AIB Illustration student Kristin Musser talks shop with illustrator Justin Kamerer of Angryblue. Don't get angry - It's right here, check it out...
What are your most productive hours of the day? What is a day in the life of "Angryblue" like?
It really depends on the day. I work at home, so the day sort of goes like this: Wake up. Coffee. Attempt some sort of morning practice (very important) - which might end up setting the tone for the day and then figure out what the hell is happening for the day and get going. I may spend the day packing orders, doing emails, creating or at the print shop destroying perfectly innocent pieces of paper.
What was your first art related job and how did it go?
Before I decided to do freelance work as an artist/illustrator/designer/whatever, my day job was doing web design. Before that, it was working at a sign shop. Before that, I learned a lot at a magnet high school and from whatever self-teaching I did after that.
Did you attend a 4 year college? What was your major?
I did a few semesters and then needed to pay my rent/bills, so didn't have the funding to do that. I think the route I've gone with experience has personally done way more for me than what college could offer my attention span. As a result, it's provided me with self drive to really understand the facets of art history and design that resonate with that I really love and then I learn as much as I can from peers.
What inspires you?
Anything. I try to keep myself in a constant state of brainstorming. Movies, music, banter with friends and mere opportunities. My house of full of things I've collected, so I've always got skulls, posters, prints, paintings and knick-knacks in my periphery. Though organized, there's always some sort of visual noise and I think that keeps me going.
The art world is full of highs and lows, what was your best success so far and your worst failure? How did you handle each of them?
The only failures I feel I've had are when my schedule has been too frantic to meet a deadline. Other than that, every single project is an exercise. Sometimes, you're going the motions on what you're comfortable doing and sometimes you're trying something completely new because it's uncomfortable. I've had some of those things not resonate with my current fan-base just because it's not what they're used to seeing from me, but I hope that I'm building a presence to where it's a little bit of a mystery about what I might offer up next. The theme of my 'brand' is how I bounce off of my random inspirations and hopefully my jackassery-fueled humor pops up here and there as well.
Sometimes something just doesn't resonate. With what I do as a print artist, it's a gamble every time I do a gigposter. Either the fans might not care about it, or they might be broke or people might love the art, but not the band ...or don't want a poster for a band they don't know, so they hold out hoping for an art print - and I can't do an art print version of every poster because it'll compete directly with sales. Something might KILL as an art print, but if it doesn't go over well as a poster, I don't have a way of knowing. Sometimes, a year down the road, a poster or print that didn't resonate when they dropped will randomly blow up and I'll sell out in a week without being able to track down the reason. Then again, maybe I'm just more optimistic than I come across by the nature of my work. If I'm completely botching my way through a job, I generally know it before anyone sees it. I've been lucky enough to where I've not had my heart invested and excited about a project and then when it was delivered had a client say "what the hell is this?!" I think the only way i could fail is just by not producing or getting lazy and feeling like I was done learning. That's the ultimate failure for any creative.
Lastly, what is the best advice you would give an artist who is just starting out?
Sponge everything up. Obsessively dive in. Research. If you have a style of art you like, research the crap out of it. If you like art nouveau, figure out what makes it work. Figure out the typography and which faces work together and why - don't just find some typefaces that are sort of cool looking for the style. Pay attention to the colors, line weights and anything else that might be important to the nuance. Though I didn't stick with a formal school of training, research and independent study into the masters and the modern leaders of design and illustration are incredibly important. I feel like every artist needs at least 3 (at least) artists they actively pay attention to that makes them think, "why the hell do I bother" whenever they release a new print. I have that with probably a dozen and it just makes me re-evaluate and think, "OK. It's time to up my game."