Artist Interview: APRIL CAMLIN

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APRIL CAMLIN

Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

We bring you another amazing artist associated with the Baltimore art/comedy group Wham City, April Camlin. She’s somewhere between a fashion or textile designer and fine artist, and onced played Lex Murphy in a small stage production of “Jurassic Park”. Her current black and white textile series is so eye-catching we needed to ask her all about it.

 

SW: How long does it take you to come up with the designs and then create a piece?

AC: Well, I think that’d be the planning. I like to start out with an idea, at times it’s like an arsenal of techniques that are influencing the composition and I like to kind of intuitively work, so I think that the execution takes a really long time. Because I have that space, I can kind of change things as they go along. If I don’t like the way that something is working, I can undo it and then start over again. I definitely think that I spend a lot more time in the execution. I did an installation in August and I spent about 200 hours stitching. The design of it, maybe, I spent like a couple days just laying it out. I’ve been doing more with digital fabric printing. That definitely involves a bit more planning ahead and doing more design work on the computer. It’s been like a new thing for me, but I’ve been really excited about it. That stuff is a little bit more time consuming I suppose.

SW: You use like Illustrator, or something?

AC: I use Photoshop. I’m so technologically illiterate, but I’m probably using it in an incredibly inefficient way. [Laughs] So it probably makes it take longer. Every time I’m making work, I’m kind of like ‘I know there must be a better way to do this,’ but I’m very connected to the labor.

SW: So you’ve got needlepoint, weaving and digital printing? Is there anything else in the series?

AC: No, not at the moment. I’m drawn to working on anything that involves a grid. Mostly those three right now.

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SW: I see actually one piece that’s an infinity sweater, it says machine knit.

AC: Yeah, I kind of started out with this series of ideas that I’m working on now, with the idea of super exaggerated or forced perspective, sort of tricking the eye. Then it moved into something a little bit different. I was doing some stuff on the knitting machines, but not quite so much anymore.

SW: Where do you get your fabric printed?

AC: I’m very fortunate, I have it printed at school. We have a really nice fiber reactive printer, which means that it’s printing the ink. The dye, it’s penetrating the fabric instead of sort of just sitting on top and not being extremely durable. It’s a really high quality image that’s getting printed. It’s a great resource.

SW: Wow yeah, so the nylon is like this sheer black color? Is that what it is? Then it’s printing the white?

AC: Oh no, the opposite, it’s white then I’m printing the black.

SW: Wait, whaaaat?

AC: [Laughs]

SW: How? What??

AC: Crepe Georgette is the material and it’s backed, it has a paper backing when it’s going though the printer. When you remove the fabric adhered to the paper backing before you steam it.

SW: That’s amazing.

AC: Yeah, digital printing on fabric is so cool. I feel like because I’ve been very connected to these very labor intensive processes, like the needle point and the weaving, it’s kind of forced my scale to be a certain size. Digital printing really allows me to think about things on a larger scale than I have before.

SW: With all of these designs, are you thinking more like a designer or thinking more like a fine artist that’s putting practical use to these? I can’t tell, some of the closeups are so nice on their own, but obviously they make great patterns to use. What was the original intention?

AC: That’s a good question. [Laughs] I feel like I’m informed and interested, both in the fine arts and also in more of an industrial fabrication. I think ideally, when I see myself in the future, I think about working in some kind of industry where I’m working with fabrication and having that be something that informs my fine art. I think that for me, the two are inextricably linked.

SW: Why black and white?

AC: I think that black and white kind of triggers this vibration almost, with my eyes and my mind, that’s very appealing to me. For me, they are the two colors that have the highest contrast. I was at Haystack this summer in Maine, it’s like a residential Art School. You do, like, two week sessions. I was looking at the ecosystem that was around me and the relationship of all these natural elements to each other. Somehow, one thing led to another, I started doing research on all of the plants in the area. It seems kind of weird, but it kind of led me towards this binary relationship between the eyes and the mind that exists in Op Art, and how that’s its own little ecosystem. So I started doing more research into Op Art. There’s always been something about black and white to me that I’ve really responded to it. I feel like I kind of understood why as I was doing more research over the summer.

SW: Are there any other artistic or cultural inspirations? You said binary and I can see that perfectly, but are there any other cultures that are involved or influencing this?

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AC: Totally, I’m looking a lot at Kuba Cloth, which is this embroidered pile which is made of Raffia which comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve just been really inspired by the way that the people, the women who are embroidering these designs, they’re kind of working with this really complex structure, but there’s also this kind of play on the structure. It’s really appealing to me, really interesting to me.

SW: Yeah, it’s really cool.

AC: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s kind of mind-blowing/boggling.

SW: What’s your process like? I can’t tell if this is something where you have to be really focused or can kind of have Netflix on and zone out? It seems like you do once wrong stitch and you’ve made a new pattern.

AC: Well, that’s kind of something that I’m interested in exploring too. The way that a pattern can be manipulated and be caused to interrupt itself. Those moments where it collides with itself, that’s kind of something that’s really interesting to me. I think it’s for different things. I listen to a lot of audio books, it is kind of this weird involuntary focus. It feels very natural to me to be working this way. It is highly focused work, but I don’t feel like I have to devote every iota of my mental processing to execute the design. Know what I mean?

SW: Mmhmm.

AC: I do enjoy some Netflix from time to time as I’m embroidering. I’ll admit it. [Laughs]

SW: Did you design this jumpsuit or did someone else design the jumpsuit?

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AC: That’s a pre-made pattern I got from a website that sells patterns. I didn’t design the pattern just the print on the fabric that goes with it.

SW: Also, where the seams would meet, you picked all that and everything too.

AC: Yeah, it’s known as engineered print so you’re kind of working with a pattern shape and designing the fabric to fit specifically into that shape and then you can do things like orchestrate where the pattern matches up on the seams and things like that.

SW: Oh wait, did this design come first or second? How did that overlap? Did you pick the jumpsuit first and then you were like, ‘I need to make a pattern for this jumpsuit’?

AC: Yes

SW: Ah okay, very cool.

AC: I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to do, I knew that it had to be a jumpsuit and so I kind of just looked for jumpsuit patterns.

SW: This back little piece, the dart or whatever that is, the fold, that came out excellent.

AC: Thank you! [Laughs] That fabric was… not fun to work with.

SW: It doesn’t look fun to work with, but it’s fun to look at.

AC: The funny thing about it, I kind of, like, smudged. You can see there’s some weird warping happening with the design, and that was something that I did intentionally, but as it was coming out of the fabric printer, the printer tech was like ‘Oh no! There’s a problem with the printer!’ I was like, ‘Haha! No I fooled you!’ That’s just my print! [Laughs] When things like that happen it’s really exciting to me. You’re tricking your mind. I’m really interested in the way that feels.

SW: Do you have any more big plans for this series or are you just kind of letting it go? Not go, but stop…

AC: I feel like I’m going to keep working in this series until it doesn’t feel right anymore. I don’t think too far ahead, I like to just focus on what’s happening and kind of let the work go where it wants to go. I try not to place too many restrictions on the direction. Sometimes these happy accidents happen and sometimes they can be just as inspiring as months of dedicated research, so I try not to impose too many time restrictions on it. It feels like a progression to me. I’m going to keep working within these parameters for awhile.

SW: I hope you do! It’s so fun to look at. Something about the way you worded something right now reminds me of this quote I wrote down the other day from ‘The Simpsons’.

AC: [Laughs]

SW: Officer Wiggum said, ‘Don’t censor me, it’s what stifles creativity.’ Something like that.

AC: Officer Wiggum said that? [Laughs]

SW: Yeah, he drew his gun and said something really bizarre. The other officer was like ‘…Chief?’ And then he said that. I thought it was kind of profound. [Laughs]

AC: [Laughs]

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SW: One last question, just random. What kind of vending machine do you think needs to be invented?

AC: This is something that already exists, but I don’t think there are enough coffee vending machines in this country. [Laughs] Probably not a cool enough answer.

SW: No! Bring them back! They had those in the 70s and 80s, they were kind of dying in the 90s. We need those back. [Laughs] That’s a great answer.

AC: It’d be pretty cool if there was a vending machine that just sold thread. That’s the thing that I’m always running out of and I’m always running out of it late at night. There’s nowhere to get it, when I’m working at night I’m like ‘what do I need to unravel to get these colors…’ [Laughs]

SW: Oh man, I would love that.

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Artist Interview: DINA KELBERMAN

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DINA KELBERMAN

Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

She’s not sure what genre of artist to currently consider herself, but regardless, anything Dina Kelberman artistically creates is worthy of your time. She seems to always be involved in collaborative projects, including being a part of the art/comedy group Wham City, as well as her own independent creative pursuits. You can see her comics in Baltimore’s weekly City Paper, or online. Her astute observations make her a master at wit, and harvesting organized collections of internet images. Even the New Museum agrees. Dina took some time to talk to me about her recent projects, take some time to read about them.

 

SW: So first, what kind of artist do you consider yourself these days?

DK: I don’t know, I don’t really think about it. I’m definitely veering pretty heavily into a pure digital realm. I was focusing on comics for awhile and have kind of gotten less interested in that and just don’t do that as much anymore. I mean… I still have a weekly comic. But I don’t really draw outside of that. I’m addicted to the computer, so I’m pretty digital these days.

SW: The weekly comic, do you post it online or do you do it for yourself?

DK: It’s for the City Paper.

SW: Oh cool! I did see you posted some of those.

 

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DK: I’ve been doing it for awhile. I won the comic contest, like, years ago and they kept me around. It’s actually been like 5 years or something, which is crazy. I don’t long how much longer that’s going to last because every week I’m like ‘Fuck, I gotta do another comic!’ [Laughs]

SW: [Laughs] Cool!

DK: [Laughs]

SW: What were you saying about Adult Swim [earlier]?

DK: We did a thing with them about a year ago. Basically it’s my boyfriend, Alan Resnick, and our friend Ben O’Brien that are kind of the dudes heading up the stuff. They were doing comedy and going on tours and they started talking to a producer over at Adult Swim. We made a pitch for a show, we also pitched kind of a show version of an act Alan had been doing on tour and they picked that up. So, last year we made this one-off fake infomercial that aired at like 4 in the morning for a week. That was cool. Then we pitched another sort of 4am prank thing and we’ve somehow spent another entire year. It takes us 1 year to make a 10 minute thing, that’s our current schedule. We’re about to start to shoot our next 10 minute thing. On Sunday we start the actual shooting process finally, for a week, and it’s going to be crazy. [Laughs]

 

 

SW: Why does it take a year? That’s…

DK: …Because we don’t know what we’re doing. [Laughs] There’s so much back and forth with the network and so many people involved, that it’s like we’re still learning how to push things through and get everything organized. Moving with such a vast web of people that need to talk to each other and get back to each other. Hopefully that will speed up a lot [Laughs].

SW: Is it more like the ‘Red Tape’ kind of stuff versus the actual creative process?

DK: Yeah, the creative stuff, we’re pretty good at banging out. It’s just the administrative getting everything together, getting the network to okay things and then getting back and finding actors, it’s really crazy. I think when we have a bit more experience we’ll be able to make it happen a million times faster.

SW: Yeah, probably. Are you still involved with Wham City? Is there anything cool happening with them or any of the creatives you’re around now you’d like to share?

DK: Yeah, I mean, we don’t really do stuff as a group. This Adult Swim thing is pretty Wham City oriented, but it’s so far such a small thing that not as many people get to be as involved as we like. Hopefully that will expand and we get to include more people. Everyone is really doing their own thing a lot these days. Everyone was like ‘Oh fuck, I’m 30. I gotta have a life!’, it’s a lot less group stuff but we’re all hanging out.

SW: Alan is an artist also?

DK: Yeah, he does a lot of digital stuff. He’s really into 3D special effects, both the real and the behind the scenes aspect of it. The first thing we did for Adult Swim was this thing starring him, where a fake version of him created a digital avatar, a 3D model of his own head that he talks to and is trying to sell to people. But it doesn’t work.

SW: [Laughs]

DK: But he’s also actually building a 3D model of his head, so it’s this weird sort of blurred line with that. Then he does comedy with Ben, there’s a lot of comedy stuff coming up lately that people have been doing.

SW: That’s awesome. I don’t have cable, how can I watch this infomercial?

DK: You can see it online, if you go to AdultSwim.com. The easiest way to find it is probably the Adult Swim YouTube page. The other thing, the new thing we’re doing will be there eventually, too. It’s going to air in December, it should also be online. The 15th is our air date allegedly.

SW: Isn’t that pretty close to your birthday?

DK: Pretty close. You knew my birthday?

SW: I do. [Laughs]

DK: Wow

SW: It looks like, from looking at your website with Alan, you’re working on a bunch of projects? Which is really exciting. I’m just wondering, what inspired the ‘I’m Google’ and the ‘Our Findings’ database series? [Laughs] They’re really weird and I love them.

 

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DK: Oh cool! Well ‘Our Findings’ is like how Alan and I kind of became really good friends and then fell in love over the internet. One of our commonalities was that we were both obsessively watching ‘The Simpsons’ at all times. We started emailing with another friend of ours, Jordan Card, I don’t know if you knew her. She’s in Baltimore too. She was constantly watching ‘The Simpsons’, we were just all emailing each other funny screencaps. Alan and I both got really obsessed with the very abstract ones. We started focusing on that really heavily until we just decided to start collecting them all on this Tumblr. Which we’re still sort of doing, but now we’ve completely lost track of what we’ve already put up there. So, now every time we watch ‘The Simpsons’ we’re like, ‘Do we have that one? I don’t know. Did I get it?’ It’s become a really weird way to watch TV.

SW: [Laughs]

DK: [Laughs] But it’s very fun. ‘I’m Google’ is just the habit of wanting to collect stuff. Like, I have all of these folders of pictures I would find on the internet. I started making these silly Facebook albums of just batches of things and had sort of heard of Tumblr but didn’t know how it worked. I was like, ‘This seems like a good repository for throwing this stuff somewhere. I can transition them into this next thing’. That became the focus and I became obsessed with trying to do that as well as I could. I’ve just been doing that forever now. I still have like a million folders collected of all different stuff. I want to somehow get to these fifty pictures of pieces of squash but I can’t figure out how to get there. So. [Laughs]

 

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SW: Mmhm [Laughs] Have you worked on any part of that series and then discovered, like, the one perfect photo that you forgot about or found later?

DK: Oh God, that’s like my worst nightmare. [Laughs] It hasn’t happened too bad yet actually, surprisingly. I can’t remember. I remember one time I somehow ended up looking up a similar thing or I somehow was like ‘There’s the perfect squiggle of wires and I can’t go back and put it in.’ Sad, [Laughs] but that’s okay, I can move on.

SW: It sounds like you’re working on a lot. What is the most exciting thing happening in your life right now?

 

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DK: I don’t know? I’ve been doing this thing where I bought this Ice Cream truck kind of thing, a step-van like a UPS truck, and I have been converting it into a tiny house to live in/ art thing, which is super-fun. I had this dude that my friend recommended come down from Minneapolis. He cut the roof off and built a pointed roof, so it looks kind of like a Monopoly piece. It’s red. It has windows, I have a lofted bed in there, I’ve got wood floors and I’ve been slowly working on that. I’m basically, actually going to start living in it.

SW: That’s fucking cool!

DK: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s really fun! I’m so addicted to the computer I’ve been like ‘I like to build shit out of wood’, even though I’m not necessarily great at it. But it’s really fun! I’m building all these shelves and figuring out how to cram all my stuff into this little space. What I need and what I don’t need. That’s been the most exciting thing, it’s kind of life encompassing.

SW: Where is it sitting right now?

DK: Alan and Ben and I were all living at the Copycat, slowly building this. It was in the Copycat parking lot until basically yesterday. My friend bought a house a few blocks away from there and I’m going to start living in her backyard. Alan’s living in the house. I have a house I can go take a shit in if I really need to or like take a shower. [Laughs] If it’s getting too crazy in the van. But I’ll basically be out back. [Laughs]

SW: Cool!

DK: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. It’s like we’re on the block right above North Ave, so I keep being like, ‘Is this insane?’ But it’s a pretty chill block, so I’m not sure how totally crazy this plan is going to end up being.

SW: Yeah… I don’t know, good luck.

DK: [Laughs] North Ave has chilled out a lot. At least over here.

SW: Two more questions. You’re kind of all over the place in a really good way. You said you’re not really sure what kind of artist you are. Who are your artistic influences? Throughout your lifetime, who has really inspired you.

 

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DK: Jessica Stockholder is my favorite artist of all time, for sure. Just because I love her use of color and space, formal stuff. I heard her talk a few times, she’s just very matter of fact. She’s just like ‘I love how these blue plastic buckets look and that’s it, that’s why I’m using them.’ I really get frustrated when people have these highfalutin answer reasons for things, I’m just like ‘C’mon you’re doing it because you like it.’ I don’t know much about Contemporary Art these days because I’m, like, in this weird bubble. [Also] James Turrell, Sol LeWitt, and Ed Ruscha.

SW: The last question. I might know the answer to this. If you could only wear one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?

DK: Wait, do you know that I only wear two colors right now? [Laughs]

SW: [Laughs] Yes, but I don’t think all the readers do.

DK: You’re making me pick between red and blue.

SW: Yes. You have to choose, which one? [Laughs]

DK: I guess I’d have to go with red. Blue is what I consider my favorite color, but I appear to like wearing red more for some reason. I’ll go with red. Let me know when I have to start doing it. [Laughs]

SW: No one is going to force you, but if you want to go ahead and do that, [Laughs] it’d be awesome.

DK: Yeah, once two becomes too much to handle. [Laughs]

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Artist Interview: JIMMY GIEGRICH

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JIMMY GIEGRICH

Intro by Shanon Weltman / Interview by Ray Jones

Happy Halloween, ghosts and ghouls. On this day dedicated to all that is scary, we bring you a master of cult horror illustration, Jimmy Giegrich. The mixed bag of (candy) 1990’s childhood influences ooze through his style, everything from punk rock to anime. Jimmy’s illustrations perfectly blend humor, horror, and hella impressive line quality and color palettes. Before you put yourself into a sugar and/or booze induced Halloween coma, take a few minutes and see what Ray Jones had to ask Jimmy.

 

RJ: To start, fill us in on your inspirations. They don’t have to be art related.

JG: I’d say that a lot of my inspiration for my illustration comes mostly from what I was into when I was younger. When I was a kid I was way into the usual kid stuff, like video games, comics and cartoons. All that kind of stuff.

 

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Ugs, Fugs, and Grossos: Joe

RJ: Yes!

JG: [Laughs] Yeah, and that definitely had a hand in me wanting to become a Creative and do illustration. Probably the most of all, comics had a huge influence on me. I was into Marvel, particularly 90’s X-Men, all that. I was obsessed with it, same thing with Ninja Turtles. As I got older, I got into artists like Ed Roth, Basil Wolverton, gross out underground artists like that. Then I got into punk music and metal, all those things kind of created this perfect storm of influence on me. [Laughs]

RJ: It’s true, your work is… very metal. [Laughs] I love that about it. I’m like, Oh man! Punk! I can see it!

JG: [Laughs] Thanks!

 

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Executioner and Friend

RJ: There also seems to be a very distinct 80’s vibe. How long have you worked this way?

JG: I feel like the way that I draw now is closer to the way that I drew when I was a little kid, than it was when I was in high school and stuff. It’s kinda like I draw the same things… like monsters and screaming dudes punching each other, veins and sweat, all that. I guess I’m a bit more skilled at it now? [Laughs] If that makes any sense. I’ve been drawing this kind of stuff forever, and when I got into college I wanted to be way more classical. I wanted to be way more detailed and realistic and realized I couldn’t do it. [Laughs] I was like, ‘Alright. Veins and sweat and screaming’. [Laughs]

RJ: [Laughs] That’s perfect though. You really came into this style, it’s really awesome man, I really enjoy it. Walk us through a usual day in the studio, what’s your day like?

JG: It all depends on what I’m doing and If I have client work. I’ll get up and work on whatever I have for the day, whether it’s sketches or finals, emailing back and forth between clients. Otherwise, If I’m just working on personal work or a comic or something, I’ll get up and work on that instead. Doing like preliminaries on characters, sketches for comic panel layouts, all that.

 

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Skips

RJ: Would you say your time is evenly split between commissioned work and personal work? How is it divided for you?

JG: I probably spend a little bit more time on professional work than personal work these days. It kind of comes and goes. Sometimes it alternates, sometimes I’ll be really, really busy for like two months at a time. I’ll have no time to do anything and then I’ll have like a month where I can just do my own thing, work on comics, that kind of thing.

RJ: Okay. How long have you been teaching?

JG: This is going to be my third year, I started in 2011-2012, something like that. This is my fifth semester, two and change years now.

RJ: How do you feel about it, comparing when you first started up to now?

JG: I feel way more comfortable now than I did when I first started. I started off always wanting to teach. I had been a teaching assistant for a couple teachers at MICA. Particularly Daniel Krall, who was my teacher when I was there. It was something I always wanted to do. I got hooked up with the teaching gig basically through my connections at MICA and from knowing people in the Illustration department. Going in I thought I was going to be doing really, really well and I had it all figured out. There really is a big difference between teaching a class on your own as opposed to being a teaching assistant where you’re just helping out around the class, interjecting and stuff. I feel I’ve gotten way better at it and I feel like it’s something that I’m much more comfortable doing now, as opposed to when I first started.

 

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Pizza Party Printing: Akira

RJ: Do you feel that being a young illustrator helps in terms of relating to the students? Like being contemporary enough to share your experiences.

JG: Definitely, I definitely do. I notice that there’s a really kind of positive response that I have from my own career and decisions, things I’ve done in my career. It seems like they respond very well to it. I’m kind of at this weird age where I teach sophomores and I guess they’re eight years younger than I am? So it’s a pretty sizable gap but I’m within the ballpark of being a peer of theirs. It seems like they can take what I’m saying to heart, which I think is really, really good. The other thing too I’ve noticed, just from my own experience at MICA, is that when a teacher is closer to the age of the students, I think that it makes it feel like the knowledge that they’re passing on to you is much more relatable and understandable. It’s also good to get the experiences of someone that is currently working in the field as opposed to somebody who was really big at a past point in time when the landscape of illustration was way different than it is now. That’s something that I wanted a little bit more of when I was in school, more present day illustration advice. Not to say I didn’t get that. I feel that this happens in any creative/academic situation… The more in touch the teacher with the landscape of whatever field it is, the better. Just because, again, the information is a little bit more relatable.

RJ: So much technology has changed in the last five years, if you were focused on just one thing, you probably missed a lot, so [Laughs]…

JG: Yeah! I mean, shit, I tell my students, when I graduated from school, Twitter was not the beast that it is today.

RJ: [Laughs]

JG: Things like Tumblr and Facebook, social media, it has changed so many thing for so many illustrators.

RJ: Going back just a little bit, who are your clients lately?

JG: I’ve been doing a lot for Boom Studios. They do comics for Cartoon Network. Have you heard of a show called Uncle Grandpa before?

RJ: [Laughs] Yeah.

JG: Yeah, I’ve been doing comics for that. I think the first one just came out last week or something, but they started a new series of those comics and I’m one of their regular artists on it, which is pretty cool. I’ve been just doing kind of like whatever comes my way. I used to do a lot of editorial stuff, and I haven’t been doing as much as I’ve been doing more comics. I’ve done a handful of movie posters, that kind of thing and then just working on getting my own personal projects off the ground. That’s what’s been occupying my time lately.

 

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Pizza Party Printing: Creepshow

RJ: Can you tell me about Pizza Party Printing?

JG: Totally, that’s my screen printing business that I started with a friend of mine. We do client work, screen printing with other people, but that’s more of my business partner’s end of the business because he’s a screen printer. I’m like the designer for the company, we do original t-shirts, posters for movies and patches.

RJ: Are they all horror themed?

JG: They’re not all horror themed, but generally if it’s a cult movie we’ll do something for it. We also hire out other illustrators. We had Andrea [Kalfas] do one for the Neverending Story. We tend to gravitate more towards cult movies, things that you wouldn’t usually see. We stay away from stuff like, Halloween or Friday the 13th, it’s all more offbeat stuff that we do.

RJ: Like the old, Old Boy, or something like that?

JG: Yeah, totally. We did a poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing. We did a Conan the Barbarian t-shirt for the Conan movies. We did one for Suspiria. We just did a showing of Wild Zero, which is like a Japanese rock and roll zombie movie. We did a t-shirt for that.

RJ: [Laughs] I really love all of them. The Creepshow one is one my favorites and the Ninja Turtles.

JG: That Creepshow one is crazy. I designed that for our very first movie showing. We showed Creepshow like two and a half years ago and that shirt has consistently sold better than any shirt we’ve ever done. [Laughs] It’s crazy, anytime we do that, we sell a million copies of it for some reason.

RJ: All the good ones are here, Hellraiser… are you going to do a Candy Man poster?

JG: We might, we kind of base the stuff that we do on the movies that we show. That’s definitely one we talked about showing.

 

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Executioner and Friend, Page 1

RJ: Awesome! Okay, well we’re on to the last question, and it’s usually kind of off topic, but might just be totally appropriate for you. In an Ultimate Monster Battle, who would you like to see go head to head?

JG: I feel like the little kid in me is racing to pick the two coolest monsters. [Laughs] Two monsters fighting each other? Man, I think two of my favorite ever movie monsters are the Rancor from Star Wars, the big thing in Jabba’s palace, and I mentioned John Carpenter’s The Thing earlier, I love that so much. I love that The Thing doesn’t have a set look. It looks different every time you see it, but it’s still identifiable as the monster. I feel like that movie, as well as Star Wars, had such a big influence on me. [Laughs] I guess those two guys.

RJ: I still need to see The Thing, I just know the ‘dog’ is involved… [Laughs]

JG: Oh man, that movie is one of my top three favorite movies ever. I would definitely recommend it. [Laughs]

thethingvsrancor

Artist Interview: 1st YEAR

CLAW CLAW Artist Interviews: Year 1 (8/13 – 8/14)

A short list of a few things we learned from the artists we interviewed this past year:

1. Fake it til you make it by being your authentic self and make work you really want to make.

2. Have a day job so you can turn down bad freelance clients and still make the rent.

3. Nothing can really prepare you for the real world like living in it.

4. Being around other actively creative people creates a magical synergy.

5. Making promotional artwork is worth the effort.

 

1147518_10151543397721556_1021490862_oALEX FINE

 

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ANDREA KALFAS

 

Joan 1BILLY NORRBY

 

10455849_888067657877025_3821713467327834009_nBRIAN SPARROW

 

Ice-Cubism-byrockwell_72dpiBYRON McCRAY

 

Bible-chi-birm
CHI BIRMINGHAM

 

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CHRISTI JOHNSON

 

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CIOU

 

Falling-SPL4
CLARA LIEU

 

kiziwell
CLAY RODERY

 

yoga
CORIANNA BROWN

 

idontlikeclothes-lineup-sample-clawclaw
DADU SHIN

 

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DANA VERALDI

 

Chaney_FLOATER
DEB CHANEY

 

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ELLEN T. CRENSHAW

 

-5
GINA SCHIAPPACASSE

 

sweetboys
GRACE LANG

 

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HADAR PITCHON

 

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HEATHER BENJAMIN

 

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HEATHER CLEMENTS

 

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JOE WIERENGA

 

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JOHN MacCONNELL

 

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JONNY NEGRON

 

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JORDAN JEFFRIES

 

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JUAN LEGUIZAMON

 

scarface
JUSTIN SANZ

 

kc-yokocho
KALI CIESEMIER

 

dontlookatme
KELLY LASSERRE

 

zombie-kids
KEVIN SHERRY

 

yearofthesnake
KIM HERBST

 

LiskFeng-paperdolls
LISK FENG

 

malojo-battle-damaged-lr
MALOJO

 

scorpion-girl_lg
MATT ROTA

 

geisha-mb
MAURICE BLANCO

 

hoeweler_condenast_cocktails_3_site_2048
MICHAEL HOEWELER

 

mm-in-the-shadow-of-dracula
MICHAEL MANOMIVIBUL

 

6biglife
MICHAEL MARSICANO

 

8
NATALIE FRAGOLA

 

SUPER_SONIC_BROS-FULL
NATE BEAR

 

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OJAY MORGAN (A.K.A. ZEBRA KATZ)

 

B2Image-BEAST-USA
PATRICK SMYCZEK

 

-1
REBECCA BRADLEY

 

RichTu-NPR_Calendar-2
RICH TU

 

sean-mahan-invisible-thread
SEAN MAHAN

 

DRAKE_Yao_Xiao
YAO XIAO

 

Dalliances
ZACH OSIF

Artist Interview: LISK FENG

lisk-feng

Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

New New Yorker and Illustrator Lisk Feng is in the interview seat this week. In addition to making the huge move from China to the USA, she has recently switched from using any/all art supplies available to a much more limited approach. These days she’s only working digitally, but her artwork looks just as hand drawn as before. She’s a recent graduate of the newly founded MICA Graduate Illustration program in Baltimore, MD. Keep reading to find out more about this upcoming and whimsical illustrator.

 

SHANON WELTMAN: Who are your favorite artists and biggest inspirations?

LISK FENG: When I was little I think my favorite artist or animation studio was Ghibli, always. After that I think I really like Tatsuro Kiuchi, Yuko Shimizu, or those American illustrators that got really famous. I looked at them for a long time. The main reason I wanted to come to America to study at MICA, was because I was a graduate of the Academy of Art which is a really good school in China. After that I felt kind of lost because I was trying really really hard to get into the career and get published. I do publish a lot of books, do really good, but I just felt like I needed to jump out of my comfort zone, so that’s why I came to America. All the illustrators that I really like are Asian. Also, Josh Cochran, I really like his work a lot. That lead to me to start to develop a new style, which is combining screen printing texture with watercolor and hand drawing together. I’ve never done that before, I was always doing hand drawing really traditionally and now I feel I’m more capable of doing different types of works. Now I’m trying to think about doing some editorial stuff.

 

LiskFeng-paperdolls
Paper Dolls 1-10

 

SW: What are your favorite things to draw?

LF: When I was little, definitely animals and afterwards I got into anime for awhile. After that, I started to think about doing young adult novel illustration. I’d always create a whole world that has a lot of kids in it and they’re doing some really fantastic things, such as an adventure together. I really like to draw things that are really magical or whimsical and at the same time they’re really childish looking. A lot of adults like my work because my work seems really childish and lonely, and they feel emotionally connected. I think my favorite things to draw are whimsical, classical, childish illustrations for young adults and adults.


SW: What about objects?

LF: Actual objects… I still really like to draw people. People are my favorite thing to draw. When I was little I started to draw people first, so after I came to America I always went to NY and saw different kinds of people in the subway and I feel like people are so different from Asians. Especially in NY, they have different countries from all over the world gathered together. On the subway I saw Asian, South American, Americans, people from everywhere. It’s a really magical thing to put so many people into a tiny city, and they’re building culture, building art, doing stuff, it’s really busy everyday. So I will continue doing that in the future, people are definitely my favorite.

SW: Do you think you will move up to NY or do you really like Baltimore?

LF: I really like Baltimore, but I still want to move to NY. I’m moving next month actually.

SW: Whoa! That’s fast. Just curious, what part of Baltimore do you live in? We went to MICA also.

LF: [Laughs] Oh nice! I was living off North Charles street for a year, now I live in West Mount Royal, across from MICA.

SW: [Laughs] That’s nice!

LF: Yeah it’s really convenient because my thesis is really heavy. I think it’s really nice just to live closer to the school.

 

lust-chastitylustseries
Lust & Chastity: Lust

 

SW: Mmhmm, for sure. So we’ve talked about who you’re making art for, imagery you like. How do you come up with ideas? Not only the concepts, but the whole thing, the composition, the color. How do you finalize a piece?

LF: First of all, it depends on what kind of job it is. If I have an article, first I will read the whole thing and come up with multiple sketches in my brain. I don’t like to draw gigantic really detailed sketches, then make it one step at a time. I like to draw this tiny little sketch and I’ll draw maybe ten to twenty. Then I’ll pick the one that I really like and then try to draw them a little bigger with a little detail. And then move to computer and directly create the whole thing. For children’s books it’s all so different. I’ve made many children’s books before. I need to create the story sometimes and the story is like, I’ll write 5 sentences. The sentence needs to fully describe the story. Then you pick your favorite sentence of all of them, add little elements to the sentence, make it longer, longer, make it different. At the end you have a whole story with a lot of little elements, but the story is really brief and short. Next I will start to do spreads. That’s my children’s book process.

SW: Do you like to do children’s books the most?

LF: I feel like I really like children, so I like to draw little cute stuff for kids, but it’s a really really boring process to be honest, because you need to spend too much time on it. Too long to work on a project, sometimes half a year or even a year and then I get bored. I want to move on and work on something else. Especially the art director, they don’t like this, they don’t like that, they ask you to revise it over and over again. It’s kind of exhausting sometimes, but I still feel like it’s my job. Illustrators need to do things on time, you say you’re going to finish it, so you finish it. That’s your duty. I’ll still do it, but to be honest I’ll feel really exhausted sometimes.

SW: Mmhmm.

LF: After the results come out though, I’m really happy! [Laughs] I prefer shorter projects. Now I’m working for Ghibli animations, the next one, but the novel for China. The novel is 200 pages, but I only need to draw one cover and eight illustrations, and the money is good. In one month I can focus on this project, I finish it, they offer me money, and I feel like there’s a finished object in a short time. That’s really comfortable.

SW: How many books have you done?

LF: In China I’ve published three books, two children’s books and one illustration collection book. The others are collaborative. I do a lot of illustrations for novels, especially young adult novels. I’m not sure how to count, but only myself, three books.

 

ABC
ABC

 

SW: Can you describe your process? You mentioned screen printing and watercolor. Can you walk us through how you make a typical illustration?

LF: I’m really interested in it [all]. First I want to say thank you America, I’m so glad I came here. If I didn’t come here, I wouldn’t have a chance to use screen printing anymore since I’ve graduated. After I started screen printing class, I feel like it’s extremely horrible, the process is really really long and then you can only use three to five colors. Limited color palette! Which is insane for me, because my own image style is a really abundant color palette. I use every material, I use watercolor, pastel, crayon, color pencil, even marker, watercolor, gouache all in one image. Everything I can find on my table and then to produce an image that people cannot tell just what material it is. That’s what I like, but after I came here, the screen printing teacher told me ‘you need to simplify’. Simplifying is always harder than adding more stuff on to something. It’s a really painful process. After that, I’m really into it. I feel like this is something I really want to try. My images start to become simple. Also, limited color palette to make it more consistent, especially for my books. They look better than before. I put less effort in it and results turn out to be really good, so it’s a smart choice. My process of making illustrations right now is, especially with the screen print style, always start with sketches directly on the computer. It’s easier for me to arrange the layers to make it a limited color palette. Sometimes if I do pencil lines first, I will scan it in and then scan the pencil drawing, erase some parts of the lines. Change the color of the line so it will have a limited color look. After that I will make brushes or I scan a lot of textures that I made by myself. For example I bought a plastic transparent roller that you put ink on and roll on paper. It’s really dry so you get some texture, just like a screen print. Scan it in and use the texture to lay on top of the drawing to make it look like a screen print. I also discovered some really nice brushes. Kyle’s brushes are really nice. There’s a lot of stuff online you can download. I also make my own brushes sometimes, just like a stamp. You scan it in and then put it on top, they look like hand drawn. My drawings are all digital right now, but they look really hand drawn. So I’m really happy with the result. I’m thankful for spending a year and a half in a screen printing studio and my thesis, half of my drawings are screen printed. I’m really enjoying the process right now.

SW: That so interesting! I can kinda tell that you use so many materials, but only because I do that when I work. It doesn’t look like one thing which is cool!

LF: [Laughs]

 

a-tropical-dream
A Tropical Dream

 

SW: Can you talk a little bit about your experience at the MICA MFA Illustration? It’s relatively new and wasn’t available to us a few years ago. Whatever you’d like to say about it.

LF: First of all I want to say, Whitney Sherman is the leader of the program and then Jamie Zolar is the co director, so I feel like the program has superstar teachers. And then at the time same time, I’m on the second year of the program and the first year class only has six students left. Twelve students entered the program and only six students are left. So I feel like, its a really tough semester because people are dropping the program. The first semester is extremely hard because the director gives us kind of a hard time, forcing us to do something that really doesn’t matter to us. Focused on sewing. She wanted us to do a sewing project to combine with pop-up books and bookbinding. Three things you put together to make a project — in three days! How can you do something?? I don’t know how to sew. So at last I made a touching book, like a cloth touching book. For the cover I sewed the letters on top of paper. [Laughs]

 

lf-book-idea

 

SW: Oh, that was the ship right?

LF: Yeah! That one is my three workshop projects. Other people are doing pop up cards and they sew one line on top of it to count as sewing. People feel a lot of pressure around the first years project. Extremely hard working. After that, the second years work changed. I don’t even know how it happened but everyone now turned out to be really really good illustrators at the end. We’re winning stuff, this years 3×3 just came out, one student is silver, the others are bronze. Also, Sarah Jacobi won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, Jun got the AOI New Talent. Our program is new but we’re winning stuff, so I feel like the first year of training is really important for us. The second year, we have a lot of really really great illustrators come such as Jillian Tamaki, Josh Cochran, those famous illustrators gave us feedback. The program invited art directors from Candlewick and Penguin to give us feedback. I did get jobs from Candlewick, so I’m really thankful. The program invites people to come and I got something really nice. Josh Cochran also became good friends with me. I got to see him many times after that, he likes my work, we got to talk to each other. Also, Soojin Buzelli and Chris Buzelli got to be our friends. We got to NY, setup the meeting and then we talked to each other and I feel really happy about it.

SW: Aw! That’s a lot of really cool people.

 

rainforest-pattern
Rainforest Pattern

 

LF: Yes yes, I didn’t expect them to invite all those people. The first semester I really wanted to drop. [Laughs] The only project that I really like from the first year is pattern design. [Laughs] Julia Rothman came and gave us a really nice workshop. I really liked it. The others are… mm, but we learn a lot of things from it.

SW: Last question, totally not about anything to do with your career as an Illustrator: What is your favorite American food?

LF: Hmmm…. favorite American food. That’s hard. I would say, bagels? Especially NY bagels. Burgers are really nice, [Laughs] but overall I still love Asian food more.

SW: Yeah… [Laughs] it’s better.

LF: Yeah… they’re better. [Laughs]

20090815-bagel-ak

Photograph by Adam Kuban