Lucky Bandana is currently made up of one, very creative and passionate designer, Jonathon Ortiz-Smykla. If he considers hhimself as a newbie regarding rock poster arts, he has always been passionate by music and have many other areas where he can show his talent such as photography or T Shirts...
In the mornings I generally listen to songs and music on Nick Jr. while my daughter has breakfast (we tend to prefer Jack's Big Music Show and Yo Gabba Gabba). My general listening pleasures run through the jam scene - Widespread Panic, Grateful Dead, Les Claypool, moe., the list could go on and on. I listen to and collect a lot of music.
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I was born and raised in Alabama but now reside in Florida (after a stint in Atlanta). I received a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Auburn University in 2002 (War Eagle!). After practicing in that field for around 9 years I've just recently turned my attention more to graphic design and all of my current artwork mediums. I created Lucky Bandana Design just over a year ago to help gain some exposure for my work as I try to break into the rock poster scene and have my paintings exhibited on a regular basis.
When did you start drawing?
I've been drawing all my life. I appreciated my art and drawing skills more so early in life. After high school I spent more time pursuing what I thought would give me a steady paycheck while attending Architecture school. The economy as of late sure has not helped that pursuit much, but it did allow me to spend more time on my art and exposure.
Ha! I laugh a bit because I surely did my fair share of doodling and sketching in my textbooks during class instead of following lesson plans. In college we were encouraged to keep a sketchbook at all times and draw. It was more difficult to produce work when your being told to do it. Maybe this is familiar to other artists too? Either way, I'm always searching for ways to improve my illustration style as it always seems to be a work in progress.
Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?
I would love to design rock posters for a living - designing, screen printing, the whole deal. I try to supplement that idea with other avenues of art and putting myself out there to drum up exposure and creative criticism. While I pursue that idea, I am 'Daddy Day Care' most of the week days and work late into the evenings at a steady job to help support my family on a daily basis. My beautiful wife, daughter and family support my efforts so I could not do it without them either.
Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
No, not at the moment. Although I try to reach out to some publications hoping they'll take notice and give me some exposure. You reached out to me, this is prime example of great exposure! Just to be in the company of other great poster designers is awe inspiring. I just hope to leave my own positive mark.
I'm so new with the rock poster scene that I unfortunately do not have many books on hand to use as precedent. GigPosters.com is a great place for me to look at the work being done, past and present. I'm learning about more poster artists along the way and have come to know more about the artists involved with some of my favorite bands. With my painting I take some inspiration from Mark Rothko and Antoni Tapies. I also have a good friend in Nashville, TN who gives me a lot of support and inspiration to keep doing what I'm doing with my art.
What are the principal steps in your work ?
I brainstorm an idea, draw it out by pencil, ink the final design, scan it into the computer and render it in color digitally. That's about it.
Do you do everything by hand or on computer?
Well, as I just mentioned, I do about half of the work by hand and the other half on the computer. I'm not so savvy with a lot of the drawing programs on the computer to do it all digitally. I might even use AutoCad to trace sketches for cleaner lines if it calls for it because I just don't know enough to trace quickly and efficiently in other programs.
I'd say that once the design is determined, the work from there to get it drawn and rendered can happen quickly. Establishing the design itself could take more than a day. Drawing and inking the design can take another day or so, depending on the detail work and how long I feel comfortable tweaking it as I go. Scanning it in and rendering it in color can take an afternoon or another day, as I might try different variants for the best results. Every project is different in detail and time.
You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?
I'm always hoping new work comes my way. If it's a project that pays, gains me exposure or... Pays, then I'm down to try just about anything at this moment. I've learned that my ability to illustrate is above what I thought at this point a year ago. I'm more adjusted with my work and abilities to try new things right now.
I started with a local band, Crazy Fingers. A South Florida Grateful Dead Tribute band. They were cool enough to allow me to illustrate poster ideas for them, which helped me start to build my portfolio. Over the past few years I dove head first into the jam band scene and knew that purchasing posters at some of the shows I attended was a highlight of my experience and an item to keep that experience memorable. Crazy Fingers gave me a good start to begin doing that on my own. The Bearded Pigs is another band that allows me to try new stuff. One band I can hang my hat on with my breakout project is Widespread Panic. Being such a huge fan, I was overjoyed to have had that opportunity and the opportunity to design for Hot Tuna. I'm hoping it can lead to more work in the future for not just Panic but other big names in that genre.
Wow, I'm just so excited about all the bands I listen to that any band willing to approach me and ask for me to design a gig poster would be outstanding. If I had to choose a couple off hand, Phish and/or any side project thereof would be out of this world. moe. is another staple of listening pleasure for me. The list could really continue for some length, but the bottom line is that any band who offers gig poster work, is a band I would love to work for!
Do you choose the artists yourself?
In some aspect yes. I do my fair share of reaching out to see where I can fit in. I feel that if I just sit back, there's plenty of other designers grabbing up the work. The rock poster industry has grown a lot and is very deep with competitive designers looking, or waiting for work. I hope that one day I get more bands to approach me, but as I grow into a more widely known designer I need to do my fair share of reaching out.
Deciding on a design. Getting the parts together to see a design get to paper.
Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
Yes, I started as a collector and am moving towards being the designer. I appreciate every single design that's put out there for everyone to see.
A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?
You can view a lot of my work on my website:
There you will find rock posters, fan art, photography, and paintings. Every medium I'm exploring right now is up on the website.
Being the Featured Artist at a local art gallery (Art On Park) this month.
What can we wish you for the future?
A long and creative life with family and art.