of a one-footed painting marathons under close supervision, his entire body was sore.
”I was at the mercy of everyone helping me. If I fell and wrecked my other foot, I would have been in deep shit,” he says.
Now that he’s back on two feet, however, no babysitter could possibly keep an eye on him. With shows in Texas, Sacramento, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Denver, Zurich, Spain and again at the Low Gallery in San Francisco, Fish is more than making up for lost time.
But hey, what’s with the skull-riding bunnies, anyway?
“The bunny is a personal symbol; I use it with a lot of my stuff. It represents the fun side of life, the ups, the ‘half-full’ days, as well as a family element. In the room I use those drawings to make the visitor feel like he’s sleeping in a sea of drawings, like water. The skull ship is floating in it, and the mattress is floating in a water of drawings. It’s supposed to give you good dreams.”
“I try to bridge between cute, approachable cuddly and creepy/scary,” Fish says. “I try to find the middle ground. Some people think,’It’s a giant skull!’ and others say, ‘That bunny is so cute!’ They play off of each other.”
“The skull has been used throughout the ages to represent a bunch of things, death being only one of them. It’s a huge part of art history and skateboard art history. For me, it’s a question of how many ways I can interpret it. I take it, make it a mobile home for a turtle without a shell, make it the hull to a ship—I try to find the ways I can mix it with something soft and cutesy. It’s a challenge to see if I can draw something that’s been drawn by a million different people, in a million different cultures throughout mankind.”
“At least it’s not a table with a skull and a candle. I didn’t reinvent canned beer, but at least I have some originality.”