Sonnenzimmer (Nadine Nakanishi/ Nick Butcher ) (US)

Sonnenzimmer (Nadine Nakanishi/ Nick Butcher ) (US)

First two voices interview on the blog, I am today really pleased to welcome Sonnenzimmer here, and will take this opportunity to apologize for the time it took to have the interview online. When you see their soft colors and style, you'll be surprised by Nick answer regarding his ish to work with metal bands, but, to my point of view, this would be a great idea, wait and see, but a soft pastel colors poster for Slayer should be a must see

NN- Nadine Nakanishi
NB- Nick Butcher

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

NN: Jason Roebke’s new Combination. He’s a Chicago jazz musician and amazing like so many here. But he has such an amazing sense for space and time.

NB: Early 90’s crust punk band, Econochrist.

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

NN: My name is Nadine Nakanishi and I grew up part in Santa Monica, California, part in Schaffhausen in Switzerland. I run with my partner Nick Butcher a small studio, Sonnenzimmer, in Chicago where we make art, design and screen print.

NB: My name is Nick Butcher, I’m from a small town in Tennessee called Dyersburg, It’s underwater right now because the Mississippi River is flooding like crazy. Nadine and I work together on lots of different kinds of projects, from screen printed posters to book design and everything in between.

When did you start drawing?

NN: Like most kids really early on. Drawing seriously, probably in Middle School.

NB: I started drawing in church because I was young and bored. I would draw the same pictures over and over again.

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

NN: I had drawing courses in school but what really made a huge mark for me was drawing together with my sister for 3-4 hours a day for a year. She was in architecture school and we would go outside and draw a lot of things from still lives to buildings to comics.

NB: I took as many art classes as I could growing up. The best were the still life drawing classes in high school. I enjoy drawing real things but it’s always a little painful, because I’m a perfectionist. I think improvement comes from time spent doing it...

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

NN: How do we say here? We make an income but we don’t make a living.

NB: Yes this is our only job. We do 1,000 things in order to scrape together a modest income. It’s rewarding and frustrating all at once.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

NN: In future we will. We have a project in the works but usually not.

NB: We’ve done some illustration work for magazines in the past, but not as much as we’d like to. We do have some interesting projects on the horizon though!

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

NN: I’m influenced by cultural tendencies and science and nature at large, translation of language and music–but also by technique and subject matter of certain artist’s that I follow here in Chicago. Chicago is the bomb for talent and love! It’s such an amazing community of professionals here. There’s the Chicago crew of visual artists such as Anders Nilsen, Rachel Niffenegger, Lilli Carre, Laura Park, Jay Ryan, Diana Sudyka, Mat Daly, Cody Hudson, Dan Grezca, Kathleen Judge, Dan McAdam, Ryan Duggan, Archer Prewitt, The Post Family, Delicious Design League, Anne Benjamin, Ryan Kapp. Then there’s outside of Chicago, to name a few, awesome Les Chataeux Vacant, Seripop, Dnml, Mike Perry, Andy Mueller, Justin Finnes, Landland... of course I am missing so many more!

NB: Early on, I was heavily influenced by Chicago poster artist, Jay Ryan. I basically rediscovered my love for drawing because of him. He has been a huge mentor for me. Actually working next to him was very influential in that he helped give me the confidence to figure out my own style. Working with Nadine has been a huge influence too. She works more conceptually, that has given a whole new take on things.

What are the principal steps in your work?

NN: It varies so much between drawing, computer, using found objects, paintings. I can’t answer that streamlined.

NB: Draw first, think later. That still works best for me.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

NN: We do everything by hand except the type. Sometimes we do that too.

NB: Most images start off by hand. Many get photocopied and layed-out on the computer, some images are improvised during the print run. There is no rule really.

How long does it take you to do a poster?

NN: In average probably between 3-5 days but that’s because we have small poster runs.

NB: There’s never enough time. I like to let things sit.

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?

NN: I would love that challenge. I love pictures, images and stories. So if someone is so progressive and believes I can make an interesting translation, I would love to do it. It’s actually a huge problem for us that people think we don’t like to draw figurative and representational.

NB: Yep, always up for a challenge! I think we do best under a little bit of direction. Doing client work, it’s always great for everyone to be happy and achieve their goals.

For which band have you already worked for?

NN: To name some: The National, The Antlers, The Books, The Swell Season, Andrew Bird, Bear in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitar, Freelance Whales, Tape, Mountains, Fennesz, A Hawk And A Hacksaw, Damon & Naomi, Roofwalkers, Like Pioneers, Bound Stems, Vox Arcana, People Places and Things, Mandate, Male, Mazes.

For which band would you love to work?

NN: I believe in small local bands for hiring us for posters. That way they get hung around town. They are always nice and cool to work with. But any band that understands that we do what they do - namely work creatively. On a short list: TV on the Radio, Esperanza Spaulding, Flaming Lips, Cat Power, Neko Case, Gillian Welch, James Blake, Cornelius, Kid Koala, Honey for Petzi, Chicago Thrash Ensemble

NB: METAL BANDS! All of them. I don’t think people really understand just how evil our shit really is!

Do you choose the artists yourself?

NB: It definitely goes both ways.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster?

NN: Deadline.


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

NN: Not really. I see myself in a print making community though.

NB: We definitely have some like minded friends and peers, but there’s not a lot of hanging out going on, as everyone’s so busy or living in canada.

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?

NN: You can find our prints at Renegade Handmade in Chicago, in the archives such as the Poster Museum in Zürich. Online on our website, on Poster Cabaret, Gigposters

The best praise you received lately?

NN: Our work had a sense of space and quietness.

NB: “Trapper Keeper” Art.

What can we wish you for the future?

NN: That we get work.

NB: More chances to publish books. A tour!

Last question: Do you know anything about french rock posters scene ?

NN: I’m afraid not. I only know of some people that do posters and are active like Force Breton in Nantes, Bongout but they are in Berlin and Baptiste Alchourroun who is now stationed in Montreal. But I know that France rules.

NB: No, sorry!

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