Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week, we start with an artist or designer who tells us who inspires him/her most and selects two favorite works from that artist. The selected artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her, and tells us why. Check out the previous part in the series, featuring Zoran Pungerčar, Burn Bjoern and Idon Mine.
Idon Mine is inspired by …
They inspire me because of their approach that a handmade design is actually made hands on and stripped down to the basic code of drawing, without slick caps attached. There’s no dress up going on, just ink on paper and a slow transformation of said drawing, led by wherever it will land in the end.
Their screen printed posters for the Flex club were done before half the world yelped for air making the gig posters of nowadays for whoever it is that wants to make a fat buck with music. Sure, it’s not as old as the original wave over in San Francisco in the 60s by the likes of Mouse, Kelley and Rick Griffin, or the 80s-90s loonatism of Chantry, Coop, Niagara and Kozik, but fueled by this counter-culture background, it sure is the first solid stamp of that kind posted in Vienna, sending me to run toward all MotMot had to offer—and you know what? I still do.
While by the early 2000s, most folks in Vienna still weasled around, looking at what was going on in the world for kicks and ignoring what was happening in the city, it took a duo of LA and South Tyrolean expats to make a mark. They put a foot down for coming up with the whole set-up of making the poster runs themselves in direct opposition to the Flex club, and that includes having no agencies, bookers or any other kinds of parasites trying to bust yer flow. Sure enough this run didn’t last forever in this slack town that mostly ignored the whole idea, but the seed was sprung in Viennese minds. Their endeavors were later indirectly followed by Burn Bjoern and the goons at Atzgerei, doing posters for the Arena, which also was the jump-off point for Michael Hacker’s popular, over-the-top screenprinted poster stupidity.
Steve Reeder, at Mot Mot is inspired by …
As an artist and designer, my sources of inspiration frequently come from outside the world of graphic design. One person who I’ve been very fortunate to befriend and who’s work has served as a constant source of inspiration is Ben Clark. Ben has a keen eye and immense technical know how, and he makes photography look effortless. Ben’s personal interests run closely parallel to my own interests, so his photo work is doubly inspiring.
Ben Clark happened to be in the right place at the right time, or maybe the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on who you ask. Ben was around to document the overlooked and mostly forgotten underground music scene that was happening in the 1990s and early 2000s. This truly underground music scene existed in the 1990s and is widely overlooked today because; the music is decidedly abrasive and non-commercial, and nobody from this scene ever hit the “big time.” Ben lugged around his camera to some of Southern California’s sketchiest music clubs, and got some amazing shots. The fact that Ben documented these bands is only part of why I find these shots inspiring. Ben brought a level of artistry to his photos that set his pictures apart.
I find Ben’s beach photos strangely compelling. As someone who grew up in Southern California, the surf and sand was definitely a crucial part in my upbringing and development. Yet, Ben is able to see the everyday with a critical eye, and somehow makes the familiar look alien. (both of Huntington Beach, CA)
Ben Clark is inspired by …
Donny’s art and design are always really well thought out, by sometime taking really simple elements and putting them together in ways that make me remember the art. He can work in just about any medium, and do it in a way that doesn’t come across as too produced or contrived. I’m very influenced by music, and his art reminds me of the way really good music is put together. If something needs production then so be it, but if it doesn’t then you just put in the elements that you need in order to communicate the idea or thought. Also, his work is very reminiscent of hip hop and electronic music. Donny knows how to draw, sculpt, write and direct, yet some of his art is grabbed clip art or public domain art that is re mixed with text, color and composition in order to create new meaning. It kind of reminds me of sampling and cutting/mixing other song pieces together to create a new song. He also doesn’t seem to subscribe to the marketing/cross marketing gallery system of fine art. Galleries, corporate sponsorship, media, and collectors seem to define what is good and what is not good these days. And we often get a strange mix of what we are told by others is good and great.
Social media is making things more obvious than ever and over saturation and too much bombardment the next big thing makes it more difficult than ever to distinguish what is genuine and what is produced to look genuine. If I do find something that is inspiring to me, I like to find out what is behind the interest of that creation. I then can think for myself and decide if it feels genuine in nature. Like everything that gets my attention, Donny’s work creates a feeling that I find interesting, genuine, and memorable. I know its good to me and I don’t need anyone to tell me if its good. Its great when something or someone gives you this gift.
One of my favorite projects of Donny’s is his Universe Series. He’s taken what I think is public domain shots of the universe and redefined the images with text. Sometimes what seems like an afterthought, a statement or just one word can change in meaning and context in a way that is presented through the text overlay of the image. Its a rather simple combination but its amazing how strong and memorable the imagery then becomes. Its also just very pleasant and meditative to look at and get lost in.
His other series just titled as Fine Art are pieces I’ve been a fan of for some time. Its mostly clip art that he had found in some random clip art illustration book mixed with text, reproduced much larger than the original and colorized. I think I remember him finding the book at a thrift store or garage sale or something like that and probably cost him like fifty cents. It was a book that anyone might overlook because the person selling it would probably put it in their discount junk pile or give it away for free. Donny took almost every piece of illustration and made something new and really cool out of it. These small drawings that you’d look at on a black and white page took on new meaning and became way more interesting. These pieces were done in the early 2000’s. About five or six years later a company by the name of Someecards would do similar work and sell them online as ecards. Donny had nothing to do with these, yet they looked very similar to his work. Except Donny’s were way funnier and thought out, and also had better color and design. He’s done a lot of work throughout his fine art and commercial career that I’ve seen duplicated by others. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, now if you google imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, just take a look at the work that pops up. Its quite a funny coincidence I think….
Tune in next time to see who influences Donny Miller.