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


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: or his blog:

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

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


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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

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

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

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

Patrick O'Leary

Patrick O’Leary

Janine Rewell

Janine Rewell

Charlotte Trounce

Charlotte Trounce

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:


Jack Teagle


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 ~

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 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 ^


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


“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