Issue 01 Nov 2013
Issue 01 Date format - Nov 2013 AU$9.25 NZ$10.95 www.taylormagazine.com.au
•The myth and the manufactory - Stanley Donwood •The Night Shift - New ways of working •Vince Frost on inspiration •Cute but sad - Luke Chueh •Flexing your creative muscle • Infinite Activity - James Jean
Thank you so much for picking up our first issue. This has been an exercise in blood, sweat and tears but also a project of intense passion for myself and the people I’m lucky enough to work with. Within these pages we hope to get you a little closer to some truly creative people and learn a little about what makes them tick. If this makes you tick a little better then it’s all been worth it. Hopefully we’ll be profiling you in an upcoming issue. I think the one thing that really comes through all the stories this issue is you should never stop doing what you love. If you believe in the process eventually things will start to fall into place. Every artist, musician, even the burger maker from page 10, has relayed an incredible need to keep doing what they are doing, not because of the money, but because if they didn’t they would lose the one thing that keeps them sane. Lastly we would love to hear what you think. This magazine was put together with you in mind. We want to make things more accessible and possible for everyone out there. If you have some feedback or a suggestion for a future article – let us know. Speak soon,
Editor in Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors The Taylor Team
Editor Jane Trizzar
Creative Director Lara Kally
Publisher Oliver Anderson
Acting Publisher Louise Barnsley
Creative Assistant George Frith
Editorial Assistant Gemma Fischer
Circulation Manager Robert Nunes
Marketing Suzy Courdeaux
Sales Co-ordinator Margaret Onslow
National Advertising Manager Amanda Peters
Advertising Production Co-ordinator Kenneth Banks
Taylor is proudly published by Maffin Publishing PO Box 564 Sydney NSW 2000. Taylor will happily accept freelance articles, illustrations, photography and other submission, however we are unable to reply or send back material. Please go to our website for details.
Contributing to this issue
Paul Cooper was using a razor for transportation in Sydney more than a decade ago, long before this practice was anything but deeply eccentric. These days, he writes more than he rides, and works fervently on his knowledge of expensive coffee to support his trade.
Tanner is a creative expert, entrepreneur, and online marketer from Salt Lake City, Utah. For the last four years he has been researching the creative mind and how it works. See more of his insights on his blog: www.creativesomething.net
Fran Burleigh is a writer, journalist and designer currently living in Melbourne. She’s been resisting the lure of the fashion world for a decade, and is now more than happy to let others guide her pursuits. She’s hoping to never have any kind of job where she is encouraged to work overtime and in her own time spends far too much money on comic books.
Ian Terence is a 27-year-old writer who was born in London, lives in Queensland, and wishes he was cool enough to make it in New York. When he’s not writing articles for Taylor, he’s either working as a contributing editor or tending to his blog.
Ethan Denry is a Perth-based photographer who has been working in Vietnam and The Phillipines for the past 12 years. The results of his work has been published and exhibited across Australia and Asia.
Charlotte Parker lives with her partner and two cats in a warehouse in the suburbs of Sydney, where she draws and paints constantly. Spare time is usually taken up with craft matters, blogging a bit of sculpture and badly played tennis.
Editors Letter Food Review
Chunky Spoons, St Kildaâ€™s favourite new Jazz, Tapas & Microbrewery venue
The Night Shift
We explore the world of the night creative and their new ways of working â€“ using the late hours to meet deadline and reach artistic inspiration.
Judging by the Cover
Eight fresh new talents in publishing and book design explain their methods and how their area of expertise is now starting to translate into the digital realm.
Cute But Sad
The not so humble hat stand
Luke Cheuh takes us through his journey of art and explains the themes behind his beautiful work. Peanut City, Josh Redan, Kellian, Goldyloks, CiaoTown and North Caro Border
Vince Frost on inspiration
This issue the household name takes us through his thoughts on inspiration.
The New Price of Fame
Flexing Your Creative Muscle
From the freelance zine writer, bloggers and YouTube sensations comes an unlikely fame – digitally documented reality is now costing these talented individuals somewhat. We talk to four well known success stories, and they share with us the pros and cons. Creativity is not necessarily a sport, but you can increase your fitness and ability. We look at some tried and true techniques to boost your inspiration and conceptual skills. James Jean talks about his art and his incredible work ethic – this guy just doesn’t stop. It’s no wonder he is at the top of his game.
It’s a Trap!
We explore the trappings of fashion - faux fur style.
The myth and the manufactory
Stanley Donwood introduces us to his strange and wonderful world, working with Radiohead, drinking too much wine and whether he exists or not.
The final word
Cute But Sad â€” Luke Cheuh By: Charlotte Parker
You really get the feeling that Luke wants to be the best at whatever he is doing at the time. He comes across in interviews as a person who is constantly trying to better himself, upgrade his skills and move up to the next level. He clearly likes to concentrate on the task at hand freely admitting that he stopped drawing and painting at one point so he could focus on becoming a Graphic Designer. It was only when he moved to Los Angeles and couldnâ€™t find work he started painting again as a way to keep himself busy while looking. In March 2003 he decided to show some of his paintings and was surprised by how well they were received, coming very close to a sell out show. As you can imagine this encouraged him to keep painting for a while and put design on the back burner. Touted these days as one of the hottest properties on the LA art circuit you might say it was a good decision. Looking at his work your first reaction is based on the cuteness of his Manga styled characters in their many forms of bear, monkey and rabbit. These instantly adorable characters are juxtaposed against the ironic and slightly disturbing situations they find themselves in. A bear finding himself on fire is slightly bemused at the fact that the tap of the shower has come off, leaving him to burn. Or the cute rabbit that turns his back on his adoring audience to take a much needed cigarette break.
It’s as if these icons of 20th century innocence are thoroughly disappointed at how the world views them and have resorted to often extreme acts to prove they have more depth than the average toy. While some of the pictures are clearly quite horrific, Luke creates a buffer zone between the viewer and the tortured creature allowing us to look on from a comfortably safe distance. An idea that appeals to many in our voyeuristic society and is demonstrated most prominently by the way his art consistently sells. A bunny chopping his ears off in muted silence is the perfect conversation opener for guests to your house… unless of course they have small children with them (in which case you’ll probably be seen as the devil incarnate for purchasing such an upsetting piece of art let alone actually putting it on your wall). The themes stem from Luke’s unhappy childhood of growing up as American Chinese in a minority intolerant community. Seen as a commodity by the other kids you can see direct parallels to the loneliness his creations show. Not fitting into a world that demands stereotypes the animals can take their frustrations out in ways that Luke was never able to. Luckily he has chosen to turn those frustrations into inspiration for his art and although the pictures insist you feel empathy for these melancholy forms they also provide humour based on the irony that horrible things happen, no matter how cute or harmless you are. t
Flexing Your Creative Muscle By: Tanner Christensen
Do it more, do it now. Without a doubt the number one question I’m asked as a creativity expert is this: “How can I be more creative with my next project/homework/ assignment/task?” There are certain people who view creativity as something that’s turned on or off. Those are the types of people who want a simple and straightforward answer to the question at hand. But creative thinking doesn’t always work like that. Instead, you have to view creativity like any other skill or ability, one that takes training and time to better master. Think of the ability to perform basic math, or conducting an orchestra, or even learning a new language. They’re all possible for anyone to do, but take time and a lot of practice to do well. So, if you want to be more creative, the best advice anyone can give you is the same advice they would give an aspiring mathematician, or philosopher, or dancer: practice. You can see even the most established creative people practicing when they’re not at work. The best creative have a seemingly innate understanding that, in order to be creative, they have to continuously flex their creative muscle. This explains in-part why so many great artists and thinkers find joy in a multitude of creative actions. Most creative aren’t just artists, writers, or musicians, they’re also sculptors, poets, master puzzle solvers, chefs, and many other things. More often than not: they’re experienced in several various practices, all which cause them to think creatively in some form or another. If you want to be more creative then: practice. Pickup a box of crayons and draw something, or take an impromptu dance class, or whip out an old cookbook and make something new. The more you explore your creative abilities, the more likely you’ll be able to use them when you need them next. Of course, flexing your creative muscle is only one part required to spur on new ideas, but it’s a major one. t
Infinite Activity – James Jean By: Fran Burleigh Talented, likeable and busy are the three words that occur to me when summing up 33-year-old James Jean. His art skills are without doubt although he admits he still feels he has a lot to learn. It’s this humble approach that has made him so many friends and supporters in the illustration industry, causing him to be often described as the artists’ artist. Moving to New Jersey from Taiwan when he was just three, James had always been hooked on art even though his family was anything but artistically minded. “My Dad would bring home computer paper, all dot matrix graphics and I’d turn it over and do these huge pictures of robots, Voltron and all the good stuff.” The little interest that his parents gave his pictures didn’t stop him and he drew at every chance he got. When he was about 12 he managed to see a neighbor’s copy of a Wolverine comic and it was complete seduction of the innocent, “They had the Yakuza in it, they were on drugs, there’s women in there, all this violence, it was great,” he remembers, “That really sucked me in and I started collecting comics for a while.” The interest in comics and art waned when he started high school and he became interested in another obsession: the trumpet. “It was a strange detour I admit, but I was intent on becoming a Jazz legend.” It was only in the last year of senior high he started to think about art again and enrolled in one of the only art courses available, advertising illustration, where he drew a multitude of cereal boxes. “I basically knew I wouldn’t make it as a professional musician and I thought ‘hey I’ve always drawn, why don’t I just give it a shot’ and I did.” Enrolling in the school of visual arts (SVA) in New York he joined the cartooning program but quickly switched after a year to illustration. “It was an absolute revelation for me when I got to SVA,” he says, “I looked at New York City and fell in love with all the painting and art.” He spent a lot of his spare time attending museums, galleries and
meeting passionate artists and slowly the energy to be a musician slipped away and was replaced with a fiercer ambition to become a great painter. At 20 and still in college he began working for an entertainment company doing drawings in Flash. The money was great but unfortunately only lasted for a year when the dot com bubble burst. Finding more illustration work proved to be a lot harder, “I decided my work was suited for book covers and approached all the big publishing companies.” They all rejected him. “I did eventually do one book cover for Simon & Schuster but it turned out terrible and was one of the worst experiences ever.” Determined not to be beaten he kept at it and was thrown a lifeline after visiting entertainment giant, DC Comics, the home of Superman and Batman. They gave him the chance to do a few covers for a new series they were starting in their mature audiences division, Vertigo. The title was called ‘Fables’ and revolved around the idea ofxand his professional career was born. “One cover pays pretty well so I could do one cover a month and bum around for the rest of the time.” A dream job by anyone’s standards and one that allowed him time to build up his portfolio and launch his website, something that started gaining a lot of attention. “That eventually got me a lot more illustration work unfortunately to the detriment of my own personal work… a bit of a trade off.” Vertigo appreciated the fact that James wasn’t from the comic book world, bringing a fresh perspective into a market place where the art can sometimes seem a little synonymous. “They’ve got this interesting mentality that they’re publishing fiction, not comics,” he points out. Soon after starting the Fables covers he was offered his first superhero title to cover, “It did okay and that introduced me to a whole new audience of comic fans. There are a lot of art directors out there who’re comic fans. I’ve had some people hire me while being fans at the same time, which is kind of cool.”
We were lucky enough to catch him in between jobs while he was suffering from the flu to ask him a few questions. So how does a normal day work for you? I wake up at nine or ten. Answer e-mails. I get a lot of fan mail, especially a lot from the comic art world. I tell you, the longer I work in the industry the more frightened I get of how zealous the fans are. I mean it’s good because they buy a lot of the art. They really love the work and really follow everything I do. They care, just in a very intense way. 90% of web searches under your name end up being a comic fan’s blog. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s an interesting mix, a lot of emails from art students too and some professional e-mails. So that takes up a little bit of time. Then I start work for... well I pretty much roll out of bed into work, maybe spend a bit of time with the wife when she gets too lonely. Normally work all day until maybe one or two a.m. everyday, seven days a week.
Wow, that’s like 17 hours which seems excessive. It’s the only way you can make a decent living in art. Saving up for the rainy days you know. I think right now a lot of people are really blowing up and doing a lot of great work, but then what’s going to happen five years down the line when you’re out of style? Style is a key word, for example I did an album cover for ‘The Donnas’ and it’s a little different to what I usually do. It was heavily art directed, and since I’ve done that, everyone’s asking for the ‘Donnas Style’. That’s going to get played out. So it’s important you spend time trying out new styles? With each assignment I do whatever comes naturally. One of the problems I had coming out of school was my lack of direction in terms of style. I had no idea how to approach each assignment; it was only through a few years of experience that I’ve come upon a sort of a style. With the Fables covers, they’re more diverse in terms of approach and there’s a fan base, or a following, that appreciates that. So it’s sort of become my
style, or my lack of it. There is a quote from one my art teachers at the SVA, he said “the best technique is no technique…” What’s the process of illustrating a cover? I normally get a script. I love to get the script. It’s a much better experience then when they tell me what to draw. A lot of the earlier covers were really fun because they’d got the scripts 100% completed and I had time to read through them, do a bunch of sketches and pick out the dramatic moments. Or sometimes you can find little bits and pieces that maybe aren’t so important to the story, but inspire interesting imagery. Recently the writers have been falling behind and I just get a vague description and I really hate that. As an illustrator you’re meant to be working from a text, deconstructing it and putting it together in a beautiful image, rather than just being a pair of hands doing a clichéd idea. Unfortunately that happens pretty often. You’ve done a lot of trade paperback covers as well, collected works, is that a
different experience, as opposed to a single comic cover? Yeah that’s definitely a big challenge in terms of hierarchy because I have to look at the story over all. Find what the main idea of the whole story-arc is, pick out the salient details and work it within that huge swirling composition. I guess that’s become my signature in a way, how I put together that whole picture and tie in all the different story elements. Especially those Fables trade paperback covers, they’re quite daunting and grand at full scale. My natural inclination is to simplify things but then my inclination to please usually leads me to something grandiose. There’s that word again: hierarchy. It’s weird, every artist I’ve talked to lately is going on about hierarchies being the key. It must be a buzzword! I picked it up from my drawing teacher, Jim McMullan. It’s just a really good word when you’re thinking about composition and organising your ideas. I don’t know how everyone else is applying it but I look at the trendy artwork
nowadays, all the Vector and all that stuff, and I guess that has a kind of hierarchy in a way. You have the big shape and then it sort of goes down into the more incidental detail. For me it works more in terms of telling a story, especially on a lot of the covers. A lot of people like it when I put in little clues and moments of incidence that give a secondary or a third reading to the cover, after they first read the story. Everything’s there for a reason. That’s what one of my professors at school stressed; you have to be responsible for your imagery. You can’t just throw it all in there, it doesn’t all have to have meaning but it should have a purpose. You know, like Mark Ryden, he’s almost apologising for his paintings by explicitly explaining all the symbolism. I think it worked better without it, made them more mysterious and everything. How long does a piece take you on average? It used to take me about a week, but now it takes me about half that time, maybe even a quarter of the time. With PhotoShop, it would
take me forever to do my selections and figure out the colour schemes. We didn’t learn PhotoShop at school, I took that up on my own and I’ve just gotten better over the years. I’m sure I’m doing some things the long way but it hasn’t really hurt me in terms of time. I’m more of a pixel pusher with PhotoShop. I cut and paste and move stuff around rather than use it as a brush. I try and do that in the real world and then bring it into PhotoShop. Apart from PhotoShop what mediums do you use? I use mostly graphite on paper but I also use a lot of oil paints, charcoal, acrylic, basically everything, gauche. In my sketchbooks there’s a ton of paintings with acrylic, which I drew on with ballpoint pen. I also use hand painted textures that I scan in to add to the pictures, Before you started doing comics you were really into your sketchbooks weren’t you? Oh yeah, I’ve done loads of them. I just don’t get as much time anymore and I don’t get around as much as I used to. I used to be ‘that guy with the sketchbook’ and I’d have one with me all the time.
You’ve got some beautiful portrait work in them, catching people in their natural state. Did you ask people if you could sketch them? No, no, I’m too shy! I used to do it on the sly. You’ve released a book containing all your notebook sketches called Process/ Recess. How does that feel having them all together? It was amazing to get it in the mail, to see it all condensed into that brick. It’s hit some stores on the West Coast but we’re having a hell of time getting it over from the publishers, it’s just getting held up in customs. It’s big and it’s heavy so they must think… well I don’t know what they think. They just keep holding them, which is annoying. We did get some cases for a recent lecture and signings, and for my show. I guess we had about 150 books for the weekend and they all sold out, so that’s exciting. What did you lecture on? It was sort of a bio, Photoshop demo. I talked about my influences and all that junk.
I think I went on for too long and people got bored! Actually, it turned out my wife was the only one who was yawning and everyone else seemed to be genuinely interested. I went through all my PhotoShop files and went through all the layers and gave everyone a lot of tips and tricks. Did you enjoy it? I guess I did, in the beginning I was a little nervous. It was my first public appearance as a lecturer, which can be a little frightening. I’m usually a reticent guy, kind of shy. My wife will tell you, I normally bottle it up. It was fun when I gave a lecture. I brought a whole bunch of slides of my influences and it all just came pouring out. I went on for maybe three hours. I’ve no idea where it came from, it was good, people asked me artist’s names and they were taking notes. It’s all good for the culture at large. The Internet’s good but it’s also bad, it’s a short cut. If you’re trying to educate yourself sometimes it’s really better to look through the dictionary rather than looking up a word on-line. Along the way you’ll bump into other things that you wouldn’t have
otherwise. You see all the young people nowadays... I talk like I’m so old… but you know, these kids are like 17 and 18 and doing amazing professional quality work but it’s still kind of a derivative. It’s all about style and six months later you can’t stand seeing any more deer antlers or paint drips! I don’t know, we’re all guilty of it. On your websites you seem very open about showing your roughs and the way you work. Is that a conscious thought to demystify what you and other artists do? I don’t know. I found, especially in the beginning, a lot of people were really interested in how I made the pictures and how I made my sketchbooks. I thought the drawings themselves were interesting to look at, how they would evolve into the finished piece. I see the finished piece as being inferior to the original sketch. It’s in the sketches where everything begins, and that holds a lot more energy and verve than just a bare boned structure of something filled in with PhotoShop. I love the drawings, I’m not sure other people do.
Do you work from home or at a separate studio space? I work from home. I do have a separate studio space but we’re still in the process of setting it up. I‘d like a big easel in there and everything. Right now I’m stuck in front of the computer all the time so I don’t really utilise it at the moment. So you don’t think it’s important to have a separate workspace? I talk to some people like Kent Williams, he really feels he needs a separate workspace. You know Magritte would get up and put on a suit before starting work. I work in my underwear! For me the physical space isn’t as important to me as the intellectual space. I’m able to get into that work mode pretty easily. I don’t have TV or Playstation or any of those nasty distractions. Work is so fun and everything I do is in service of the work. Art is work and work is life, you know. So what’s next? I guess you’re looking forward to taking some time off? Oh yeah! Yeah, I think we’ll get some money from the book and since I’ve been working so much I’ve a little bit of freedom
now. Hopefully I’ll get to do some more of my personal work and get that going again, especially the sketchbooks. We live pretty close to the beach now so I want to get out more, I need to buy a bike and see the town a little bit, do some more drawing, thinking. Do you feel like you’re famous? No, no, I mean, it’s a strange one. Someone started a fan club online a few years ago. It’s a little weird, it brings up a whole bunch of interesting questions, you know, like ownership, how much control you have over your own life. People have expectations and you almost become public property. Ideally what I’d like is that my work had more personality than I did, so it could speak for itself and I just disappeared into the background. Some people like to play at the rock star thing. You know, like Paul Pope, we’ve become good friends recently. He’s most known for doing his own book called THB. You should look him up; he’s a great designer and artist. He’s named one of the 10 hottest guys by some New York magazine. He’s a real rock star. He enjoys it, he can handle it.
On the other hand you have someone like Art Spiegelman after doing Maus… well you know, his book was hailed as a cultural icon. He’s had essays written about him, about the psychological and structural aspects of the book, I mean he won the Pullitzer Prize for it. It’s a great book, everyone should read it but… he got a block for such a long time, 12 years, he couldn’t do anything. Hopefully we’ll see more stuff from him. So yeah, I don’t know, fame, it’s a funny one. t See more of James’ amazing work at www.jamesjean. com or see some of the original sketches at www. processrecess.com, definitely worth seeing, just to understand how it all comes together.