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At first glance, Kori Thompson looks like someone you’d hang out with on a Friday night at a bar or local show. His large stature and booming voice make you pay attention when he steps into a room. But his physical presence isn’t the only thing that will catch your eye: Thompson’s paintings will, too. Thompson has been drawing for most of his life, but he is a relatively new artist on the local art scene. He vividly remembers drawing with his dad as a child and is just as inspired by comic books today as he was back then. Thompson has been exhibiting his art in local shows and budgets time in his busy schedule to focus on painting.
How did you get started? I’ve always drawn. My biological father, when I was a kid, was always drawing. And, it’s kind of dorky, but still I love comics. I still read comics all the time. I read regular books too, but comics are huge for me. It was weird though, I really didn’t start painting until after I had kids. They’re six and seven now. But I don’t know what triggered it. I was like, ‘I never painted. I should start painting.’ I started painting in my garage. I tried going to a junior college and I took a drawing class. I didn’t finish though; they said it would take three years [to graduate]. I’m like, ‘What? To paint?’
So you are pretty new to the art scene then? I’ve been doing art for probably four, five years now. The past few years I’ve been really getting after it pretty good. I’m focused on art, I’m always doing something. It’s almost like I don’t watch TV. That’s what I do now. I love it. It’s like an addiction I guess. If I’m not sketching something out, I’m thinking about or planning an art piece. Even the guys at work are like, ‘How do you find time, man? How do you do that?’ When all my kids are in bed, I’ll cut away that time. I might be sleepy, but I’m going to lose some sleep and I’m going to get something done. It’s like a sacrifice, but it’s worth it. It’s fun. Now I’m better at balancing my time out. Now I’ll sketch some stuff out tonight and then I’ll finish it tomorrow. I stay up and knock paintings out. It starts as a sketch, either in Sharpie or pencil and then I’ll write notes down, so I don’t forget. It’s funny, because I’ll always throw my notes out after I’m done with the piece. Sometimes I’ll snap photos on my phone [of what I’m going to paint] so I have the proper lighting or angles. Who would have thought you could paint a picture and somebody would say, “I want that and I’m going to pay this much for it”? I never thought that somebody would think that much of something I do.
How did you start showing your work? The first time I showed my art was at a coffee shop in Sunnyvale. That was cool. My buddy David Ma came over to my house, saw my paintings, and asked, “What are you doing with these?” I’m like, “Nothing.” He said, “You should show your work. I’ll introduce you to some people.” He introduced me to Anabella Pinon, curator at The Usuals. She’s really cool. Now we’re really good friends. She introduced me to the whole scene and lots of different art people. [The art scene in San Jose] is not like a competition or something. Everybody’s just super cool.
What are you trying to convey with your work? Now, I’m trying to concentrate my work more on people, everyday people. I want to hone in on the people. That’s where I want my artwork to go. There are so many stories to be told. It’s always cool to sit down and have some beers with somebody or just whatever, just sit and talk to them. My grandpa is a perfect example. We’re super close. I like to sit down and listen to his old stories. There is so much to tell. I think, if you really get out and talk to people more, it’s a good thing. I don’t think people are doing it as much. As technology evolves, the human element goes away from it. But, I want to have a body of work. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. My mom used to say “Your dad was so talented.” But he didn’t do anything with it. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with your talent, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and not do anything.