Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview for Crewkoos, a French Rock Poster Zine

Last month I was asked to do an interview via mail with the French Rock Poster Zine, Crewkoos, published by Benoit de Rocquigny. Benoit sent me some questions about my work and I just recently finished answering all of them. The interview will be published sometime before the new year, but I wanted to give a sneak peek at it here. Enjoy! And thanks Benoit!

Check out Crewkoos here...

What are we listening to when we come to visit you?
I just got a great record from 1975 called "Fish out of Water" by the bassist for the band Yes, Chris Squire. I am really into this record right now and listening to a lot of 1970s era stuff. I DJ at a local bar every Tuesday night, focusing on 1970s and 80s vinyl records. It has pretty much taken over my listening time at home.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I'm a graphic artist and illustrator, living in Oakland, California and originally from a smaller town in Southern California, near San Diego. I draw and silk screen posters for bands I love. I get a chance to sell them at shows. I also make t shirts, art prints and hopefully books, soon.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?
During Elementary and High School, I drew obsessively on folders and notebook covers. I was quite a metalhead, and loved getting the hang of drawing the intricate, imaginative logos of my favorite bands. I think it helped my lettering ability quite a lot. I still love drawing letters, almost more than anything else. Later, I went on to a renown art and design college in the US called Art Center. They almost ruined everything!

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?
I have a family and support myself by working for commercial clients in the apparel industry. I work a lot more digitally, and with photography for my commercial work. I like to keep them away from my drawings, which I tend to save for posters or prints.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
This is the first zine interview I've done! I'm so honored. I have recently sold a few designs to a local surf shop, and I will be collaborating with a local record store soon too.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?
Yes. I admire many contemporary poster artists. I have met many of them and been able to share work and advice. Its a great community, most of us do it because we love it, and it is awesome to get together and talk about printing and/or drawing. I particularly admire Stacie Willoughby, David V. D'Andrea, Dirk Fowler, and my friends from Austin, Texas, Mark Pedini and Farley Bookout, who run Empire Press. Classically, I have always loved Rick Griffin's art, particularly because he combined surfing and music imagery. I worked as a graphic artist for several surf companies for many years. Even more classically, I admire the work of Pieter Bruegel, Cassandre, and Alphonse Mucha.

What are the principal steps in your work ?
I start with very small sketches of the characters I like to draw, then I combine the lettering needed to convey the event, display the names of all the bands and any other necessary information. Somewhere in the middle of this, I hope to achieve a nice balance between the illustration, the hand done lettering, and any digital type I might have to include. Drawings start very small and are enlarged to enhance the detail and finish.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?
The drawings are all hand done, starting as pencil sketches, then moving ahead to ink on a translucent vellum. Once the inkings are done, I scan everything and compose it in Photoshop, add color, and make each layer into a file to be printed on film and burned to the individual screens.

How long does it take you to do a poster?
Usually 2-3 weeks, depending upon the number of colors, and the amount of coffee I consume.

You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?
I wouldn't welcome that kind of direction in one of my posters. I try to get bands to agree to let me go with an idea of my own, and further trust me to execute it in a way that will compliment the show, their sound, or their visual aesthetic. Starting with too much direction is almost always a bad idea. I do submit the design early to the band, to make sure they approve. Often, I do two slightly different versions too, and the band's feedback is very important.

For which band have you already worked for?
I have designed posters for The Clientele, Camera Obscura, Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three, DeVotchKa, Justin Townes Earle, Jesse Sykes, Alela Diane, Bert Jansch, The Dutchess and the Duke, Cake, MC Hammer, The Black Angels, O'Death, The Moore Brothers, Shannon and the Clams, Exene Cervenka, and Dum Dum Girls. Apologies to anyone I may have forgotten.

For which band would you love to work?
There are a few bands who really support poster artists, commissioning different work from many different artists during the same tour. I think I would love to design a poster for the Black Keys, one of these great patron bands. I also admire Damien Jurado very much and almost got to design a poster for him. Looking to the horizon, I wouldn't turn Neil Young down if he asked. Nicely.

Do you choose the artists yourself?
I do. I choose bands I admire and am familiar with. Often I would go to the show anyway, but bringing them a poster I designed and printed is a great feeling.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?
Too much type! I like to keep things kind of minimal, but it can be challenging because I never want to leave out anything the bands, club or promoter need to communicate. That's the most important message in the poster, so it demands a lot of care.

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
Yes! I feel artists like my professional acquaintances and friends like Summer Makovkin, Jason Munn, and Lil Tuffy are all doing it basically the same way, letting our love for music and graphics jump into bed together and seeing what pops out!

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?
I have an online store

A page on gigposters

My blog

And Facebook

Early in 2012 I will be having my first art show at a local music club called the Uptown. I will be showing posters, drawings that went into the prints, and also new work!

The best praise you received lately?
A woman approached me at my table during a local craft and music fair and recognized my poster for Pokey Lafarge. She had been at that show and I had found out it was her birthday, so I gave her a print for free. She and her husband bought a shirt of mine at the fair. I was really impressed and flattered.

What can we wish you for the future?
A bigger press! And a vacuum table... I am really trying to upgrade my homemade press at home.

Thanks SF!

Big thanks to the organizers and attendees at The SF Indie Mart, a cool bi to tri monthly craft and music festival. I met tons of supportive folks and sold some prints and shirts! Cheers!