1. Who are your main influences as an artist?
I think it's the culmination of conversations I have with the people I live with. I'll spend a lot of time enjoying science fiction and action films that were released on vhs that rely on physical models and lots of makeup effects. The rise of the internet and its pervassiveness has fragmented my influences so far out. As it relates to poster art, I look to the efforts of Young Monster, Dead Meat Design, DNML, Dan Grzeca, Jay Ryan, Aaron Horkey, Daniel Danger, Tyler Stout, Jeff Lamm and numerous others for influence.
2. What got you into concert art?
I grew up just outside of the Twin Cities and I was beginning to get out on my own more when I was around 16 in 2005. I'd go to a few venues in the cities that would occasionally have the all ages shows that ripped enough for me to want to go, but it was hard. Around then I was exposed to TC local bands like the STNNNG (Stunning), Falcon Crest, Supper Hopper, and Malachi Constant. While I was really into their sounds, I began to realize they all had something in common as I saw their names plastered around town. It was the posters by DWITT for their shows I had admired. I thought that if this guy gets to draw up insane posters for my favorite bands, then I should be able to. Since then I learned by example for the most part. It's funny that I've done posters for bands we share in common (The Undesirables and In Defence) and even recently been a part of a group show together and we have yet to exchange words directly. I also like to refer to Adam Turman, The Paper Prophet and Burlesque of North America as beginning influences in poster art that continue to be relevant.
3. What made you decide to use the black paper with many of your posters?
Nowadays the first thing that comes to mind as paper to most people is a clean white sheet of 8.5''x11''. It's common for designers making posters to end up digitally printing on white paper because of the affordable cost. In contrast I find black paper or any colored paper to be a beautiful starting place to work with as a printmaker. Paper color by choice becomes essential to my designs and in combination with the screen printing process I can create visual tricks by layering ink with different opacities. I'll tend to take advantage of black paper to make things bold and dramatic. I love the capability to print white on top of black and feel the density of ink from screen printing. Printing crisp white text is the best.
4. What is your process for creating the posters from beginning to end?
It varies from project to project, often times because of limitations I have to deal with. It's typical for me to begin designing a project on the computer with a Wacom tablet drawing directly into Photoshop. I was raised on a computer. Artwork can also consist of drawings on paper that I've scanned in, but in the end I make digital separations for each layer I have to screen print. These layers are printed onto transparencies, sometimes made by tiling up of inexpensive Office Max print outs. I then use these in a photomechanical process to create stencils on the screens I use to print with on a table I built. Continually browsing the GigPosters.com forums has helped me figure out how to accomplish each step necessary to print. Andy MacDougall's book Screen Printing Today has become the perfect resource for clear and concise instruction on how to screen print for beginners.
The creative process usually just draws from conversation with the bands and friends about music and the culture that revolves around us. I get the uncommon benefit of designing and printing whatever I want because I can pick the events I make posters for. However, my goal is usually to try and make something both I and some of the people I'm supporting would like, but also something we both didn't expect to have possibly existed. Creating artwork can take a couple hours while sometimes going beyond double digits while the printing process will take an additional 6-12 hours or so.
5. Who was the artist that you did those few the posters in colaboration with and how did that come to be?
I collaborated on a Meat Puppets poster for Pizza Luce with Jay Whitcomb who had previously been a working artist for a number of years. I was introduced to him and also came to admire his work from my roommate Trevor Peterson who had introduced us. Around the same time Trevor and I collaborated on a different Luce poster for a country themed event with a large horse on it. Both collaborations were out of their interest in the screen printing process, which was unfamiliar to them. We all live together now and Jay and I have turned our garage into a studio that we can both work in. Jay and Trevor play in local bands Manheat and Blood Eagle respectively.
Before that I had an unforgettable collaboration with Jeremy Baker from the St. Louis based band High Life. Not too long after the death of Michael Jackson the idea came up that we could make a poster that spoofed the cult film "Weekend at Bernie's" replacing Bernie, the dead puppet of a boss, with MJ. We used it as the midwasted tour poster for Cross Exam, Mother Speed, and High Life. The Cross Exam guys thought it was so great that they got shirts of the art printed, which was very popular with fans. I was even invited to join them on the thrashiest tour I've ever been on.
The latest collaboration poster I did was with Nicholas Sunsdahl of local band Healthy Band Music Club. It came from mutual interests in stereo optics. The particular poster is three dimensional if you cross your eyes to make the two images merge into one. This was an interesting poster because in the end the venue had been moved from what would have been the last house show for the Banana Hammock to someone's mom's house. She was out of town, but the cops showed up two sets in and in a last ditch effort I decided to invite the last three bands to finish the show at my house. The cops came by just as the last band ended their set and it turned out to be the last house show for my house called The Maxi Pad before I moved out. It was a great turnout and a lot of fun despite all the complications.
6. How did the art show come about?
It had been two years since I started screen printing music posters working with the local do-it-yourself community in Duluth and I had a bunch of stuff that I've collected over that time. My friend Jessica Liszewski was planning a small gallery with Calvin Stalvig a few months ago to operate in the empty front portion of their shared studio. I thought it would have been a great opportunity to show everything all together before I graduate from college. What is now the Ochre Ghost Gallery has helped me to become their fourth show with the "SkatRadioh Poster Retrospective".
7. Did the show go well? Was it just last night or are there other nights?
It was a very successful show. It was my first experience showing work on my own and I had a lot of great conversations with people who were new to my work. The place was full of people that came and went throughout the evening. It was great to have support for my art as well as for the gallery. You can still see the show by appointment up until February 4th (OchreGhostGallery@gmail.com).
8. How can people see and purchase your posters?
Since my first show poster, majority of what I print has been documented and uploaded to my Flickr account ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/skatradioh/ ). This includes some sets of photos that give you a sense of the process I go through and the spaces I've worked in. Photos of my retrospective opening can be found there too. GigPosters.com is a massive poster archive and has a profile on me among thousands of others. Most events I've made posters for have allowed me to sell them at the show. I have a current listing of everything I have left for sale on Etsy ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/SkatRadioh ) afterwards.
9. Are people into purchasing show posters for lesser known bands? How did you decide to do show posters?
The posters I've made are a great artifact for people who go to some of the shows and want to buy something to take back home with them. There are instances when a fan of a band tells me they missed a show, but really liked the poster with their name on it and buy it. Sometimes people buy a poster mostly out of enjoying the artwork. This is often the case with the Pizza Luce posters because of most of those shows I work with are made up of somewhat impermanent makeshift bands and cover bands. It's been a fairly even demand for each poster regardless of the band. Considering the posters I print, the Meat Puppets gets as much attention as some of the smaller acts.
Everyone imagines being a rock star, but in my case I never gained the confidence to become a musician. It doesn't help much when blowing a friend's amp seconds after turning it on is an early exposure to playing a potentially loud instrument. Regardless of my inability to comfortably see myself on a stage, I knew I was in good company by consistently having musicians and other artists as close friends. Growing up I did have more success with visual art and that led me to the University of Minnesota, Duluth to study graphic design and studio art. I needed something else to do outside of school work or I'd go crazy. School just isn't my kind of thing really. I finally decided two years ago that I'd try helping my friends with some unique posters for their bands or the shows they put together. My experience has led me to believe that the kind of work I've done has become a companion piece to the event that it promotes. As I see it, I've been able to share the stage by making posters because of the shared love and respect for each other that bands and I have developed. That's what really keeps me going.
10. What is your favorite poster that you have made? What are other people's favorites?
The poster I made for 2010 Beers Under the Sea is currently a personal favorite. It was one of the larger and more carefully crafted pieces I've done so far. Using both silver and gold inks to produce multiple values by making them transparent was challenging and it created a really nice effect that really demands looking at very closely. The themed event is put together by my friends the Sinz brothers of the bands Dios Mio and Indulge that has become a growing annual beer fest with plenty of punk/thrash/metal bands.
I've got a lot of comments and positive reactions on two posters in specific. One for the Chicago based Sass Dragons has an illustration of Chase No Face, an internet celebrity of sorts, curled up with a Furby. It came up as a sort of challenge while on the GigPosters.com forums, but also served as a personality comparison between the graphic and band. It's a good conversation piece when I tell people about this real life cat that survived a car crash, but unfortunately lost its face and a leg. It's still a cat with a beautiful personality and something I've seen Mike Wilson, who organizes a lot of local shows, have to go through with his own cat recently.
The other poster is for the Twin Cities band Children of Euler for it's stylistic repetition of two figures making out. The colors and subject are what really make it such a strong visual. It's comprised of a complicated mix of topics on the power of perfection, beauty, and objectification. While the band is influenced by mathematics this image was my way of illustrating another part of the conversation I believe they bring up in their lyrics.
11. Is there one band that you dream of doing a poster for?
It has been a dream over the past few years to do a poster for the STNNNG, but recently it's been more and more likely that I will be doing one soon. I've been in direct contact them and their label now and it's only a matter of scheduling that determines when I will do a poster for them. My dream jobs are usually in line with some kind of realistic goal and it might now be transitioning into looking for an opportunity to do something for Kylesa somehow. I'm just not sure that my work is as heavy as their sound seems to demand. Short answer, a poster for a tour stop that Kylesa, Baroness, and High on Fire make at the Triple Rock.
12. What is the future in your view of concert poster art?
There are plenty of artists and designers that are dedicated to creating something more than just an advertisement. It has already been established as an important art form for being cultural remnants. I've seen a number of collective design firms and print shops lead the contemporary discipline. I hope to join in by finding placement in a print related workshop or building one up myself after school. I don't see any end in sight for music related poster art.