Wax On, Wax Off: Catching Up with Joe McElroy of Rent Control

Saturday night, a bunch of friends from the local surf scene took part in the opening party for an art show called “The Last Piece Hanging.”  The exhibit is currently showing at the Artery at the Lab, and will be showing through the end of the week.

Today, we're catching up with Joe McElroy, one of the artists and coordinators of “The Last Piece Hanging,” and asking him some questions about the event, his art and his long connection to the world of surfing. McElroy has most recently worked as Creative Director and VP of Global Marketing of Hurley. Before that, he served as Assistant Art Director at Surfer Magazine–and before that? He worked with Billabong. 

After deciding to part ways with Hurley, McElroy joined up with partner Matt Lindauer at his new advertising, branding and design firm called Rent Control. The company's client list includes some of the biggest household names in the surf industry, like OluKai, Quiksilver and SurfAid International. Rent Control's office is in a very '70s-looking building on Old Newport Blvd., boasting orange doors and sagging mid-century modern architectural lines. There, with gray, cloudy daylight coming through the tiny skylight, he answered some questions about the art show, Rent Control, aliens, family and more…

OC Weekly: How did you first get involved with “The Last Piece Hanging”?

Joe McElroy: Well, Jason Carrougher is the sort of curator of the show. We call him 'Nancy,' as in Nancy Kerrigan. Don't ask. He's a friend. Some of us were just hanging out having beers one day, talking, and we wanted to have this gathering of artists and friends locally.


OCW: And what's the basic artistic theme or idea behind the event?

JM: Well, of course to showcase the art. Each artist will, you know, work it for a night or two during the show. But there's no glitz or glamor. It's very lo-fi. We just had this vision to get friends together for a fun night, and utilize Jason's connections to get the show at the Artery going. It's really all about good music, friends and having fun. The art and music we're showcasing reflects that. The opening was great.

OCW: It was great. Super fun. Alot of the art is very underground and, well…strange. Can you tell me about one of your favorite pieces from the show?

JM: For sure. I have one called “Aliens=People” that's pretty cool.

OCW: I saw that painting. Very cool, and very weird. What's that one all about?

JM: I always had interest in painting and drawing aliens. This world is bizarre. The idea behind 'People=Aliens' is basically that people are constantly doing weird stuff that's…well, alienesque. It's exploring that boundary of what we call alien. And that Alien-people relationship.

OCW: What kinds of things do people do?

JM: [Laughs] All around us, man. I'm talking about everyday occurrences. People are weird. My kids can relate, so they kind of collaborated with me on this one.

OCW: Do you usually collaborate with your kids, or at least bounce ideas off of them to get their feedback?

JM: All the time. For this one, I was really interested in their input and perspective on outer beings, and how they've been influenced by that. I try to create an environment that stimulates my kids' creativity in all areas, from art to action sports.

OCW: So tell me a bit about your new company, Rent Control. You seem confident that this could really blow up and get big.

JM: We're a young company with lots of ideas–good ones. We're out there doing some really good work, and we're constantly enlarging our client base. Basically, we have three main things we do–advertising, branding, and web design.

OCW: Do you see yourself and Rent Control as filling a void in the industry, meeting needs that aren't being met elsewhere?

JM: I do in a way, because brands are coming to us for help, really, knowing they need work done. People need help with their overall look and identity. We help them with that.

OCW: So are you a coolness guru of sorts?

JM: [Laughs] We do try to have a grasp on the overall vibe of what's going on, and to put our clients in touch with that. From music to art to sports,  people want to stay on the pulse of what's going on creatively. In a sense, we're a creativity company.

“The Last Piece Hanging” at the Artery at the Lab2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 966-6660; myspace.com/artery05. Through July 26. Call for hours.

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