Take 5: Artist Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli

Related: Pooch brings his surreal world to Howley’s with solo art show

Hurricane Hayward interviews Pooch at The Mai-Kai, July 2011. (Photo by Susan Hayward)
Hurricane Hayward interviews Pooch at The Mai-Kai, July 2011. (Photo by Susan Hayward)

Welcome to the first in a series of short interviews with noted personalities involved in events, music, art, cocktails and Tiki/retro culture. These aren’t intended to be all-encompassing, life-history-spanning interrogations. Rather, we’re aiming for a fun, quick take on the typical interview. Just five questions in roughly 5 minutes, hence the name Take 5.

Our first subject is a longtime friend and associate. He’s truly a renaissance man in the world of lowbrow culture. Just don’t try to pigeonhole him. He’s a fine artist, but he’s also a tattoo artist. He’s intelligent and soft spoken, but he’s also the quintessential heavy metal guitarist. His creativity seemingly has no limits. If you’re not familiar with Pooch’s work, we’ll let his official bio explain it best:

Pooch held a solo art show at Howley's in West Palm Beach in July. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Pooch held a solo art show at Howley's in West Palm Beach in July. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

“Raised on a diet of Ray Harryhausen films, H. P. Lovecraft novels, comics, Walt Disney World and other Florida tourist traps, Pooch paints images that seem to exist in a bizarre afterlife. His art is a visual cocktail of these influences — with a shot of lowbrow culture — shaken and stirred, then served up in a souvenir tiki skull on the Day of the Dead. A self-taught artist, he owes much of his painting skills to over ten years of daily tattooing and drawing.”

He has owned his own shop, Altered State Tattoo in Lake Worth, since 1996. His fine art has been shown in galleries throughout South Florida as well as New York and Los Angeles. A former member of influential South Florida metal band Raped Ape, Pooch is still rockin’ with a new project called Ferocious Stones.

Now, let’s Take 5 …

When did you consider yourself a success in the art scene?

It’s pretty hard to get into galleries. After I got offered shows at Roq La Rue in Seattle, then at Copra Nason in L.A. (in 2005), I thought, OK, somebody’s taking notice of what I’m doing. Now, with their name behind what I’ve done, I can show at other galleries. Once you’re in the door, you can do more.

"Seen Land," a 5-by-4-foot painting commissioned by New York artist Richie Seen.
"Seen Land," a 5-by-4-foot painting commissioned by New York artist Richie Seen.

Who’s the most well-known person you’ve tattooed or sold art to?

The most well-known person I’ve sold art to is Richie Seen, the graffiti artist, who has a tattoo shop in the Bronx called Tattoo Seen. The most well-known person I’ve tattooed is probably Ken, the bass player from Nonpoint.

Are there any cool projects you’re currently working on?

I just painted a guitar for Rob Barrett from Cannibal Corpse, and I’ll be painting another one for him. And Richie Seen is going to have me do another painting, a bigger one – 7 feet by 7 feet. The other one is 4 feet by 5 feet so it’s quite a bit bigger. It’s going to be the biggest painting I’ve done yet.

What’s your favorite Pooch painting?

Nemo's Ethnobotanical Experiment No. 5
Nemo's Ethnobotanical Experiment No. 5

Probably “Nemo’s Ethnobotanical Experiment No. 5.” It’s just one of those that doesn’t fit into any of the themes of my other paintings, like the rides. It’s not a ride, it’s basically a musical instrument with a big head and a brain and a skull and a harp, piano keys, trumpets, horns. The musical part of it is what I like. I’ve done a tattoo of it on a musician. It’s one that I’ve sent to many art shows but never sold, so I still have it. It keeps coming back to me, which I think is meant to be.

What’s your favorite Mai-Kai drink, and why?

The Black Magic. It’s one of the first ones I had. It has this coffee flavor that I think is amazing. With the fruit flavor, it’s the best of both worlds. One of my other favorite drinks is Jack and Coke. I like caffeine and I like liquor. The combination is good for me.

Get more Pooch
Pooch Island | Altered State Tattoo

2 Replies to “Take 5: Artist Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli”

  1. Great work. I’m a longtime fan of Mike’s art and his music. First saw his art on the flyers for Raped Ape, which I went to many times and always had fun at the shows. Didn’t know about the new band though–can’t wait to hear it.

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