It isn’t only street artists that use aliases; it’s also illustrators and fine artists. Simon Tran is an artist that goes by the name Ghost Ghost Teeth. And while he’s probably done some art on the street, he’s mostly known for his gallery work on found pieces of wood, legal murals, as well as being a fixture in the underground music and art scene of Los Angeles.
Before Simon moved up to the Bay Area to attend school, he identified himself with one gallery named Pehrspace. It’s a small place in the corner of a strip mall (we all have the same first experience of driving by it a hundred times the first time we try to get there). But it's a place where, when you eventually make it in, a whole new world is unveiled to you: the world of an underground Los Angeles you don’t read about on blogs, newspapers, or magazines.
Simon has shown at Pehrspace seven times in a three-year period, which is inspiring to any artist. "It’s not that difficult to get shows," Simon pointed out to me in a discussion the other day, "but it is difficult to evolve your style and techniques."
He knows the in’s and out’s of Pehrspace because he’s shown there so many times. How it’s mandatory to use extra strength tape on the back of your pieces to keep them snugly attached to the wall in addition to hanging them in the traditional manner, so kids in mosh pits don’t knock them down. It’s all a part of showing your work alongside roaring noise bands and punk rock holiday pageants. But when I visited Simon at the gallery for the take down of his exhibit, all of his artworks were still intact.
Over the course of several years I have watched Simon’s art steadily evolve, especially since he started attending UC Berkeley to get his painting degree. And while I was always skeptical of how an arts education actually affects an artist’s work, after seeing Simon’s results, I’m a full supporter.
"I should’ve gotten my degree sooner in life," Simon told me, "but I think by getting it now I have a better grasp of what I’m there to learn. I’m not concerned with how to get my work in shows; I’m concerned with how to progress it."
His work has a 3-dimensionality to it now, whereas at one point, years ago, it was flat. It has a depth and richness to it that wasn’t available to the viewers of the work before. Now Simon is into his voice. Full throttle.
(All images: ghost ghost teeth; Photos by Daniel Rolnik, Courtesy of the artist and Pehrspace in Echo Park)