Justin from Secret Serpents asked me about participating in an upcoming Swans tour-poster series and asked, “Do you want any weird places?” Well, yes. I chose the show at Yugong Yishan in Beijing, China. This will mark the first time my art has appeared in a communist country; unless you count Impaled’s Death After Life printing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which for all intents and purposes, might as well be the U.S.S.R. I’m just as giddy as a school girl halfway around the globe. One of my favorite bands is playing a show in Red China and this little piece of art will accompany them:
You’re probably thinking, “I’m going to go buy this poster right now from the Sewage shop,” and then noticed that the poster features a lot of non-English. Is it because I’m a cunning linguist or a polyglot? Yes to both. But I don’t speak Chinese. The Internet, however, does speak Chinese. In fact, it speaks Chinese almost as much as it speaks English (and more than Spanish). With the help of some faceless forum members and my Wacom tablet, I created the poster above. Thanks, Internet.
Some time back, my English friends asked me to design a tee for their band with “some gnarly riot cop with a beer gut and snarling face.” With the 2011 English race riots still fresh, I opted for a more wicked idea: a riot cop inspired by the movie They Live. I wanted to eventually do an art print parodying the “Keep Calm…” poster. It is the most They Live-ish poster design ever. You don’t even need special sunglasses to see the message of subservience. A few years later, I’ve finally gotten around to making that poster.
This very limited art print is for sale in my shop right now. It was kind of a bitch to print and I lost about half the prints. That’s because that bright red is actually a metallic ink and it ain’t the kinda shit you can go buy in the art store. It was specifically formulated at our shop, Monolith Press, by moi for another job. I had plenty of ink left over to make a kick-ass poster of my own, though.
My good friend (name-drop) Cremator hosts Ghoul’s Burning Questions show. I feel like you should check out the latest episode. Quite a few of their live antics are included in this one. I think he makes many reasoned and cogent suppositions on the show. Quite a handsome fellow, too.
When asked about being part of a tour poster series, I have to think with my (empty) wallet. Almost all of these tour poster series are pay-to-play. After I get assigned whatever city, I have to come up with a poster I think I can sell on my own after the show. It would probably be easier if I had a bunch of pictures of mystical goats and sacred geometry lying about to slap a band logo on, but I don’t. This is what Atlanta gets from me for a Melvins poster.
Yes… some kind of sign and two crushed beer cans. Inexplicable, right? Well, after a show I played last fall in Atlanta, we went to this place called the Clermont Lounge. It’s a world famous dive and strip-club known for its older, wider strippers. One of its most notorious acts is Blondie, a mature BBBW who crushes cans with her boobies. The next day I asked Amos of Atlanta’s Death of Kings what was notable for a gig poster in Atlanta. “Well, you just went to the Clermont Lounge.” Duh.
On Swans most recent tour, I was able to do contribute art for their show in Berlin. I decided to pay tribute to the time Swans was most influential on me.
In 1997 I saw the final tour of Swans in San Francisco and was floored. Their mid-90s death knell is still my favorite period of Swans, employing bombastic rhythms juxtaposed with eerie and unsettling quiet passages. They also had a minimalist aesthetic to their art that stuck out next to the early Photoshop boon of horrid album covers in the ’90s. I had to figure out how to reflect this vision and celebrate Berlin, one of my favorite cities in the world.
The SOMArts Day of the Dead Exhibition is an annual celebration based on the traditions of Mexican culture. In this case, a bunch of arty farty types put their twist on it in a gallery in San Francisco. The entire warehouse space is transformed into a bunch of cells with some really amazing work by different artists. Some are more traditional, honoring specific dead people, but by and far the most exhibitors honor the death of ideas. Hey, they’re arty farty. This year, I was able to help my friend Lia realize her installation and it came out smashingly good.
We made Grandma’s house, replete with decay and creepy furniture. The installation itself took shape based upon the photos included in the piece. Lia owns a couple of amazing wolf-dogs (20% dog, 80% wolf). She employed my lovely wife to be her model in a Day of the Dead version of Little Red Riding Hood. Do you want to take a trip to Grandma’s house through scary West Oakland?
King Buzzo of the Melvins has recently released a fucking amazing solo record of acoustic tunes called This Machine Kills Artists. He’s gone on tour and I got to do a poster for the gig in Seattle. What kind of gig poster does one design for the man with the most amazing distorted tone on the planet when he goes acoustic? Naturally, you make a poster paying tribute to one of the shittiest distortion pedals ever made.
Parodied on my gig poster for King Buzzo is the DOD FX33, the “Buzz Box.” According to lore (and King Buzzo himself) it was designed to emulate the Melvins guitar tone. DOD failed and instead designed something Buzz Osbourne described himself as “… totally worthless. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner.” It was never meant to be an officially endorsed pedal, but c’mon, it’s called the “Buzz Box.” I wanted to do a poster featuring this pedal for something Melvins related, anyway. The man himself dropping all distortion for his material seemed the perfect time to do so.