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Food Face: An Interview With Ferris Plock

Artist Ferris Plock has a new project with his wife, artist Kelly Tunstall, called Food Faces. The book and accompanying art show collects images of food on plates that the couple have styled to look like faces-- originally as a way to get their two kids to eat, and now as a way to communicate their joy to the world.

Plock has drawn food for years; you may remember his LA show earlier this year, A Fake History of the World, which featured a memorable image of a taco and a slice of pizza locked in a hilariously gruesome fight to the death. This project is different-- the food is real and it comes not only from Plock and Tunstall's imaginations, but also directly from the home they share. The intimacy and enjoyment of creation comes through in each photo, making you wish your parents were half as creative when you were a kid. We wanted to learn more about Ferris, his art, and his life...

What is your favorite taco?
My favorite taco right now is from koja... They have this insane korean bbq beef taco with sautéed onions and sesame vinaigrette and some kinda magic red sauce. I am not even hungry right now and I'd probably eat three of them.


When and where were you most happy?
I am most happy when I'm exploring with my family. I took our oldest boy who is 6 years old to Tokyo this year. I love it there... That is where I am the happiest or in Cork City, Ireland where I lived and worked as early morning baker.

Why do you like to work with food as a medium?
I grew up in a house of creatives... My pancakes were always mickey mouse pancakes with blue berries for eyes... I also worked in food service for many years and always took pride in my work. HOWEVER... The food faces that I have been making the last four or five years come from trying to get my kids to eat more food and drink less milk. Milk is basically baby cow growth formula in my mind... I don't hate it.. I use it in my coffee... I just don't think it's something my kids should be gulping down.. Anyhow, I started making faces out of their meals so they would engage with their plate of food... I do voices for the food sometimes...anything to make them laugh and try something new.


When I think of food in art, I immediately think of Arcimboldo. Do you admire his work?
Arcimboldo's paintings are haunting... Those paintings freak me out just thinking about them. The way that he painted the eyes I think... The atmosphere of the paintings is murky too... The oils of course give it that rich, devil gonna get you kind of feeling. Uhhh... also this guy was doing these paintings 500 years ago or so...right? I wonder what dinner with that guy was like... Bosch with food?

What foods are best/worst for making faces?
The best things to work with will have color and will hold up and most importantly get eaten and not thrown at me. The worst food items to work with are things that fall apart and smell horrible...and then get thrown at me...

Do your kids like to eat faces more than regular food now? Is it hard to take them to restaurants?
My kids love food faces... My older son was actually the guy who said "take a picture of it!" So basically this whole thing is his idea... Creative food delivery definitely gets them excited to try different kinds of food. My older kid would probably rat me out for a cheeseburger or a slice of pizza from Giorgios. My younger kid is like that wild kid in the old Mad Max movie... feral? So eating out is always an adventure.

Do you have a lucky number?

Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock. Photo by David Medal.
Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock. Photo by David Medal.
Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock. Photo by David Medal.

What is it like to work with your partner on an art show and book?
Working with my wife is pretty much one of the best things ever. Having somebody to collaborate with all the time means having a second pair of eyes on stuff... She and I both like to play with different materials and push ourselves with new mediums and directions. Some days...sure... It's hard because I love my own company and I can be a grumpy sack of muck... However, most of the time we are talking about the world and our kids and listening to new music or audiobooks while we are creating in our studio. Kelly is one of my favorite artists so I get to constantly get to watch one of my favorite artists do her thing.. front row seat.

Have you made a taco food face yet?
I have made hard shell taco food faces for the little dudes and they both devoured them.. poor tacos.


Who is your hero?
My friends and family are all my heroes... I am lucky to have a ton of friends that are amazing artists. Kelly Tunstall is my hero. Porous Walker is my hero. Bob Lake is my hero. Lance Mountain is my hero.

You've been part of the art world in SF for over a decade, how has the city changed in that time and where do you see it going next?
I feel like the art scene in San Francisco is finally catching its breathe after being decimated. Most of my friends have moved to Portland or LA or Oakland... San Francisco became too expensive and too different for most of my friends. With rent being so expensive and the SFAC being closed and SFMOMA being closed... the last few years in SF have been rough. I feel like there is glimmers of hope and there are a bunch of new galleries that have popped up in the city along with some great spots in Oakland. My wife and I are hopeful! We love it here and still wake up feeling inspired and lucky to still be here. We have two kids that were born here and have good friends here... They are the new school artists...


Got any shoutouts?
I'd like to give a shout out to Day Dreamers Limited for believing in weird dreams, Polish for always calling it how you see it, Cornerstone Phil, CMoney, The 6th Ave Millers, Juanjo + P1, Chewie, Parklife, Porous for saving art, Franklin for being a classic gentleman, Trolf for telling it how it is no matter what, Buzzard for everything, Beardo Brian for staying alive, Sammy, Blacktrees for constant PMA, Eiming for giving our art its first home, Codefiah and Meloman Ace for being so close yet so far away, Insomniac for amazing lyrics, Travis Milard for making amazing art, Jayson Howell for making me laugh, Peter Gronquist for Portland strippers, Foggy Notion for being a good neighbor and selling me good smelling stuff, Jeremy Fish for being the dude, OG Mike Giant for inspiring me, NOME for being the first artist I ever saw in SF, MARS1 for being a down to earth brother, Ryan Beavers for always looking to be at your personal best, Darryl & Laurie for giving our art a voice and a place, Yarrow Slaps for continuing the family tradition of keeping it real, Brett Amory for making me love art, Darryl Pierce for being a dad artist , Bob Lake for endless energy, my brothers Mean Matt P and Danny Darko for making me weird, the Smurfs, Josh Lake for feeding me acid, Peter Ellenby for being effortlessly funny and supportive The Pope Brothers for being who they are, Bwana Spoons for melting my brain, Daniel Rolnik for making a place where everybody can come and be loved, Brian Barneclo for inspiring me, Pnut GG for teaching me how to hustle, Romanowski for his music and his incredible messages, Durbz + Rusty Cage for the donuts and poop dog, DK for the PMA, Malone for being brave in the face of adversity, Jen Maerz, Yongki Chang, Jason Herring, ... The list goes on and on... Much love to everybody...


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