If by any chance David Bowie reads this blog and is searching someone for his next tour poster able to draw dragons wrestling french speaking maggot bunnieswithout clouds and birds in the background, Robert Lee is definitly the guy he needs ...
I listen to such a variety of music but recently I have been listening to Kurt Vile, David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, The Horrors new record, The Black Lips and some good classic Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield. I also enjoy Outlaw County on satellite radio!
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I am the youngest of three boys. Guess that means I was spoiled? I grew up in a smallish town in Ohio where, as a kid, I collected Mad magazines, played army in the woods, searched for playboys in the alleys and got tormented by my brothers. I have always been a collector of sorts. I like to immerse myself in pop culture of all kinds. It's important for me to be stimulated creatively as much as possible. I am a recovering illustrator with a tilt toward graphic design and all things creative. Music and art are my passions. I like to draw pretty pictures for a living. I love horror movies and the History Channel.
I can't remember not drawing to be honest. My big brother was always drawing so I was always interested in it.
We later attended the same art college, CCAD (Columbus College of Art and Design)
Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?
Having a brother that was so into drawing was a huge plus for me. My parents always encouraged us as well. I think if you have to tell someone to draw everyday then it's not a true passion. I draw because I don't know how not to. I did have a very encouraging art teacher in High school . She prepared me for art school and helped me get a scholarship. Art is much like everything else in the fact that practice makes perfect. Repetition and exploration are keys.
I am living from my art. I started a design studio with my best bud from college. I wake up everyday thankful I get to draw pictures for a living.
Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?
I don't get time for much collaboration these days. But am always up for it time permitting.
Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?
My influences are definitely rooted in the pop culture I surrounded myself with as a kid. I spent hours a day copying Mort Drucker and Jack Davis from Mad Magazine. Record covers, cereal boxes and movie posters where like crack for me. I couldn't get enough. I have always been an lllustrator primarily. I cut my teeth obsessing over N.C. Wyeth, Brad Holland, Marshall Arisman, Maxfield Parish, Frank Miller, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Frazetta, Drew Struzan and countless others. I was also attracted to early pop artist like Jim Dine, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. I didn't really get into the graphic designer/ illustrators until much later after college. A love of jazz music and movie posters exposed me to artists such as Saul bass, Reid Miles , Alex Steinweiss and Jim Flora. Art Chantry , Jeff Kleinsmith and the Ames Brothers were gig poster artists that first peaked my interest in that genre.
Since most of my work revolves around poster art I have to design and illustrate within the constraints of the medium.
Having a limited amount of colors dictates quite a bit in the way I approach a project.
When designing an event poster for a band I always start out familiarizing myself with their music and aesthetic. I search for any info that might inspire me wether it be lyrics to a song or the type of music they play. After filling my brain up with info I generally start sketching concepts. After coming up with some concepts I like (never send concepts you hate because the client will pick it and you will be miserable) I get approval for a concept then dive into finalizing it in color. Most of my work starts on the drawing table and crawls it's way into the computer for color and preparation for screen printing separations. The computer is a tool like any other you might find in my studio. The time the computer allows me to explore design and color possibilities is a great asset, but I still love my pencils, ink and paper.
oops- just answered that above:) Almost always a combo meal. Most time of any project is spent sketching and concepting at the drawing table.
How long does it take you to do a poster?
Best case it takes 2 days for researching and concepting and a day or two for execution.
The screen printing takes a day per color for 1000 prints. Printed by hand by our in house master printer Russell.
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 ?
People usually come to us (Methane) because of our style. If a client desires a style we are not comfortable with we will refer them to someone else who might be a better fit. I suck at drawing horses anyway.. but if you want dragons wrestling french speaking maggot bunnies I might be your man.
I have designed for Dave Matthews Band, Black Keys, Ray Lamontagne, Iron and Wine, Phish, Dead Weather, Gregg Allman and plenty of bands that no one will ever know-ha. It's a blast designing for so many bands with so many different styles of music. It forces me to explore and stay motivated.
For which band would you love to work?
I would love to work with David Bowie. Someone please tell him to tour already!
Do you choose the artists yourself?
Not always. As a business we need to be cognisant of a band and their following. Some bands might be hugely popular but just don't have fans that give a crap about screen printed posters. It's a challenge to design a poster for a band we might not listen to much or out of our wheelhouse sort of speak. When working for a local promoter we often request a certain band we like a lot to design a poster for. Some of these bands are smaller indy bands but often are the most passionate and appreciative.
100% the concepting. It's a challenge not to use birds, clouds, trees and Deer-all of which I have used way too much!
I think spice racks will be the new "bird" in graphic design.
Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
hmm. I think that a lot of illustrators who used to get most of their work in advertising and magazines are now finding other outlets for their skills. Stock art has taken away a lot of opportunities for lllustrators resulting in the illustrator having to create him or herself as a brand. I have noticed a lot of galleries caring more illustration driven work. Every since entering the poster genre I have seen a lot of great illustrators emerge. Artist such as Rich Kelly, Tara McPherson, Ken Tayor and Jay Ryan to name a few. I guess I would consider myself a part of the Illustrator/ designer genre?
Creating gig posters has exposed me to design as well as exploring illustration. I suddenly had to consider typography! I have seen way too many great illustrations ruined by poor type design and layout. Type is a great challenge which I have grown to really enjoy..as long as it's not more than 4 words-ha. I have realized that good illustration starts as good design. I think that's whats what they were drilling into my head in art school?
The best place to see our work would be our website. Methanestudios.com. Shoot us an email and we will tell you a secret.
The best praise you received lately?
The best praise comes from the fans who buy our work every day and help us to live the life we do. We work hard but it's not work if yuh love it right? oh- and this vampire girl I met at Dragon Con last weekend told me she liked my hat.
What can we wish you for the future?
Iife without having to paint horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop.
Ah ah ah thanx for your answers, cheers !