Featured Artist NDA

An interview with the street artist NDA, who contributed to DIY Magic and also happens to be a really good friend. His work is bold and pops up everywhere, (just last week it was even featured on Chris Rock’s instagram feed). Keep an eye on this guy!

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You are known for your large outdoor murals—what are some different considerations when working on such a big scale?

I think the main considerations are texture and environment. Scaling up the work from a sketch isn’t necessarily tricky by itself but you also need to be aware of each surfaces nuances. There’s a lot of on-the-fly problem solving that  goes in to it and often times you’re forced to change your idea up based on where you’re able to put the paint and where you’re not. I think another huge factor is having to work with limited resources. Often times my murals are painted with a DIY set up. This means that you’re often on ladders when scaffolding or a lift would be more ideal. So you have to assess the situation and make sure you’re not painting too high where it’ll be hard to come back and do tight line work. Early on, I would get overzealous and paint way too high with a roller and extension pole only to discover that I didn’t have a large enough ladder to reach the top for my line work and the pieces would suffer for it.

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You often collaborate with other artists. Do you have any tips on how to make a collaboration go smoothly?
I think in order for collaborations to go smoothly you have to be able to communicate with the other artist(s) every step of the way. I’ve done a fair amount of collaborating on large projects and you usually know pretty early on how it’s going to go. I feel like a good collaboration is something where all parties take risks and do something they haven’t done before. Having a set idea of what and where your stuff goes on the wall before you open a dialogue is the kiss of death for collaborative murals.
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Do you have any tips or tricks for tapping into artistic creativity? Do you ever get “stuck”?
I get stuck all the time. I’m still trying to figure out methods to jostle myself back to where I want to be creatively. One thing I find helpful is to have a lot of different types of work going at once. That way if you’re bored or stuck with one project you just jump to another one. Sometimes I just get burnt out on painting. When that happens I try to take that time to plan new projects by sketching and writing down ideas. I also find that a good, long walk can help refocus my energy. I’m a fairly anxious person and recently I’ve been trying to embrace the downtime as part of the creative process. Sometimes it’s crucial.
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When you’re making a piece do you try to think about the impact it will have on the viewer, or is it more a form of self-expression? 
Each project is different. Self expression comes from your egos’ desire to…..express itself. It can be a very selfish, narcissistic endeavor. But conversely, you are making work in someone’s neighborhood and you have to be respectful. Each project needs a healthy balance of self-expression and community engagement. This is the constant struggle and I aim get better at marrying these two separate sides of the process as I go.
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For people unfamiliar with your work: where is a good place to check it out?
I’m in the process of getting a website together so for now:
Facebook: “nda art”
Instagram: “ndapics” flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ndastreetart/
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I snapped this pic of NDA (left) & Iena Cruz for this collaboration they just finished. (Oh hey, that’s my bearded mug in the background!)

Conscious Inquiry with Alexis Brooks

I had a great conversation with Alexis Brooks host of the show Conscious Inquiry.

Alexis

Alexis is a warm, inquisitive, and charming host and I felt like we really connected and got down to brass tacks in our conversation. Definitely one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done. I’m looking forward to also checking out her book Conscious Musings. We are both writers who believe that you have the power to change reality for the better by starting with your own ideas and awareness.

Give a listen to our conversation here.

Or grab it on Stitcher and download for later right here.

Interview with artist Jason McLean

This month I’m featuring artists who contributed illustrations to DIY Magic. Here is my interview with Jason McLean.

While I was in New York I got a chance to meet Jason McLean, a fantastic painter and a really great guy. He invited me to see his collection of autographed Pez. So I got to check out his studio in Brooklyn and hang out. So, some of these pictures I just took on my phone and others are from art galleries. Jason McLean has the world’s largest collection of autographed Pez! So cool! (& he makes zines too.)
Jason McLean in his studio with some autographed Pez

Jason McLean in his studio with some autographed Pez

Jason has Pez autographed by tons of people including David Sedaris, Genesis P-orridge, Craig Daniels, Daniel Johnston, Yoko Ono, Dave Letterman, Thurston Moore and tons more. Here is a Pez signed by the musician Terry Riley who has a pretty cool signature:

Terry Riley

Your work seems strongly influenced by your surrounding environment. Do you ever try to use that on purpose? Like, I’m going for a walk over here and I’ll see if it turns into a cool idea for a painting? Does living in different cities produce different kinds of art?

Lately, I’ve been doing things that distract me, or that I want to happen I can draw them out in my drawing. For instance, I want to go get autographs right now but I can’t I need to get art work done for shows, so I thought I would do artwork about the autograph. Another recent work is about Pittsburgh, I know I cannot live there right now but I am drawing it as if I do live there. Kind of like, a way of fulfilling these things that I want to do, almost virtual in some ways. But it is more of a physical object, but I am doing it in a virtual way. I’m not physically travelling to Pittsburgh but I am there in my drawing, like astro projecting. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this, not being able to do things because of commitments but able to act them out through my art work. If I want something to happen I can have them happen in my drawings. Certain scenarios happen in the city that inspire my drawings, like surreal imagery, for example I was on the subway recently and there was a lady singing off key and dancing to Katy Perry, then a guy gets on the same car with a giant door, and another guy got on wearing a hood with giant mirrored sunglasses, put on climbing gloves and grabbed the pole. Other people on the subway were looking at each other as if to ask “what is going on?”

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Do you have any tips or tricks for tapping into creativity?

Sampling, listening to radio, television, or recordings. Walking around and sitting in diners, restaurants and overhearing conversations. Pulling from snippets and conversations from people around you. The idea of working overtop of a historical object, and drawing into the flaws.

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You’ve done a lot of collaborations, any tips on how to make a collaboration fruitful and fun?

Drawing collaboratively out of the studio and in a setting with food or drink/ coffee … a setting that is more of a fun setting that feels like you are hanging out. Not a precious moment, more carefree.

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Any tips for young artists just starting out?

Try not to excel too fast. There is no rush to any sort of top, that world is too negative it spits you out as soon as you get to the top. Do not forget the people who helped you in the beginning. Be yourself, don’t get all screwed up on drugs and alcohol or think you have to do a certain thing to gain recognition or acceptance, dying tragically at 27 isn’t cool.

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For any folks unfamiliar with your work—where is a good place to start?

Talk to my Dad. Just kidding, actually I’m not he won’t stop talking about my artwork but lately he has been doing his own work. Greeting cards and bag paintings, and has been talking about himself and his own art work a lot. He is a former car salesman so he has no shortage of the gift of the gab. You can also visit my weebly site, and there is a link to the Canadian Pez Museum a side project I have with my family.

http://jasonmclean.weebly.com/ 

pez!
 

Featured artist from DIY Magic: Ian MacEwan

This month I am featuring the work of artists who contributed illustrations to DIY Magic. Here is my interview with Ian MacEwan!

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Can you give us a quick rundown of some of the different work you’ve done?

 I draw comics mostly, which so far has been a mixture of self-published and contract work. I’ve also done some illustration, primarily box art for a dvd/blu-ray company called Arrow, where I’ve done package art for a number of Japanese crime films from the 60s.

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You’re working with Jason Leivian, doing the artwork for The Yankee, can you tell us about how that collaboration came about, and what the collaboration process is like?

That came about from being a regular customer in his store, Floating World, and talking to him about movies everytime I’d go in. He asked me if I wanted to work with him after I brought by my first comic to see if I could just put on his free table. Collaborating is really fun with Jason, his scripts can sometimes be fairly abstract, leaving me a lot to interpret myself. Sometimes a panel description might be some romantic notion that’s unrelated to the physical logistics of the scene, focusing more about the emotions behind it. I like not asking for clarification from him, and just bringing what I can to it. My hope is that it creates a peculiar rhythm that way, like how an old Seijun Suzuki film is edited.

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The Yankee was serialized online at Study Group. How do you see the internet as a medium impacting comics? Is it all good, bad, a mix?

I think it’s mostly positive. I owe all the comics work I’ve gotten from serializing The Yankee online. And I’m excited about the idea of curated online collectives like Study Group or What Things Do, I feel like I’m part of a comics gang. Patreon’s great too, from what I’ve seen and contributed to, and people are getting more and more creative with how they run them. All that said, I don’t like reading comics online all that much because I don’t have any devices beyond a desktop computer, and I usually read just enough to know whether or not I want to buy it when a print edition comes out. I got real excited recently when my friend Alex Degen got his comic MIGHTY STAR published by Koyama Press. I read the first few chapters on Study Group and patiently waited to see it on paper, and it’s so good.

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So the word is out that Portland is a great place to be doing comics right? Do you think living here has had an impact on your art? 

Yeah it’s a cliche, but being surrounded by so many people working helps a lot to kick me in the backside and get me to pull my weight. Also, having comics friends means understanding when I can’t see them during a long stretch of time and vice versa. And there are enough of us too, that there’ll be someone that’s *not* in lockdown to go out and hang with once a deadline is met. That’s huge for me.

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Featured Artist from DIY Magic: Allen Crawford,

For the month of June I plan to feature different artists who contributed illustrations to DIY Magic. The artwork adds so much to the book and I know that fans of DIY Magic will enjoy seeing what else these artists are up to— so click on some links and find out about some amazing art, books, comics, and blogs!

For starters let’s begin with the work the fellow who designed the cover of DIY Magic, which I love (but of course I’m a bit biased here): Allen Crawford.

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This cover pulls of a quite few difficult things at once. First of all it is beautiful, strong, and eye-catching, secondly it manages to look psychedelic, to hint at the strange & arcane knowledge that awaits between the book’s covers, without seeming garish or crazy.  It achieves a wonderful balance. The filigree pattern on the cover is meant to suggest elk antlers by the way. Allen Crawford had the idea of making them a bit more plant-like, and with the red background they are also suggestive of fire. I’m very happy with this cover.

Allen’s work first came to my attention under the pen name Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, the author of a wonderful little book: The Affected Provincial’s Companion.companion

It is a funny, smart, and weird book about style, about dressing as a dandy, and it is both filled with wonderful advice on style and life, and is bitingly funny and tongue-in-cheek at the same time. I contacted Allen because I loved the look of this book, and I wanted a similiar look for mine. In fact, if I am to be honest, The Affected Provincial Companion was a big influence on the writing voice that I used for DIY Magic; trying to strike that delicate balance between imparting useful knowledge and just having fun being weird & whimsical.

As you can see Lord Whimsy strikes the same balance in his attitude and attire. crawford

I could do a whole blog series about Mr. Crawford’s outfits. But I won’t, for that you should go to his blog where you can also find out about his latest doings in writing, design, and an astonishing amount of fauna and botanical research and musings. This man is that rare blend of Alexander Von Humboldt, Beau Brummell, and Aubrey Beardsley. (He does design work at www.planktonart.com . . . and crazy! I just noticed while writing this sentence that we have the same lit. agency: the Foundry. It’s a small world.)

Beardsley? Oh, yes, also he his a fantastic illustrator. In fact Tin House just published his  illustrated Walt Whitman “Song of Myself”, which looks stunning!

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Stunning!

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lovely!

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Egads!

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lovely!

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Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself

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