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CRASH on Eric Clapton's New "Crashocaster" Guitar

Published // 29.Aug.19

World-renowned American graffiti artist, Crash, recently delivered a new 'Crashocaster' to Eric Clapton. Where's Eric! caught up with Crash to get the inside story on this addition to EC's graffiti Stratocaster collection and find out what's up next for the esteemed artist.

Before we dive into talking about the gorgeous new “Crashocaster”, can you tell us how you first met Eric and how the first guitar collaboration came about?

I first met Eric when he was to appear at the Grammy Awards, as he performed the song "Change the World", in 1996. He was in New York for both the Grammy Awards and to scout out locations for a video he was planning to create for a project he was in involved with, T.D.F., Retail Therapy. We had a mutual friend who who gave him my number, he called and the rest, as they say, is history.

How is turning an unpainted Stratocaster body into functional art different from working on canvas or a mural? Are there any special challenges as it will be a "working guitar"?

Creating a painted guitar is very different than painting a canvas. Canvases are painted against a wall, or easel. Walls, well, they don't move, as simple as can be. The Stratocaster has no edges, the designs revolve from front to back, so it's quite tricky. Also, because of that same reason, when I paint them, I hang them from the ceiling so that I can easily move them, therefore creating a seamless design...yes, tricky indeed.

The guitars you’ve created previously for Eric have always been fan favorites. How did the new one come about? Is it especially for the upcoming Crossroads Guitar Festival?

The new idea came about by chance.  I was looking at some old ideas from the mid '80's involving the dripping tags, which we did using very watery inks or paints. So when Eric asked me to create something new, I was already in the mindset, and I went with it.  As always I tend to hide imagery and letters in my work, creating hidden meaning, such as Jasper Johns, the American painter. And as usual, I am not shy with colors, so I went with bright and bold colors...

The other reason I went with this, was to keep the copy cats, who steal the concepts of many artists, guessing and trying to figure out how it was done.

As many people won’t have the opportunity to see the new Crashocaster up close, can you describe your vision and the themes behind it?

My vision is pretty simple, paint something that I think Eric would like. Nothing else, really. I usually use his initials, or something that he and I would only know about. Example, the second Strat I did for him, has a mix of his wife and daughter's names. He leaves me to my own devices, and it's worked...so far!!

Fans who’ve come to Eric’s work recently may not be aware you directed the animated video for T.D.F’s “What She Wants” from “Retail Therapy.” It’s hard to believe it was in 1997! Can you reminisce a bit about the project? Did you do all the animation yourself?

WOW! You did your homework. One night over dinner, Eric offered me the chance to animate a video for him. He actually wanted me to try my hand with the song "Circus Left Town", but as I listened to the song, it was such a personal song, so touching, I was afraid to go into it, so he then asked me to do "What She Wants". I decided to do both digital and traditional animation, and it was a real project, something like 3 months long. Warner Brothers were great, giving me access to imagery that we were able to use, and we invented a ton of stuff that eventually was used in other things.

Crash, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with Where's Eric!. Before we go, can you give us a preview of what's coming up next for you and at your art gallery, WALLWORKSNY?

We are launching the new season September 14th, with 3 new exhibitions through the fall and into the Winter. I, myself will be doing an exhibition opening in October at Kolly Gallery, Zurich, and late October at Galerie AtDown, in Montpellier. Then off to Singapore in December, so I'll be quite busy into the holidays. Oh, yes, I'll be at the Crossroads Concert in Dallas, so hope to see ya'll there.

More info:

John CRASH Matos:  https://www.crashone.com/

WALLWORKSNY:  https://www.wallworksny.com/

Eric Clapton's Graffiti Stratocasters:  https://www.whereseric.com/the-vault/guitars-amps-and-related-equipment/eric-clapton-graffiti-stratocasters