A DAINTY DARTH VADER? ONLY AT THE SATURDAY MARKET
Some artists create works for shock value, or to make you think, or for sheer beauty's sake.
Kyle Hagey likes to surprise and delight.
His playfully incongruous "Star Wars" images will certainly put a smile on your face: Darth Vader drinking tea in a field of wildflowers; C-3PO and BB-8 picking apples; Kylo Renn and Captain Phasma enjoying a lakeside s'mores roast with help of their lightsaber.
Hagey, 31-year-old fulltime artist who just moved to Portland from Bremerton, Wash., started creating these pieces a few years ago, and found his audience of quirky art local lovers last season as a vendor at the Portland Saturday Market.
This year he starts his second season as a vendor on March 3-4, when the market opens for its 45th year.
"I can't wait for spring at the market," says Hagey, one of 250 artisans who'll sell their handcrafted wares. "The market has definitely changed my life for the better."
The Portland Saturday Market is known as the largest continually operating open-air arts and crafts market in the U.S. It's been an incubator for hundreds of small businesses and a showcase for locally handmade arts, crafts and foods from Portland and the Pacific Northwest. It was all about the "shop local" movement in 1974, long before the hashtag.
The Tribune caught up with Hagey to ask him about his parody art, his influences and his favorite parts of Portland Saturday Market:
Tribune: I hear you use a combination of 3d Studio Max, Vray, Zbrush, Photoshop, and Marvelous Designer for your "Star Wars" portraits. How long does it take you to do one image?
Hagey: One image takes three to six months, although it varies a lot. Some stuff is more difficult to pull off (fur, faces, and mountains), so those can take longer. And although six months may sound like a lot, I'm actually pretty lazy. I only work an hour or two a day on an image, which can make progress slow. But time is also not the best way to measure progress — sometimes I can think my way out of a problem in 10 minutes that I was stuck on for weeks. For example, I had worked on Chewbacca's eyes for a week or two without much success. They always came out looking creepy or weird. I had an idea to slap some fancy sunglasses on to cover them up and in an hour of modeling it looked better than his normal eyes. Sometimes I just need to get lucky and think my way around a problem.
Tribune: Do you have a graphic arts background?
Hagey: I learned all of this from the Internet (YouTube, PluralSight, Lynda, CGCookie, and BlenderGuru). My background training is in restaurants. I worked as a busboy for eight years, which was nice because it gave me the time to watch tutorials online. A lot of tutorials are in Russian or Spanish so I'd just mute it and follow their mouse with mine.
Tribune: How is this legal, copyright-wise?
Hagey: I'm not a legal expert by any means, but I believe a strong case could be made for parody. It's the same law that allows Weird Al to recreate the melody of a song, but because he changes the lyrics to parody the copyrighted work it's allowed. Or how "Saturday Night Live" does skits on Donald Trump using his name and likeness, but because they parody him it's legal. That being said, I'm also an idiot, so don't take legal advice (or any advice) from me.
Tribune: How big of a "Star Wars" fan/geek are you?
Hagey: I love the "Star Wars" universe. I started playing the pen and paper role-playing game when I was in first grade. I also played the video games ("Star Wars Galaxies" and "Knights of the Old Republic") and read a few of the books. The universe has always been cool since it shows how normal people make a living, from smuggling to freighting to moisture farming to droid repair. I just think it's all neat.
Tribune: Will you get tired of doing these images and move onto something entirely new? What's next?
Hagey: I don't think I'll ever get tired of making goofy pictures. But, I'll definitely run out of "Star Wars" characters pretty soon. I'm not sure what the next thing I want to parody is, but right now I'm working on a picture of an Ewok motorcycle gang. I hope it turns out all right.
Tribune: How did the idea for these images come to you?
Hagey: The first picture I made was an accident. It was 5 a.m. and I was in that weird sleep-deprived state where the world's silliness permeates every thought. I imported C-3PO into a scene of flowers and with every bend of an arm or leg it became sillier and sillier. I literally couldn't stop laughing. When I saw the final render, my first thought was, "Wow, I'm so delusional, this actually looks good." I posted to Reddit for feedback and when I checked later it received over a million views in 24 hours. That was a pretty weird night.
Tribune: What would you say are some of your artistic/style influences?
Hagey: I'm sure there's a lot of influences and to be honest I really don't know the extent of what I'm influenced by. If I had to choose one I'd say Weird Al was probably my biggest influence. My brother's friend gave me a mixed tape when I was a kid and I listened to it over and over. It made me realize adults can be silly, and ever since then I've been a goof.
Tribune: What reactions do you get from people seeing your work?
Hagey: I get all kinds of reactions: laughter, confusion, worry. But mostly people like it. The funniest reactions are from kids since they're a bit more honest.
Tribune: Can you share any stories of people who've bought your work?
Hagey: I remember printing off a shipping label and seeing Oxford, Oxfordshire (England) as the mailing address. Turns out it was sent to a world-renowned historian. I don't know what he did with the pictures, but I like to imagine them hanging up in an academic office in Oxford. I've also sold to a guy at the Huffington Post who hung them in his office. A few people from Disney and Industrial Light and Magic (the company that makes CGI for "Star Wars") have bought them as well.
Tribune: Favorite thing about Portland Saturday Market?
Hagey: There's a lot to like about the Portland Saturday Market! The way it's run, the amount of raw talent the artists have, but really I'd say the people themselves are my favorite. Everyone I've met has been amazing. The vendors are super friendly — my first day I kept getting hugs — and the people who visit are always open to having a good time. I may be biased, but I'm pretty sure the people in the Pacific Northwest are the best. As well as the people who visit.
For more: www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com
Check it out
Portland Saturday Market
• Open rain or shine, March through Dec. 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sundays
• Where: 2 S.W. Naito Parkway
• There will be five $25 gift card giveaways each day; enter the contest at the information booth.
• Saturday entertainment includes stilt walkers, jugglers and musicians.
• Taste your way through 19 food carts, featuring original recipes of local favorites like Taste of Poland, PDX Empanadas and Beirut Cafe.
• Rogue Ales & Spirits and ATLAS Cider Company will serve libations.
• For more: www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com