Artist Jeral Tidwell has been a fixture in the local graffiti, tattoo and hot rod scene since he moved here from New Orleans in 1999. Conquering Louisville was only the beginning, as he soon gained an international following, especially in Japan. In honor of his new book, “De Nada — The Art of Jeral Tidwell” (Presto Art Publishing), LEO sat down with him to discuss the book, his art and if he’s ever going to be “Oprah rich.”
LEO: Why publish this book? And what does the title “De Nada” mean?
Jeral Tidwell: It’s a giant business card for me. The Internet is one thing, but art is a visual medium, it’s tangible. Art books still have a market. I’m being a smartass with the title. It has a double meaning — “de nada” can mean “oh, it was nothing” in Spanish, but it can also mean “you’re welcome.” The working title of the book was “You’re Welcome — The Art of Jeral Tidwell.” So to smartass people, it says “you’re welcome.” To a highbrow person, it will say I created this from nothing.
LEO: It looks like an art show retrospective in book form.
JT: I would call it an edited retrospective. I have been working on this for years; my publisher finally gave me the go-ahead back in July, and I jumped on the chance. The book is full color, hardcover, with a first edition of 3,000 copies. It covers all of my rock posters, skateboard designs, art prints, paintings, a little graffiti and just basic Jeral insanity. The book’s intro is by (lowbrow graphic artist) Frank Kozik — this is a crazy big deal, I’m honored. He’s one of the most famous artists alive.
LEO: Where can people buy the book?
JT: My book release party is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Ultra Pop! I’ll be there signing. I’m also signing and numbering only 100 books that will come in a screen-printed box with some extra-special secret art goodies. The cover price of the (standard edition) is $34.99, and $50 for the limited-edition book kits. I’ll have both versions at the release party. Paul (LePree, Ultra Pop! owner) will keep my books in stock after the show. They can also go to my website (humantree.com) — I sold 200 in 40 hours there — and Amazon.
LEO: You’ve definitely found your niche. Good thing you’re a night owl and don’t sleep much.
JT: I wonder how many other artists in this state are working globally and dropping a book of this scale. I know that folks would be proud to have one of their own moving and shaking, a “local art nerd done good” kind of thing. Once I become “Oprah rich,” I’m going to publish art books. But it’s not about the money. What I do is whatever I like. I’m not vain in real life, but that’s my vanity. My way of drawing a skull is the best one. Must have drawn zillions of skulls.
Jeral Tidwell book signing
Wednesday, Feb. 29
1414 Bardstown Road • 479-1035
Free; 5-10 p.m.