Madelyn Covey interviewed Nick Pagan for the Disability Visibility Project™ at StoryCorps San Francisco on September 2, 2014. In this clip, Nick talks about being an artist with developmental disabilities at Creative Growth in Oakland, CA. Nick talks about his artistic inspirations including serial killers, death metal, comic books, and horror films. Nick talks about being in a coma as a child and losing his long term memory, his love of video games, and his artistic works.
[Instrumental music – rock guitar and drums, clip fades with the lead singer yelling]
Madelyn Covey: What kind of artwork do you do at Creative Growth?
Nick Pagan: Multiple…. [pause]
Madelyn Covey: Mediums?
Nick Pagan: Mediums, thank you. Um, from movie making to ceramics to watercolor to um, a, prop making. Stuff like that.
Madelyn Covey: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your artwork?
Nick Pagan: Serial killers, movies, horror movies, comics, video games, music.
Madelyn Covey: Ah, you said that, um, serial killers are one of your inspirations for your art. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Nick Pagan: Yeah, I love serial killers. Um, they inspire me. Like the way they murder, I know it sounds wrong, but the way they murder people. I don’t know, it just kinda, I don’t know, I don’t know how to describe it.
Madelyn Covey: Ok, is it like a morbid fascination kind of a thing?
Nick Pagan: Sort of, it’s, I always tell friends, who is your favorite serial killer?
Madelyn Covey: Hmm
Nick Pagan: And a lot of people have a favorite. Mine is actually, actually I have two. Um, Ed Gein and Jack the Ripper.
Madelyn Covey: But obviously, I mean like I know you, you’re a real sweet guy like, its not inspiring [laughs]
Nick Pagan: No, no, no, no… I’m not like, ah, I’m not going like go out and like kill somebody, I’m just, I’m just interested.
Madelyn Covey: And then you’re also inspired by comic books and super heroes so could you tell me a little about that?
Nick Pagan: Um, the backstories, the tech that they use, the powers, it all inspires me to make movies and do other art projects.
Madelyn Covey: And ah, who is your favorite superhero?
Nick Pagan: Ah, I would have to say The Hulk.
Madelyn Covey: And why is that?
Nick Pagan: Because he is in your face and he don’t give a shit
Madelyn Covey: And do you prefer the, do you prefer The Hulk who like is Bruce Banner in his mind and knows what is going on or do you prefer the like out of control Hulk?
Nick Pagan: I like the out of control, in your face, um, Hulk smash Hulk.
Madelyn Covey: Cool. And what about The Hulk do you relate to?
Nick Pagan: Um, his anger.
Madelyn Covey: Do you find that it’s, it’s hard to like express anger in your everyday life in your situation?
Nick Pagan: Um, no. I used to be a really, really angry person when I was younger and then I kinda suppressed it. So I kinda get that feeling of like, you know, Bruce Banner trying to suppress The Hulk type deal.
Nick Pagan: I was in a coma when I was younger so I don’t remember anything after that. I got short term memory loss from the coma. It made me sad and mad but then again I couldn’t really remember anyway so.
Nick Pagan: My depression is, my problem is if something bad happens I constantly think about it and it makes me depressed.
Madelyn Covey: Uh, huh
Nick Pagan: Like I can’t get it out of my head so that’s what the video games is escape for.
Madelyn Covey: Oh, ah, I don’t know if you want to talk about this but um. You do, you do a lot of really great sculpture stuff like making props and making things like that. But you also in ceramics frequently [laughs] make uh,
Nick Pagan: Yeah, the Mr. Boners
Madelyn Covey: Yeah, the Mr. Boner character, what’s behind that?
Nick Pagan: Um, the dick with arms. He goes on adventures. Um, I got, that inspired me from a movie called Super Bad. Um, at the end of the credits they showed these drawings of dicks with arms. So I decided to do one where he goes across time and just does all kinds of outlandish shit.
Madelyn Covey: Mm, hmmm. Cool. What kind of stuff have you had Mr. Boner do?
Nick Pagan: Um, I’ve had a hitchhiker boner. I’ve had, I made a, um, super Boner, which sold really fast. I’ve done a cowboy one where he is riding one of those horses with like it’s just a head and a stick. I even made a, um, an animation of Mr. Boner.
Madelyn Covey: Oh, cool! What’s, what does he do in the animation?
Nick Pagan: Ah, he just rides across the screen and it says ‘Mr. Boner rides again’.
Madelyn Covey: Oh, nice. That’s funny. And you do, some are puns, right?
Nick Pagan: Yeah, some are like…
Madelyn Covey: Like visual puns…
Nick Pagan: Ah, I did a horny boner, which is a boner with horns.
Madelyn Covey: Yeah, yeah, like that kind of. And I know my friend bought your like, crucified Jesus boner.
Nick Pagan: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah
Madelyn Covey: And has it up in his house
Nick Pagan: You told me he hung it up to his real crucifix
Madelyn Covey: Yeah
Nick Pagan: Yeah, I thought that was awesome
Madelyn Covey: It’s pretty cool.
Madelyn Covey: You’re a pretty successful artist, like you, you know, you sell your artwork and like your drawings on T-shirts that celebrities have bought and stuff like that. How does that feel?
Nick Pagan: It feels good but when I tell people they’re like ‘no, not really, you’re not, you’re not that famous, I haven’t heard of you.’ And I’m like, cause I’m underground man. Like, you know, I’m not known yet.
Madelyn Covey: Yeah
Nick Pagan: Yeah, it feels great!
[Instrumental music – metal, hard rock riff]
Music Credits: ( “On My Way” by Gino and the Goons and “Neon Jesus Wins the World Cup” by Electric Mirrors. All songs are licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License)
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Disability Visibility Project™. (2017, January 30). DVP Interview: Madelyn Covey and Nick Pagan. Retrieved from: https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com/2017/01/30/dvp-interview-madelyn-covey-and-nick-pagan/
A photo featuring Madelyn Covey and Nick Pagan was taken on September 2, 2014: close up portrait of a woman on the left and a man on the right, both smiling and facing the camera. The woman on the left has short brown hair with a streak of orange hair framing her face. Madelyn appears to be white and is wearing a thin gold necklace, yellow shirt and orange overshirt. She has plug earrings and two small freckles to the right of her mouth. The man on the right is significantly taller, has long dark brown hair and brown eyes. Nick appears to be white and is wearing rectangular dark framed glasses and has a slim moustache and beard. The visible part of his black T-shirt says STOP in bold yellow letters in front of the image of a whisp of smoke.
Produced for the Disability Visibility Project™ by Yosmay del Mazo and Alice Wong with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the story of our lives. For more: www.storycorps.org and www.disabilityvisibilityproject.com