As We Live It Featured Artist: Jeff Roysdon

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Jeff Roysdon has a chop-shop approach to art, reworking paintings until favored parts morph into a whole. Zoloft, for example, started as a doodle; Roysdon later added oversize pills representing the dose of psych meds he was on. Unlike work from his past, when art was a way to express himself – and sometimes to cry for help – in recent paintings he attempts to efface himself as much as possible. “I got sick of myself in my art,” he says. “Who cares about me?” But he keeps creeping in. The colorful bubbles in Dad’s Chair represent ghosts – memories, thoughts and feelings about his late father. Walkie Talkie, which started with a graphic he cut from a book, ended up as his vision of sensory overload in the Tenderloin, where Roysdon lives in the kind of urban isolation he prefers. Art started out as a source of pleasure for Roysdon, who drew comics as a kid in Cupertino. He got serious about it after high school, moving to San Francisco to attend the Art Institute. He spent a semester sharing a studio with other students in New York City and ended up staying three years, drawing on his artistic talents for all his jobs – including a stint drawing comics for Vice magazine. He moved back to San Francisco following a layoff that came on the heels of a breakup. “I had a couple of humbling years,” he says. But although it wasn’t always the fun it started out to be, art has remained a constant. If nothing else, it gives Roysdon a reason to be on his own. “I use it to fill in the time that I’m not doing stuff other people are doing, and I use it as an excuse to not do that stuff. It makes me feel OK about staying home all the time,” he says. “I get a sense of accomplishment.”

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