Irish Haven as Artist Haven?

Tommy Lombardozzi
Tommy Lombardozzi

The CCD Art & Supply Co. has organized a group art show celebrating HBO original programming at Irish Haven (5721 Fourth Avenue) in Sunset Park on Saturday night. We spoke to co-organizer Tommy Lombardozzi about the show, CCD, Comic Con and how he started making art again. 

Where are you from?
In the words of Ed Norton, “The garden spot of the world, Brooklyn, USA!” I was born at Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. I was raised and currently reside in Bath Beach/Bensonhurst.

You are a visual artist and musician. Can you tell me about those practices individually and how they inform each other?
For most of my life, I created art as a hobby. I just did it for fun, and I never wanted to pursue it as any kind of career, nor did I ever want to take it too seriously. When I was in my early teens, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I was really into comics, and then the market changed. People might remember that in the early 90s, comic books declined in quality, and the existing companies went for quick cash-grabs and started to forsake good stories and art. Even at a young age, I recognized the shittiness of this. And, around the same time, I started playing music. So, because the field changed, and because I was never that good with sequential art anyway, I shifted away from art, and focused on music for a long time. Music became my “artistic outlet,” and art became something I did here and there just for fun.

Great White Duke mixed media artwork
“THE GREAT WHITE DUKE” Jaws’/Ziggy Stardust mash-up. Mixed media. 2010.

Then, a little over 10 years ago, some freelance illustration work came my way through a friend. I had never done work-for-hire before, and it amazed me that I could make so much money just doing drawings! Haha. So, I pursued it a little more. I was in a band at the time, and I was really dedicated to that, so the flexibility of being a freelancer really worked for me. I did that pretty steadily for a few years, and then wound up getting a few “real jobs” once my band broke up. In my life at the time, the steady money was a lot more appealing to me than trying to hustle and search out freelance work. So, I had these jobs for a few years, but I really missed the artwork. In 2010, I had gotten laid off from an office job. So, instead of finding another job in a shitty job market, I decided to start freelancing again. And, I decided to pursue my artwork in earnest. I started getting away from digital artwork and the computer, and started really getting my hands dirty. I was having a great time trying out different mediums, different styles, etc. I also wasn’t in a band at the time, though I had just recorded an album of my own, so I wasn’t playing out as often. This gave me a lot more time to focus on the artwork, and I fell in love with that again. I started doing some solo shows at a few local bars and restaurants, and contributing art to my friend Mike DeVito’s blog, and I’ve been focusing on art ever since.

Can you tell us about your involvement in Comic Con?
I did my first comic convention, the Big Apple Comic Con, in May 2011. In 2013 I finally got an artist table at the big one, New York Comic Con. Both times I shared a table with my friend Mike D., where he promoted his blog, and I took care of the artwork. We’ve always helped each other out, and we’ve always had a good time at the events.

What is the CCD Art & Supply Co?
The CCD Art & Supply Co. is an art collective that started as an offshoot of the blog I mentioned. When we didn’t have tables at the conventions, Mike D. and I would get press passes and go to the shows to do interviews for his blog. We would seek out artists, independent creators, and people that interested us who needed a little promotion. We’ve always had it in mind that eventually we would do something with all of these artists that we’ve met.

In the summer of 2014, based on previous conversations we’d had and Mike’s desire to really get involved in the art world, he started talking about starting a pop-culture-based art collective of our own… threw our first group show in October 2014… a Universal Studios’ monsters-themed show for Halloween, featuring 14 artists. It was a great success! The idea was that we wanted to make art accessible; not just for people to come and view, but also for people to own. We didn’t want to create a snobbish scene. We wanted people to feel comfortable, we wanted people to feel like art wasn’t an exclusive thing. So we have price caps at the shows, and we make sure that the stuff is priced to buy.

“NIC#1”. Mixed media. 2015.

At this point in time, we have more than 10 different print collections up in the shop, as well as over 40 contributing artists… we want to be able to nurture and grow with all the artists involved, no matter their skill level. Once we create a print collection, we invite all the artists to contribute to it. If they don’t have any interest in contributing to said collection, they don’t have to. It’s very easy-going. And, we don’t ask anything of the artists but for them to follow the set guidelines for print specifications so we can sell prints of the work, and to turn in quality work. There is no fee to be involved with us, and we never ask any contributing artist for any kind of money. We cover the cost of printing and shipping, and once we make that back, we split orofits with the artists 50/50. A split like that is pretty rare! As a founder and an artist myself, I wanted the collective to be very artist friendly. The artists’ job is to create good work and to promote their work on our site. That’s it. So this is a platform for them to get their stuff out there. We always have links to the sites of the contributing artists, if they have one. The stuff they do for us is separate from the stuff they sell on their own, and exclusive to us, so there’s no conflict of interest. The cross-exposure helps us all out!

As evidenced by our live group shows, things are getting bigger and bigger, and we have some major plans for the near future.

You have an exhibition coming up at The Irish Haven with CCD. Can you tell us about the show?
This is our fourth group show, and we have 19 artists featured. I am one of those artists. Mike talked about doing an HBO themed show… my suggestion was instead of focusing on one specific show, like Game of Thrones or The Sopranos, why not open it up to include all of HBO’s original programming over the years? We felt that that would be a great way for artists to really dig deep and get creative, and also feature a wide variety of programs and styles of art. HBO is arguably the most popular cable station ever, with so many beloved programs…so we knew off the bat it was a show that people could get into.

We will have a charity raffle going on. Gift baskets will always include gift certificates for local businesses, local artisans’ products,  products created in our area by people who live in our area, etc. We think that this is important, and we think it’s a great way to drum up business for the people around us while also doing some good for people who could use it. The charity we will be donating to for this show will be Relay For Life. So come on out, check out some art, support living artists, have a drink, buy some raffle tickets, do some good, and, most of all, have a good time!

The HBO Show flier