Attaboy: The Art of the Mushroom

Daniel "Attaboy" Seifert is a multi-talented artist and businessman that has channeled his intense work ethic and creative energies into numerous endeavors. 

Daniel’s art has successfully transitioned into different mediums of entertainment (he spent years studying design and has collaborated with industry giants like Hasbro), ranging from toys to animation which speaks volumes about his artistic and business acumen. He has also become a published author producing lighthearted children's literature.

It was along with fellow artist and wife Annie Owens-Seifert, that he was able to create the now iconic Hi-Fructose Magazine, that has become a staple in the modern art community. 

With it’s unique take on contemporary art, Hi-Fructose has witnessed a meteoric rise to prominence since it’s inception in 2005. The magazine has since featured a plethora of high profile creatives from around the globe operating in various disciplines.

Attaboy has since expanded his repertoire to include painting and among his favorite subjects are mushrooms.

While the common assumption is that he is a fan of them because of their potentiality for psychedelic experience (depending on the species of course) Atta has actually never even consumed coffee, much less psilocybin.

Nevertheless, Attaboy stops by to discuss his interest in mushroom art and upcoming projects.

Prox: You seem to be a huge fan of mushrooms. What is it about mushrooms and mycology that interests you so much?

Attaboy: They are wonderful surprises that pop up unexpectedly. The election, the death of my beloved brother Charlie, and the current state of things in the Bay Area left me feeling pretty helpless (the tech take-over, Amazon-ification, the Ghost Ship fire, artists getting evicted, Bro culture, liberal people not voting against tyranny). Or angry; and both emotions left me not feeling like myself, which made me even more furious. And being upset at yourself for being upset is dangerous.

It’s like that pasty Emperor from Jedi enticing Luke to strike him down to submit to hate, right? The evil wins when they attack you and can when you attack back, as you become more like them. Yes, we all need to fight back against injustice and call it out, but not by defining ourselves by fighting on their terms. It’s a weird line, and I totally struggle with the balance of it all.

Annie and I have conversations about it often. If after 4 years (god help us), all we have done was think of them and respond to them, that would be an additional crime, no? But you’ve got to be smart and fight the impulse to chuck that pasty fucker off that cliff.

So I decided to be an amped up version of my self, fighting back by “arting” harder, by being even more enthusiastic, by spreading as much stupid joy as I could.

By paying attention to my family. By taking creative risks that may embarrass myself each week. By helping in my own way with the stupid skills that I have and the resources that Annie and I have to bring unexpected awesomeness to who we can, while we can.

One small thing that this resulted in is a lot of changes in my thinking. I started by painting 150 mushroom paintings and left them all over for people to find, which many have. I think I wanted to remind people that unexpected things are still out there, so stay alert, fucker! I want to do this other project that is so ridiculous and simple. I’m just waiting for the absolute wrong time and place.

Prox: I find it interesting that you’ve been around mushrooms subconsciously for so long and they’re manifesting themselves in your art now. Do you think there are any mystical or spiritual undertones that led to this?

Attaboy: I’d blame my grandmother. She owned a ceramic studio in her home and my Gramps built an extention on the house for her to operate the business.. She had a ceramic mushroom garden with dozens of them. We’d all paint them and contribute to it. And she had needlepoint versions and multiple walls with them. My grandfather, who just passed away, was a magician. I’ve been so influenced by them and my older brother Charlie (who also recently died of Huntington’s Disease) I’m a big ball of mush without them. It’s no surprise to me that’s where I turn. I never fully realized how important their approval and encouragement was to me. Recently, our Hf box set arrived, after two years of development. My first thought was to send one to them, and it floored me that I couldn’t, it really knocked the wind out of me. Surely, I miss them in a ton of other ways, and I would imagine that could seem shallow, but I guess these projects served as a unique language where we could speak to each other. Most of my strongest friendships and relationships have been built on projects, not saying that’s 100% a good thing as I really don’t know how to “hang out” with people, without working on something. It’s probably not a healthy way to go.

I’d also like to blame my friend Michael Campbell.

He’s been sculpting shrooms for a long while. They are really great if you have never seen them. He gave me one for my birthday,  I have a few of them here. They reminded me of how fantastic mushrooms were. He’s a great guy and has an opposite disposition than I, which is probably why we get along. Oh, and I remember being insane over the big Smurf house as a kid.

Prox: Energetically, how does painting differ from other types of art that you are versed in? Is it a meditative experience for you?

Attaboy: It’s more meditative than it used to be. I hated painting, so much! I’d smash things, frustrated with results, since I was like 11 years old. It was an emotional experience.

God, I tried every medium possible. Stencils, markers, ink wash, paint pens, color pencils, print outs, vector. EVERYTHING. There was some success. Some of the results were good. I sold a bunch of work. But I was miserable during the process. I still have my moments with painting. I’m impatient. I want to draw with the saw. I want to use my whole arm. When I find a color I like, I tend to use it until I ruin the effect. But I like this medium. I’ve always liked sculpture, but the feel of clay on my skin gave me the willies. And I refuse to spend any more time in front of a screen than I have to.

So now I get to build paintings. If I start over–thinking what they are, all is lost. 

Prox: I’ve read that you’ve experienced some pretty vivid hypnopompic hallucinations. Have these visualizations impacted your art? Did they prompt you to connect with artists or individuals that have had similar encounters with this kind of phenomena? 

Attaboy: I don’t know anyone who has them, but we hear they are out there… They were really frightening to my wife more than myself. She researched them and found out that seeing apparitions of spiders was a reoccurring theme for some people.  It was alarming to her that I was talking to crystal arachnids in the middle of the night hanging from our ceiling. They looked like Okuda sculptures or 8 Bit graphics from that game Tempest. I’m sorta friendly-ish with Rodney the director of that Nightmare documentary which focused on sleep paralysis, maybe I’ll ask him about them sometime.

Prox: How were you able to learn to harness your manic tendencies to become the artist, businessman, and person you are today?

Attaboy: I think the trick is to not harness it, but to surf it. To submit to the impulsiveness but give it a day before you commit. If everyone truly lived every day like it was their last, the world would be filled with people hugging people randomly and skydivers and panic, no? 

Prox: Do you have any artists, books, music, and/or movies/shows you’re into at the moment?

Attaboy: Art-wise, Jack Kirby, Alexander Calder, and I’m really into Oaxacan sculptures at the moment, but don’t tell anyone. I’m a big Mighty Boosh fan. And the show Black Books. Loving Silicon Valley and my wife Annie puts up with my celebrity crush with Kelly MacDonald. People talk of the golden age of TV, but this is the best time for access to independent documentaries of small budgets.

Beauty is Embarrassing is a great Doc. The recent doc. on Ray and Charles Eames The Architect and the Painter is great. So is that Heddy Lamar Bombshell doc. Really, though, I’ll watch any movie about an underdog person with big ideas.

Anything about Orson Welles will be consumed.

I listen to a lot of comedy. George Carlin is my spirit animal. Myq Kaplan is my current favorite comedian who is alive.  I’m a sucker for word play and triple entendre the giants. 

Prox: Any information on upcoming projects or releases you’d like to share?

Attaboy: I’m working for a big solo art show with the new work… The new Vampires Vs. Unicorns game is out!  People either love it or hate it (mostly for causing back pain or being devoid of hexagons), I’m working on a second Yumfactory game. Can’t wait to show you that and reveal the artist for that.

The Hi-Fructose: New Contemporary Fashion Book which I designed and edited was moved to a different (larger) distributor so was moved until Jan, 2019 release. And the HF Collected 4 Box Set has finally arrived after uber delays! Be sure to check out Hi-Fructose Presents: the Art of The Mushroom at the Compound Gallery in Oakland in October. The line-up is concentrated insanity.

To learn more about Attaboy and his work, stop by his website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.