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Published Date : August 28, 2014


Luke Ramsey

Published Date : August 28, 2014

Looking closely at one of Luke Ramsey‘s images, one sees the big bold shapes dissolve into a chaos of squiggles only to find new patterns emerging. Somehow he manages to distill the sense of order and chaos found in nature into his work. From his home studio in Pender Island (BC) Luke Ramsey works independently and in collaboration with the many artists participating in his Islands Fold residency.

We’ve read your work described as belonging to “The Psychedooolia Movement”. Can you tell us what it means to you?

I wouldn’t say that I belong to any particular group, but referring to Psychedooolia does trace back to some creative roots. I don’t think it was ever considered a movement, but I like to think of it as one. Psychedooolia is a term coined by artist Marc Bell, who has been a positive influence on my work. Marc used the term to describe a book he compiled titled “Nog A Dod”.

The book features a variety of artists who I’ve identified with in the context of artists who make zines, mail art and primarily make drawings. I have collaborated with Marc and various artists in this collection. Such interactions inspired me to have lots of collaborations over the years.

The Mammoth Collection, Luke Ramsey, 2010

The Mammoth Collection, Luke Ramsey, 2010

Luke Ramsey

We love how your work’s convoluted lines, nested within even more convoluted patterns and shapes, mimic strange forms found in nature. Can you tells us where you find inspiration for your subjects and style?

Thanks. I love connecting to nature. A few years ago I hiked into a forest and sat in front of a tree. I wanted to draw every detail of that tree. After drawing for a few hours, I realized I couldn’t do it. It became a chore and I was overwhelmed with the detail and complexity of the this tree. It was taking up too much of my thought. I realized that to express this kind of detail in my work, it had to be thoughtless and free flowing, just like the energy in nature.

My art is about organizing chaos and celebrating harmony with it. From a distance, you can look at a tree in a forest and it looks peaceful. When you look up close to it, you see insects getting eaten by birds, fungi taking over other life forms, decay and creation. It’s chaotic, but it’s all organized within the form of the tree. I think about my drawings like this.

Luke Ramsey, 2010
Luke Ramsey, 2010

Luke Ramsey, 2010

Much of your work is in the form of murals. How do you feel about work in public spaces as opposed to work on paper, canvas, etc…?

To me, public art is a balance between responsibility and being unattached to the work. The responsibility is about personally caring about the message in the work. Being unattached is about not being offended by how people react to it. People who want to find the kind of art I make, can go looking for it online or in print. When it’s public, nobody’s looking for it and I like that element.

Giant Transition, Josh Holinaty & Luke Ramsey

 Giant Transition, Josh Holinaty & Luke Ramsey, 2010

 Giant Transition, Josh Holinaty & Luke Ramsey, 2010
 Giant Transition, Josh Holinaty & Luke Ramsey, 2010

How did you come to start up your Islands Fold artist residency? Can you tell us about the program and your experiences with the many artists you’ve collaborated with?

Islands Fold came about to combine by interest in art and my wife’s interest in health and nutrition. I had a 6 week residency at The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire in 2005, and that had a huge influence on me wanting to create a residency.

Right now, we’re putting residencies on hold, so I can focus on personal projects and prepare for the next chapter of Islands Fold. For the first 3 years we hosted 30 different artists. I would invite artists that I wanted to work with and would also consider submissions

An artist would stay with us for a week. We’d supply accommodation and good food free of charge. We’d fund the cause by selling work that artists donated. During the residencies we’d hang-out, make art, eat food and enjoy life. It’s really special to get to know the person behind the work.

Islands Fold has been a wonderful experience for this. I wouldn’t be able to briefly mention all the fun collaborative experiences-there’s been a lot which I’m happy about.

Howie Tsui and Luke collaborating, Island Folds

Howie Tsui and Luke collaborating, Islands Fold

Derek works on a very detailed drawing

Other

Given unlimited resources to direct a movie, what kind/genre would you make?

That’s the best interview question ever. Describing the genre would be difficult, but I’d probably co-direct with R.Kelly and make another 22 chapters of Trapped In The Closet. We’d cast Natalie Portman, Viggo Mortensen and Paul Vasquez.

Anything on the horizon we can look forward to from you?

If I don’t get in touch with R.Kelly, I plan to release and tour a sci-fi book in 2012.

S&TM:We want to thank Luke Ramsey for doing this interview and sharing his awesome work with us!


Peter Kalyniuk

Published Date : August 28, 2014


Charline Wang

Published Date : August 28, 2014


The Blot – Part

Published Date : April 24, 2013

The Blot Part 2

The story of The Blot continues, told in sound and images through the collaborations of a seriously amazing group of musicians and illustrators.

Chapter 3

The Blot - Chapter 3 - by Keith Jones

The Blot Chapter 3 – by Keith Jones

Thom Gill

Thom Gill, member of OG Melody, and countless powerhouse music and art projects in Toronto and beyond.

How do you feel about the character of The Blot so far? Is he hero or villain? Tragic or underdog? Who is he to you?

Thom Gill: The Blot is the mind, no? In and out of clarity, unhappiness, confidence.

Encountering the unknown constantly. Frightened of overtaking itself and/or coming up short of itself.

In that case, The Blot a kind of hero. Humanity is, hopefully, about love. It’s interesting that the Blot stayed in a dark, confused place for so long, that we artists chose to keep him there. I certainly like him now, seeing him in the light.

I know he will die though. And whoever gets to tell that story in their chapter may not choose to present as a heroic death.

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

We were pretty ambitious with our chapter. I was pretty stoked on creating an oil sands allegory. And the line “try to hold sand / imagine the power is in your hands / when all the while it’s just slip slip slipping away”, got that across for me. But then we move away from that image by having the Blot speak to the world as its audience in a plea to banish their expectations. I think we had hoped for this to be a seed for the subsequent Blotters to characterize the Blot as fallible yet good. That a civilization, a collective mind, that can do such damage and wrong will still be forgiven.

Chapter 4

The Blot - Chapter 4 - by Erin McPhee

The Blot Chapter 4 – by Erin McPhee

Nick Grottick

Nick Grottick of Bad Channels

How do you feel about the character of The Blot so far? Is he hero or villain? Tragic or underdog? Who is he to you?

Nick Grottick: The Blot still seems to be finding its place in the world. It has good intentions, but who knows how that could change in next chapters

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

Nick Grottick:The previous chapters were more lighthearted, with the blot sort of getting its footing, so I felt it was a good time to give it its first real challenge and throw something really dark its way.

Where do you see the story evolving from here? Is it the Never-ending story? Will The Blot take a more concrete shape and reveal a face? Will the story splinter in to many alternate Blot realities? What does it all mean?

Nick Grottick: Whoa, I like all those ideas! I think it would be cool if the blot took a more concrete shape, maybe even became a human? Or maybe the Blot will split in two?? Good Blot Vs. Evil Blot! I really like the idea of putting the story in to another artists hands and seeing what they do with it.

Chapter 5

The blot - Chapter 5 - by Jeanie Phan

The Blot Chapter 5 – by Jeannie Phan

Moshe Rozenberg of DD/MM/YYYY and Absolutely Free.

How do you feel about the character of The Blot so far? Is he hero or villain? Tragic or underdog? Who is he to you?

Moshe Rozenberg In place of explanation/disruption/influence, here is an excerpt from Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar:
“Just call me whatever is in your mind.
If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer. That is my name.
Perhaps it was raining very hard. That is my name.
Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,”—and you had to do something else. That is my name.
Perhaps it was a game you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window. That is my name.
Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around. That is my name.
Perhaps you stared into a river. There as something near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened. That is my name.”

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

Moshe Rozenberg:The past wraps the present in a ribboned cube and all we contributed was the bow. Think item number five on Captain Beefheart’s guide to guitar playing:
“If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.”

Where do you see the story evolving from here? Is it the Never-ending story? Will The Blot take a more concrete shape and reveal a face? Will the story splinter in to many alternate Blot realities? What does it all mean?

Moshe Rozenberg:As most things, it will age indefinitely through earthwormholes’ reinterpretation and digestion.

Jeannie Phan, an internationally published illustrator based in Toronto, Canada.

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

Jeannie Phan: Yes, definitely. It’s hard not to base it off of the last set of artists because I want the narrative to flow. But, at the same time I wanted to throw in a jolt of something exciting to at least throw The Blot into leading to some sort of decisive action.

Where do you see the story evolving from here? Is it the Never-ending story? Will The Blot take a more concrete shape and reveal a face? Will the story splinter in to many alternate Blot realities? What does it all mean?

Jeannie Phan: I feel like The Blot will take shape after a few more instalments. Right now I think we’re all trying to feel out how his personality is like based by his reaction to all the crazy things we’re throwing at him. He’s becoming some sort of cosmic entity.

Suburban Dreaming by Jeanie Phan

Suburban Dreaming by Jeannie Phan

Chapter 6

The Blot - Chapter 6 - by Howie Tsui

The Blot Chapter 6 – by Howie Tsui

Ho Yan (Howie) Tsui is a Canadian visual artist, born in Hong Kong.

How do you feel about the character of The Blot so far? Is he hero or villain? Tragic or underdog? Who is he to you?

Howie Tsui: For me, Blot seems to almost be a victim of existence. Gradually evolving and trying to make sense of these drastically shifting environments that it inhabits with each chapter. To me, Blot is a juve. Yet to sprout a pube.

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

Howie Tsui: I listened to all the preceding chapters first in order to visualize the narrative arc for the character, trying to place myself in its shoes. Really relieved Blot made it made it past Chapter 5 alive, which was a pretty traumatic experience. I took our Chapter as a post-traumatic psychic healing session. Repeat listens of Olga and Jace’s track put me in this floating, ethereal, unconscious space world. So I tried to capture this image of Blot hovering beyond the planet, buoyed by the transmissions from a Walkie-Talkie.

Where do you see the story evolving from here? Is it the Never-ending story? Will The Blot take a more concrete shape and reveal a face? Will the story splinter in to many alternate Blot realities? What does it all mean?

Howie Tsui: Tough to say. Much of the narrative depends greatly on the music that will be written in future chapters as they serve as the springboard for the imagery. I believe in circles/cycles. The Blot may just self-detonate and become a library.

Silver Tree by Howie Tsui

Silver Tree by Howie Tsui

Chapter 7

The Blot - Chapter 7 - by Irma Kniivila

The Blot Chapter 6 – by Irma Kniivila

Dan Werb and Maylee Todd

Dan Werb (left) and Maylee Todd (right) of Ark Analog

“When It’s Mine” was skillfully crafted by Maylee Todd and Dan Werb, who wrote the words and music. Their excellent new duo project is called Ark Analog and we’ll be seeing much more of them in the future. Dan has previously written and recorded with Woodhands, and Maylee’s new solo record Escapology comes out April 2nd. The visual component is by the wonderful artist Irma Kniivila, who has paired illustrations with many musical works.

How do you feel about the character of The Blot so far? Is he hero or villain? Tragic or underdog? Who is he to you?

Dan Werb: To me, the Blot represents that aspect of a person that is susceptible and vulnerable to being defeated or undone by the pressures of the world. I see it as a manifestation of the inner secret life that we all live and often try to hide from others. So I interpret the story of the Blot as one of overcoming neuroses, or anxiety, about living authentically, which can be a scary and potentially self-destructive experience. When you put yourself out there, you put yourself at the mercy of the other…

Given how the story has evolved so far, how did you approach creating your instalment of the The Blot? Does seeing and hearing the works made for previous chapters shift the way went about your piece of the puzzle?

Dan Werb: It seemed clear that by our chapter of the story, the Blot seemed to be at risk of going down a k-hole of neuroses and anxiety. I feel like we’ve all been there, and I personally feel like the best way to avoid that urge to let your unchecked thoughts take over is to ground yourself in the physical, the tangible – another person, your own body, the natural world. So I wanted the Blot to start understanding its own sensuality and capacity for feeling something real outside of its own endlessly circling thoughts. That’s why the lyrics focus so squarely on touch and exploring the physical other.

Where do you see the story evolving from here? Is it the Never-ending story? Will The Blot take a more concrete shape and reveal a face? Will the story splinter in to many alternate Blot realities? What does it all mean?

Dan Werb: I really hope that the Blot becomes a real concrete manifestation. Our aim with the chapter we worked on was to start that process, and I think that’s reflected in the artwork and the lyrics. It’s always better to start taking shape…I think one of the most seductive traps we have in this era of endless choices is indecision – or, to put it another way, making decisions to never truly define yourself because self-definition means cutting off potential other lives. We all want to be everything and I think sometimes that stops people from doing anything at all, because it’s comforting to feel like doors are always open. But there comes a point when you’ve gone too far without having the courage to make a choice about who you are, and that’s a dangerous trend. Which is just a long-winded way of saying: the narrower the definition of the Blot, the better!


Kyle Harter

Published Date : March 23, 2013

Kyle Harter – Healing

Kyle is a freelance illustrator and a teacher. After living in Chicago for ten years, he now resides in San Jose, CA. Kyle loves running around outside, playing Ms. Pacman, and eating vegetables. You can see more of Kyle’s work on his website: www.kyleharterart.com or his blog: kyleharterart.tumblr.com

Kyle Harter


Jeff Hamada

Published Date : January 3, 2013

Jeff Hamada

Since launching his hugely successful art blog Booooooom! in 2008, Vancouver-based artist Jeff Hamada has been on a mission to share awesome art with the world. Connecting with a huge community of artists and art lovers, Jeff has put together a variety of art projects, online and out in the world, designed to get everyone involved in having fun being creative.

Jeff Hamada

Picture from http://www.stussy.com

What inspired you to start Booooooom? How has it grown and changed since it’s inception? Where do you see Booooooom in next few years?

I want people today, tomorrow, 20 years from now to be able to look through it and be inspired by a giant archive of creative work. I try not to post too many things that are time-sensitive, flyers, kick-starters, things that you’ll have to scroll past a year from now. In some ways it hasn’t changed a lot, my mission has been the same, but it has grown bigger than I ever imagined it could or would.

I’m really inspired by The Creators Project. If someone could just hand me a bunch of cash and say go and make creative things with this money, I would do that for the rest of my life. It sounds like a fantasy but I actually feel like I’m only a half step away from being able to live that dream.

Booooooom's Site

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You’ve connected with a huge community of art lovers and artists online, encouraged people to go out and make things for Booooooom projects, curated several art shows in galleries. Have you ever wanted to start a Booooooom gallery, or other offline projects to further bring the community together?

I’ve thought about it. I would hate to have to be somewhere from, 9-5 or whatever gallery hours are, so I’d only look at doing something like that if it was with someone else. I want to have a physical space here in Vancouver just to show films and have games nights. More of a public living room than a gallery.

Booooooom's Fresh Letter Project

Example of Booooooom's Remake Project

Booooooom's Remake Project

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Your own personal art and design work is really fun and graphic. Has your approach to your own work changed since working on Booooooom became a full time part of your life? Do you think of the two separately, or do they feed off each other?

Working everyday on Booooooom does take away from time to make my own work, so I do see the two things as distinct in some ways. They both inform one another but I am trying to make more time to just concentrate on producing stuff for me, for my own enjoyment, maybe not even to be shared.

Jeff Hamada Painting

Jeff Hamada's Paintings

You’ve initiated some pretty extraordinary projects through Booooooom that all focus on inviting everyone to get out there and get busy creating things. The recent Made of Imagination project challenged people to invent and make new kinds of musical instruments. How do you come up with project ideas that you think will really spark people’s imaginations?

I have always found it easy to come up with an idea that will bring people together. Most of them come from a very naive, child-like sense of wonder, type of place. I think I’ve just exercised that part of my brain the most.

Andrew Spackman – Birmingham, United Kingdon

Andrew Spackman – Birmingham, United Kingdon

Oliver Jeffers – Brooklyn, New York

Oliver Jeffers – Brooklyn, New York

Made-of-Imagination-Project

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Where would you say the most interesting art/music/animation/photography is coming from today? Who are some artists you’ve seen lately who have just blown your mind, and inspired you personally?

This is an impossible question to answer, it’s not coming from any one place, those topics are so broad. I enjoy Mimi Jung‘s weavings, Matthew Dear‘s music, Hoji Tsuchiya‘s animations, Jennilee Marigomen‘s photographs.

Mimi Jung (left) Jennilee Marigomen (Right)

Mimi Jung (left), Jennilee Marigomen (Right)


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Pow Wow Hawaii art event

What are your 5 most memorable Booooooom moments?

1. Pow Wow Hawaii art event – living together in a house on the North Shore with artists from around the world, making work and making life-long friendships.

2. An email from Brent Hines, a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia who heard about my Little Drifters project and brought a group of kids to a river to make little boats out of twigs and do the same thing we did.

3. Anytime I meet a stranger who knows about Booooooom and is genuinely excited about it.

4. Speaking at Creative Mornings recently, meeting a lot of people in my own city who really made me feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

5. Getting a book deal with Chronicle Books.

Jeff Hamada


WRAP Magazine

Published Date : December 29, 2012

The concept for WRAP magazine is really unique – part magazine featuring artist interviews – part product composed of illustrated wrapping paper designed by your favourite artists. How did the idea come about? Can you tell us a bit about how WRAP went from concept to reality?

A. The idea was to make a magazine that promoted up-and-coming illustrators alongside established more seasoned artists; to interview them and to get their work in front of lots of people and in as many shops as we could.

We decided not to stick with the classic magazine format and wanted to come up with a way of fully showing the work of great illustrators, giving people looking at it the opportunity to see the skill, technique and ability that goes in to each piece and really appreciate it.

We didn’t like the thought of our magazine being looked, read and then discarded, so figured out ways to extend it’s life or give it a double purpose somehow – and that’s where the wrapping paper idea came from. We thought it would be awesome to print illustrators work on a big scale and make the publication so that pages could be pulled out of the and shared in the form of wrapping paper.

WRAP Magazine issue 6

WRAP Magazine Issue 6

WRAP Magazine issue 3

Spread from WRAP issue #3

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Ed J Brown

Ed J Brown www.edjbrown.com

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves, and the talents and passions that you bring to making WRAP?

A. Wrap was started by two people, Polly and Chris (me). We both studied design, Polly product design and me graphic design. We try to capture what we both like about design in Wrap magazine, from the way it looks to the way it functions and feels.

We’re not illustrators but illustration is something we love and have done for a mega long time. It’s our love for brilliant design and illustration that forms the foundation for each issue, but then there’s our editor Harry, writer Sarah and researcher Anna that help to drive and shape Wrap.

WRAP Magazine issue 4

Chris Harrison & Polly Glass

Chris Harrison (left) & Polly Glass (right)

Each issue has a theme that the artists use as a starting point for their illustrations. What were some of the most unexpected/surprising illos that came back to you for the themes you’d chosen?

A. The first time we made Wrap we didn’t have a theme and we got back a whole load of stuff. One of the most memorable and unexpected was an illustration called ‘Gay Santa’, a drawing of Santa Claus riding his sled pretty much naked wearing rainbow coloured swimming trunks. That’s when we decided to make each issue themed. We’re always blown away by the work we get back and, although we know the style of the artists we ask, it’s always surprising to see how the brief has been interpreted.

It’s also ace when illustrator’s use the brief to better their technique and explore new approaches to how they work, like Bjorn Rune Lie and his piece ‘After Snowfall’ for the issue six front cover and the illustration ‘Play Your Cards Right’ Jesse Tise did for issue six.

Riikka Surmunen

Riikka Surmunen http://www.riikkas.com/

We love the design of WRAP magazine, your website and your products. Can you tell us a bit about the design style you’re going for, and how you manage to carry that through all the different projects you have on the go?

A. Thank you! Everything starts with the magazine, it drives the expectation we have for all the other things we do and make.

So when it comes to new products we want them to be the best they can be, made in the best materials, and (where possible) involve some of the best illustrators we know. We make things that we’d like to out and buy and that make sense to us.

Style wise we like to keep things contemporary and sometimes fun with a strong narrative.

WRAP Gallery opening

Framed Spreads

You started with the magazine, but now have expanded your shop to include custom designed stickers, cards and wrapping papers. Where do you hope to take WRAP in the future?

A. We’re going to continuing to focus on the magazine, working with more talented people in to develop and mould our publication which is exciting for us. Also we’ll be working on a couple of new stationary products in the new year that will enable us to commission and promote more illustrators we love and and develop our range. In nearly everything we do, it’s about the illustrator and how we can get their work seen by people. So we’re looking forward to continuing this in 2013.

Josephin Ritschel

Josephin Ritschel http://www.mevameva.de/

On a personal level – what’s the best thing about making WRAP?

A. 100% the best thing about making Wrap is having the opportunity to meet, work with and write about great illustrators, designers and creative practices. We’re really lucky!

Kim Sielbeck

Kim Sielbeck www.kimsielbeck.com

Patrick O'Leary

Patrick O’Leary www.patrickoleary.co.uk

Janine Rewell

Janine Rewell www.janinerewell.com

Charlotte Trounce

Charlotte Trounce www.charlottetrounce.co.uk


Flickr Comics!

Published Date : December 24, 2012

This month we started up a Flickr group, open to all, to share comics on S&TM! Every month we’ll feature a few selections here on Squidface & The Meddler! This month’s comics by Jack Teagle, Hyein Lee, and John Martz!

Come join us and share your comics at:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/squidfaceandthemeddler_comics/

 

Jack Teagle

Jack Teaglewww.jackteagle.co.uk

Jack is a freelance illustrator based in South West England. He keeps many sketchbooks and goes through many tubes of paint. Jack loves collecting action figures, reading badly written silver age comics and watching classic horror films.

Jack Teagle - Dust to Dust -  comic form A Graphic Cosmonogy from Nobrow Jack-Teagle - McSweeney's - The Jungle Pages 1 and 2 Jack-Teagle - McSweeney's - The Jungle Pages 3 and 4 Jack-Teagle - The Origin of Snakeman 1 Jack Teagle - The Origin of Snakeman 2 Jack Teagle - The Origin of Snakeman 3

Hyein Lee

Hyein Lee ~ www.hyeinlee.com

Hyein is an engineer turned an illustrator and motion graphics designer. She gave up her big fat paycheque to pursue her dream; she is poor now, but somehow a lot happier. Her work is populated by lonesome, humble and friendly monsters which depict melancholy moments with cuddly-toy appeal. Autobiographical in content, these intimate diary-like paintings are often a direct translation of the artist’s feeling. She was born in Korea and came to Canada when she was 14. She now lives in her favourite city, Toronto.

Engine Summer - comics by Hyein Lee

John Martz

John Martzwww.johnmartz.com

John Martz is illustrator, cartoonist, and designer living in Toronto, Ontario. His work appears regularly in The Globe and Mail, and I is the illustrator of the picture books Dear Flyary by Dianne Young (2012), and Who’s on First? by Abbott & Costello (2013).

Thought by John Martz Poke by John Martz Overwhelm by John Martz Music by John Martz Entwine by John Martz


Johnny Cobalto

Published Date : November 28, 2012

Johnny Cobalto »

Milan’s loss is Toronto’s gain as artist and illustrator
Johhny Cobalto brings his own delightfully twsited mesh of characters to new horizons.

Q. You recently moved to Toronto from Milan. What brought you here? Has your work been influenced at all by the change of scenery?

A. Well… I can say that the last year has been full of huge changes. So, I decided to move here as a joke in this March, looking for something great. Two friends of mine who play in the rock band Sorry Ok Yes were contacted by an agency for few shows in Toronto, and when you got itchy feet like mine, you can’t really miss the boat.

Regarding the artistic matter, I can’t say if the transfer has produced changes in my works yet, but this city is very inspiring and full of art so… I’m sure I will do a lot of stuff.

 Sorry Ok Yes poster by Johnny Cobalto »

Sorry Ok Yes poster


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 art by Johnny Cobalto »

[left] 2meters x 2meters print for PUMP THIS STORY. [right] Mi Odi Festival poster

Q. You’ve done art in a pretty diverse range of styles, shifting this year to a simpler, looser, hand-­drawn aesthetic. How would you describe your style?

A. Ah! Good question. Someone has compared my works to lowbrow art or pop surrealism and yes, I reflected in that styles. I’m always looking for better interpretations of what I imagine: it’s cool doing a good job, feeling it right and reaching your goal. I love to play with weird characters in my works and merge them in a kind of texture with particular objects and shapes. I love chaos and I like to fill my drawings with a lot of detail; sometimes to tell a story and sometimes even simply improvising.

Returning to the style’s speech, I can resume it like this: my stuff it’s just a chaotic, soft, weird dream.

 Sketch by Johnny Cobalto

Sketch by Johnny Cobalto

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 art by Johnny Cobalto »

[left] Pump This Flyer, [right] Sorry Ok Yes poster

Q. Your recent gig posters for Pump This and Sorry Ok Yes are awesome! Is music a big part of what inspires you? Can you tell us abit about these projects?

A. To be honest I’ve to say that no, music is not really a muse for me. Well, I love to draw while listening to good music, but it’s not basic in my work progress.

By the way, the project with Pump This was born also a year ago when I met the founders of this great night (and not only) event made in BolognA. They contacted me for the new season’s posters of the show after three years of collaboration with amazing italian illustrators like Tristan Vancini, Fidia Falaschetti and Andrea Moresco, so for me it was an honor to carry out a project in which these great artists had taken part.

The project was immediately clear: create something between ad and art, something that anyone could find by street and pin up in his room. I’m really feeling good to work with Pump This’ staff. It’s awesome to have the chance to express your art conveying a message, and it’s also a great way to get to know my art. So…hell yeah!

Regarding Sorry Ok Yes, I’ve known them for a few years. Initially I made the cover of their first cd (“Rubberized”) and then I edited a music video for the song “Bipolar Girl” (one of my favourite!). As I said, I decided to follow them to Toronto and now I draw their gig rock’n’roll poster.

Both projects were very exciting for me and gave me a lot of satisfaction, so…I have to find other people like them and then I can die happy.

 Pump This Flyer by Johnny Cobalto

Pump This Flyer

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 Johnny Cobalto »

[left] Sketch, [right] Johnny Cobalto

Q. Your drawings are packed with some pretty insane characters! Where do they come from?

A. Since I quit smoking pot (lol), my characters came just from my imagination. I know, this is not a good answer but sincerely, it’s rare for me stop and thinking about a precise subject to draw; I only do what my hand suggests me in that precise moment (I know, this is a pretty stupid speech).

I like transforming animals into persons and vice versa, add extra eyes and deform their usual aspect into something weird. Yeah, just do what I feel. No more.

Q. Who are some of your favourite artists right now?

A. Jeremyville, Gary Baseman, Gary Taxali, Low Bros, Eboy, Mauro Gatti, Olimpia Zagnoli.

 Milano Horror by Johnny Cobalto

Milano Horror

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Chalk Mural by Johnny Cobalto »

Chalk Mural

Q. What would be a dream project for you?

A. Design types & poster for a Wes Anderson movie or a Joe Lansdale’s book. Yeah, should be amazing.

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S&TM: Thank you Johnny for taking the time to do this interview with us.


Vortex #

Published Date : November 18, 2012

Mark P. Hensel – Vortex #3

Vortex #3 continues the adventures of the Miizzzard on the planet of the shape-shifting aliens who call themselves the Vortex. In Vortex #2, the Miizzz entered the communal dreamscape of the ultra-violent Vortex to try and free their minds from outside control. Now the Miizzz must battle through layer after layer of berserk nightmares …

We’ve featured Mark’s amazing comics before on S&TM (Assault on Yurg). As well as a sneak peek of the previous installment of Vortex (Vortex #2). This is a preview of his latest edtion, Vortex #3. You can pick up a copy on Mark’s site for $6.00 (or a combo pack for $10.00).

Purchase Vortex #3 »

More comics by Mark P. Hensel »

Mark P Hensel

Purchase Vortex #3 »


Luke Painter

Published Date : October 9, 2012

There’s a lonely and terrifying echo felt but not heard in Luke Painter’s stark dreamscapes. Rendered in woodblock etching textures and muted antique lithography colors, his images are often populated by architectural structures ripped out of time. Their telltale ornamentation and historical context give us a glimpse into the many fixations that inform Luke Painter’s work.

While the overall feeling we get from your recent paintings is a surreal desolate future vibe, we’re curious about many of the historical motifs you reference: the William Morris Arts & Crafts style fabric patterns, the turn of of the century woodblock style, images of the Crystal Palace. What is it about that period that fascinates you?

I recently became interested in Britain in the 1850’s. I don’t usually research such a specific time period but some of the people, ideas and architecture spoke to me. I do a lot of research around the history of ornamentation (which is a vast subject of course!) which let me to the seminal book The Grammar of Ornament.

Known as the world’s first muliticultural design sourcebooks, the architect, author, designer and publisher Owen Jones travelled the world, sketching and recording different examples of ornament. Jones goes on to design the book and innovate a new printing process that becomes known as chromolithography.

My more recent colour works have been very influenced by the colour schemes from this process of printing. I am interested in this time where architects (Jones and Morris) were engaged in a number of different fields and would go to great lengths to have their vision become reality.

Of course there is the philosophy in the Arts and Crafts movement to bring a focus back to the handmade. As a material artist and maker I would say that I connect with that.

Crystal Palace by Luke Painter

Crystal Palace by Luke Painter ^

Architecture seems to take the place of people, or becomes the main character in many of your paintings. We found the effect to be really unsettling, even menacing. Saarinen House starts to feel a bit like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. How do you feel about the houses that inhabit your paintings?

I am interested in the anthropomorphic qualities that are given to or projected onto architectural structures. Specific examples of this include gothic cathedrals with their rose windows that are supposed to represent the eye of god and horror movies like House (from the 80’s) where the architecture seems to emanate a personality.

I created a collaborative work with my father in 2008 where we rebuilt from memory a house that used to be across the street from his house. The rebuilt house was around 9 feet tall and 8 feet wide and changed quite a bit from the original. In the back of the house there were two stained glass eyes that had projectors behind them that shone through the eyes and beamed an animation out into the exhibition space. The house literally took on an anthropomorphic appearance.

The Arch of William Morris by Luke Painter

The Arch of William Morris by Luke Painter ^

Saarinen House by Luke Painter

Saarinen House by Luke Painter ^


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There’s an incredible amount of detail and intricate ornamentation in your paintings. One can go a bit crazy looking at the images close-up imagining the work that went into them. Is detailed rendering for you a favourite part of painting, or rather a challenge in trying to achieve the look and effect you’re after?

I have been concentrating on drawing for the last 10 years and I think the work has changed and become more detailed. I try to connect that sense of a laborious process to the content of the work. For example, the Saarinen House is based on the architect’s Eliel Saarinen house which is Arts and Crafts style. Eliel and his wife Loja designed everything in the house including all of the linens. It is a tremendous amount of work and I wanted to display that obsession that a person can have with their surroundings through the rendering of the drawing itself.

Woodland House by Luke Painter

Woodland House by Luke Painter ^

We couldn’t help but notice one or two nerd-friendly references in your painting titles (The Last Gasp of Sauron 2, The Two Towers of William Morris 2. ) William Morris’s writings had informed Tolkien’s books. Is it fair to say your inner fantasy geek might be hiding behind your inner architecture and design geek?

Yep. For sure. I like the mixture of high and low aesthetics, so mixing architectural references with Tolkien and Morris comes naturally. I like that Morris had a literary effect on Tolkien. They are both interested in the Medieval and are both out of step with time but become wildly popular in their own fields. I am usually drawn to cultural pinpoints that have a historical ambiguity to them. It is a fairly specific reference (Morris and Tolkien) and most people won’t know it of course, but my work is fairly contextual in the first place and probably needs the viewer to dig a bit to get everything. A tad nerdy I suppose.

Black Smoke Columns (Detail) by Luke Painter

Black Smoke Columns (Egyptian Revival) by Luke Painter

Black Smoke Columns (Egyptian Revival) by Luke Painter ^

Woodlot House (with Victorian Stained Glass Windows)by Luke Painter

Woodlot House (with Victorian Stained Glass Windows) by Luke Painter ^


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Any new projects coming up we can look forward to?

I am currently working on an animation project that is going to be included in an exhibition curated by Peter Burr called Special Effect. 20 artists have been asked to create 30 second animations that respond to the movie Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. I am very excited by it and it opens at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York in November.

I also co-curate and host (with Meera Margaret Singh) a karaoke based art show called K-TOWN. Meera and I have asked over 50 artists to make karaoke videos to their favorite songs and then we perform them. Lots of fun and very different than my solitary drawing practice. We had just hosted K-TOWN at Nuit Blanche in Toronto and then we are traveling to Montreal in November to mount the performance at Galerie Trois Points.

Woodlot Cliff by Luke Painter

Woodlot Cliff by Luke Painter ^

barnabus

The Last Gasp of Sauron 2 by Luke Painter

The Last Gasp of Sauron 2 by Luke Painter ^

Artist Luke Painter in his studio

Artist Luke Painter in his studio

S&TM: We’d like to thank Luke for taking the time to do this interview with us. We really apprieciate it!


Sam D'Orazio

Published Date : October 3, 2012

The improbably brief bio on Sam D’Orazio’s website reads: “Sam D’Orazio likes making things about people and colors.” This may very well be as close as any of us are going to come to defining the wide range of experimentations and approaches in his work. Churning just beneath a surface of flat shape and colour are stories of angst and humor, anger and wonder.

Q1. While we love your commercial work, we were completely blown away by the range of style and experimentation in your personal paintings, and extensive sketchbook work shown on your blog. How important is this to your process? Do you approach personal projects differently from commissions?

I think it’s just important to play and keeping things interesting. If I feel a sense of revulsion putting down an all too familiar shape I know I’m not in an engaged state of mind. Generally I’m not interested in creating a “brand” via my work – that happens inevitably. I’m more interested in seeing what falls under the umbrella of my vocabulary and feels natural. I dont like deliberate stagnation. Right now I have a bunch of small drawings on my desk that have a Rugrats meets R. Crumb/Zap Comix vibe that I think might be definitively “not me”. Sometimes you swim too far out into the ocean and lose sight of the beach. It all makes sense next to each other anyways, I dont think it’s too different from piece to piece.

I think the biggest difference between commissions and personal projects is just that I have to sketch commissions at the beginning, and I also have to respect a deadline and context. For the most part the end result isn’t that different.

Top-right: “Unrequited”

Bottom-right: Illustration for Plansponsor about “keeping complex information organized”

Sam D'Orazio

Sam D'Orazio

From Sam D'Orazio sketchbook

Endpapers from Sam D’Orazio sketchbook

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Q2. Can you tell us a bit about what inspires your paintings?

I think the general DNA of what I make involves a bunch of different strains competing for interest: formal play (vibing out to shapes, colors, organization, composition), narrative, the collision of our intense personal moments with the repetitious architecture around us… My friends, Woody Allen, painters like Jake Longstreth, Paul Wackers, Guy Yanai, the Romanticists (as well as plenty of Blockbuster favorites, Hockney, Guston, Bacon, etc.). Cartoons/comics across the ages, nature, cheesy sunsets, reflective light, Minecraft. Each thing I make is like some kind of shitty curry, and I’ve made it with all of these aforementioned spices thrown in, and sometimes the cap falls off on one of the shakers.

Top-right: Safe Transactions

Right: The Last Tree

Sam D'Orazio

Sam D'Orazio

Risky Real Estate for PLANSPONSOR

“Risky Real Estate” for Plansponsor

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Q3. We’ve noticed a tendency towards abstraction in your sketchbooks, and in your piece ‘Explosive Growth’ (for Plansponsor) you went all-out abstract on a commercial illo. Was it challenging to reflect an editorial article theme without any figurative elements? What is it about abstract work that you like?

I think for illustration I dont like to think in one mode of representation…Sometimes things dont feel natural being done in a more abstract fashion, though. Sometimes the solution comes to you in the fog of sketching and says “Hey man, I think you just want to paint a dude getting struck by lightning this week. Its okay.” I generally think abstract solutions are more porous can sometimes lead to more rewarding experiences than some of the loaded imagery and one liners that happen across the world of illustration. I envision a future where I keep chasing my interest in abstraction and I eventually end up doing shit more like Sol Lewitt or something, stuff that’s beyond naturalistic/representational abstract… Like you’re opening up your copy of Bloomberg or whatever and a ton of fucked up confetti and glitter spills out of the page with the article about “Unwanted Business Models” (i.e pop ups)!

Genrally the abstract things I make come from a few different places…Sometimes it’s not as satisfying, or interesting, or evocative or whatever to portray reality objectively. Sometimes it’s also satisfying to deal explicitly with what certain colors and shapes do or say. Sometimes I dont have an explicit story to paint but I know there is something in me that will be fun to paint that day. I think most important about shifting between modes of representation is just getting to hit a spectrum of things. I like finding ways to touch different emotional wavelengths.

Explosive Growth for PLANSPONSOR

“Explosive Growth” for Plansponsor

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Q4. You’ve recorded a ton of music as Phantasmosis. How would you describe the kind of music you make? Is there any connection between your visual work and your music? Do you find different parts of you come out when making different kinds of art?elements? What is it about abstract work that you like?

If someone asked about my music I would, for better or worse, call it “indie rock” or “guitar pop”. I say indie rock with derision because it also is as silly as using the term experimental as an aesthetic qualifier. But that statement is disingenuous since I also like plenty of indie rock. I think there is a loose link between the visual and audio stuff-general threads and ideas. I feel like some of the chord structures I use have a similar chroma to my paintings.

The best part about working with music is just the ability to craft extremes easier. Any number of sounds noises and chords can create moments of any thread in the emotional fabric. And those things can create some dynamic narratives or exist as purely experiential moments. Lots more room to create knee jerking, affecting possibilities. Right now I’m working on stuff that has a McCartney I/drone/Jim O’Rourke vibe to it. Trying to craft quietness.

Q5. Given the opportunity, what would be a dream project for you?

What wouldnt be? Going on tour again. Making a book. Designing a video game. Impossibly huge, Anselm Kiefer/Richard Serra type shit. Murals. Surface design. Hosting The Price is Right after the Drew Carey era. Right now though, I’m all about illustration!

Sam D'Orazio

Q6. Tell us something people don’t know about you.

Much like Prince, the aforementioned Jim O’Rourke, Ghandi, Pablo Picasso, Voltaire and Cyndi Lauper I stand at a mere 5’3”. I am exactly 107 years older than James Joyce. And I just updated my website!

Sam D'Orazio

Planadviser-Pinterest

“Pinterest” for Planadviser

S&TM: We’d like to thank Sam for taking the time to do this interview. We really appreciate it!


Hugh Langis

Published Date : July 23, 2012

http://www.hughlangis.com/


Wax Cross

Published Date : June 23, 2012

A first reading of Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest feels like trying to reconstruct a very long series of dreams upon waking. What comes through first is the visual: beautifully dark and dancing images populated by witches, werewolves, farmers, demons, priests, and one very sinister goat. You almost need to get past how beautiful the art is to focus on what’s going on.

Structured as a series of linked episodes, the book reads more like a poem in chapters. Tin Can Forest (a.k.a Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek) repurpose the visual vernacular of Eastern European folklore to spin a meditation on our severed connection to the natural world. Set in “the twilight of the modern age”
– an incantation carried on the wind sets off a chain of encounters between men, women, spirits and demons.

The book, published by Toronto’s Koyama Press, is beautifully designed, and the large format really does justice to the art.

Just like the forest at the heart of its story, Wax Cross is a dense and mysterious tangle of ideas and emotions, bouncing form devilish mirth to melancholy. The haunting poetry of its pages stays with you long after you read it.

Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

We loved the poetic, non-linear, dreamlike approach to storytelling in this book. How did you go about putting it all together? Did the art come before the words? Was the story planned from the beginning, or did it develop naturally, more organically?

Tin Can Forest: We started Wax Cross in the winter of 2010, and the first draft was entirely in black and white /grayscale, and all the text was in the style of the incantations that now appear in the spiral on page two of the book. When spring arrived, the black and white version vanished and we began to work in colour. We produced the colour spreads from late summer through autumn. When winter re-arrived, the first version re-emerged from the furthest recesses of our paper shelves and hard drives. The final edit is the combination of the two seasonal sessions.

The governing principal of our process is always collage, but with artwork that we ourselves create rather than found imagery. We work on the art and text concurrently, and neither is subordinate to the other, more a kind of counterpoint, sometime harmonious, sometimes (intentionally) dissonant. Many of the themes explored in the book were there at the inception, but we always incorporate experiences, influences, remembered dreams, and so on, that have an impact on us during the time we’re building of the book.

Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

Congratulations to @samiviljanto, winner of an autographed copy of Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest! Many thanks to all who participated!


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Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

In terms of the art and design there’s a noticeable shift stylistically from chapter to chapter. For us it felt like the shift of mood/scene in a sequence of dreams. Was this your intention, or was it more about creative exploration?

TCF: It was definitely intentional. We wanted the chapters to be something like different songs on album, so you could listen to/read the whole thing consecutively or listen to different cuts individually. It’s not exclusively a linear, cover to cover structure. Hopefully it stands up to repeated plays.

Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

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We ended up reading Wax Cross maybe 4 times, each time picking up on a new detail or connection between characters from chapter to chapter. We sensed many of the allusions to eastern European myth and folklore (especially about demons, vampires, werewolves, and witches). Without spoiling too much of the mystery, can you help us understand the meaning of the title Wax Cross. Also, why many of the characters have a single bare foot (something we’re really itching to know)?

TCF: The name Wax Cross is a metaphor for the phenomena of dual belief ; identifying as Christian publicly and yet holding to an animistic world view as well.

More specifically, Wax Cross refers to faith in the powers of Beeswax poured during healing ceremonies in rural Saskatchewan and Alberta by descendants of Ukrainian settlers. The incantations that are recited during this ceremony refer to both Christian as well as Pagan imagery and sacred numbers. These rituals, practised primarily by women, have their roots in a European pre-Christian, Matriarchal Shamanism. This also relates to other themes in the book, such as the Witch Trials and the sanctity of bees.

About the lost shoe… well, that originates with the way devils are depicted in Czech fairy-tales, one foot in shoe, the other a cloven hoof. A long time ago, I started extending that to other characters I drew. I like the asymmetry of it, one bare foot implies a certain vulnerability, or perhaps a character was a devil in another incarnation, and a missing shoe gives them away.

Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

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Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

To us the subtext of the story felt like a lament for the loss and destruction of the natural world. Can you tell us a bit of how you approached expressing these very current concerns in the language of more traditional folklore?

TCF: At its core, traditional folklore is essentially describing phenomena in the natural world, the change of seasons, the phases of the moon, the unique qualities of different animals and plants. Pat and I are very influenced by Ukrainian Poetic Cinema, directors such as Yuri Ilyenko and Sergei Paradzhanov. These artists used visually rich folkloric imagery, and folk symbology to create polysemic narratives that spoke of landscape and national identity under a repressive Soviet state.

To me, science and statistics, even when used by well intentioned ecologists and environmentalists, abstracts our genuine experience and relationship with nature and animals. Folklore returns the power, mystery, and divinity to animals, plants, and other natural phenomena. I feel that a folkloric perspective has profound, even revolutionary implications in the context of contemporary ecological discourse.

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The epilogue shows nothing but a wild tangled growth of trees, followed by what looks like a scene of cremation. Is this an optimistic ending?

TCF: Ha Ha! It is! Or maybe it’s a surprise ending. I actually just recently made a conscious decision to be an optimist about the state of the ecology. No small feat, and most likely it’s just wishful thinking. But after years of following the doom and gloom, I’m tired of being in a constant state of alarm and despair.

The drawing that you refer to as the cremation was done on our last trip to the West Coast, where we’ve just returned. My studio window looks onto a wall of fir trees, their thick, heavy branches fill the entire view. Nature is sanity. As someone wise once said: ” History ends in green.”

Thanks to you both for the interview and especially for such a thoughtful reading of our book.

Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest

S&TM: Many thanks to Pat and Marek for making such a beautiful book, and taking the time to do this interview!


The Blot - Part

Published Date : May 14, 2012

The Blot

a series of interviews with the musicians and illustrators collaborating to bring us the story of the blot in sound and images. Check it out at: theblot.tumblr.com and theblot.bandcamp.com

Intro What is the blot

Squidface & the Meddler to the organizers, Ryan Carley and Casey Mecija:

SF&M – How did this project get started? What inspired the initial story of The Blot?

Ryan Carley

Ryan Carley

Late one snowy night this past November Casey and I were working away on a track intended for a Christmas collection by a blog in the UK. We had begun the session with the idea of making something dirty. Casey played through some ideas on guitar and gave us the feel. I followed it with some sputtery chords on my Juno. We intended to take it pretty far out of the holiday realm then bring it back in a jokey way by calling it “How the Grunge Stole Christmas.” By design it was a black hole carol, describing a monstrous antithesis to joy, with no move toward remittance at the close. Totally intense.

We hadn’t come up with any lyrics as yet and were fishing around for the heart of the song, a single image that would start us off. The Dr. Seuss story was on our brains, and we were excited by the image of a thief in the night, stealing some integral part of the spirit of a household. Next to my synthesizers is a shelf of my favourite books and they stared at us as we sat and pondered what this creature may be wanting to take from us. We both think and write a lot about words and the creative power of knowledge transference and myth-making held within them.

The blot Begins by Jake Pauls

The Blot Begins by Jake Pauls

It was Casey who first suggested that what could be stolen from us is the stories we hold dear. I liked the idea of something unstoppable coming from afar and stripping the very ink out of our books. All of a sudden we had this monster that would get bigger, stronger, and smarter with every word it ate. A few minutes later Casey had written the first verse, describing the creation of our creature, and giving it a name. The Blot had begun.

Before we were halfway done the song we had happily given up the notion of meeting the deadline for the Christmas song compilation and were tossing around the idea of writing a rock opera with The Blot as the central character. It seemed like a wicked idea but something that would take forever if we mounted it on our own. I had been thinking for a while about starting a monthly digital single series that would pair two different composers or producers per track.

It seemed like a very natural move to merge this series structure with The Blot, knowing that in the hands of a number of talented creative partnerships, our creature could become something much richer than either Casey or I could imagine working alone. This allowed us to take on the roles of curators, simultaneously guiding and staying out of the way of the fantastic brains of our favourite musicians.

As we were discussing all this, our old friend Jake Pauls (with whom I shared a studio space at the time) offered to illustrate and add further depth to the ideas we were presenting in our song. This was a nice vote of confidence and spurred the idea that each song or chapter of the project should be interpreted by an illustrator. Jake had introduced me to the work of so many great artists in the year previous and I was excited for Casey and I to enter into that world.

“It seemed like a very natural move to merge this series structure with The Blot, knowing that in the hands of a number of talented creative partnerships”

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SF&M – How are the visual artists paired with the musicians? Are they matched for compatible styles, or were you hoping to accidentally happen upon strange and exciting combinations?

Casey Mecija

Casey Mecija

This project is very much about the surprises that emerge from the visual and musical collaborations between strangers. Many of the artists paired up thus far have not known each other and I think because of this, there is a creative freedom in that uncertainty. When you are familiar with an artist then perhaps you might try and write or draw with their aesthetic in mind.

Ryan and I are trying to create unexpected surprises with each song and each illustration so starting each chapter with a new collaboration of strangers is really exciting for us.

At the end of each month we get to see how different musical and visual aesthetics collide to create a sensory narrative for our character The Blot. We see the character come to life in different shapes, colours, chord progressions and lyrics…it’s the best way to tell this particular story.

Casey Mecija of Ohbijou. © F Yang 2011 www.chromewaves.net

Casey Mecija of Ohbijou. The Great Hall in Toronto – December 21, 2011
© F Yang 2011 www.chromewaves.net

Ryan and I are trying to create unexpected surprises with each song and each illustration so starting each chapter with a new collaboration of strangers is really
exciting for us.

SF&M – Strangely enough, the story of the Blot seems to start with the creative potential of books and words, a medium not explicitly included in the project (apart from song lyrics). Any plans to bring in a written element to the story, maybe as part of the final songbook edition?

Ryan Carley

Ryan Carley

Well, we originally we conceived of The Blot as a storybook of sorts. We imagined song lyrics accompanied by an illustration for each chapter, and a pocket in the back with a download card for the music. It’s possible that we could write short transitions to fill in any gaps and help the reader from one chapter to the next, but I like the imperfect nature of the project. It is a hairy, wild beast, and I don’t think we’ll try to comb it or style it beyond what our teams accomplish month by month. The illustrations and music do so much to propel the story, and leave so much room for interpretation, which lets The Blot grow further and go farther in the minds of its readers.

Ryan Carley via http://cdn.thelineofbestfit.com/wp-content/media/2010/11/kite-hill.jpg

Ryan Carley (image via thelineofbestfit.com )

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Chapter 1 the blot begins

Squidface & the Meddler to the composers and artist, Casey Mecija, Ryan Carley & Jake Pauls:

SF&M – How did it feel composing words and music that would serve as the start of an ongoing story that other artists would pick up on? Was your process different knowing you were part of a larger collaboration?

Casey Mecija

Casey Mecija

When writing lyrics for the first chapter I definitely had it in mind that the song and words were a part of a larger collaboration. I wanted to start the story by laying out that the Blot was an ink blot and that it grew larger as it stole ink from books. To me the character is sinister, tenacious and mischeivious.

I wanted to create this personality through the words for the first song by writing phrases like: “Give me all your stories. I will show persistence. Getting so much bigger”. I definitely wanted to avoid telling too much of the story so as not to prevent the narrative from growing. The first song is an introduction to the character and in the next eleven chapters who knows how the character will evolve.

SF&M – We loved the lyrics for The Blot Begins! The Blot seems to have an insatiable hunger for words and ideas, but we had a hard time telling if he’s a sinister or benevolent character. Is he the hero or villain of this story?

Ryan Carley

Ryan Carley

This is a tough one, and something we’re still trying to figure out ourselves! At first I was sure that The Blot was nefarious in itself, or at least had sinister motives. We’re not quite sure it’s a creature acting on its own accord, or if it’s the puppet of some external force. The body of the ink is now the vehicle for something, but I feel as though it might have come from nothing. I think that it’s simply a force; neither hero nor villain. It may do things which we consider good or evil, but it likely doesn’t see the world in that way. So it might be difficult to call it a hero or villain.

I believe that there’s a potential for it to go one way or the other, but its consciousness is still forming. At this point it’s only feasted once, on one bookshelf. Who knows what those books contained, or how that information was interpreted. It could be looking at millions of words with no apparent connection to one another. Perhaps it hasn’t reached the critical mass of information necessary to bring it to an understanding of who it is or what it wants to do here besides eat our beloved books. But perhaps it’s more together than any of us know. It seems to realize that it exists, and is wondering at it all, which is a magnificent first step. I’m excited to see where it goes.

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SF&M – How did you get involved with this project?

Jake Pauls

Jake Pauls

I’ve been friends with Casey and Ryan for a long time. Ryan and I were sharing a studio when he and Casey were first writing the song, so I was listening to it all happen while I was doing other drawings. When the idea started getting bigger, like as a project rather than just one song, they invited me to be a part. I love doing art for music projects and working with friends so it was a great fit. We’ve talked about bookending the project with another song/art collaboration between the three of us, so we’ll see if that happens. For now it is just nice to watch the project become something.

Illustrator Jake Pauls www.jakepauls.com

Illustrator Jake Pauls www.jakepauls.com

SF&M – Your illustration for the first installment The Blot Begins is pretty epic! Were you conscious of setting the tone for the rest of the series?

Jake Pauls

Jake Pauls

I wasn’t, which I think is good. I guess I am hoping that the rest of the series doesn’t have a specific tone. It would be cool if each new artist didn’t look at any of the work that came before. I’d like to see what people come up with completely out of their own heads, which is what I got to do. The blot is such an abstract character that it could be visually described in endless ways. I other ideas that were pretty abstract and flowy but I ended up giving it a shape and “body.” I wanted a striking image, with large areas of black…that isn’t how I normally draw but I wanted to try something new.

The blot Begins by Jake Pauls

The Blot Begins by Jake Pauls

SF&M – What was it like working to Ryan Carley & Casey Mecija music and lyrics? What elements of the song resonated the most with you?

Jake Pauls

Jake Pauls

It was great. These are two people who I have always considered to be really talented musicians. There are a lot of things in the song that resonate with me. The tone of the song treads a really nice line between somber and uplifting. It has a dark edge that I appreciate. And the story itself is right up my alley…a being that builds itself out of words and ideas, so nice! It is fun to watch other people continue the story, but I sometimes wish that we had just keep it all to ourselves. I’d like the chance to interpret the character more.

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Chapter 2 Winter Bloom

Ryan Carley & Casey Mecija to the composers, Dan Goldman & Daniela Gesundheit:

Ryan Carley

RC&CM – We learned in the first chapter that The Blot not only feeds and grows from the ink contained in books, but from the ideas as well. So it seems to follow that The Blot would have a lot to say after the feeding frenzy of the first chapter. What informed your decision to create an instrumental portrait of our character at this stage in the story?

Jake Pauls

Dan Goldman & Daniela Gesundheit

We wanted it to feel as though The Blot was out in the world for thefirst time post information-feeding-frenzy; in a state of gestation, like a python slowly digesting its prey. The initial moment of rapture, of ingesting all that information is done, and now, alone outside, it realizes its form. In this swell of awareness, The Blot is gathering its senses.

RC&CM – There seems to be a number of different elements at play in this piece. What sorts of compositional tools or techniques did you employ in the writing of Winter Bloom?

Dan treated it like a string quartet written for voices. We started with the vocal arrangement and worked backwards from there. We liked the idea of it sounding like a chorus from other peoples’ dreams, perhaps the sounds of the ancestors from The Blot’s original home speaking in tongues. We also aimed at having some thematic echoes of the first song written into the arrangement in order to give it a sense of continuity.

Dan Goldman & Daniela Gesundheit

Dan Goldman & Daniela Gesundheit. luxurypond.com

RC&CM – What do you hope the listener will take away from your composition?

A sense of space, a moment of repose and introspection before the long journey ahead.

RC&CM – Do you tend to think in visuals while composing? What did you think when you first saw Juliana Neufeld’s visual response to your music?

Not really. We loved Juliana’s rendition. We felt it captured an electric stillness we were aiming at in the music.

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Jake Pauls to the artist, Juliana Neufeld:

JP – How did you get involved with the project?

Juliana Neufeld

Juliana Neufeld

I was contacted by Casey Mecija of Obijou. I’m a fan of their music and love any chance to collaborate with musicians so it was an easy yes on my part.

JP – Were you familiar with the musicians you were working with, or were they totally new to you?

I hadn’t heard of SnowBlink in particular, but I was familiar with some of their previous work with other bands. The Toronto Indie music scene is pretty tight so I knew a bunch of bands they are associated with.

JP – I had lyrics to work from, but you were working with wordless music. Did that make it easier or harder for you?

I guess it was a bit harder in the beginning, when I was figuring out where I was going to take the story, but it ended up being a blessing. The track was so dreamy and open to interpretation that it let me feel free to indulge my imagination. It became more about a feeling than a narrative.

Illustration by Juliana Neufeld

Illustration by Juliana Neufeld

“The song felt 100% outdoors at dawn, so I kind of went with that.”

JP – That’s interesting because you got to direct the story. You continued the narrative by putting the Blot out in the woods, rather than in the city or where-ever. Was that conscious? Did you imagine the progression of the story, or just a single image?

The song felt 100% outdoors at dawn, so I kind of went with that. I kept the city in the background so there was a reference to where the Blot could have come from and where it could go back to, but as soon as I had found a location it became all about the single image.

JP – Did you listen to the song while you worked? Where did your ideas start from?

Yep! I listened to it a few times each drawing session to get into the right frame of mind. The Blot’s character in my portion of the story is still very new to the world and SnowBlink’s track is light, mysterious and enchanting…everything together inspired the scene in the woods at dawn. A time when everything is quiet and the world feels like it is being born again each day.

JP – Your work is full of monsters/creatures, so this project seems like a good fit. What moves you to draw those things?

There are no specifics requirements when you draw a monster. I’m not confined to a particular human or animal feature. complete weirdo art freedom I guess. I can let my inner brain do the talking.

JP – If you could “feed” The Blot one book, what would it be and why?

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Cause it’s absurd but still kind. I like that combination.

S&TM: Our sincerest thanks to Jake Pauls, Casey Mecija, Ryan Carley, Dan Goldman,
Daniela Gesundheit, and Juliana Neufeld for taking the time to do this elaborate game of interview tag!


VORTEX #

Published Date : May 10, 2012

Mark P. Hensel – Vortex #2

Vortex #2 delves into the strange, alien world the Miizzzard encountered in Vortex #1. Discover more about the world’s inhabitants – shape-shifting, ultra-violent beings who call themselves the Vortex – and see what they have hidden deep within their underground complex.

We’ve featured Mark’s amazing comics before on S&TM (Assault On Yurg). As well as a sneak peek of the first part of Vortex (Vortex #1). This is a preview of his latest edtion, Vortex #2. You can pick up a copy on Mark’s site for $7.5o (or a combo pack for $12.00).

Purchase Vortex #2 »

More comics by Mark P. Hensel »

Mark P Hensel

Purchase Vortex #2 »


By This Shall You Know Him

Published Date : May 5, 2012

Ever get the feeling that your life, the universe, and everything are just a big cosmic snafu? That all the mesmerizing complexity of creation doesn’t make any more sense as you see the bigger picture?

Anyone who’s ever pondered the meaning of existence through philosophy, religion, evolutionary theory, astrophysics, or reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation will definitely enjoy By This Shall You Know Him.

Written and drawn by the crazy-talented artist Jesse Jacobs, the story follows the birth of life, humanity, and good and evil, as the unintended side effects of a game of show and tell between squabbling, god-like celestial beings.

Much like his previous book Even The Giants, the story and art do double duty, at once profound, meditative, but also gross and funny.

Cleverly structured and beautifully rendered in 2-tone blue and purple, the larger book format really brings out the trippy detail in Jesse Jacobs’ artwork.

More about By This Shall You Know Him on superstar Toronto publisher Koyama Press’s website!

Jesse Jacobs Contest


Congratulations to @petehamilton – winner of an autographed copy of By This Shall You Known Him!

Jesse Jacobs Interview

Q. Everything about this book is gargantuan! The story touches on everything from the nature of the cosmos, the origins of life and humanity, to the struggle between good and evil… Seems like you had a lot on your mind when you were writing this! You start the book with the Don Delillo quote “The spectacle of the unmattered atom.” What inspired this story?

I draw a lot of weird doodles on scraps of paper and in sketchbooks and I wanted to create a story that allowed me to freely showcase all of the random things that I most enjoy drawing. The idea of featuring characters that can conjure an infinite number of shapes and patterns and creatures meant that I could work pretty much anything I wanted to draw into the project. Initially I was intending to make more of an art book, with separate stand-alone drawings, but as the pages evolved I ended up working a lot of the random stuff together into a cohesive narrative. This comic is a collection of my drawings over the last year couched in a familiar creation-story.

My sketchbooks are full of a lot of my own writing along with stuff I hear on the radio, in podcasts, or read in books. When I was looking though it for ideas I saw that line about the unmattered atoms and drew it into the opening page. After a google search I saw I must have written it in there when I was reading Underworld, which I enjoyed all right but isn’t one of my top books or anything. I just think that line works really well with the overall sprawl of the story and imagery- just a bunch of weird stuff floating around.

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

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Q. Lots of great creatures in this book! What are the 2-legged dog-like beasts called? Were they modelled after your dog?

Thanks. I really tried to balance the geometric shapes with looser more organic characters. Those dog guys were coming out a lot in my drawings. Where they came from and what they’re called I’m not exactly certain. I guess they’re just prehistoric dogs. I wish my dog had such strong hind legs as those guys. I did draw my dog in the comic but she’s really small and you wouldn’t know her to see her among all the other animals. I probably referenced Desmond when drawing those doggy creatures at some point, I’m sure.

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

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Q. The tone of the title is fairly Judeo-Christian, but really the whole thing feels kind of Greco-Roman (where humans are the playthings of a rather dysfunctional family of very flawed celestial beings). Was it tricky blending the scienc-y perspective with the philosophical side of the story?

I won’t say some parts were not difficult, but the making of this comic was very enjoyable. Probably due to the lack of restrictions I had given myself. If a certain scene was becoming boring to draw, I would just move onto something else and return to it later. Like the blending of the animal and nature drawings with the geometric shapes and patterns, the story itself is kind of an assortment of a few approaches. The celestial beings are so different from the early humans that it was almost like drawing two different stories. Generally I had a lot of fun drawing all the stuff. I had the loose idea for the story, and from there the drawings guided much of it.

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

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Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

Q. 88 pages is huge! How long was the whole process of making this book end to end? (We feel like we saw some of the art for this a year ago at the last TCAF). Will you be taking a vacation, or are you already onto your next endeavour?

I started drawing it a little over a year ago, and you did see that screen print I did last year, featuring that weird wormy character encased in the chamber. That was one of the first images I made for the comic, and that thing pops up throughout the book. That character takes longer to draw than any other, and that says a lot because most of them took a long time. All the patterns on the beings are hand drawn, which was time-consuming but satisfying to do. I picture those blue patterns flowing and moving on their “skin”, kind of like Rorschach’s mask. So I guess it took me about a year to complete, though I had huge breaks where I did other stuff as well. There were times when the narrative kind of slid away and I edited a lot of pages out of the book that afterwards seemed unnecessary. Anne Koyama was a big asset in helping with the editing.

I’ve been thinking about and sketching another comic that is still in its early stages. I’ve also got a few other small projects on the go. It’s gardening season so we’re getting into that now. It’s always easier to be productive in the winter, I find. Koyama is bringing me to CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) next month and I’m looking forward to that.

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

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Q. The book will be launching this weekend at TCAF! What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? What other Jesse Jacobs goodies can we snag at your table?

I’m really excited that Gabriella Giandelli will be in attendance, and I plan on catching her retrospective exhibit. I love her comics so much.

I wish I could say I had a bunch of stuff to sell, but this year I’m really just focusing on the book. I’m actually in the middle of doing some more skateboards with Homegrown, with imagery loosely based from By This Shall You Know Him. They will be finished for CAKE, and I’ll make sure to hang onto a print for you guys.

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

Page from By This You Shall Know HHim by Jesse Jacobs

S&TM: Huge, huge thanks to Jesse Jacobs for taking the time to do this on the eve of TCAF!


Britt Wilson

Published Date : April 14, 2012

Britt Wilson – Buttsex

Britt Wilson is a 20-something illustrator living in Toronto, Ontario. She draws comics every so often, and even made a book with Conundrum Press, releasing early May.

» Britt Wilson’s website
» Britt Wilson at Conundrum Press

Britt Wilson

» Check out Britt Wilson’s website


Nicholas Fox

Published Date : March 15, 2012

http://foxnicholas.com/


Micah Lidberg

Published Date : March 4, 2012

The most immediate impressions of Micah Lidberg’s work are of colour, complexity and movement. The whole of natural history finds its way into each of the images, populated by avian and reptilian creepy-crawlies, navigating their way through dense and dangerous wilderness.

There’s a timeline effect created by the flow of entangled characters and environments, kept in sharp relief by Micah’s vivid use of colour. Combined with a deft use of hand-drawn typography and delicate line-work, the stories in his pictures seem to be continually evolving every time you look again.

» Micah Lidberg portfolio
» Micah Lidberg tumblr
» Hugo & Marie store

“Nature is certainly one of the most common themes in my work. Not only is it the most common but it’s also the most fundamental theme.” ~ M.L.

Micah Lidberg Illustration

Most of the scenes in your images seem to take place in some strange and frenzied wilderness (more than a few dinosaurs, monster birds, torrents of water and crawling vegetation). Is it silly to ask if nature in general is the main focus of your illustrations?

Micah: I don’t think it’s silly at all! Nature is certainly one of the most common themes in my work. Not only is it the most common but it’s also the most fundamental theme. For me, nature means everything – the universe, reality, all of it. I think the tangible parts like rocks, trees, and creatures are expressions of a deeper nature. That deeper nature is what I’m truly curious about. It happens to also be shrouded in mystery, so it’s hard to draw on a piece of paper. I draw the surface and tangible things but it’s always the intangible relationships between the things that intrigue me.

Micah Lidberg Illustration


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Micah Lidberg Rise and Fall

Photo via Nowbrow

On a related note, your positively epic panoramic book The Rise and Fall (published by Nobrow) tackled the extinction of dinosaurs, and the rise of their mammalian successors. What guided your choice to do the book as two very long panoramas, rather than a series of illustrations? Oh – and what is your favourite dinosaur?

Micah: Nobrow wanted to do a concertina book with me so that was the source of the idea. I think it’s a perfect format for the story though. I wanted to make something that felt continuous and connected. That’s nature’s way and it’s the basic form of evolution. With time, everything is connected through a flow of change. I decided to punctuate the book with the asteroid strike. That felt like the right moment to turn the page.

I’m not sure which dinosaur is my favorite. It’s a tough call. I might have to go with a sauropod (long necked dino’s). I think they are so elegant. I also like that they were so huge but not fearsome. I’ve never been a big fan of T Rex. He always seemed like a show off and a little rude.

Micah Lidberg Rise and Fall

Photo via Nowbrow

Micah Lidberg Rise and Fall

Photo via Nowbrow

Micah Lidberg Rise and Fall


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Micah Lidberg Illustrations

We loved your interpretations of Haruki Murakami novels for Nowness. How did you approach distilling his strange and diverse novels into illustrations?

Micah: I made lists while I listened to each book (listening was easier while I worked). The lists I made were really personal. Any element or character that really resonated with me I wrote down. After I had made my list, I started to visually string all of the things together in a way that felt similar to the story. It was a really intuitive process. The images are familiar and disorienting at the same time. I think that quality is some of the brilliance of Murakami and why I enjoy his work so much.

Micah Lidberg Illustrations

The lists I made were really personal. Any element or character that really resonated with me I wrote down.

Micah Lidberg Illustrations


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What’s it like working with the New York-based creative agency Hugo & Marie?

Micah: Fantastic! Jennifer Sims and Mario Hugo are an incredible team and they are full of energy and optimism. I think it’s important in any relationship, business or otherwise, to have a sense of mutuality and reciprocity. I lucked out with Hugo & Marie. It didn’t take long to feel like we just clicked. I love their taste and professionalism. It’s deeply comforting to know I’m represented by someone who understands and appreciates me and my work on personal level. Also, the creative world is tough. Business mind is not creative mind. However, both are required. Working with Hugo & Marie makes the business hurdles much easier to negotiate.

Micah Lidberg Illustrations


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Do you have a dream project/client that you’d love to work on/for?

Micah: I don’t know if I do. I think some of the dream projects I have would actually make me wreck as I’m so emotionally attached to the clients. I think it’s good to have some objectivity involved in a project. If Peter Bjorn & John or Panda Bear contacted me to do an album cover, I’d just freak out. Outside of dream clients, I think I’d love to write and illustrate some books… but that’s still brewing.

Micah Lidberg Illustrations

Micah Lidberg Illustrations

Micah Lidberg Illustrations

S&TM: We’d like to thank Micah for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview!


Sophie Alda

Published Date : February 23, 2012

intro_arrow

UK-based painter Sophie Alda populates her images with the dreams and experiences of her physically and emotionally imperfect lumpy characters. Starting with a kaleidoscope of stories rooted in the mundane, her images evolve and take on spiritual dimensions, examining the connection between our everyday hopes and fears to the myths we create. Working in gouache, Sophie uses a delicate colour palette which works oddly well with the rough and tumble
subject-matter.

Q1. There are many references in your images (Demifloat and Totem Pole) to ancient myth and folklore (particularly gnosticism). What is it about these stories and world views that appeals to you, or draws you to explore them in your paintings?

Reply_intro

Myths are interesting because they’re author-less and collective. They’re often very rich in imagery, I particularly like reading creation myths as they demonstrate alternative foundations of belief and explanations of existence that reflect the concerns of the communities that told and believed in them. And they’re often so complex! They demonstrate that cultures change and that stories change to provide the comforts we require. I particularly like the idea of the demiurge: the imperfect and artisan-like creator.

Totem Pole

Totem Pole

Demifloat

Demifloat

Mothersick

Mothersick


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Q2. There is something spectacular about the fragmented format that you tend to work in (images like Heavy Brains). It reminds us of pages from a comic, telling many stories simultaneously. What is it about this format that appeals to you?

Reply_intro

Exactly that! I developed this format in an attempt to present a fragmented, implied narrative. Like different sides of the the same story to create a texture of place and activity.

 Heavy Brains

Heavy Brains


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Q3. We love the plump, long-nosed, small-eyed characters that you often draw. Was it a conscious choice to stylize your characters in this way, or something that tends to happen naturally?

Reply_intro

It’s definitely an on-going progression – although I definitely like my characters to appear a little gross and lumpy. There’s nothing more boring than a drawing of a figure which is just cutesy and pretty when most people aren’t like that at all.

 Bellygrope Heartbreak

Bellygrope Heartbreak


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Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your piece “Naked Summer’s Thigh” . What were some of the themes/ideas that your were exploring?

Reply_intro

Ha! That one is actually quite personal, It’s about a really exciting and sad summer, breaking up and holidays and building sites, knowing your city and loving someone with bad teeth. – So lots of sides of the same story and a demonstration of how memory can be broken down into a series of scenic and representative landmarks.

 Naked Summer's Thigh

Naked Summer’s Thigh


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Q5. We love all the Illustrations that you have done with artist Matt Swan (Earworms). What brought about this collaboration, and are you planning on doing more with other artists?

Reply_intro

In summer 2011 Matthew invited me up to participate in a group show called Boondocks at his gallery Superclub in Edinburgh – it was a fantastic show in a very frenetic style with a great group of people. We started working on collaborative pieces almost straight away – live printing images on top of each other at the private view and continuing onto a series of T-shirts, and staying up all night painting. He’s a fantastic, prolific painter – I wish I could work with the speed and precision that he does!

We have continued the collaboration with a series of visits (I’m based in London) and most recently made some work together for his Dead Guys show, also at Superclub. It’s funny to tell people that we met on the internet! But it’s great to find that you work so well with someone who is relatively far away. I’d love to do more! This summer I hope to be working on a comic with illustrator Tom J Hughes who is an amazing storyteller with a great imagination.

Earworms

Earworms


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Q6. What’s next for you?

Reply_intro

At the moment I’m working on a series of shop window displays – I’m currently making a life sized hiker for a spring window, and some egyptian themed quilts. A T-shirt for the great company 1 in a 100, my next exhibition which is going to include a series of animations, painting and 3D work (The Bunker opening in May at Jaguar Shoes London), and a couple of comics. I’m also off to stay in Mexico for almost a month with my favourite girl who’s been living there since June last year – so expect to see that reflected in my work in some way!

Jungle

wiggledog

S&TM: We’d like to thank Sophie for taking the time to do this interview.


The Survivalist

Published Date : January 18, 2012

Box Brown is no stranger to exploring diverse, and sometimes bizarre extreme sub-cultures. His new graphic novel The Survivalist follows an angst-ridden political outsider as he survives surviving.

While Box Brown‘s ongoing print and web comics series Everything Dies has run the gamut of examining varied religious beliefs and traditions, The Survivalist tells its story in the head-space of a conspiracy theory obsessed bunker-dweller.

As the story progresses, the initially unsympathetic character becomes increasingly human through his relationship with a fellow disaster survivor.

Fans of Everything Dies will love the longer, more involved story and beautifully detailed artwork.

» Purchase a copy of The Survivalist

The Survivalist by Box Brown

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Q. While the heart of the story in The Survivalist is essentially a personal journey for the main character, the context is made up of a lot of fringe political views and conspiracy theories. What inspired you to use these as a starting point for the story?

Box Brown When I was working on Everything Dies I was researching a lot of religious fundamentalists and really a lot of extremists in my opinion.

I’m fascinated by people who see the world in a way so contrary my own reality. So, I got into listening to these conspiracy talk radio shows. The host is a charismatic cult figure-head type but what stood out to me were the commercials.

The commercials were for all kinds of survival equipment. It was all stuff that would help you survive a crazy apocalypse. That got me really thinking about who the audience for the show really is. That listener is the central character in the Survivalist.

The Survivalist by Box Brown


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Q.The Survivalist is your first longer form, larger format comic. How was the experience of working on it compared to your earlier works Bellen! and the Everything Dies series?

Box Brown I had done longer stories in the print editions of Everything Dies but none as long as The Survivalist.

The Survivalist was drawn at twice the size of all my other comics and I drew each page on two separate sheets of bristol and assembled them in photoshop. So, it was drawn on 88 separate sheets of paper. In terms of story, it reminded me a lot of working on Bellen! because of the nature of the relationship of the two main characters.

The Survivalist by Box Brown


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Q.Can you tell us a bit about working with Blank Slate Books who published The Survivalist? Your earlier works are self-published, and you run your own publishing venture Retrofit Comics. Was there any kind of editorial or design collaboration involved in making The Survivalist

Box Brown I really enjoyed working with Blank Slate. They never forced any editorial changes on me but they made some suggestions along the way.

I did a few different covers before Kenny Penman finally sent me an email just kind of giving me his basic thoughts and understanding on what he thought a comic cover should be. I thought it was really insightful. The cover we ended up using is based on vintage patent application illustrations.

The Survivalist by Box Brown


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Q.Any plans to continue The Survivalist as a series? The end of the story feels very much like a teaser for things to come.

Box Brown I have some ideas on where the story is going. It could continue at any time! I wouldn’t mind returning to it.

Q.What items would you pack in your own survivalist kit?

Box Brown I’ve thought about buying the food packs that are supposed to last a long time just to try them out. I bet they’d make good snacks on the go.

The Survivalist by Box Brown


Levi Jacobs

Published Date : December 20, 2011

Chaos and order collide in strange new ways in the isometric worlds of Netherlands-based illustrator Levi Jacobs.

» Visit Levi Jacobs’ website
» Buy Prints of Levi’s work!

Q1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspires you, and how you got started in art and illustration?

Levi Jacobs

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I began my ‘career’ when I was very young. I watched cartoons and played a lot of computer games. I started drawing cartoons. When I was in highschool the somewhat boring math classes were inspiring as well. I filled my excercise books with drawings inspired by isometry. My mathteacher always gave me trouble because my mathbooks contained more drawings then calculations and formulas.

The streets became my creative outlet, where I tried to brighten up the streetlife with my graffiti. It was mostly the action itself which gave me a kick. It’s a wonderful feeling when nobody is watching you when you are creating something.

My time in highschool was mainly about drawing, so after an education in graphic design I ended up at the Art Academy, where I studied illustration. I graduated almost a year ago, but most of the time I’m still working on my own work instead of assignments.

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs


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Q2. The central characters in your images are most often animals rather than people. Can you tell us a bit about the stories you?re telling in Catburger, Tiger and Spaghettiman?

Levi Jacobs

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When I draw people I always have the feeling I have to have some comparison. That’s difficult for me. My solution was born out of necessity. For example when I don’t know how to draw an arm a certain way, it becomes a tentacle. I can’t draw a human the way I want to, so animal-like creatures are born.

My work has an alienating effect this way. In short, it’s really difficult for me to explain the story behind the illustrations, because the story creates itself while I’m working on it. Yes, there is a certain idea or fascination behind each illustration, but I like to leave the rest up to the viewers’ interpretation.

My way of creating illustrations is very intuitive and from the subconscience, which makes it hard to create illustrations for a client. I see myself more as an image creator than an illustrator.

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs


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Q3. Your Lowlands Freakshow series of posters very cleverly incorporates typography into the illustrations. What role does design play in the way you put together illustrations?

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As I said before, I have also studied graphic design, where I learned to use typography. With the graffiti, letter-design became more illustrative. I still love typography, but unfortunately I’m not using it as often as I want to.

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs


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Q4. We loved the T-shirt design on your website. Can you tell us about that design, and where can we get one of those shirts?

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In the design “captured cat” my fascination for isometry and organic forms flow together. I created this design and handmade the shirts with screen printing. I only made a small number of shirts and sweaters, which were sold out inmediately. I would like to create some more designs for t-shirts in the future.

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs


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Q5. Your use of colour is really striking! How do you approach deciding colours for your images?

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I used to hate colouring when I was little. Especially when I was forced to colour within the lines. The use of the computer is perfect: the paint bucket is my best friend now. I experiment a lot with the use of colours. The colour-combination in my graffiti pieces were never crazy enough. Now when i’m finished with a illustration I ask myself wether or not it can be more extreme.

Levi Jacobs


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Q6. Given the opportunity, what would be a dream project for you?

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I’m already doing what I love the most. So a dream project would be one i’m being paid for.

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs

Levi Jacobs

S&TM: We’d like to thank Levi for taking the time to do this interview.


Tessa Hulls

Published Date : December 14, 2011

Driven by an unrelenting need to discover what lies around the next corner, globe-trotting artist Tessa Hulls revels in her sweet unrest.

On your blog you document your adventures biking 5000 miles across the United States on your own, and now your journey to Antarctica working on a remote research station. Presumably there’s not much opportunity to make art while travelling that way. Can you tell us a bit about how you balance your life as an artist with your travelling?

Tessa Hulls: My short answer is that I don’t really differentiate between myself as an artist and myself as a traveler. I’m hugely reliant on a fairly constant influx of new horizons, so when I’m in active travel mode, I tend to think of myself as being out on a reconnaissance mission. With that mindset, I find it easy to content myself with working on sketches in my “field notebook,” and I don’t really miss my usual studio practice.

Years and years ago, I remember reading something about physics and stumbling upon the notion that there are three different types of equilibrium.

I drew you a picture because it works much better visually:

Types of Equilibrium

It’s a concept that has stuck with me ever since, and I am only happy if I keep myself in a state of dynamic equilibrium. I need my balance to be active, always on the cusp of falling off. It leads me to adhere to a self imposed project schedule/lifestyle that many people might call masochistically busy, but it’s what works for me, and I wither if I find myself in a place of neutrality or stasis.

 Oh, That Sweet Unrest

 Oh, That Sweet Unrest

From the series: Oh, That Sweet Unrest

These past few years I’ve really watched my friends struggle with the late twenties/early thirties existential crisis of “What am I supposed to do with my life? What is my passion? How do I make a meaningful contribution to my community?” and it’s made me extremely grateful for the fact that I’ve always known what it is I’m supposed to be doing. The older I get, the more I realize just what a gift that certainty is. So I feel that the very least I can do is always rearrange everything in my life to make room for art.

Finding time for art down here at McMurdo Station is actually extremely challenging because of the crazy social scene. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this of Antarctica, but I’ve never been anywhere where it would be easier to just fritter away all your free time drinking and pretending that you’re in a very icy Ke$ha video. I’ve been forced to become uncharacteristically antisocial to get work done down here.

I illustrated this for you:

 Tessa Hulls Comic

I have actually made an art studio under my bed and spend a lot of time down there painting.

 Tessa Hulls art studio under her bed


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Many of the characters in your series Oh, That Sweet Unrest wear skeletal costumes reminiscent of Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. Can you describe the role of these characters in a series that seems very much about yearning, and living in perpetual forward movement?

Tessa Hulls: A lot of the imagery for this particular series came out of spending so much time biking through the desert. I spent over a thousand miles basically following the Mexican border, and passing through a landscape of such haunting isolation was overwhelmingly inspiring. I felt like the desert was full of latent stories that it wanted me to express. All those miles of canyons and plateaus came with their own forgotten narratives, and when I finally sat down to start painting, they came rushing out as these delicately hulking beasts that didn’t really know the measure of their own strength.

This series was hugely personal for me. I’d spent the last few years making myself miserable trying to force myself into a settled life that I didn’t genuinely want, and I set off on my bike trip at a point where I was feeling like I’d lost track of myself. I was wrestling with the contradictions between my longing for a sense of home and my pull towards the joy of my own forward momentum, and these creatures were the synthesis of that struggle and the whispered stories of the desert.

 A Kind of Fighting

A Kind of Fighting


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 Mysterious Something

From the series: Oh, That Sweet Unrest

The addition of text into many of the paintings makes Oh, That Sweet Unrest read like a poem. For series like this, do you begin with the writing, or are the words derived from how you feel about the images after they’re done?

Tessa Hulls: When I’m at home and have all my supplies and a sane amount of time to work, text and image evolve more or less concurrently. They each gather focus as the piece comes together. But in this case, I was stuck on my bike and couldn’t start painting, so I instead obsessively focused on the text and allowed it to take the reins. That was a huge departure from how I usually work. Ordinarily, I have almost no gap between getting an idea and charging off to make it happen, so this trip forced me to slow down and focus on theory instead of practice. Delayed gratification is something that is so thoroughly foreign to me that I imagine it’s probably a good character building exercise.

 Mysterious Something

Mysterious Something

Tessa Hulls

Tessa Hulls


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But Now We Are Not Sure We Should Have

But Now We Are Not Sure We Should Have

Looking back over your body of work it feels like your style is becoming more graphic and simplified. The result is really striking! Do you have style influences that you take inspiration from?

Tessa Hulls: I wish I could say that the simplification was a deliberate choice, but honestly, I think it might have had more to do with the time frame: when I got back from my bike trip, I had three and a half weeks to put a solo show together. I spent my first night back in Seattle in my sleeping bag on an entirely empty living room floor, and the next morning I set up my drafting table and started painting 12 hours a day. So there was very little time to experiment and hit my stride, which definitely made things a bit more… er… sparse. I’m glad that you think it worked!

In terms of style influences, my list is pretty Northwest centric these days, just because there’s such a different level of impact in seeing work in person.

Stacey Rozich is a constant favorite of mine, and Gala Bent’s drawings (and the sources that inform them) never fail to fascinate me. Some other favorites are AJ Fosik, Evan B. Harris, Tim Karpinski, Mandy Greer, Jeremy Mangan and Justin Gibbens.

Theo Ellsworth is both a stylistic and philosophical role model for me. I stumbled upon his book Capacity at a point when I was feeling isolated from other artists and my own creative practice, and it gave me a sense of renewed artistic faith that I really needed. He has a part in Capacity where he talks about wearing an imaginary outfit over his clothes every Tuesday, and about how it’s changed the way he looks at the world. When I read that, I think I might have actually shouted out something to the effect of, “Ha! So I’m not the only one!”

 xxx

I’m less drawn to looking at art than I’m drawn to looking at absolutely everything. That’s the thing about inspiration: you don’t know what is going to inspire you until it DOES inspire you. It’s a strange black box like that, and I’m always surprised and delighted to discover the weird things that set a project in motion. So I consider it my job to throw myself out into the world to experience the widest, most diverse swath possible.


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We loved the photos on your blog of the roof-top mural you did in Marathon, Texas. Your work looks amazing at that scale. Are there other mediums or kinds of art you’ve been wanting to try your hand at?

Tessa Hulls: Thanks! I’ve actually done a fair amount of mural work over the years. When I was in college, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on murals and street art as community building alternatives to the traditional inaccessibility of the gallery system, and I still stand firmly behind the idea that art should be an integrated part of everyday life. Particularly for people who don’t consider themselves to be artists. Everyone starts out as an artist, but somewhere along the way they buy into the notion that they’re not, and that unnecessary dichotomy has always annoyed me.

Since getting to Antarctica, I seem to have developed an insatiable appetite for making comics. Again, a lot of that is probably just a reaction to circumstance.

I’m in the kitchen working ten hour days six days a week, and have taken on way too many projects (dynamic equilibrium forever!), so when I do eke out a moment to make something, it’s pretty quick and dirty. Which, to be honest, I am reaalllllyyy enjoying. I am definitely looking forward to exploring some more comic and graphic novel styles when I find myself with free time.

I’ve also been working on some projects lately that have reminded me how much I love ridiculous word play and absurdity, so I’m looking forward to getting back in touch with the more Edward (Gorey and Lear) influenced side of my creative practice.

 xxx

xxx


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You refer to The Wind in The Willows and The Once and Future King as inspirations for Oh, That Sweet Unrest. What are some of your favourite books?

Tessa Hulls: Oh man, that is an enormous can of worms. I have a lot of favorite books. Maybe even an unreasonable amount. I have fond memories of hiding under my desk at school so I could stay in and read during recess…

To name a brief few: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami. Not Fade Away, by Jim Dodge. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle. The Necessary Grace to Fall, by Gina Oschner. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. Capacity, by Theo Ellsworth. The Way Things Work, by David Macaulay.

I also cannot overstate the role that Calvin and Hobbes has played in how I turned out both as an artist and as a human being.

It’s been a while since I truly fell head over heels in love with a book. I’d love book recommendations. If anyone reading this points me in the direction of a book I end up loving, I will totally send you a thank you drawing!

Guardians

Guardians


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Anything coming up that we can look forward to from you?

Tessa Hulls: Why yes indeed! I’m glad you asked, because I’m currently in the middle of a participatory project and I would LOVE to have more people take part in it. Ever have one of those moments where you say something as a joke, and then pause and realize that it’s actually an idea that really needs to happen…? Well. I’ve turned my under the bed studio into the Under the Bed Gallery, and am curating local shows out of it complete with miniature art opening food—finger sized loaves of braided challah, wine from falcon tube science beakers…

In February I’m putting together a show of work about outside notions of Antarctica, and it looks like submissions are starting to come in from folks all over the US. I would love more tiny submissions (I will fit them in somehow!), so send ‘em my way. Here’s my address. I need them postmarked by January 1, 2012.

Tessa Hulls, NANA
McMurdo Station
PSC 469 Box 700
APO, AP 96599

Guardians

Other than that, I’m really looking forward to getting back to Seattle and seeing what comes out of my strange new desire to establish a sense of place. The work that I’ve been making for the past handful of years has revolved around romanticizing escapism, so I have no idea what I’ll make when I’m actually craving some measure of roots.

I actually left to come down here at a bit of an odd point in my life. I’d just met this really intriguing pack of artists, and felt like I was at this place of exciting new beginnings, and I had to leave right in the middle of it to come down here. So I’m curious to see what happens when I go back.

Guardians

S&TM: We’d like to thank Tessa for taking the time to do this interview and for creating such great comics for her answers. We appreciate the time she has taken doing both while away in Antarctica.