CCS Artist Interview: Adriana Solis
July 28, 2021 - When we hit up Portland-based artist and skateboarder Adriana Solis to create some new graphics for CCS decks, we asked...
For this artist spotlight, we tapped a local Portland legend and fellow pizza enthusiast, Mikey “Boss Dog” McKennedy. Boss Dog is a Portland-based artist that contributes to our favorite Portland Pizza Shop, Sizzle Pie, on the regular. Judging by his taste in pizza and his new Zero graphics, we knew he’d have some great stories to tell. Below, Boss Dog explains his nickname, his thinking behind the graphics, and how he feels about Portland.
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It’s pretty rare to see a car that seems to match a man’s personality so perfectly. How long have you been running that El Camino, and how often do you rip donuts in that beast?The El Camino has been with me in some form or another for 8 years. It's been running the past 5. It's got a 383 stroker in it so with that lightweight back end it can get you into trouble quick. But mostly just the fun kind of trouble!
How did you end up doing this deck series and collection for Zero? I did an art show with Matt Stikker at 35th North skate shop in Seattle in the late summer/early fall of 2017. Jamie was in town and came to the show. I don’t think he knew who we were — just popped in the shop. I shook his hand because I recognized him but we didn't officially meet or talk really. A couple weeks later he hit me up on Instagram and had a plan. He wanted to do a series of some art I had already produced but I had yet to find a home for so it worked out. He was/is as rad as one would imagine. Genuine and just such a solid dude. The whole Zero crew has been nothing but amazing to work with.
Where does the name "Boss Dog" come from?I used to get called Boss Frog because I had tiny African Dwarf frogs. Their names were John Froggerty, Mr. Businessman, and Ghost Dog. Eventually my name just became Boss Dog.
What’s the worst part about owning frogs? And the best part?I don't really like frogs. I got those frogs from my bank. They had them in little glass jars at each teller's station. But every time I came in there were less frogs. They kept dying. I volunteered to take the last three and they gave them to me. I am more of a dog person tho. I love dogs. They have so much personality. Frogs, on the other hand, do not. I am not so sure there is an upside to owning frogs actually. Sorry frog lovers of the world. Go to the pound and get a dog or cat instead!
What got you into making art?I just always drew. My mom put me in rec center art classes as a kid but as a response to the fact that I was already obsessively drawing. So, not sure what prompted me to start to begin with. I was a shy, dreamy kid. Never really present. Just off in my own world. Socially awkward as fuck (some things never change). Drawing was part of that.
What artists influenced you growing up?I started aping every comic book artist I came across. And Dungeons and Dragons art. And He Man. Safe to say I knew who people like Todd Mcfarlane and Jae Lee and David Trampier and Frazetta were before I really knew or cared about their actual names. I also was WAY into Northwest American Indian artwork. I used to try and imitate tribal artwork as like a 10-year-old nerdy kid haha. All I did was imitate artists and just try and practice drawing the way they drew for years and years as a kid.
What artist do you feed off of these days? SO MANY! Instagram makes that such a hard question to answer because I am continually amazed by the talent I get to behold on a daily basis. I work closely with Matt Stikker and John Black and Orion Landau. And, I don't think I am being subjective when I also say that I think they are some of the best and most unique talent around these days. Also right now I frickin love: @loudeath, @davidpaulseymour, @davorgromilovic, @corinnehalbert, @graveyardgoals, @skipclass, and a million other rad artists out there. I get so inspired haha!
What’s the concept behind this series? Is there a meaning to the light coming from the eyes /staffs?I mean, without sounding like I am wearing a beret and smoking a long skinny cigarette and coming off as TOO pretentious, I think simply put: I like to explore a world that has mystical reapers in it. They do battle with one another. Some represent good and others evil. There are mythical creatures in the world too. Seers, rangers, shamans as well. They’re all in there. The rays of light represent truth (whatever you want to take away from that). To me it's a path towards positivity. I am constantly angry and or annoyed or turned off by so much in this world. When we are young we think it's either or: "be positive and don't be angry!" But to be aware you get leveled with how fucked this world is. To live a life not consumed by anger or rage you have to walk a line. Appreciate the positives. Be positive but also be angry. Stay aware, but don't be consumed by your anger. A lot of my art is about that actually. Trying to navigate a clear-headed path.
If you were an all-powerful Wizard what would your Wizard name be and why? What do you mean? I already am an all powerful wizard named Boss Dog haha!
What’s the best part about living in Portland, Oregon? And the worst part? I love Portland. Truly. Been here since 2001. It's so awesome. And it's always been awesome just in different incarnations. I have obviously seen it change quite a bit. I don't disagree with the criticisms leveled against Portland now: there's no more "Old Portland", it's too expensive, it sucks now blah blah blah haha. But I don't want to really be one of those people complaining about it. I think Portland needs to work on making the city affordable and there needs to be better rent control. Otherwise, cities change. No use complaining about it. Back in the 1800s, there were people sitting around complaining about the streets getting paved being like, "I remember when there were dirt roads. Dirt roads were so much cooler! Wah!" and I just get tired of that mentality. Change is change. Deal with it. The hardest part for me is the fact that clearly nobody knows where they are going anymore. The streets are filled with a majority of people who just moved here in the last 24 - 36 months. Which means everyone is driving around lost and doing stupid shit on the road. As someone who rides motorcycles, that can be very life threatening very quickly. And it's just really irritating regardless.
Where can people go to see more of your art?My Instagram is @bosssdog— I am the founder and a contributing member to: @pizzapartyhq— I do commission work for various bands and brands that involve two or four wheels, and I contribute regularly to @sizzlepie— lastly, I am working on the project @theplanetdoom (theplanetdoom.com) which everyone should check out because it is going to rip!!!
Any good old CCS memories? Well as someone who is old, it is bundled into my nostalgia for a pre-internet era. When catalogs and zines were everything. I hate to use this word—because once again I feel like I am talking super pretentious in this interview—but to me, it was when skateboarding was still a “counterculture.” When if you skated you were also a freak and listened to metal and punk and life were just more stratified. Fashion was so HUGE back then. It meant everything. I remember salivating over huge ass baggy Shuvit shorts (in corduroy!) and t-shirts I always wanted haha.
Any shout outs or anything you want to add? Shout to my wife Sam who is the only Boss I ever listen to, and our dog Bud who is the greatest dog in the world.