David Welker (US)

David Welker (US)

First of all, I would like to make clear that the pictures illustrating this interview is just a small selection (according to my tastes) to the whole set David sent me, covering a far wide kind of styles and works. To have a better and complete view of his skills you should go directly to his websites, I think it is fair to set this clarification, as David's work definitly deserve more than just a quick look....


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

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

My name is David Welker. I live and work in Soho, New York. I draw and paint and also make screen prints. 

My grandfather was a commercial screen printer in the midwest who also did hand drawn typography and even some World War II American propaganda posters. 

I spent many years experimenting with physical arts, music and intangible mediums before returning to focus primarily on visual art in 2009. 
With the help of an awesome production company and an indie label I'll also be releasing my first album later this year. 

When did you start drawing?
Apparently I drew a decent replica of Rogier Van Der Weyden's "Descent from the Cross" when I was six, although no actual physical evidence of this remains today. 

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins
of your schoolbooks?
I studied illustration, painting and beer shotgunning at Syracuse University. I have since retired from beer shotgunning. 

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?
My art has supported me for the last 20 years. I did some Rock & Roll related illustrations in the early 90's and then accidentally stepped into the world of private  mural commissions.  
Subsequently I spent the better part of a decade painting Chinoiserie murals in private residences for absurdly wealthy people. 
The money was good and I did some beautiful work but it did very little for my legacy as an artist. 
The only thing I took from that time was a tremendous amount of procedural knowledge and a lot of travel. 
Thankfully I retired from that racket and began illustrating again full time back in 2009. 
Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists
you particularly like, what are your influences?
Max Ernst, Francis Picabia and George Bellows were my 20th century heros. 
Now I'm fascinated by anything from tattoos to underground comix. 

What are the principal steps in your work ?
Put a kettle on. Make some tea. Try to start the physical process as soon as possible. Pencil to paper and lots of thumbnail sketches.  
To quote Chuck Close... "Inspiration is for amateurs". In other words, the best things happen when you're in motion, not just conceptualizing. 

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?
If I knew how to use the computer more I probably would. I draw everything by hand including my separations. 

How long does it take you to do a poster?
I like to have at least 2 weeks. 

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 ?
As long as a client is not asking me to compromise my artistic vision then I'm open to a wide range of concepts. 
Fortunately at this stage of my career I'm afforded a great deal of artistic freedom. 

For which band have you already worked for?
Built To Spill, The Black Keys, The Decemberists, Primus, The Melvins, Justin Townes Earle, Mastodon, Phish, Swans, Mudhoney, Furthur, Talib Kweli, Soulive, and a bunch more.

For which band would you love to work?
Dr. Dog 

Do you choose the artists yourself?
Sometimes they choose me. That's always nice. 

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?
Trying to make it about the band and not about me. 

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?
I spent so many years being a part of no scene at all. 
I traveled around doing these private commissions for faceless billionaires. It was lonely. 
No matter how many of my pieces were published in Architectural Digest I never found a scene within that world to be a part of. I always felt out of place. 
It's been a nice discovery for me to realize that there is this active community of artists doing gig posters. 
There is a camaraderie that exists within the scene and it's really nice to be a part of it at this stage of my career. 
Right now I'm happy making concert posters and slowly developing my gallery repertoire . 
It's an awesome and highly expressive medium and it's still a novelty for me. I've only been doing it for 2 years now. I'm like the new old guy in the gig poster scene. 
Eventually I'd like to be a part of the pervasive low-brow or conceptual-realist gallery movement, if they will let me in. 
Poster art is still considered too low brow for even the low brow galleries so anyone who spends any significant amount of time making posters and doing typography has to consider this.
Jermaine Rogers recently said that the gig poster is one of the purest pieces of modern folk art that we have today. He's right, and the gallery world needs to realize this and celebrate this modern folk art. Fortunately there is a new breed of gallery and invitational pop up show that centers around editions and modern pop art themes. 
This has offered the general public and collecting community a lot of new and exciting alternatives to the austere and often pretentious gallery world. 
I'd like to transition to being a full time gallery artist but I think this needs to be a very conscious and concerted effort. 
Everything is a progression. Life is beautiful and I'm very happy to be where I am. 

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?

The best praise you received lately?
My anchovy pasta gets a lot of praise.  

What can we wish you for the future?
I could use a new flat file. 

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