The Message Is With Chad Silver

Silver's bears

“I’m the kind of creative that’s all over the place,” Chad Silver admits. Whether the artist is traversing geography—Halifax, Nova Scotia, Brooklyn, New York, and currently Portland, Oregon—or artistic realms, his work is best described by Marshall McLuhan’s prescient dictum, “The medium is the message.” Silver’s output spans the gamut of materials—textiles, paper, wood, stuffed teddy bears—and each piece conveys a signature Silver-ism that is equally memorable in its meaning as it is through the medium employed.

One of Silver’s most popular pieces is his “Shit Bitch” bears, the perfect Valentine’s Day offering. But before we get to this furry denouement, let’s start from the beginning.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Silver began screen-printing in high school. “Nobody did it in my town,” he says. “I saw printing T-shirts as an opportunity to make money. So I made simple equipment and went to work. I continued to do it in college, mainly as a side job making posters and album covers for bands and record labels. It eventually worked its way into poster work and art multiples.”

Chad Silver

As a student of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Silver focused on working with text-based art, which he says, “was influenced by the art that was going on around me at school and from the conceptual text-based art of the ’70s. Like a lot of things it was a reaction to text-based work that I interpreted as emotional and Hallmark-y, personal, moody and boring.”

In response, Silver began making his own. “The first one I did was a drawing on paper,” he remembers. “It said: ‘When she left me…I was alone.’ Which I thought was funny, because it’s a true statement. I wrote other ones, like, ‘I heard Leonard Lopate say the “N” word.’ Newer ones include: ‘I’m Driving’ Declared Fame. ‘Shotgun!’ Shouted Sex & Money.”

“The ‘Shit Bitch’ bears came out of that same line of thinking,” he says, referencing his stuffed teddy bears clutching a satin heart that reads: “Shit Bitch You Is Fine”. “I started making them at art school as an art multiple from teddy bears I found at Value Village, an awesome thrift store.”
Initially the bears sold for $100 each, and one is even included in Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax. Currently, they are for sale on Silver’s site, Love Is Lame, for $12.99. “Now there is a bargain,” he says.

Love Is Lame began in 2009. It’s Silver’s home base, art, retail and otherwise. The name is yet another astute Silver-ism. “I used to subscribe to cynicism as a philosophy. My time at art school helped form my world view—that and a deep hatred for Oprah Winfrey. I hated her! I hated her manufactured, artificial emotion and sincerity. She manipulates authentic emotional experience more then violin crescendos.”

Silver’s unabashed lack of fear for the big “O”, and anyone else for that matter, is why his work stands as thoughtful critiques. For example, his point of view on design: “There seems to be two streams of design I see online,” he says. “The trendy kind with all the triangles, laser beams and tiger faces; and the idea-based product design, where a clever idea leads. Whether it’s in the combination of materials or elegant design, it’s the kind of thing that makes me think, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’”

But the truth is, he usually does, quickly enacting the idea, and suddenly Silver’s basement studio is a tornado of screen-printers, large-format printers, power tools, cement mixers (for beautiful concrete counter tops in his Craftsman bungalow home), T-shirts, sewing machines, and ever-present fabric scraps.

“I have too many frying pans going at once,” Silver says. “I have a short attention span. I want to think of something, make it fast, and if I can, throw it up online and try to sell it.”

Again, McLuhan said it best.

To buy the “Shit Bitch” bears and other Silver-isms, go to Loveislame.com.

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