"I look at a lot of pictures of naked girls. I wouldn't call it porn. I collect a lot of old magazines and I have an illustration in the next issue of Playboy, which is pretty exciting for me. Every morning I look at my favourite Tumblrs; mostly naked girls. It is not like I am sitting there jerking off. I just like the pictures. With the internet, you can just scroll and scroll, and certain ones will catch my attention. It is not just girls, I like skulls too. In my work, I refer to pictures a lot. I filter through all of this imagery and save it onto my desktop, where I have different folders. Some images will be printed and then go into larger files that I have in my studio, which are separated into subjects. I'm thinking about making books of the material, because those folders are so full now. It is just part of my process. It is where I get my inspiration from. I don't even draw that many girls; it's all about the beauty of them. I feel so clear headed when I am making work, that I don't really remember doing it. I used to think too much about it. I think my work is getting better because of it. I work in so many different styles and I have no set way. I am influenced by so many different things that I can do really detailed things and really sloppy things. Sometimes I use text, other times just image. I don't feel that there any any limits to it.
"I like to look at girls. It's all about the beauty of them. I feel so clear headed when I am making work, that I don't really remember doing it"
I always live what I am doing. I just want to make it even more intense – really go to strange places, hold up in motels and limit the size that I can work in, because right now I have a massive studio. I am about to do a trip across America, spending a couple of weeks on my bike driving from New York to Los Angeles. I just want to live even more, day to day, not knowing or caring where I am going to be. I collect all kinds of weird shit. It started when I was a kid, and I still collect the same kind of stuff – skulls, books, posters, badges and cheap watches. I get obsessed with certain things and collect them. I have paired my motorcycle collection down to just one now. Now, I am kind of going into reverse and pushing the excess things out. Just focusing what is really important to me. I have spent my time with that stuff and have everything I need out of it, but I don't need it any more. I guess I would still like more bikes and more watches. I have always been obsessed with Rolexes. My studio is completely covered from floor to celling. It is insane in there. I collect a lot of things about The Grateful Dead and I did some work with them this year which was really amazing. My work becomes my obsession and vice versa. I like having the feeling of all of those images around me. Sometimes I draw the stuff that's on the walls, sometimes it will be on the walls for ten years before I touch it. There are just so many years of paint on the walls and of shit taped up. I don't do anything on purpose, I just let it build. My work looks like my studio and my tattoos also look like my drawings. I guess, I have my work tattooed on me and I have tattoos in my work. They are usually about something that happens. One of my best friend died in the World Trade Centre, so a lot of the tattoos are about her. I always keep it personal."
Wes Lang has always kept it simple, unconsciously pulling you into an obscure world that consists of a mass accumulation of images, from naked girls, to skulls, corpses and cowboys. He creates a twisted American dream where these hand-drawn figures take on their own narrative. His studio in New York is covered floor to celling with these exact images, which he has stockpiled from old books and the internet, letting them build up. In recent years, he has collaborated with The Grateful Dead and held a residency at The Chateau Marmont in LA, where he created intimate artworks on their stationary. For his latest project he has worked with Bamford Watches, to create a range of one of a kind, hand engraved watches that are currently on display alongside his large-scale Secret Space of Dreams painting at Dover Street Market. Ahead of the launch, AnOther spoke to Wes about collecting, his tattoos and naked girls.
Wes Lang x Bamford Watches are available now at Dover Street Market, London.
Text by Isabella Burley