Looking Back: A Retrospective of Hero Complex Galleries Quattro 2 Show.


Often we do not gain a full perspective of something until we have had a chance to take a step back and watch the impact it had on us and those around us. In this installment of “Looking Back” we will be taking a look back at Hero Complex Gallery’s Quattro 2 Art show and see what the artists had to say.

Quattro, noun meaning four, word origin Italian. Seems simple, so in January of 2016 when Hero Complex Gallery (HCG) held a exhibition showcasing the works of Vance Kelly, Matt Ryan Tobin, New Flesh and James Rheem Davis the idea of labeling it Quattro made complete sense.  That show was a huge success (click here to see our coverage http://www.nerdlocker.com/?s=quattro) for all involved, so much so that many consider it to be one of the top pop culture art events of 2016 and like anything in the entertainment industry if at first you succeed, better get going on that sequel.

Ladies and gentleman I give you Quattro 2: Electric Shotgun Boogaloo. On Friday, February, 17, 2017, HCG hosted an exhibition featuring new art from Vance Kelly, Matt Ryan Tobin, New Flesh and James Rheem Davis.

Again nerds from all over Los Angeles lined up (not to be stopped by bad weather) with legendary line campers Steven and Jennifer Piper front and center. A little background on Steven and Jennifer. They are Austin, TX natives who made the pilgrimage for the first Quattro show on the back of a one eyed donkey named Clyde. Known in the screen-print community for routinely camping out at galley shows for not just hours but often days (seriously, for one show Steven camped out on the streets for SEVEN days) it was no brainier to ask them to help provide event coverage once we heard that they were again going to mount Clyde and make their way to Los Angeles for Quattro 2.

My wife and I are huge fans of Matt Tobin, he is the main reason we make the trip each year. Being able to interact one on one with an artist whose work you appreciate so much is a unique opportunity. The HCG creates a environment that encourages this whereas other galleries sometimes have handlers hovering around to limit interactions. All the art at the show was great. Jennifer and I geeked out big time over Matt’s The Gate, which we considered to be best in show, plus were lucky enough to score original pencils for Matt’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 print. Best show experience in a while and well worth the trip. Doing the coverage was a bit tricky working through bad weather, minor flooding, and zero WiFi but overall I think we did a pretty good job.

– Steven Piper

A key factor of HCGs continued success and growth has been its ability to match artist with property. With pop culture art becoming more and more mainstream a trend has emerged where some galleries have taken to matching a “hot” artist to random properties because that “hot” artist is more likely to drive sales regardless of quality of product. When speaking to Adam Smasher, the man child ringleader of HCG about how he goes about doing this he said it was simple.

“At Hero Complex we start by discussing what the artists want to do, match those desires to properties we think will resonate with the fans, and then go from there. It’s a completely collaborative process from content selection all the way through to printing. For instance, after working with Matty (Matt Rayn Tobin), I know he’s got a very specific personal set of tastes, so I know not to pitch him happy comedy or Point Break, as much as I’d like to see a Matt Ryan Tobin Point Break. Same with the other artists in the show, they all have their own tastes and interests, and actually, that’s what’s so wonderful about this particular group of artists, how beautifully their tastes fit together to make a cohesive show. It’s such a thrill to see in action, and one of my favorite shows of the year, really excited to see the fans’ reactions to all of their hard work.”

-Adam Martin (Owner of Hero Complex Gallery)

Matt Ryan Tobin.

When it comes to working on a certain movie property it has to inspire me from the get-go. Either based on the fact it’s a movie I love already or if it’s a new title, one that I see a lot of potential for interesting visuals. I don’t like forcing things. I think it shows when an idea is uninspired and pushed. When it comes to tackling titles that have been done time and again, some artists have just put their stamp on it firmly.   It’s kind of hard to see passed them or they’ve just been executed perfectly. That’s not saying that I only choose titles cause I think I can be the one to put that stamp on by any means but that there is something I feel is “worth saying” that hasn’t been said yet I guess.  Anything poster-wise for the Alien franchise is a great example. In my opinion Oliver Barrett’s take on Alien and Aliens is perfect. His minimalism and typography is so on point. Ansin’s Alien too. Hot damn. I have yet to see a better or more suitable poster composition for those films. Ya know it’s like Johnny Cash’s rendition of NIN’s “Hurt” is now his song.  It’s been taken to its limit – I’m sure there have been and will be more covers of that song but what’s the point? He said all that could be said I think with that rendition of that song. But anything can happen too, right? What do I know? Haha Maybe there is another great idea and I just haven’t thought of it – and that’s where maybe I leave it to someone else.”

– Matt Ryan

I asked Matt about a chances of a Mac and Me print in the future… he just shook his head a walked away. Sorry Guys.


New Flesh.


N.E from New Flesh tackled A Nightmare on Elm Street one of the most iconic horror properties and a personnel favorite.

Nightmare is just a great movie, that really redefined horror at the time. I had not had a chance to do yet. When I had the chance I jumped at it…..in regards to Matt and James, yeah of coarse, those guys and their prints are the best. I did not think it would compare. It really just needed to be my version for the film. I mean the original one sheet for Nightmare is one of the greatest posters of all time. Mine is just the my take on it. That is about all I can do. Have fun with it and then try and print it really well.

– N.E.

Vance Kelly.

Vance is a artist who, if you have been following his career over the last couple years, has seen a evolution in the way he’s approached the use of colors and layout. Vance noted that this growth has “been a concentrated effort for sure but I feel there has been a natural progression of organic growth as well.”

NL : So I wanted to ask you, is there was any genre that you have yet to tackle but want to?

VK : I haven’t worked on very many properties from the comedy realm but there are one or two I may do in future. However, I’m perfectly content to continue with the horror, sci-fi, adventure, and drama genres!”

As a Horror Hound myself I have purchased rubber sheets and am excited to see what terrors Vance has planned for us.

James Rheem Davis

This year one of the standout prints was Akira by James Rheem Davis. James normally known for a gritter grindhouse-esque approach to his art and to date has not tackled a animated property.

JRD : It turns out that Akira was actually slated for last year’s Quattro show but didn’t make it for various reasons. As I was discussing properties for this year’s show with Smasher, He looked at me dead in the eyes and said that if I don’t do Akira “you’ll never work in this town again son.” Tyler Stout’s take on the property is considered by most to set the standard. So the challenge I had was creating a take that was different from what was already out there. I tried an approach with a more reserved visual layout, less characters.

I was always drawn to the motorcycle chase in the beginning of the film and I knew I wanted to incorporate that somehow, It was all about trying something different. I am definitely open to other animated films going forward. So many more out there I really enjoy.

NL: With pop culture art having grown significantly over the last 5 years, and the industry becoming a viable business, and new hot artists /galleries popping up more and more, did you feel any internal pressure to produce something more mainstream and stay relevant?

JRD: I was fortunate to see Akira in a small theater back in San Francisco when it had its very first limited release with my friend Paco. He was a large man with gentle hands. He actually worked at a comic book shop and got me into the Akira comics.

I remember thinking what the f*ck did I just see? It was so different, so colorful and just jaw dropping. I bought the movie on VHS when it came out and still have it today. I didn’t really feel any pressure, but you always want to give your best effort. The pressure is more with the deadlines, cause you’re only as good as your last poster and the fans will let you know if your poster sucks.

There are so many talented artist out there and they will always have new stuff coming out. I don’t look at it like competition, I look at it as inspiration. All of these artists inspire me to try and be a better artist. There are so many artist that I don’t know personally , but they have had an effect on me and my work. And that’s one of the coolest things about the Quattro shows, we’re all like brothers, we make each other better, not only as artist’s but as people too.

Closing things out. Yes quattro is a noun meaning four but it also has another meaning. Quattro is the four wheel drive system implemented by Audi and it is generally regarded as the best full time all wheel drive system and had allowed Audi to dominate various racing circuits.

I really don’t know where I am going with that statement, but dominating is exactly what Matt Ryan, Vance Kelly, N.E. and James Rheem Davis have been doing.

Coming soon: Quattro 3: Season of the Electric Shotgun

Be sure to come check out by Hero Complex Gallery online shop where several of the Quattro 2 pieces can still be purchased.

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A Southern California kid who grew up on a Powell Peralta skateboard and Bad religion. I have always had an infinity for pop culture and see myself as a huge horror nerd. Retired Navy, I now spend my free time yelling at kids to get off my lawn while eating Chicken McNuggets and smelling my collection of HoBo socks.