"I have a big problem with planned obsolescence of consumer goods," says Karl Gindelberger, the 30- year-old Paradise Hills artist who goes by the name GMONIK. That's evident in his piece "Used," which is on CityBeat's cover this week.
The post-apocalyptic work touches on Gindelberger's disdain for expensive goods that are treated as completely disposable, the main figure sporting a sort of helmet made up of old bits of technology, like an original Nintendo N.E.S. controller and a twist-dial television set.
"We spend so much energy and time to create products that are cool for the first year or two of its life," he says. "And then when it's out of fashion or the not-trendy thing to have, people just get rid of it."
Gindelberger's dislike of the throwaway nature of new technology and what he believes is the wasteful and consumerist culture among first-world populations was especially fueled while he lived in China and traveled throughout Asia for three years with his girlfriend and manager, Danielle Iwatsu. There, he saw that the factory workers who make goods imported to the United States rarely benefited from the manufacturing. The poverty and income disparity he witnessed in the country changed his perception of those goods.
"It makes you see what the world is," he says.
Gindelberger has chosen to address issues of class dynamics and wastefulness in his art by incorporating decayed pop-culture artifacts. He refers to his style as "trash pop," since it takes those old, seemingly outdated items (cassette tapes, vinyl records and old toys) and gives them new life and meaning.
The artist says his trash pop allows him to be nostalgic while also providing social commentary; as a result, he can re-contextualize old technology and imagery.
"I want to make it presentable in a sense that it's fun, but then if you really look at it and really evaluate it, it has deeper meaning," he says. "Anybody can make pretty pictures, but having something to say makes it more meaningful of me.
"I look at the things that I make as evolving me and my style to whatever my artwork is going to be in the process," he adds.
Though he regularly takes an anti-consumerist stance in his art, Gindelberger still has to pay the bills. He admits to struggling with the idea of creating art that people actually want to buy while maintaining his artistic integrity. It's not always easy.
"A lot of times, I paint what I want to paint, but sometimes, I paint for other people," he says. "To be an artist, as an occupation, you have to make choices and sacrifices to pay bills and sustain yourself, because this is a money system."
Currently, he's a full-time artist. He shows his art work most Tuesday nights at Thumbprint Gallery's weekly art night at Basic (410 Tenth Ave. in East Village). He also has his second solo exhibition at Thumbprint (920 Kline St., Suite 104, in La Jolla) coming next March.