In anticipation of Jay Shaw’s solo show opening at the Mondo Gallery on Friday, I asked him a few questions about the posters, his process, and his influences. You also get to peek at two more previews. Enjoy!!
To start, can you tell us a little bit about what the show will actually entail?
Definitely. This show is my take on posters for sixteen films from the Blue Underground catalog. Each poster is a limited edition screen print.
Were you already familiar with Blue Underground’s catalog, or is this obscure stuff new to you?
I was very, very familiar with Blue Underground’s catalog before the opportunity to do this show came along. Blue Underground puts out awesome special editions of some of my favorite films. I think I own at least twenty Blue Underground DVDs.
I know a lot of collectors assume that your work is all photo-based, but many of your posters (i.e. Bullhead) are actually drawn. Can you shed some light on your process?
Truth be told a lot of the aesthetic in my work is achieved through creative use of Photoshop brushes. With a Wacom tablet and the right settings in place you can get some really interesting things to happen. A good example would be the Torso poster. It’s a woman trapped inside a ski mask. To get the mask to work I took a photo of a knitted cap and fashioned it into a useable texture. Once that was down the girl’s legs and fingers were done with a dissolve brush set to a low opacity to achieve realistic shading. I took a scan of a tag from a dish towel and traced that with the same brush. I did the type by hand with the pen tool. It’s an impressive looking technique but it isn’t terribly difficult to execute. Coming up with a good idea for a poster takes me twice as long as actually turning the idea into a printable image.
Did you print the posters yourself, or did you have them produced elsewhere?
Most of the posters were printed by Martin Hammond in Denver. A handful were printed by D&L in Seattle and Seizure Palace in Portland. I’ve printed a lot of my own work before but more and more I’m coming to understand my limits behind the squeegee. Sending this stuff to really talented printers was the best option.
You’ve talked in length about being influenced by Polish film posters, but are there any contemporary poster artists that you look up to?
Oh sure. I love the Polish school of design for it’s boldness and willingness to take poster art in completely bizarre directions but there’s a laundry list of current artists I look up to. The first is Rich Kelly. His unique perspectives and exaggerated illustrative style make his posters stand out like no other. He did a UHF I find to be one of the most brilliant movie posters ever made. Olly Moss is the smartest dude around. Every time I make a poster I think to myself, “Olly would’ve done this way better”. Then we’ve got Martin Ansin. Nuff said there. Gabz, Phantom City, Vania, Horkey, Stout, Jock, WBYK, Taylor, Slater, Malleus, Danger, Ryan, Tong, Edmiston, Proctor, Munn… all brilliant. The be honest it’d be easier for me to rattle off the short list of artists I don’t look up to.
You’ve really done a lot of posters in a short amount of time, what are your plans for the near future?
More posters in a shorter amount of time. I’m not getting any younger.
Lastly, how do you think the show is best taken in? Does each poster stand on its own, or do you think the work should all be seen together?
I think it works best as a cohesive body of work. The color palette is universal and the subject matter is intertwined. While each film and poster exist on their own there’s a common thread of violent discourse running through the middle of it all.