Ah, and Ten Questions returns, now in an improved form. I have modified and combined some of the questions, which should lead to even more juicy info. The first to step up to the new format is John Solimine aka Spike Press. John is turning into one of my favorite posters artists, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Age/Location: 40 years young in Chicago, IL
How You Got Into Doing Posters / First Poster / Years Doing Posters: The year was 2002 – I was chained to a cubicle designing websites for the military industrial tobacco complex and just about ready to blow my brains out. On my weekly trips to the record store, I started seeing more and more posters by the likes of Steve Walters, Jay Ryan and Kristen Thiele and everything about them really struck me, especially the thought of getting my hands dirty after pushing pixels for so long. I had been designing flyers for some people I knew in bands, but didn’t screenprint my first poster until August 2002, during a class at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, for a sadly defunct band from my hometown of Dayton, OH named Shesus. Soon after that, I cleaned out my basement and set up my own print space. So I guess that makes 7 years – I think I’m to the point now where every single piece of clothing I own has at least one ink stain on it.
Favorite Poster / Art Print You’ve Done: I hesitate to name an absolute favorite, but The Wrens and The National apartment are my favorites in terms telling a story in a snapshot and then the really goofy ones can still make me laugh: Cold War Kids, Vampire Weekend, Kim, Mexican Cheerleader…I think when you get really involved working on something, it takes a while to be able to look back and judge it more accurately…
Describe Your Creative Process a Bit: If the client is a band, I will research them a bit – whats the new album like, how are they representing themselves visually on the cover and t-shirts – and then I will do a bunch of thumbnail sketches. When I work all the obvious/bad ideas out of the way (unless obvious is good – see Mexican Cheerleader and Vampire Weekend), I will scan the sketch and print it out bigger and refine it, scan it in again, work with proportions in Photoshop, print it out again and do the final sketch. If I want a rough line style, I will ink it by hand and then scan that for final, but if I want a crisp line I will redraw the whole thing in Illustrator. I will then play with the colors and the move into the actual printing. Sometimes I think I am guilty of relying to much on the computer and not taking advantage of the medium – I think people like Jay Ryan and Sonnenzimmer really elevate the “art” of printing to another level…
All-time Favorite Poster / Art Print that Someone Else Did: Again, picking a single favorite is too hard, so I will give you 2 of my favorite studios: Methane and Little Friends of Printmaking – they both consistently blow me away with the originality and quality of their work. I credit Methane with getting me into doing posters in the first place – I hope I haven’t ripped them off too blatantly – so it was great to share a booth with Robert from Methane at last year’s Flatstock 17 here in Chicago.
Music Currently In Rotation: Been on a country/rock kick lately: Flying Burrito Bros, Dillard & Clark, Deep Dark Woods, Dexateens, The Sadies, Gram Parsons-era Byrds, Gram Parsons-influenced Rolling Stones, J. Cash, etc. – Also, can’t wait to hear the new album by The National due out later this year. Also, I am pretty sure I am well on my way to being a boring, middle-aged fuck when my NPR listening time equals my music listening time.
Last Print, Poster, or Toy Bought: Bought this print by the awesome Josh Cochran:
and this toy:
Hellboy is easily my favorite modern comic book and I think they’ve done a decent job of adapted it to live-action as well as animated, which this is from.
Art Hanging On Your Walls: Above my desk I just taped up some illustrations that I clipped from a NY Times article on Tomi Ungerer, whose stuff really blows me away – he did it all: anti-war posters, corporate ad campaigns, sex comix, children’s books, and made it all look so easy, fun and original.
Upcoming Stuff: A Decemberists poster, a few posters for The National, a few things in an upcoming Steven Heller book on typography, and a long-overdue children’s book about a battle of the bands at a zoo.
Words of Wisdom: When I was working for an ad agency, I was fond of the George Orwell quote “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” but now I can only say that if you have the good fortune to be able to do something you enjoy and make a modest living at doing it, give it all your all.
Go see more of John’s work, and buy some posters to help him buy some new, unstained shirts. Visit SpikePress.com.