July 30, 2004

Jeremy Crowle – Interview Comments Off

(interview originally published at UrbanVancouver.com)

Jeremy Crowle is an up-and-coming Canadian painter, illustrator, photographer, and all-purpose lunatic. I recently had the chance to interview him and we got to talking about art, politics, environmental sustainability, and relationships. He currently works at a Vancouver graphic design studio and his work can be seen at the Alibi Room in Vancouver starting August 22, 2004 or online at Fragile Lifestyle.

kk001 – We’ve seen you shoot photos, paint with oils, draw, build websites, design typefaces, and write on trains and walls, among other things. Tell me about your progression as an artist. Did you go to art school? What is your inspiration?

I went to a high school that really promoted the arts and had a great instructor. My folks have always been really supportive, as well, encouraging me to do [art] as much as I can. Aside from that, I went to art college for a week before I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s a great resource and there were some amazing, talented people who I met there, but my focus has always been a bit more grass roots. I’ve spent a lot of time learning [by myself] and from other artists I know on more of a progressive, intimate level.

My inspiration has always been the people around me, and I evolve as an artist naturally, I think—as we do physically. I started painting graffiti when I was 14, and became interested in graphic design after the paintings I was doing began taking on a really graphic look. I had first applied that with spray paint. It seems like any art form I try influences the rest of them.

kk002 – What is your favorite medium? How do these different media interact for you as an artist?

I think over the years I’ve grown to understand how a marketable form of art directly influences its environment. All forms of art are marketable to a degree, but the least adaptable to the media, I think, is where I fit perfectly. I don’t think it’s the medium, specifically, that gets me going; it’s the message.

I believe—and I’ve said this before— that a medium—whether it be a paintbrush, a computer, or spray can—is just another kind of hammer you beat the nail into the wood with. It’s really about how you use the medium – especially these days when a message may be more relevant to its audience than a medium. Of course, then you have to address the fact that some may come specifically to see “that” medium and, in some ways, you have to cater to that if you want your point to be taken.

A medium, to me, is just a way to reach a different group with the same message—or possibly choosing a medium that would more definitely communicate something than another medium would. Having said all that, I think my guitar is the best medium for me, because I know the least about it.

kk003 – How do you see the difference between the projects you’d categorize as applied art versus those you’d consider fine art?

The only difference to me is the criteria. Fine art is based (most of the time) on my own criteria, where most design (applied art) needs to address the client’s needs or vision.

In some ways, you need to think about response in all cases; but fine art is definitely more open- ended. There’s much more room for someone to react after having applied a twist of their own imagination or perspective, whereas design on a marketing scale is often really specific to the product. Fine art is used within media, but I think it really has a life and purpose of its own.

kk004 – You’ve had some commercial success with your paintings in Europe. Tell me about that. Who collects your work? How were they exposed to you?

I’ve has some really strange experiences in the past with the work I’ve done there. Some punk bands were really into some portraits I’d done. I had taken a photograph of myself in the men’s room at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, sent it to [the gallery] a week later, and heard from a friend they’d hung it.

It was shortly after a visit to Ireland that I had received interest in some other paintings from a gallery, and it started there. Years ago I had met a girl from London – a relative of a friend here— and did a group of portraits of her in a photo booth.

Those paintings did really well and sort of started the whole theme of relationship for me. That theme has obviously evolved into more specific categories, but, for the most part, still embraces that sense of randomness in personal observation. Recently, I’ve been involved with a group in Italy, and some work has been commissioned, but, for the most part, it seems to be word of mouth or pure luck that sells paintings for me.

kk005 – Do you consider yourself political? How does that manifest itself in your work?

I definitely think there is political context in the work I do, but I am often quite bored with the redundancy of government. It’s a whole lot of drama and half the time the things we hear are not the things that matter most. Even if they had a wrap on things, the majority of the public within that government doesn’t get to hear about it, or [is] conditioned not to care.

Maybe that’s a bit harsh. There are a lot of things in government that have a great potential to influence the way we represent our country, but I think a country that says represent us before you represent yourself is total shit.

A lot of people find a sense of identity in patriotism or in political movements, and that’s good. But I think the real government is not really here to help us know that; its here to offer whatever order it can muster. That’s its job.

Recently, I have been overcome with a desire to talk about environmental sustainability with my work. I think the next step to interacting with the environment you see as an individual is to respect yourself as a part of it. That knowledge really influences the way you approach communication—not to mention lifestyle.

I think any political relevance I have as an artist is to inform people that they are still people. They can still make choices—whether it’s voting, or choosing a better loaf of bread. I think we need to be concerned with the lifestyle we choose before we apply that choice to a population of humans around us. On an organized level, there are groups I support like Market Trade Fair or Doctors Without Borders.

kk006 – What’s the concept behind Fragile Lifestyle? Do you live a fragile lifestyle?

This week has been somewhat fragile (laugh) … The concept of fragile lifestyle is about relationship. On a large scale, it comes back to the individual, but there is a bit of vulnerability in genuine, honest interaction and you see a lot of people guard themselves from that. I try my hardest to offer a genuine response to anything I see.

kk007 – How do you balance being creative at your day job as a designer with the creativity expressed in the rest of your life as an artist? Do you feel like you use your best ideas at work? Do you ever feel that you are “used up” when you try produce paintings on your own time? Or does work and being around other creative people inspire you more?

It’s hard to compare the two because there is such a dramatic difference between the concept of fine art and design for me. I think my job helps me find more obscure ways of communicating an idea while maintaining a little legibility. But creativity is part of my lifestyle and it keeps me on point, I guess.

It’s the execution of an idea that makes it original, and I feel bringing that balance to Burnkit’s table helps the creative flow in our office. The guys here are really good. We’re a great team who lend skills to each other in an unusually fluid way and I’m inspired by how we communicate about our work internally. Painting is more of a voice; design is a resource. In terms of incentive, my day job motivates me to raise the stakes at the studio and visa versa.

kk008 – Are you currently painting? What are you working on?

I recently took a trip to Alaska, visiting a friend who was working there. About halfway into the trip, I got really inspired to change my thinking about the arts. She-my friend—introduced me to a new world of political issues, as well as deepening my interest in the environment. I am currently working on a series of drawings that explain our relationship with a completely natural habitat, from a totally urban perspective.

kk009 – Tell me ‘the two things’ about Jeremy Crowle.

1. love everything you do
2. love everything you don’t do

Minutia: At the moment, what is you favorite…

RGB color: 100% green
Spray paint color: Montana Gold raspberry
Photoshop tool: the clone stamp
Software application: MSN Messenger
Hip-hop album: ATLien
Author/writer: Stan Allen
Designer: Adam Neilson
Physical activity: walking
Website: http://tunneling.irational.org/cgi-bin/tunneling.pl
Video game: Siren
Clothing color: white
Food/Restaurant: grilled cheese sandwich and the Alibi Room
Beer: Raven Cream Ale
Movie/DVD/Show: The Blind Swordsman
Fictional character: Jesus
Quotation: “You are the company you keep”
Artist: Chuck Close
Place to hang out: The Trestle
Other: Alysha said she was meeting me for lunch today

July 28, 2004

Look at Me Everyone… I’m Pretending I’m Hardcore! Comments Off

Hey tough-guy! Not hardcore? Want to pretend you are so you fit in at Burning Man? Maybe you want to get inked, but are scared it will hurt. Or you like the idea of tattoos but don’t know what you want to get. Maybe you’re afraid of catching Hep C from the tattoo needle. Well Sleeves Clothing is the product for you. Nude colored, translucent tshirts with prefabbed popular tattoo designs already printed on them. Full sleeves in just 30 seconds. Choose from gangsta, biker, tribal, and Japanese. *eye roll*

Ha.. for those of you who don’t know me well or can’t pick up on my sarcasm, I think this is a lame idea. I understand the whole idea of getting tattooed as being an act of personal expression and a form of counter-cultural art. Anyway, the concept of these shirts seems to fly in the face of everything I’ve always understood body work to be. How embarrassing would it be to show up at a hot party or concert with brand new fake tatts only to found out 3 other people bought the same shirt and have the same tatts. Safe, user-friendly, sterile, un-artistic tattoo shirts for the masses. Heh… these guys will probably make a million bucks and they make me want to rethink my plans to get some more work done this summer. :(

PS. If you see a guy wearing a shirt like this at the club, chances are he’s probably stuffing socks down the front of his pants too to make it look like he’s got more than he actually does. I think this product will appeal to the same type of person.

July 25, 2004

You Have Bad Taste in Music Comments Off

Check out this series of QuickTime videos by Eman Laerton. This guy is too funny. He goes around to concert parking lots and tells fans that the bands they like are inauthentic, fake, and just plain suck. He stands up with a soapbox and bull-horn and tries to reform the fans of what he considers bad music with his public service announcements. His message is simple. Don’t go to this concert. Stop listening to bad music. Turn off your radio and tv.

After getting a crowd of partying Linkin Park fans to dance and chant “Linkin Park is a roller-coaster” he proceeds to tell them that like a roller coaster Linkin park may seem dangerous or appear rebellious while in fact it’s perfectly safe for family fun, the danger is an illusion, and they’ve been duped by marketing hype. He goes farther claiming the lead singer writes in fictionalized cliches and calling him fraudulent.

I would love to go see this guy do his act at one of these upcoming shows in LA posted on his website.

July 23, 2004

Blog Search Engines, Directories, and Listings Comments Off

I’d love to come up with a comprehensive list of sites that are weblog search engines, directories, listings, trackers, and major aggregation points. Here’s the group so far.

Blogarama, Blogdex, Bloglines, Blogsnow, Blogstreet, Blogwise, Daypop, Feedster, Globe of Blogs, Popdex, Technocrati, Waypath

If you know any I’m missing please leave a comment. I’d love to add to this list.

*spark-online Version 2.0 Brainstorming Comments Off

Lots of you are probably already involved and helping out, but for those of you who aren’t, we’re in the process of breathing some life back into *spark-online. We’re really early in the game so far, but here are a couple highlights.

+ We’ve selected WordPress as our publishing platform.
+ We’ve begun to port the archived articles from their old format into WordPress.
+ We’ve not spent ANY time on design yet. That will come later.
+ We’re trying to figure out how often to publish.

If you’ve been involved writing or editing for *spark-online in the past, and you’re not involved already, just drop by and create an account and dive in. We’d love to have you and there is plenty of heavy lifting to be done before we can start publishing new content again.

Thanks to everyone who has been helped out so far. It’s great to be collaborating with you guys again.

Design and your strategy Comments Off

A great new article posted today by Design Council.

Design runs deeper than look and feel – it can help you decide what you do and how you do it.

What comes to mind when you think of design? Your last office makeover? Your business cards? Perhaps it’s the artwork on the last book or record you bought. Or the last room you saw Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen change. Yes, these are all examples of design, but are you just identifying design as a superficial feature, employed purely for aesthetic reasons, rather than as a rigorous process. If you are, there could be more to design than meets the eye.

Businesses only really get the best out of design when they view it as something of core strategic importance rather than a coat of surface gloss. Think less about, say, the logo on your website’s home page and more about why you have a website in the first place.

One of the best known examples of a business transformed by the strategic use of design is Apple Computer. The development of the i-Mac (the work of a team led by Briton Jonathan Ive), transformed Apple’s fortunes in the consumer and education markets. A fine creative achievement but, just as importantly, also a great advert for the design-aware management culture, led by returning CEO Steve Jobs, which enabled that creativity. Remember too that it wasn’t just about putting a brightly coloured shell around the same old computer, but about creating an improved user experience. Apple’s design process embraced every single component and the entire manufacturing process. (More @ Design Council)

July 22, 2004

Web Design: The Usual Suspects Comments Off

Cameron takes us through the development of his current site design. Good job articulating his internal thought process.

Jason and half the frickin’ internet discuss CSS, XHTML and standards. Again! This one is a good intro to the whole topic though and be very relevant to people considering trading in their tried and true old web development techniques for new ones.

Tomas Jogin totally geeks out on heading hierarchy (title, h1, h2, etc) and document outline.Dave Shea jumps in. Reading this thread made me feel a lot like Jason does in his post above this one. :P

Some great code for lightweight, accessible CSS-based dropdown menus from Son of Suckerfish.

July 17, 2004

George W. Bush – Negative Capability Comments Off

The following assertions were collected from public statements made by George W. Bush and his official spokesmen since 1997. Originally from Harper’s Magazine, May 2004.

The President of the United States is not a fact-checker.
I’m not a statistician.
I’m not a numbers-cruncher.
I’m not one of these bean counters.
I’m not very analytical.
I’m not a precision guy.
The President is not a micromanager.
I’m not a member of the legislative branch.
The President is not a rubber stamp for the Congress.
I’m not a censor-guy.
I’m not a lawyer.
I’m not a doctor.
The President is not an economist.
I’m not a stockbroker or a stock-picker.
I’m not a forecaster.
I’m not a predictor.
I’m not a pollster, a poll-reader guy.
I’m not a very good prognosticator of elections.
I’m not a committee chairman.
I’m not of the Washington scene.
I’m not a lonely person.
I’m not a poet.
I’m not a very good novelist.
I’m not a textbook player.
I’m not an emailer.
I’m not a very long-winded person.
I’m not a very formal guy.
I am not a revengeful person.
I’m not an Iraqi citizen.
I’m not a divider.
I am not a unilateralist.
I’m not a tree, I’m a Bush.

July 16, 2004

McSweeney’s Lists Comments Off

McSweeney’s lists crack me up. Here’s a couple of a favorites and a link to the archives.

Titles of B-Movie Westerns That Give the Impression the West was Wilder Than Previously Imagined
Three in a Saddle My Pal Trigger Under the Tonto Rim Pirates of the Prairie Pals of the Saddle Law of the Lash Beauty and the Bandit Buckaroo from Powder River The Man from Rainbow Valley Young Guns
Elvish or Yiddish
1. A Elbereth Gilthoniel
2. Lorelindorenan
3. Geyin D’rerd Dort’n
4. Mellon
5. Parma Eldalamberon
6. Quenya
7. Keyneyin Hara
8. Malach Hamavis
9. Glorfindel
10. Osmon Hatgelt Furtmon
11. Arwen Undomiel
12. Chaim Schmiel
13. Elavil

Answers: Elvish: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 Yiddish: 3, 7, 8, 10, 12 Mood-Altering Prescription Medication: 13

July 13, 2004

Shout-outs. Vancouver Edition. Comments Off

Time for some shout-outs. It’s been way too long.

My friend Cris is now a rockstar. Josh’s company Burnkit redesigned. Boris is working hard at urbanvancouver.com. Cameron took a wicked Marketing job with Playground. Mr. X is burned out with Pimps and Chuds. Jeff is taking some time off too I think. Paul is going strong with two thirty media. I’ve been bouncing emails off LotusModern and IGiveGoodWeb all damn day. Ashlea took a job with Tim. Jame is hanging with Microsoft. James drew some wicked icons for me at work this week. Scott is leaving for Calgary and Dermot ended up at EA. Dave is still doing business, and Max started a new one. Christine writes back. Jer doesn’t. Primal took home some awards. Jak is busy being progressive.

July 9, 2004

Nightmare Job – MarCom for ChevronTexaco Comments Off

I have such great friends. Knowing that my company has recently been acquired and that likely that will mean the end of a job I’ve really enjoyed… my friends have started to rally and help me find a great new job. Here’s one I received from someone who was very well intentioned, but must not have thought about how difficult and depressing the position could be.

Job title: Manager Marketing Communications North America
Name of company: ChevronTexaco

PR and Marcom for Chevron? Heh! Ya right.

What happens when another drunk boat captain crashes another tanker into an iceberg? I sure as hell have more important things in my life to deal with then helping a mega corporation save face in a situation like that. Or what happens when some African nation that company has been exploiting for it’s resources rises up and kills all the American contractors working on the oil rig there. Can you imagine? No thx!

I really do appreciate the help guys. Don’t get me wrong… keep the leads flowing. But, come on, anyone who knows me even a little bit well knows there isn’t enough cash in the world to pay me to be the corporate mouth-piece for an organization like Chevron.

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