Rob Jones (US)

Rob Jones (US)

What is very frustrating with interviewing artists by mail is that you do not see them, or just a little bit when you ask for their picture to illustrate the interview. Hopefully for me, you may find, sometimes,  someone like Rob Jones, who not only provide you with an interview full of humour and interesting revelations, but also a complete set of pictures of the artist by day/night, with his, i guess at least, father, etc... etc....

Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you?

Me screaming at cats to quit clawing the couch while "Dune" plays unquoted in the background.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

My name is Rob Jones, I am a graphic designer/recluse living in Austin, TX. I was born in Albany, Georgia, raised in Waco, Texas, and then finished shit off in Albany, Georgia again. If my name ever is mentioned, it is probably uttered in context to the boatload of work I've done for the White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather.

When did you start drawing?

I carved crude bison sketches on the sides of my mother's uterine wall using only the sharpened arm of my stillborn calcified twin. Sadly Mom didn't save them when she had that hysterectomy. She did, however, save some of my drawings done when I was four or five. I drew (no joke) Giger's Alien, Hitler, and Elvis. Hitler and Elvis were on the same page facing each other. Maybe they were about to duel.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

Self taught pretty much although I rarely draw anymore. The last thing I drew for a job was a few illustrations in a Haida style for the White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights box set (namely a penguin, a camera, and a 45 adaptor). Art teachers in grade school and high school always seemed to loathe me. I was the jerk-off drawing monsters when we were supposed to draw (no shit) a stapler.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

I live off of selling posters and working for a joint called Mondo in Austin, Texas that primarily puts out movie posters.

I used to make doll clothes, like I sewed doll clothes as a earnest attempt to make money. I'd spend a night perfectly pleating a miniature kilt for a dress uniform Scotty, and then sell the thing for less than $200. I'd figure out how much I was essentially paying myself per hour and it wound up half minimum wage. I wish I still had the names of the folks who bought them. It would be cool to have them back.

I also worked summers in a cracker factory a billion years ago. Some weeks I'd spend 12 hours a day alone between two giant ovens watching dough tubes spurt along. I was Scarlett O'Hara puking up a raw carrot between those ovens. I didn't want to ever have a job where I was by myself roasting alive doing some monotonous Sisyphean task. Now I'll go three days on making separations for a poster in the sweatiest room of my house, alone except for the cats...the eternal mewling cats.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

Not really. I worked on some horrible magazines in college. Oy, you should see some of those drawings. So terrific I had to burn all of my copies just so they wouldn't provide a painful reminder of the brilliance my young mind exhibited before the auto accident.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

All over. I was devoted to Mad Magazine when I was a kid, especially the work of Sergio Aragones and Jack Davis. Later, the biggest meteor to hit my eyes was the work of Frank Kozik. My brain barked like a tiny excited dog when I first saw his work in some issue of Rolling Stone. Closer to home though I rely on a lot of feedback from my wife, Jenni, and Todd Slater, a vagrant who camps around my neighborhood offering aesthetic advice in exchange for food.

What are the principal steps in your work ?

Get the call for the job, scramble to get it done. Hopefully I'm in love with it when it's done. If I'm not in love with it, then hopefully we at least had a good time together. I fall in love though most of the time. I stare at the image in the print order email, look it up online when it goes out, look at it up on the wall when my copies finally arrive. It's like having children for someone who has no idea what having children is like.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

Nowadays I mostly do it by brain on the computer.

How long does it take you to do a poster?

4 hours to 150 hours. Depends on how big the idea is. Doesn't matter though as the posters you spend the least amount of time on are invariably the ones embraced by the public. If you spend over two hours on a poster, you maybe ought to rethink and refine your idea... unless you just want to create the visual equivalent of an ELP album (that said, probably more than half of my posters are "Karn Evil 9").

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 up for anything if it works. If a client makes a suggestion, I'll try it out even if it sounds asinine. I'm not Tesla, so this shit isn't fully worked out before I start on a project. It evolves as I go, and I try to keep an open mind as you don't fully appreciate how something might interact within the piece or how the whole will react with you until you can physically look upon it. I don't really give a shit whose putting in ingredients so long as the cake tastes good in the end.

For which band have you already worked for?

Legacy, Lunacy Commission, Pink Swords, McLemore Avenue, The Hard Feelings, The Rockland Eagles, Loring, John Schooley and His One Man Band, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Spoon, The Willowz, The Twilight Singers, Karen Elson, The Avett Brothers, and The Black Keys.

For which band would you love to work?

I'd like to do work for Captain Sensible in exchange for demo tapes. I'm always meaning to make a poster of the likely machine transmitting the signal from the Captain's greatest work "The Universe of Geoffrey Brown", my absolute favorite album.

Do you choose the artists yourself?

Do I choose clients? I guess I did in my early venue ringing days, but mainly I've just been lucky.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

Overcoming the fear that you're fucking up and totally wasting time going down the wrong path. I've always found that if time is available, then I can push through and figure out how to make an idea work (like really make it work fucked up awesomely) even if initial results are less than promising.

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?

I guess I'm part of the "movie poster scene" and the "gig poster scene". Who else is in it? Anyone who makes or made, enjoyed or enjoys posters from those realms and recognizes they are not alone.

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? or

The best praise you received lately?

"Your breath smells great."

oh, and I got a Grammy. A Tony is just around the corner as soon as some Broadway genius revives "Cabaret".

What can we wish you for the future?

Wish that I'm happy with my work, happy with my life, and happy enough to help others be happy too. Or a dog that has the lifespan of a parrot.

Thanks for answering my questions and see you soon on the website !!

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