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Why we are artists and never wanted to be rich…haha (interview ‘em)

1. Please give a “behind-the-scenes“ idea of how and where you work. Include photos if you like.

I work in Chicago. Depending on what I am doing that day (a design project, collage work, research, printmaking, or some other random thing I’m trying to teach myself how to do) I could be working from my home studio, The Post Family (http://thepostfamily.com) space, Over at Struggle Inc (http://www.struggleinc.com/), the coffee shop across the street, or in the park. Since my practice varies so much, it’s hard to say how I work, but I can say that some common themes and inspirations are things like jazz music, typography, collage, an abundance of documentation and exploring, attending lots of discussion series and exhibitions, and hanging out around people that are smarter than me. All while keeping a general mindset of curiosity. [Here are some photos form my day to day habits including studio and process images plus some ongoing mobile imagery projects I keep going called Photos That Should Be Paintings (http://photosthatshouldbepaintings.tumblr.com) and Grids in Real Life (http://gridsinreallife.tumblr.com).

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2. What is your background education, when did you start to do what you are doing now?

I started studying advertising and design in high school and moved to a focus of design in college. But when starting my undergrad degree I knew I didn’t have enough money to finish a full four-year program so I just took all the design classes I could and jumped into the job world early. Because of this I have always made an attempt to be learning new things every single day. I like to saying I’m a student of life. I frequent free discussion series and lectures around the city, always having something to write with, capturing anything and everything I can.

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3. Describe your studio‘s focus and work process, concept, unique point of view, strengths and weaknesses of your approach to design.
See question 1.
4. What inspires you?
Jazz, minimalism, shapes, color, typography, my surroundings… I really wish this question would just disappear from the face of the earth, forever. What doesn’t inspire me would be a shorter list. In fact, I can’t really seem to think of anything there at the moment either. Maybe main stream country music and doctor’s appointments?

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5. What is it like to work and live in Chicago?
It’s wonderful. There is such an amazing community here and so much talent. Everyone is extremely supportive. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and am more and more convinced that the people here are like no where else in the world. Sure, there isn’t as much money or art market as in New York or LA, but I like good people, and some scenes have a shortage of that. For a long time I’ve been convinced that I’m happy with a lower yearly income and good people over more money and a less community conscious scene but with recent interest in my art work it’s becoming hard to ignore the costal art and design markets in NYC and LA. But for now I’m happy just visiting a few times a year and calling Chicago my home base.

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6. How do you find your clients or how do they find you? Is the internet playing a large part in this? Are your clients more international or local?
My clients are mostly through word of mouth and are somewhat concentrated in Chicago but I also have contacts in other cities since friends have moved around over the years. LA, NYC, Portland, and Detroit are some places that come to mind. Working on getting some more international exhibitions and speaking engagements or workshops at the moment. Germany / The Netherlands are high on the list. Most of my client relationships start from a face to face interaction at an art event or some other sort of gathering, or an old friend putting me in touch with someone. I’ve actually been getting quite a few apparel projects from Instagram followers (see my stream at http://instagram.com/chadkouri) lately which is crazy. And my portfolio website is a huge tool for me. When I can’t clearly answer the question “What do you do?” at parties and such, I eventually just end up writing down my website address for people to explore there.

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7. What big dreams do you have as a studio – go for it, the sky’s the limit!
I’d love to have a great big sunny live/work space somewhere with my partner Margot, who is also a creative type. With skylights and windows on all walls. But we are looking for a new apartment now so that is very front of mind. I think ideally I would like my artwork to be my main income stream and then I could really be selective with my design projects and only work on what I really believe in. That is a basic rule for me now but to be honest it would be nice to make a little more money doing it. I guess we all feel that way at one point or another. I’d also love to do a long term museum residency of some sort that merges my design, research and art practice into one big pile.

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8. Draw what first comes to your mind or include a photo/image of one of your designs.

Easter eggs.

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A. How do you live? Did you decorate your home in vivid colours? I’d love to see how you tackled the task of home decoration.
I love the bright colours you use in your art and films and would love to see if these colours recur in your home.

We live in a mainly white apartment (white floors / white walls), with colourful objects from the space age era and some DDR 7O’s furniture mixed with Alf, Anpanman, E.T’s and German Sherpherd figures.

Art books, cinema books, couple of novels, travel guides, artworks from friends and some of ours of course : couple of sculptures and paintings on the walls.

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B. Then I have a lot of technical questions. I.e. if someone is good in illustrating characters and wants to make ficticious worlds like you do where would they start?

This person should start to take the decisions that lead to their goal and eliminate what distracts themselves too much.
It’s the most difficult thing to do nowadays, when everybody wants a piece of your attention, one needs to focus to create something valuable for you and others.
Sometimes it means making sacrifices, living far from your family, not seeing your friends so often… finding the right balance.
That being said, this person would also need a tremendously big imagination and be able use it and to let it go! nike cortez sale

Ok so, I would say that works for creation in general, now in term of creating worlds it’s even more important to be able to focus and escape what surrounds you because you need to immerse in this new world you are creating.
You want to be there with your characters, next to them, to be able to look at them closely while they breathe, talk, interact with each other, feel the wind in the trees, smell the air, once you get to this state then you don’t feel the paper your drawing on or the keyboard you’re typing on.

Things you you would naturally do with friends or family members. black nike free run cheap

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What school do you recommend or can selftaught artists start to create their worlds in 3D?

We wouldn’t recommend one school in particular, it’s a combination of different studies that will get you ready and mature enough to have your own speech.
J: Central St-Martins in London, I had the best time ever!

What software do you recommend to start with animation?
Learn how to use a pencil, watercolors, acrylic, ink… and then I would say After effects because it’s at the crossroad of most disciplines.

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C. Do you have children?
Yes, two girls.

Or animals?
Only the one we have created, so… stuffed animals & puppets

Do you teach?
Ben used to teach in Paris for couple of years, but then he stopped to focus on our work.
Recently we’ve given a workshop in Sweden in Hyper Island School, it was great to get back at it at this particular point of our career and to work with extremely motivated people.

It seems you have a vivid memory of more naive ways of seeing the world. This makes it seem as though you would get along well with kids. Also the love for your characters make it probable that you would be super-loving parents or pet-keepers. On the other hand you probably don’t have time for family life?!

Ah ah, yes we love our kids that’s for certain and we still find the time to work on our projects between two baby bottles, we decided to think like it’s no problem.
I guess it will enhance our work as we have a direct access to an audience ;)

D. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a writer’s genre called Phantastische Literatur. A few years ago Max Fraser (author of the London Design Guide) established the term Escapism to name a part of today’s design world that is more interested in narration then in functionalism.
How do you explain the big interest in (your) parallel worlds and characters? Do you think it is because of a strong fear of the future (as about 100 years ago in the case of Phantastische Literatur)? Or do you think it is because of our fast-paced, more consumerist internet age in which kids and adults surf the web but spend less time “hands on” making art and crafts and creation is somehow a lost luxury that people are beginning to rediscover.

Mmm, it’s a little bit of all the things you just said, I guess.

We feel responsible for what we create so we try to avoid pure materialism.
At the same time it’s hard to avoid the materialization of your speech if you are not musician.
Our aim is to create high emotions in people’s heart / mind by using a combination of different medias.
It’s quite demanding to the audience, because basically they do the work in their mind.
By overlaying layers of different techniques, such as an illustrated character, talking with a 3D animated one, integrated in a live action environment, mixed with some models or puppet, you create new reality, it’s up to the audience to accept it or not but when they do, that means they have overcome a lot of preconceived ideas and the chemical reaction that happens in their mind, this mental imagery that what we seek.
It’s not really important that people understand what we want to say but mostly that it means to them and how they can relate to this art piece.

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E. The eyes of Kaluk and some of the other characters look so real. Then there’s the really large Namaruk,… All these things seems to take ages to make. Do you cooperate a lot with experts to help you build these large “sculptures”?

We have some friends who help us, Julia’s mother did help us also with Namaruk for example but we manage to do most of the things ourselves, we’ve have learned a lot from our mistakes and each project is a bit more simple and easy to create.

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F. Kaluk has many lives. Now you are at Kaluk’s world again. Which life/episode are you currently constructing and where and how can your audience expect to see the results? Did you do the spoons and stuff for his world yet?

We are developing the second life of Kaluk and working on making a film out of it.
Our last exhibition in Berlin was an introduction « The 2nd Life of Kaluk: Hypothesis » to it, presenting some of the most important characters of the story.
And now we are writing the script, designing the characters, it’s a long term project but we try to focus on it as much as we can.

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I. I love the pink tongue for the blue Diesel underwear. Can I embed the Diesel video and some of your pics with the interview? Any thoughts about the tongue?

Please do so.
Not particularly, in this case the agency came up with crazy installation concept and we provided the designs / Art direction and Direction.

J. Is the colour blue symbol for sexual connotation in your art or is it a coincidence that sometimes this colour is used when it comes to the more “obscene” scenes/scenes related to end of childhood? Any other symbolic meanings/colours/shapes in your art? If so, are they coincidental? Where do you think they stem from?

We wanted to make art films, so in the end you can find some Cocteau references in there, a little bit of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster and also to play with the sexyness of the Diesel brand so… no, it’s no coincidence.
Then, how we use colors and their meanings, it’s a very important matter in our work, I suggest we make another interview just on that topic ;)

K. Childhood: do you have traumatic or rather great memories of your childhoods? Is there a biographical incident for either of you to make you so attracted to childhood themes?

We do have great memories of our childhoods and there is a great nostalgia attached to it.
Nostalgia is fabulous playground to create and draw inspiration from.
As a kid, you are lower to the ground, everything looks more impressive and better in a way.
Imagine if dogs were twice bigger and you could ride on their back…
Your body seems to be elastic, you can fall on the ground and jump back up immediately.
Last time I fell, damn… it was painful and long before I stood up.

L. Anuses, farts, sausages and death. A kind of new pop art? What’s your inspiration?

Yes, and also because it’s fun, it’s comedy.
Death because nobody knows what it is and we have couple of idea we like to share.

M. What professional dreams do you have? Who would you love to work for? What more would you love to create?

What we want to achieve is the first Kaluk movie, that’s pretty much it for now.

Ben_and_Julia_kaluk_portrait

I would have loads more qu’s that come to my mind. But I’ll leave it for now.

Image credits: http://www.benandjulia.com

Dear readers,

today I have yet another interview for you. The photographer Namsa Leuba has won several prizes and is published in many of the world’s best magazines for her great work. On her blog you can see many of these publications.

As you know I went to Vienna International School and was therefore in touch with many cultures starting at a very young age. I have always been interested in identity and in people in search of their roots. Furthermore I love colours and patterns. These two reasons made me notice Namsa Leuba’s work. I contacted her and she replied to my questions almost immediately.

Please read this interview and reflect upon the feelings that Namsa’s colourful photographs evoke.

A) Are you currently in NYC or Switzerland? What is it like to live and work in NYC compared to Switzerland? Would you like to stay in one or the other place in future? Is it better to have both as your basis (Switzerland and the USA)? Or rather move on and live in different places still?

I was born to a Guinean mother and an Helvetian father. I grew up on the shores of Neuchatel’s lake in Switzerland.
Now I am living in New York.
It is a such exciting city that I would love to stay here.

Below is a self-portrait of Namsa Leuba: nike free run sale

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B) What are your childhood memories? Have some of these influenced your art/photography? If so, can you tell a story?

In 2011 I went to Guinea. This trip was an opportunity to reconnect with some of my roots. I have always wanted to explore and share this other culture that is part of me. And I knew that the best way to do so was to visit the village founded by my great grandfather. This pilgrimage to the land of some of my ancestors inevitably and immediately raised the sensitive question of “origin” or “origins”. Mine, that of my parents, of others (my subjects) and of my approach.

All I knew before the trip was that my mother is muslim and that my father is a protestant, although I’ve not been baptized. The religious aspect of my mother’s country became very prominent. I discovered an animist side to the Guinean culture which is based on people’s respect for it. I had been exposed to supernatural part of Guinea as since I was a child, I visited ‘marabouts’ (some type of witches) and this time around took part in many ceremonies and rituals. And for me it was important to do this work, because now I feel more aware of this situation, the existence of a parallel world, and the world of spirit. It was important for me to this work because it enabled me to be more aware of the intricacy and the existence of a parallel world, that of spirits.

C) When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

In 2004 I studied Design of Information in the Art School of La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH). When I was in my second degree, I realised that I wanted to improve in photography.
In 2011 I graduated from ECAL/ University of art and design in Lausanne, obtaining a BA in photography. During my studies I developed a curiosity, sensitivity and a particular focus towards the world around me. For the last two years my research has been focused on African identity through Western eyes.

D) Can you give insight into where you live? What is your home decoration like? What is a typical day like for you?

I am living in a typical New Yorker loft with flatmats. It is a mix of vintage and contemporary things.

E) Costumes are important in your works. Can you tell me how your models are dressed? Do you sew the fabrics or do you buy/borrow fashion for the shootings? Are there any fashion labels you cooperate with?

I went to many places to find the best fabrics to use and to choose the right people for my project Ya Kala Ben.
I created all the costumes by myself and I chose every thing that I used by myself.
In Africa when I was ready to shoot I could not waste time to avoid the sometimes violent reactions from people.
For the other fashion shoots I sometimes worked with Célia Lutangu. We have the same mind when we are together. She’s from Switzerland too.

F) Do you have your own studio or do you work in different locations? What camera(s) do you use?

It depends on the project. Sometimes I work in a studio sometimes not.
Most of the time I use a Mamyia R647 120mm and a Leica 35mm camera, analog camera.

G) Are there any people you would like to work with creatively? Any projects you would like to do in your creative life?

Yes, I would like to collaborate with many people whose work I enjoy. I hope this will be possible in future.
I have so many projects in my mind that I want to do. The only thing I hope is that I will have enough time.

Here are some of the photographs by Namsa Leuba:

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Image credits: Namsa Leuba

Today’s interview is with Lucy Cheung. She has a whole universe of art and inspirations on the web, that she updates regularly. Find out more about this fascinating person by reading the interview.

A. You work very hard and do a lot of research. You post daily drawings. You have a website, a blog and a Tumblr site, besides Facebook and Etsy, crafts markets, drawing marathons,…. This complex online and offline world seems as though you are a very hard working woman. It seems that you are very motivated to create your art. Do you sleep at night or do you work night and day? Do you work so intensively that you think only about your art/dream about your art? What is the difference between your Tumblr blog and Crushed Evil?

There’s never enough hours in the day really! I try to work normal hours unless there’s a pressing deadline as I’m a zombie with not enough sleep. Art and creativity is just all-consuming, it’s hard to not be thinking about it 24/7. But this can get overwhelming sometimes and I have to force myself to take a break and do something else. The tumblr is more of an addendum to the main blog Crushevil, for images that don’t warrant a full blog post or a reminder of things I want to look into more thoroughly.

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B. I noticed that you are fascinated by patterns. You say that you love bright colours. How important is the aesthetic look of the costumes for you? I think you are also drawn in by the stories of arranged weddings, of sadness in important moments of life as weddings, etc. Often the bright colours seem to hide the sadness of the underlying truth (women being forced into marriage to elder men, brutality towards ethnic minorities,….). Is this so? How about colours in your own work, do you think of stories when you create your creatures and masks and costumes, and if so are they rather sad? Or are they abstract and neutral for you?

Yeah, the aesthetic is very important, I can be quite controlling and restrictive on colour combinations and the materials I use which results in a particular look. I suppose the first thought of bright colours for most people is happy and cheerful but they can also be used to symbolise danger or for protection. I prefer to work letting my unconscious take control of what happens, so I don’t always have a specific idea in my head before I sit down to make something. It might be a shape I want to use or just a nice kind of paper I’ve found that I want to work around. Generally I think my work is more about mystery and a sort of unknown rather than a sadness. Maybe it’s more of a “quietness”.

Costume by Lucy Cheung

C. You create drawing with mask-like bodies and hair in many parts of the bodies. Do these creatures have stories? Are they representative for a sort of “other world” or “ethnic minority in the art world”? Or do they have another meaning?

They definitely belong to another “other world”, at the moment they’re kind of just faces and bodies that I’ve been obsessed with drawing variations on for a while now. I think their actual stories are something I will explore in the future…

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D. Your art is related to fascination with evil and dark worlds and ethnic minorities, different cultures and misbeliefs, beliefs, traditions.
Do you think this is partly so because of your personal story? Being a British born Chinese artist brings with it a search for identity in a world where you were immersed as a baby but that you maybe didn’t fully perceive as your own? Can you talk about your personal story in relation to the themes for your art?

There’s an underlying feeling of inbetween-ness that I can’t help because I don’t feel fully either British or Chinese which has probably contributed to my interest in all things that are “other”. There’s a lot of ritual in Chinese culture that didn’t make any sense to me growing up in the UK, but since beginning my blog I’ve discovered a lot of British folklore rituals that are just as mind boggling.

Mask by Lucy Cheung

E. You sell you work far too cheaply on Etsy? Why so?

Haha, do you really think so? People should buy now before my prices go up! Pricing is really difficult for me, I think my prices are fair but not extortionate. I’m interested in sharing my work and I’m always up for doing trades.

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F. What are your dreams professionally? Who would you like to work for or cooperate with? Who would be your favourite client? What cause would you support and with what means?

I would love to be able to quit my day job and concentrate on my art full time, do more projects, maybe something audio visual, animation or clothing. I’m obsessed with sewing clothes at the moment and am envisaging combining this with my drawing works somehow. I don’t have any dream clients, if anyone out there is on the same wavelength get in touch.

J. You love working with paper, why so?
It’s super versatile, fairly cheap, readily available and totally transformable. Magic material. cheap nike air max

K. Who is your favourite artist? black nike free run cheap

Hmm that’s a tough question. I’ll say Henry Darger. I love his obsessiveness, singular vision and total devotion to his work.

Today is the third day in a row that I bring you an interview. This time I interviewed Kevin Boyd, a minimalistic designer from Durban who writes about himself that “he studied architecture but became scared of estate housing”. So his journey continued to advertising and graphics and interior design. It seems that he landed everywhere.

The genesis of this interview is that I read an article on the blog Poppytalk: http://www.kevinboyd.co.za/work/colour-cafe/ and had the idea to contact Kevin to see if he was willing to be interviewed about the project “Colour Cafe”. He replied immediately and we started an email conversation that actually led to another project which is close to his heart: Afro’s.

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A. You mention a project that is close to your heart is Afro’s. Please let me know how this project came about, why the client chose you and what your intention is for this project.

The client was an existing client of mine that I had done other design work for. My intention is to maintain food quality and local design honesty no matter how much it grows.

Quote from About Afro’s (a document that Kevin sent to me to give further information about the project): “Afro’s is the brainchild of a food lover, a minimalist designer, a musical insurance broker and a well-travelled chef. It started with a chicken sauce that was too good not to share, and as the idea grew the Afro’s shape took form: a proudly local food offering that is mobile enough to serve the best chicken to any area of the city.”

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B. You say that you create simple and uncluttered designs. You write very little about yourself in your About section and in the Work section on your website. Do you think simple design needs no explanation? Or is it because you don’t like writing?

I actually do enjoy writing, but I like images to speak for themselves. It also takes a lot more thought to say something in fewer words. Much like design I suppose.

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C. Your work is all-round work. You do graphics, interior and furniture design. You say that you love nuances and details. Would you prefer to design “the whole thing” – from naming to graphics to interior? Or are you happy to do any part of the design and if so where do you feel you are best in the more graphic two dimensional work or in the designing of three dimensional objects and interiors?

I don’t like the idea of being a “jack of all trades” but I believe that something that is conceived and designed from beginning to end by one designer usually pans out more honest.

If I take all the elements in bite size chunks, and if I have enough time, I can still focus on the details. If I have to choose, I’m probably strongest on the 3D side.

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D. What are your professional dreams? Any project you’d live to work on? Any client you’d love to work for?

Ultimately I’d like to develop a product line so that I can be my own client. Designing from scratch with each new client and each new brief is good fun, but it isn’t the best use of time.

E. What does a day in your life start with? What daily routine do you need to work best?

Breakfast. Favourite meal of the day. I go to bed dreaming about it. Then I try to look at a couple design blogs to avoid reading my email.

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F. How does your design process work? 

I spend a Lot of time thinking (designing in the head). I only start executing once I’ve got most things resolved in my mind. I’m probably guilty of not sketching enough. When I do, it feels good.

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G. What inspires you? Are your inspirations more international or local? cheap nike air max

I think I get inspired by very random everyday things. But it’s what I love about being a designer. You can “work” no matter where you are. Often results in the glazed-over look when in boring

conversation with someone. But then I get a lot of inspiration from blogs too. usually international. so there’s always a balance. nike heels

H. Where in the world do you feel your work is understood best? Is there a place you feel you would rather work other than South Africa, Durban? nike cortez trainers

It’s probably not south africa. I often see people looking a bit confused with what I’ve done. But that’s what Excites me about being here, and in Durban in particular. There’s the opportunity to stand out, grow and educate the public. cheap isabel marant boots

 

Photo credits: kevinboyd.co.za.