San Diego local Randy Janson worries that cooks will fuck up his food because they are thinking about pussy. He thinks donuts represent the decay of our society. He's had more brushes with death than he can remember. He is also an extremely talented tattoo and pop artist. The tattoo shop he works in has garnered a lot of praise, as well as been featured in quite a few tattoo magazines. Randy's won Sony's Pick of the Week award for his art. A bizarre German couple want to take him to Germany with them. He takes pictures of road kill in his spare time. All in all, things are going swimmingly for him. Evan Katz had the opportunity to talk with Randy about many different subjects, ranging from donuts, angry truckers from New Jersey, and bizarre Japanese ad campaigns.

What originally inspired you to get into tattoo and pop art?
I started painting on canvas in 1988 after I got stabbed in a girl-related thing. I was kind of tripping out, so I started painting women the way I wanted them to be. It always had the sort of graphic pop art look to it. Mark Mahoney was tattooing me at the time, and I would just hang out in the tattoo shop for like fifteen hours a day. One day I just decided I wanted to try it out myself.

What are some of your paintings about?
A lot of it has to do with the media. A lot of it is how confusing it is to see how people get into things. Like cigars, for example. You have these women walking around with these giant phallic things hanging out of their mouths. My art just deals with the things I see everyday on TV, magazines, advertising.

What do donuts have to do with the decay of society?
Donuts are strange. Here is this food source that you can get 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This stuff is crap! I mean, what good are donuts? I did an art series with a donut theme. There was this disturbed, confused Japanese artist trying to use American icons to sell donuts to Japanese. For instance, he would use Monica Lewinsky to sell donuts just because her face is recognizable. It's just kind of like a Japanese marketing campaign to sell donuts, I guess.

So, basically, you're saying you find Japanese culture funny?
No, I like Japanese culture a lot. I just think it's funny when the translation of their language to our language gets all confused. I think it's funny how sometimes they misuse things. I wish we could advertise things the way they do, all crazy and screwed up. If it was that way here, giant Dunkin' Donuts signs would have Monica's face on it, and it would be perfectly normal.

What was your worst experience with the police?
Fuck, it was probably getting stabbed and having the police tell me that it was my fault. They told me that I had walked into the knife. A knife goes through your arm and into your chest, and then they tell you that you walked into it? I actually had to sit there and try to convince them otherwise.

How has the art world been treating you?
It's been rough. It's picking up now, but I've put in my time. A lot of it is day in day out, just trying to promote myself. Generally people are either way into my artwork or they are totally shocked by it and don't want anything to do with it. I've had some galleries seem scared to put my stuff up. It's hard to sell popular culture to some people. They'd rather have something safe, something to make their houses look nice. The galleries don't really want to challenge their customers. I'm just doing my own thing, trying to hang in there. The Internet is the way now. That way, if people like it, then they can buy it, and if they don't, they can just click to something else.

What's the craziest shit you've done while intoxicated?
I guess the craziest thing I've done is probably just a whole decade of drinking. There are too many stories of mass chaos involved to be more specific.

Name one.
In Toronto, climbing out on a thirty-five story building, and sliding around on the roof. Throwing bottles through windows, crashing cars. One time I was down in Tijuana with the Schroeder brothers. While we were leaving Mexico, one of my friends decides to smash a Virgin Mary on the ground, and starts to throw bottles at truckers from New Jersey. We get chased by the truckers and ultimately get our asses beat while being repeatedly told that they are truckers from New Jersey, and you don't fuck with truckers from New Jersey. There was blood everywhere. It was a pretty bad ordeal.

What is it about your shop, Avalon Tattoo, that makes it stand out from the other shops in the area?
It's been around for ten years. It was definitely on of the very first shops in San Diego that actually did really quality work. They catered to the customer. Everybody's friendly, there's a good vibe. It's just built up a good reputation.

Do you have any good near death experiences stories?
When I was seventeen, I had a life-after-death kind of experience. I was skateboarding down a hill at 45 miles an hour. Some guy happened to be washing his car so the road was slippery. I slid through an intersection and smacked the back of my head. I split my skull in half from the back of my neck to in between my eyes. I spent about twelve days in a coma like state. From that whole time in the hospital, I remember a shitload of pain, and looking down to see myself lying on the bed. Then I remember there was no more pain, and I was talking to some guy. There was light, a tunnel, the whole works. I came back and was in pain again. Everything was cool for about seven years, and then I got stabbed. My lung was punctured, so I needed surgery. There was a problem with the morphine I got in the hospital, and I went into a coma, and I had to go through the whole light and tunnel deal again. Most recently, I was riding a bike; down the street, and some lady drives too close to me, and before I know it, a car is parked on top of me and I can't breathe. I suffered a broken rib, a lot of scars; I even had one of my tattoos ripped off my arm. I'm doing pretty good now. I'm guessing probably another seven years until some more shit happens to me. Fuck, my whole life's been kind of crazy like that, getting hit by cars, fights, getting shot at, beer bottles, rocks. But I'm doing better now. I'm a family man. I'm driving a Volvo. It's safe, it's got airbags. I'm just trying to stay in one piece now.

What keeps you doing what you do?
Obsession. I think that sums it up. I'm just obsessed. I feel like I have this disease. This stuff is like more important to me than eating; I'll go without food for a while just so I can finish a painting. I can't stop, I don't know better. Messed up…confused…

Last words? Any future projects?
I want to do a lot more poster work. Get a lot more stickers. I'm kind of obsessed with a lot of stuff dealing with religion, McDonalds, and computers. I was intrigued with everyone thinking the end of the world was coming with the millennium. I mean, the date's just an arbitrary thing set by man. People are just confused. Other than painting, I like taking care of my family. I just roll with it, see what the future brings.