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Gavin's Underground

February Gallery Stroll: This Agression Will Not Stand, Man

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-02-22 -

Back to the Gallery Stroll I head this month, in the mildly cold month and a set of widely spread out showings. Browsing this month was a tad difficult, but one stuck out from the list before me.

Signed & Numbered over on Broadway put on a collaboration show of over twenty artists, all focused on one thing only. The Coen Brothers cult classic.... “The Big Lebowski.” I myself prepared for this show by sitting down and watching it a couple of times... which wasn't really anything new for me. Probably explains a few things about me for some of you reading this. Then I made my way over for the delightful showing. This time around I got to chat with three artists. Local printer Travis Bone, Kansas' own concert printer A. Micha Smith, and from the United Kingdom artist and animator Matt Lloyd. Not to mention pictures from the show!

Travis Bone

http://www.furturtle.com/

Gavin: Hey Travis! First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Travis: Well, I am a native to Utah, I grew up in Northern Utah County. I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with music and I like to draw and fly fish. I’m pretty good at avoiding sleep and talking about myself makes me feel funny.

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Travis: My aunt Kim was the first person to get me into art. I was very very young and I liked drawing Disney characters. I was also fascinated with dinosaurs and spent a lot of time drawing freakish beasts with lots and lots of legs.

Gavin: Did you seek out any education in art? And if so, what was that program like?

Travis: The most recent art classes that I took were at Lehi High School under the infamous Mary Ann Judd Johnson. Her classroom was a work of art in itself (and also a major fire code violation). I was pretty bummed when I heard that she had retired and they cleaned that old room out. I spent my time in college trying to avoid the career I really wanted and pursuing one with better pay.

Gavin: What got you interested in doing concert and venue posters?

Travis: Some of the first concert posters I saw really got me interested. I saw a Hatch Show Print and I remember wondering why it was so different than anything I had seen before. The paper was thick, the type was beautiful and at the time I had no idea what a letterpress was. It didn’t have the band’s picture on it even! Later, I ran into some of Gary Houston’s posters and those sort of got me interested in screen printing.

Gavin: Not a lot of people who do poster work take on screen printing anymore. What made you decide to go the tradition route for it instead of going digital?

Travis: First off, I thought screen prints were so much more beautiful than the glossy, flimsy, mass produced ads that hang all over town. Secondly, after studying a couple of books and watching a video I thought that it would be easy. I was so very wrong on the latter but I still very much believe in the first.

Gavin: Does it ever feel like it's a lost art, or do you believe there's still a strong audience for it?

Travis: Only when I go to the supply store and can’t buy the poster ink that I use because “Nobody screen prints on paper anymore! Everything is printed on and Epson now”. The printmaking form is really making a huge comeback in my opinion. It will never be the industry standard that it was because of cheaper, faster technologies but there is certainly a growing appreciation that I have seen.

Gavin: What brought on the decision to start Furturtle?

Travis: Furturtle really started as a potential artistic outlet for me. I wanted something to put creative energy into as I was in college, studying in a very non creative environment and sort of losing my mind.

Gavin: You started it up in 2004. How have things gone for you since, and who are some of the bands you've done posters for?

Travis: Since 2004 things have really gone better than I ever could have imagined. I have been incredibly lucky to work with some of my favorite bands. There have been so many amazing people that have helped me along. A few of my favorite posters were done for Mogwai, My Morning Jacket, Ben Harper, and The Swell Season but I am truly grateful for every opportunity that has come my way.

Gavin: How did you get involved with “The Big Lebowski” showing at Signed & Numbered?

Travis: I almost didn’t. I missed the initial call for artists and wasn’t aware of the show until the lineup was announced. I was a little bit crushed because Lebowski is one of my all time favorite movies from my all time favorite film makers but Leia was gracious enough to put me on the standby list. I guess a couple of artists flaked (the stereotype once again reinforced) and I was asked to make a print.

Gavin: What inspired the piece you did for the show?

Travis: The first time The Stranger appears in the film he tells The Dude “A wiser man than me once said: sometimes you eat the b’ar... and sometimes the b’ar, why... He eats you”. It reminded me of that classic shot of The Dude at the beginning of the film, soaked from being dunked in the toilet where he now sits, pondering the rug that had been “metricated” upon. Clearly, that day The Dude had been eaten by “the b’ar”.

Gavin: What's your take on the overall work coming out of this showing?

Travis: I am super impressed with everything I have seen and am proud to be a part of the show. Some of my favorites are quiet nods to the more brilliant and bizarre scenes. The Big Lebowski crying in his wheel chair by Tony Streeter, Marty performing his dance cycle by Geordan Moore, Leia’s nod to Maude, and Tuffy’s Autobahn poster are a few of my personal favorites.

Gavin: A little local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Travis: I think the local scene, although small and underrated is a fantastic one. I’ve had limited experience of it as I am mostly a maker of advertisements rather than fine art but every artist that I have met has been very open and friendly.

Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Travis: I think an injection of pretentiousness would certainly help. We need more artists with self inflated views of their own work if Salt Lake is ever going to be taken seriously as a city of art and culture.

Gavin: How about what you think of Gallery Stroll and how its evolved over the years?

Travis: I’m sort of new to the whole Gallery Stroll thing, but it is wonderful. Its great to see the same folks out every month supporting it too. Also, new folks supporting it is great to see.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year?

Travis: I will probably be making a few posters, doing some more art prints and hopefully hanging out at a few shows.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Travis: Signed and Numbered at 220 E. Broadway under Slowtrain for great, screen printed art from around the world! Check out my website, I may have done a poster for a show or two that you went to.


A. Micah Smith
micah_6.jpg
http://myassociatecornelius.com/

Gavin: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Micah: My name is A. Micah Smith and I'm a graphic design / illustrator living in the great state of Kansas with my wife & basset hound.

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Micah: As far back as I can remember, I've always loved drawing things. I used to cut comic strips out of the paper as a kid and try to re-draw them or trace them. I remember admiring the names Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, etc. At the end of cartoons; thinking, these guys are my heroes. I would say my earliest inspirations would be those classic Looney Tunes episodes and the children's books my mom would read to me, particularly Mercer Mayer and all those great Golden books.

Gavin: Did you seek out any education in art? And if so, what was that program like?

Micah: I did not go to art school, I was 2 years into a business degree when I decided my career path. I used my degree's internship program to pursue a graphic design gig instead of business-natured one. I went off to Seattle and interned at Asterik Studios (now Invisible Creature) for the summer. You could say that was the extent of my art education and I'm very happy with it. Those guys are brilliant and the experience was immeasurable.

Gavin: What got you interested in doing concert and venue posters?

Micah: When I arrived in Seattle, I really got to see first-hand what Asterik was doing and even the city for that matter. I had been a fan of screenprinted show posters for a while before, but nothing more than perusing gigposters.com. When I came home I interned at and eventually started working for Blue Collar Press. They had some history in doing local show posters and I had high hopes of elevating that.

Gavin: Not a lot of people who do poster work take on silkscreen printing anymore. What made you decide to go the tradition route for it instead of going digital?

Micah: I'm not sure if I would call screenprinting a 'traditional route'. To me, digital is more of the traditional route nowadays. As someone who grew up in the 90's, everything was/is digital. It was really an eye-opening experience to first see the great lengths people were going to to make something limited, special, tactile, etc. Sure, it's the original way of printing posters; however, I would call it something like the 'nurturing' or 'manual' route rather than traditional. There are many different mediums to choose when printing and I'm not knocking digital printing. I have projects printed digitally all the time and sometimes that works / looks better. I just love the nuances of screenprinting... there are so many variables to take into consideration and care for, rather than just pushing 'print' on a dialogue box. I think that's what people like about it and appreciate when collecting these pieces... knowing this took time, effort, and passion on top of the artwork itself.

Gavin: Does it ever feel like it's a lost art, or do you believe there's still a strong audience for it?

Micah: There is definitely a strong audience for it. I see it at the festivals I go to when I sell posters at my Flatstock booth. It is by no means mainstream, but I could see it get there at some point... or something close to it. I see posters of my contemporaries popping up on TV shows & movies all the time.

Gavin: How did the idea come up to start My Associate Cornelius, and where did you get the name from?

Micah: Shortly before leaving for my internship in Seattle, I decided I needed an on-line presence... a website to show off my work. At first, it was just my website to show off the work I did in my free time. Once I started working on my own full-time, it kind of took on a life of its own. Oh, and the name is a line from Wes Anderson's “Bottle Rocket” ..a favorite of mine.

Gavin: How did you come to work with Blue Collar Press?

Micah: When I left Seattle, I still had some intern hours to fill, so the Asterik dudes recommended Blue Collar as a good local outfit in Lawrence, KS. They were old tour mates with Blue Collar's founder Sean Ingram (Coalesce). I interned at Blue Collar for about 2 weeks before we both decided this was a good fit and I started working there part-time after my morning college classes.

Gavin: How did you get involved with “The Big Lebowski” showing at Signed & Numbered?

Micah: I frequent gigposters.com as much as possible and saw a thread Leia had started about the Lebowski show. I noticed the show was already full, so I quickly emailed Leia and told her that, if anyone bailed out, I would fill-in in a heartbeat. She told me not to fret and put me in the show anyways. Leia's the best and I'm super happy to be a part of such a cool show.

Gavin: What inspired the piece you did for the show?

Micah: Walter Sobchak is the heart and soul of the movie... I don't care what anyone says. It's kind of like with George Costanza. The show is called "Seinfeld'", but George is an all-time great as far as sitcoms go. Walter steals the show like George. Because of that, my print had to involve Walter in some capacity. The hard part was nailing down which part of the movie to re-create. I wrestled w/ a lot of options and finally settled on Walter's confrontation of Larry Sellers. A classic scene; beginning to end.

Gavin: What's your take on the overall work coming out of this showing?

Micah: I haven't seen all of the pieces, but, from what I've seen, it's very strong work. I particularly enjoyed Mike Budai's print... way to fit a bunch of elements into a small space without it feeling cramped.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year?

Micah: Definitely more posters! I am particularly looking forward to my first gallery show in early May. It will be during the First Fridays art walk in downtown Kansas City at my friends Dan & Tad's new gallery. More info to come soon, so be sure to check my site for more on that. I will, also, have a Flatstock booth at SXSW in March, so come by and say 'hello' if you happen to be in those parts. Other than that, stayed tuned to my website for up-to-the-minute news coverage on all things Cornelius.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Micah: Well, if you're reading this, then you have, at least, some interest in the Lebowski print I did in this series, which can be purchased here. Or the rest of my works, which are for sale here.


Matt Lloyd
autoretrato.jpg
http://www.desastre.co.uk/

Gavin:
Hey Matt! First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Matt:
Hi Gavin. I'm five foot eight and three quarters, I'm light brown, I have more hair on my chin than on my scalp these days, and at this moment I'm listening to a superb, aggressive, danceable track by Mos Def called “Do It Now.” At the moment hip hop is my number one choice of music to listen to whilst I'm working. In fact it was whilst I was listening to the Beasties last year that I decided it was time to face facts and just go all-out making art.

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Matt: Well I've always had an instinct to make things. Big Lego lorries wooden go-carts, I was into maths and physics and technology. I love lathes and welders and all kinds of tools, but I was really, really late getting into "art" art. I was just an absolutely bog-standard kid: I loved kung-fu films, cartoons on the TV, Judge Dredd comics, skateboarding. The visuals I found there were the art I liked. I wanted to make comics. Tales From the Crypt type stuff I loved. “Evil Dead” films too. David Hockney's stuff I very much admire too, but that was something I just happened across when I was older.

Gavin: Did you seek out any education in art? And if so, what was that program like?

Matt: Later on I got pretty pretentious, listening to Be-Bop when I was about 18, trying to read John Updike and Thoreau for God's sake. I was made for art school. The art degree I did in Manchester, UK, was still in its infancy when I enrolled. It was really disorganized and vague I'm afraid. I just got my head down and worked my way through drawing, painting, simple stop-motion animations, and finally got hooked on making short films. This was in 97-98, when digital edit suites were appearing in art schools in the UK. I got hooked on computers back then. Really when I graduated I was dead set on becoming a film maker.

Gavin: How did you decide to start a website for your animations?

Matt: Oh God! You found my animations site?? The animations are sort of okay, but the site is a disaster! Well I had to put them somewhere, and since I already knew basic Flash I decided just to piece together an entire site using it. That's why it's a bit, ahem, clunky. You know what Gavin that's always been my problem, presentation, self promotion. I'm STILL working on a proper home for my Flash stuff. This is gonna be the year: I'm finally getting to grips with Fireworks and Dreamweaver.

Gavin: What's the process like for you putting together the films from idea to finished product?

Matt: Well usually it starts from a tiny observation, a little phrase. I love to mimic people's voices and accents. The animation I did about making a cappuccino, which spread out into months of work (and, because I had to fit it around my dead end jobs, months became years!) all came out of a silly little comment I made in this ridiculous, camp, American accent when I myself was frothing up some milk for coffee. I imagined what the man who spoke like that would look like and drew him in Flash and it went from there. Same thing with the Lebowski print. I wandered around for days saying "Lemme tell you something pende jo" getting into character. Method drawing, man.

Gavin: Do you feel items like flash have made it easier for artists to make different kinds of work, or does it feel like it's dumbed it down to a degree.

Matt: Obviously computers are removing all the barriers. Man, practically anyone can get hold of extremely sophisticated film, sound and image manipulation software now, this is really a remarkable time in history. The only problem with this is that now there's no excuse for not making stuff. I'm serious. I've spent years living on next to nothing but I did have access to tools like Flash and Illustrator. These things are so ubiquitous now that it's very easy to forget just how utterly astonishing they are. Dumbed down? I think that the shortcuts available in such programs could be seen, in some snobbish way, to be making life too easy for the artist maybe, but you still need ideas, and to be able to draw, to have a grasp of narrative and so on, so no, I don't see that anything's been dumbed down.

Gavin: How did you get involved with “The Big Lebowski” showing at Signed & Numbered?

Matt: The great Leia Bell unwittingly became a mentor and inspiration of mine a few years back when I was wandering around in Manchester and I came across her stuff in a gallery. I bought a print and wrote to her to thank her, and I'll be damned, she wrote back and suggested we start swapping prints, and gave me loads of helpful advice. Last year we got back in touch and she invited me to take part in the first of the Signed & Numbered shows and I've continued to be involved since then. Obviously Leia's unique but she does exhibit a marvelous positivity which seems to characterize the psyches of many Americans. Over here in the UK there is often a pervasive sense that things shouldn't be shared, that things probably won't work out, that you should prepare to be disappointed, which is a ridiculous way to live. It's incredibly common over here. I blame the appalling weather.

Gavin: What inspired the piece you did for the show?

Matt: John Turturro is only on screen for about 4 minutes during the whole film yet somehow (he did have the advantage of an extraordinary wardrobe) he manages to steal the show. For me he's just about the best actor alive. Obviously in “Barton Fink” and “Miller's Crossing” he's center stage, yet even when he makes what is almost a cameo appearance in “Lebowski”, his performance is magnetizing. I had to pick Jesus to draw because of course he is the most fun to mimic. Man, that body language, that strut! Second, I wanted to get back to drawing straight into Illustrator because for the past five years or so I've deliberately moved away from it and got down to brass tacks, drawing in ink and doing monoprints, linocuts and woodcuts. My real métier is the graphics tablet though, it just really suits me, so it was wonderful to use it again after something of a self imposed exile. This is where I show what generation I came up in: really I've done it all backwards. I learned about layers of colour on the Mac and worked my towards traditional printmaking from there. Now I'm going back the other way again.

Gavin: What's your take on the overall work coming out of this showing?

Matt: I think it's great that it's so very, very varied. It's inspiring, for example, to see the way some people work with photographic stuff. That's not something I've ever done, which is a bit daft given how well silkscreen lends itself to that. It's crazy really that I use $3000 worth of electronic equipment like a felt tip pen!

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year?

Matt: Lots more Turturro style drawings, possibly a whole series on John Turturro or the Coen Brothers. More silly Flash animations and I'm also going to get back to making live action shorts. Busy year ahead.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Matt: Need illustrations/silly flash animations/beautiful woodcuts or linocuts or screenprints? check out desastre.co.uk (online late March 2009) or mail
mattprint@gmail.com. Hey, also, I'm coming to the states this summer in July/August, starting off in New York, so if anybody in that city could possibly spare a yard or two of sofa for a well behaved Englishman to sleep on for a few evenings, I'd be forever in your debt!

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