|Champion Studio||Geoff Mcfetridge||Contact|
|Highsnobiety Interview June 30, 2007|
Q1: Can you tell me a bit about this exhibition, what's the plan?
The only thing I brought is one big single piece, a paper roll of 300ft and about 20 smaller works.
All the rest I will create here on location. I roughly know how it has to be, but during the weeks I improvise and tailor everything to the environment. The show has to feel homemade and have a tactile nature. I'm interested in for example painting and taping a line that looks crisp from a distance, but from close it's different and you see the fingerprints and irregularities. I like these aspects, layers, sequences. Also in a logo; the first impression, the second meaning and the final experience. An artshow is similar; here I also build phrases...this show starts superflat, then through a secret door you'll enter a handpainted fake zone and going through another secret door the show will be more 3D and come to life.
Q2: What exactly do you want to communicate with the works in this show?
I'm synthesizing all the work I do in a show. So I'll integrate two or more pre-existing elements and this will result in a new creation. I'm synthesizing to simplification, limiting it...What can I do with only tape, silkscreen and paint without my studio and all equipment? What can I do in the space with not a lot of production? I try to push the stuff to be objects. I question myself: Is a graphic designer real? Is a computer made graphic real? Is a logo real or just a company talking to you? What if I handprint this logo; does it become alive? Or is a poster printed on wood more real? In this show I'm exploring these boundaries of graphic design.
Q3: What about the title 'Bend the Void, The Space between Yeah and Yes'?
Rhymes, poetry, language are all elements I like to play with. The difference between somebody saying yeah and yes can be enormous. How would you visualise that? Another title could have been: 'Where the apple becomes the core'. It's like a riddle; how would you make a poster of this lost zone?
Where language breaks down, graphics can excell. Sometimes graphics can say 10 times more then words and that's the place where I want to be. The place where graphics are excelling, into the void where ideas are intangible. I like to mess with universal language and make it unconventional. I give it all a twist and start playing the perception game. Misshaping language...and when it failed it doesn't matter, cause it's still funny.
Q4: How do you use text and fonts in your work?
I love recombining words and forming slogans...turning language into graphics. But I never only use text. Always a combination of text and image and there should be no pauze between text and image, the text should almost function as subtitles. I try to super simplify text and make it seem found, so it looks like you've seen it before. So it's not my voice.
When I was a magazines art director (Grand Royal!) I never wanted any text on the cover and even wanted to get rid of the barcodes. This wasn't possible ofcourse and now I make the text or a little too small, or too big, anyways not beautiful and imposing itself.
Q5: Looking at your recent video animation for The Whitest Boy Alive that has a very hand drawn feeling and comparing this to your other very crisp graphic work, I was wondering what the difference for you is between the 'free' work and the commercial work, crisp versus handmade?
Commercial clients, well lets say the artdirectors who select and guide the projects, respond to the really graphic work. They're like: 'you nailed it, it's crisp I like it'. But anything that's that effective can be questioned. With digital media you can have total control, but that's also malleable. That's why I try to push the commercial work hard...showing for example ideas about dreaming, clients respond to. Even work I did for cable companies are in this show.
Q6: How did your work change over the years?
Most of my stuff is consistent, but I'm revealing differently. I'm rehashing the same ideas, relationships between people, between objects and the space in between them. I keep applying this in new versions. At a certain point I was tired of my work, but this viewpoint changed: I embraced it and I'm not afraid to add to it. I'm getting down to the root: drawing. Forever I'm drawing like that and what if I show the drawing, just show the rough and explore different routes? At New Image Gallery (www.newimageartgallery<wbr></wbr>.com) I used water colours and painted non conceptual, it was just fun to do. At Yale school of Art recently, I made all the work in one week in the gallery, very graphic but really handdrawn and layered.
I'm ready to do shows now. In the past I approached artshows like a project and came up with a concept. Now it's all one project. I'm just doing this thing and reconnecting with all elements of it. The 'game' of separation between commercial - graphic - art projects wasn't working. Now I'm mixing all up...this artshow could be for a client.
Q7: How do you select the projects you're working for?
I go with my instinct, the way you are approached. I have to be inspired, or challenged or it has to be easy. Like a really graphic project where I can deliver well and I still have a lot of fun doing this. When it's just more of the same thing, I'm not interested.
Q8: Which artists inspire you?
I never had the background in graffiti or streetart, it doesnt interest me. All my creative energy went into graphic practice. I was part of the Beautiful Losers show and I never worked with these people in the same space before. I was really inspired by Barry McGee, Thomas Campbell and others; They showed me how to approach difficult moments and developing the work I do in an art way. I'm critical about the way I work and when the art work is not supporting itself you can question yourself: is it real or is it not?
All I need is the zeitgeist. Everything is universal, everything we've seen before. I grew up in Canada in the 70's and had the same textbooks as everybody else. I grew up in skateboards and was mesmorized by graphics of skateboards, surfboards, punk music, for the first time seeing graffiti in California...it hypnotised me. This language was 'sold' to me, my generation got sold hardcore. It hit youth culture at its hard. I was listening to napalm death, bad brains, the junk culture of today... We've all become graphic designers and people like me are running companies.
It's different to the generation now, now you already got 10 and the marketeers say: 'lets go to 15'. If you don't inspire them, they will forget. We were inspired, it was like: you are a skateboarder; you're creative. Now it's like: you're a kid; you love sneakers; you're desperate. I dont participate in mass culture, I am not inspired by it.
Q9: Any other interesting projects running at the moment and any dream projects?
At the moment I'm developing the identity for the surfline of outdoor clothing company Patagonia. It's outdoor gear, all based on ecofriendly technology. It's not about being cool. Everything is recycled will last for 20 years.
In the future I'd like to do some larger scale things, like a sculpture project or designing a childrens museum.
Thanks Geoff, was great meeting you! Looking forward to the opening coming Friday, so everybody who's around: COME AND HAVE A LOOK IN THE SPACE BETWEEN YEAH AND YES.
More info: www.mu.nl/exhibitions/79-geoff/79-geoff-eng.html
Words & Pictures: Remco of Ontour Clothing
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