Mission of Burma tour poster by Epic Problems is probably one of my fav, so far this year and thanx to this one, I discovered Neal's work and really enjoyed his style and, more specificaly the way he uses blue colors. Do not ask me why, this is the kind of things you can not explain but just feel and, to my opinion, I feel like Neal will soon be able to move his "printing operation out of a carpeted bedroom" as the poster world will discover his talents.
It could be anything really. Currently enjoying Death Grips, Zs, Jacaszek, Codeine, Deafheaven, White Hills, Locrian and Sharon Van Etten.
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I'm from Atlanta, GA. I've had music-related jobs for most of my life. It started with working in record stores, then I started my own internet-based record store and then I got into freelance music composing for everything from short animated films to web commercials and book trailers. As a musician, composing music for other people began to suck the creative life out of me and I never really enjoyed it that much, though I still do the occasional gig.
When did you start drawing?
I doodled when I was kid but I didn't start really trying to learn to draw until the beginning of last year. I tend to get obsessed with things, and drawing is no different. I spend a lot of time looking at artists' work and trying to figure out why and how they did what they did.
I've been improving just by study and practice, though printing takes up so much of my time now that it can be hard to find the time to sketch unfortunately. Still, the library is my friend and I love it when artists post process videos online so I can see what they're doing; whether it's tracing on a light table or doing pre-press for a printing job.
Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?
Right now I still sell records online and I'm getting more and more poster/design work which is great. I can say that for this month I could have made a living off design jobs alone, which is very exciting for me.
Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
No, not right now. I'm open to anything though.
I studied film production in college so much of my influence comes from that. I wouldn't say that my work is all that abstract, but having avant-garde filmmakers like Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon for professors was an eye-opening experience. As far as illustration goes I really enjoy looking at intense detail, so I've spent quite a bit of time with the works of Franklin Booth, Albrecht Durer and contemporaries like Vania Zouravliov and comic artist Rafael Grampa. Some of my favorite artists making posters today include Justin Kamerer, David D'andrea, Aaron Horkey, Landland, Drew Millward and Jeff Proctor as well as more photographic/collage-based artists like Crosshair, Witch Ghetto, Sonnenzimmer and Casey Deming.
What are the principal steps in your work ?
Once I've sketched out an idea I'm okay with, I'll ink it with technical pens and sometimes brushes on a light table. Then I'll scan everything into photoshop for coloring and playing with the layout. I print out and tile the films (or print them on bond paper at Kinko's and oil them up), burn some screens and then start laying down some ink usually while cursing loudly.
Do you do everything by hand or on computer?
The illustration is all by hand, type might be hand-lettered or computer and the coloring is always done on the computer, at least for now.
If you include printing I'd say it takes about 3-4 days on average to do a poster.
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 ?
If someone's going to pay me well I'll do it but that's going to be one messed up oil painting. I don't have much experience with oil painting yet, though I'd love to give it a go sometime.
For which band have you already worked for?
Mission of Burma, Wye Oak, Opeth, Trampled By Turtles and a few others.
For which band would you love to work?
I'd love to get a little darker with my work so I would say Sun O))), Neurosis, Electric Wizard, Melvins, etc. And also Robyn.
Do you choose the artists yourself?
Yes, for the most part. I'm still in the process of getting my name out there so I've reached out to people I think it would be cool to work with.
None of it comes easy for me, but in time I think I'll get better and more confident at every step of the process. Inking is fairly difficult because my hand isn't quite as steady as I'd like it to be and I'm still figuring out things like perspective and spacial relationships. I'm really looking forward to the day when all of this becomes more natural. Printing involves constant troubleshooting as well. My wrists can get pretty sore after printing 300 posters with a dull squeegee.
Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
I hang out on gigposters.com quite a bit and it's great to be able to chat and get feedback and advice from people I look up to. Other than that I don't feel like part of a scene yet because I do all this stuff in isolation and most of the time either ship out the posters or hang out in the corner of a dark venue. I think I'll feel a bit more connected to the scene once I'm at the point where I can be involved in group shows and festivals. As long as I keep at it and keep improving I believe I'll get there.
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?
A band I've loved and admired for a very long time asked me personally to do their album artwork. The label intervened and decided to do it in-house because of time constraints but still, just to be asked was a huge compliment.
What can we wish you for the future?
I'd love to work for some of those bands you see that really value concert posters and choose artists very carefully when they book a tour. I'd also like to move my printing operation out of a carpeted bedroom.
Thanks for answering my questions and see you soon on the website !!
Thank you, I'm honored to be included with all the amazing artists you've interviewed.