Interview w/ Moon Patrol: A Transmission From Another Dimension

Published Issue 126, June 2024

Northern California collage artist Moon Patrol has a mind like an event horizon, a surreal point of no return for his creative visions and thoughts. But unlike Einstein’s theory of black holes, his concepts do in fact return, and more impactful than before. Beginning with an idea session, he utilizes decades of visual collections spanning from old sci-fi and pulp covers to B-movies and anything that captures his imagination. But the extreme gravity and force of his remix skills intertwined with his mastery of storytelling creates an outcome that’s unrecognizable and uniquely its own.

We had the chance to catch up with him to chat about his technique, inspirations and interplanetary journey that brought him to where he landed.

Red Priest by Moon Patrol

What’s behind your moniker Moon Patrol (and does it have anything to do with the classic arcade game)?

I was looking for a cool name to give my brand new Instagram account after my wife told me to stop posting stuff on Facebook where nobody saw it. But I couldn’t come up with a name to save my life. One day I was walking past this little flea market shop that refurbishes old pinball and cabinet games (amongst other things), and one of the old cabinet games was Moon Patrol.

You started your collage-making journey in the last decade. What sparked that? And have you always made art? 

I’ve always been interested in making stuff, but for a long time, I thought I’d be a writer. So art, yes; just not necessarily visual arts. But in 2016 I quit smoking cigarettes, and after I was able to sit still for longer than an hour again, I decided to buy myself a congratulatory gift. I did have an entry-level DSLR camera that I used to take random shots, and I thought I’d teach myself Photoshop to spruce those shots up. I didn’t want to pay for Adobe Stock images, so I taught myself how to use the program with random images I found on the internet. I started to gravitate to JPEGs of old sci-fi and pulp covers, and after a while, I realized the stuff I ended up with during these practice sessions was way more interesting than my shitty photography. It took off from there.

You describe your art technique as “Kid Koala’s turntable albums, and in part by William Burroughs’ cut-up technique.” Can you expand on this?

Kid Koala is fun and energetic, and William Burroughs can create this eerie, alien vibe. I love both those things — the energy of a turntablist with the alienness of Burroughs, and I like to think I combine the two.

Night of the Comet by Moon Patrol

When you first started, you preferred silence while creating to enable yourself to hear your own ideas and thoughts. Is this still the case or have things changed?

Yup, I prefer silence. Things have changed, because now I have two kids instead of just one. But yes, silence is my preference.

Each collage you make tells a story or is commentary with existential import that lets the viewer’s imagination run wild. Do you start with a concept or do you let an idea evolve as you create?

I appreciate that, that’s a very kind way of describing my stuff. I used to try to start with an idea but soon learned that it was all about the process. Most of these images kind of wrestle themselves out of my mind at the moment. I have a bunch of early pieces with titles that have absolutely nothing to do with what they are about because I’d name a file when I opened it, and start working. Now I wait until I’m done with a piece before giving it a title.

The Last Campout II by Moon Patrol

Your pieces involve myths, legends and folklore. Any particular tale that deeply resonates with you and your work?

No one particular tale or myth, no. There is a book called Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Myth, and Legend, and another book called The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Both of those texts have been hugely inspiring to me.

We’re big fans of your retro aesthetic which combines sci-fi, horror, 80s cartoons, video games and pulp illustrations. What is it about retroism that appeals to you?

I’m a big genre nerd, and that’s where the genre themes hide on the internet. Collage doesn’t lend itself to “realistic” work, and I’m not good at abstract art. I enjoy political art on a very limited basis, and collage lends itself to political art, I believe. But I’m not big on that either, though Winston Smith is a hero of mine. I think I am a surrealist in a lot of ways, and surrealism has always played around with commercial art, pulp art, comics, etc. So I think that may be why I gravitate towards that stuff.

Alligator Shadows by Moon Patrol (part of his Shadowplay series)

You have recurring series, like your Hypothetical Movie Posters, Shadowplay, and The Old Masquerade. What is it about these themes that draws you back to them?

I grew up staring at movie posters in front of the theaters and looking at the VHS covers in the video section of my local grocery store while my mom did the shopping. I think a lot of the composition and stuff from movie posters really stuck with me. The shadowplay and the old masquerade stuff kind of jives with this theme I have with people’s surfaces versus their inner selves. We all have a surface self and an inner self, and we often contradict ourselves. We all are interested in identity. So I think those themes play out in a lot of my pieces because I’m drawn to the same stuff everyone else is.

Inner Child by Moon Patrol (part of his Old Masquerade series)

To Birdy, collage work is an essential art form that evolves or devolves imagination and ideas. We’re always baffled when it’s written off as “unoriginal,” when someone fails to see a truly new and unique idea, sound or vision born in this artform while dually paying homage to what has come before. Some of the best art, music and film is a reworking, remix or mash-up of an earlier idea. Why is collage work important and necessary for you?

Because I can’t afford paint and art supplies. I’m only half-joking. I think collage operates on the same principles as jokes: surprising juxtapositions and irony. And I like art with humor in it, and collage often has an undercurrent of humor, even the angry political stuff. People said —  and still say — the same thing about turntables, that it’s not real music-making. But turntables are a real instrument, and collage is a real art.

Hypothetical Movie Poster 4 by Moon Patrol | Published as the Front Cover for May 2024’s Issue 125 
Apocalypse Bear by Moon Patrol

Between your day job and being a father, what inspires you to sit down and create?

Gonna be honest, I haven’t been able to sit down in a long while. My output has diminished to almost zero. But I have a second series of cards coming out with House of Roulx soon, and they paired me up with a much more established artist than myself. I’m supposed to make several “mash-ups” with their art, which they have graciously agreed to. So that’s terrifying, because I really want to do a good job, and there’s nothing like terror and desperation to make you get to work.

How do you work through a creative block?

I just keep working. I just don’t post the shitty shit I come up with when I’m in a rut. I have hard drives filled with shitty art that I could not bring myself to delete but that will never see the light of day.

Biggest area of growth from when you started to now / something you wished you knew when you embarked on this journey?

To quash my imposter syndrome. That shit doesn’t help.

Simple Head 9 by Moon Patrol

Artmaking is a process and it is also about processing. Do you find creating to be cathartic or therapeutic?

I’m honestly not sure which one it is, or if it’s some mysterious third mode of fulfillment. But there’s nothing else that makes me feel the same way as after I just made something that I know is fucking awesome.

You’re a digital collage artist who is so obviously inspired by all things analog. What you create truly appears to look like handmade paper collage work. What are your thoughts on digital and analog techniques working in tandem?

I’m fine with all of it; I think some of the analog folks getting elitist is kinda dumb, to be honest. I collect comic books, and it reminds me of the “Slab vs Raw” fight that folks have on Reddit. I’m like, “C’mon, you guys all collect the same damn thing.” I will say an awful lot of digital collage has the same “look,” and that folks who do digital should use less filters, and let the original images with their creases, rips, stains, tears, and Ben Day dots shine through. It gives your work texture.

Imposter Syndrome by Moon Patrol

In our opinion, your Imposter Syndrome piece is collage perfection. Absolute comedic gold while also serving as deep commentary on the subconscious. On the topic of imposter syndrome, what advice can you give to aspiring artists who are struggling to see the value and worth in their efforts?

Don’t be your worst enemy. Just work, and if people want to pay you compliments or money, take it.

Your definition of an artist.

I honestly don’t have one because I don’t have a definition for art.

Tell us about your current projects.

I’m kind of on sabbatical, what with work and fatherhood and all that, but I do have a second series of cards coming soon with House of Roulx, and volume 2 of my artbook coming out from Mansion Press next year.

Moon Patrol’s Artbook Volume 1 with Mansion Press.

Bonus Questions:

Top three favorite video games?

Pitfall!
Dragonfire
Centipede
(But nope, not Moon Patrol :-))

Top three films?

Big Lebowski
Kung Fu Hustle
Blade Runner
Runner up: Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow

Top three bands/musicians?

Kid Koala
Guns N’ Roses
Really digging The Bug Club right now!

Top three books or authors?

Thomas Pynchon
Cormac McCarthy
Gene Wolfe

What would you say to Kid Koala if you knew he was reading this?

Thanks for all the inspiration!!!

Anything else we missed? 

Nope! Thanks for the great questions.  

Self-Portrait by Moon Patrol

Follow Moon Patrol on Instagram to see more of his work and stay up-to-date with his new book, cards & more. Snag Volume 1 Artbooks, Prints, Series 1 Cards and more below:

Check out Moon Patrol’s May Front Cover, Hypothetical Movie Poster 4, or head to our Explore section to see more of his work.