Derek Hess doesn't think of himself as a "real artist." The notion is preposterous to anyone who follows the Cleveland art scene and knows his rock posters and haunting ink drawings. But to him, art is a vital act. It is therapy. Hess, the star of the documentary Forced Perspective that chronicles his career and struggles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder, recently opened the Derek Hess Gallery in 78th Street Studios with his partner, Marty Geramita. On Oct. 16, it will show Gojira, a Godzilla-themed exhibit featuring 12 artists. Hess shares life lessons that shaped his more than 20-year career.
† I don't really have to dig into my depression, because that's part of my bipolar. I channel a lot of that into my art.
† By putting my issues onto paper or an eight-track tape, it's like I'm talking about it and getting it out.
† I did get institutionalized. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me. By being pink-slipped, I was able to get my feet on the ground.
† I do what I do. If people like it, so what?
† If people are connecting with a piece, people are connecting with me.
† [My art] isn't literal, it's representing certain feelings or emotions.
† The poster stuff was really important to my career. It was both my favorite things in the world: rock music and printmaking.
† Once I burned out on it I already had an audience. What I did was take the images I was doing on the posters and just do them without the graphics.
† The 1918 flu pandemic really fascinates me. I've done two pieces about it.
† When you learn to draw, your hand and your brain start working in the same way every time. That's how a style comes.