Studio Tour #003 - Aesthetic Apparatus
Studio Tour #003 - Aesthetic Apparatus
Here we are! A little late on our part but better late than never. Drum rollllllll. BANG! Studio Tour #3 - Aesthetic Apparatus. Let's get it on!
Rod Hunting: I always seem to run into problems while printing and tend to get a little frustrated at times. Are there any prints you've done that were super difficult?
Aesthetic Apparatus: As well-seasoned as we've become, the printmaking medium never fails to give us trouble from time-to-time. Maybe this is a testament to our horrible craftsmanship or maybe we are actually pushing ourselves the more comfortable we get with the medium. But seriously, it could be the easiest poster design to print and we'll have trouble. From our perspective we'll always have trouble printing. The talent lies in not having problems but better understanding what's actually going wrong. Some of our favorite answers to printing problems include: "JUST ADD MORE INK," "ARRRGGGGHHHH WTF!," "HMM, IT LOOKS BETTER THIS WAY."
RH: Are there any bands that you haven't done a poster for that you'd really like to?
AA:Yes and no. And maybe. There are tons of bands that we would love the opportunity to create work for. But there are also tons of bands that we've been given the opportunity to do work for that we were really excited to create work for and the truth is when you're given a "dream project" it's very easy to choke. This person or group is so important to you on so many different levels but you have to consolidate it down into a single concept. It's very hard when you have so much you want to say about them. When someone is important in your life you can't just do what you might normally do, it has to be special and that's super hard. So, yes there are bands but we're kind of going to leave the best ones alone because we don't want to break our own hearts.
RH: How much of the design work is shared? Or does one design and one print?
AA: We do the design and have elderly, crippled, Taiwanese wrestlers do our printing. The studio has always been a group effort but singular projects will usually be led by one of us. Each poster is pretty much designed by one person with others at the studio throwing in their two-cents. We have a good friend of ours who has known both Michael and I for years and is always trying to figure out who has done which poster. He still hasn't quite figured it out.
RH: How did the Jim Flora thing come about?
AA: Years ago Dan and his wife ran into Irwin Chusid (the author) and Barb Economon (the archivist) at a film and music festival in Minneapolis before a documentary about one-man-bands that they were all attending. At that time Irwin had with him the first sample proof of 'Mischievous Art..." and was happy to show it off. The book was impressive, we kept in touch and later (knowing he was a fan) sent Chusid an Ariel Pink poster. We're not sure if he even liked the poster or not but, realizing that we could print and that we loved Flora's work, he just called us up and we began discussing the logistics and possibilities of re-printing some of Flora's early album artwork. We weren't that confident that we could do it but he was very trusting (and still is!) We tried out printing Mambo for Cats and actually didn't fuck it up that bad. The rest just progressed from there.
RH: Was there a toy that you wanted when you were a kid that you never got? Have you ever thought about buying it on ebay just to stick it to your parents?
AA: Dan was an only child so he got everything he wanted. Every huge Lego set imaginable, new bikes, all kinds of weird software made for the Apple //e they had growing up (it was technically his father's computer), pounds of Star Wars action figures and accessories. Michael always wanted a miniature, robotic version of himself that could hide in places he could never fit...haven't found that on ebay yet.
RH: What's the farthest place from home you've ever been?
AA: We've been in all the hearts of all the children in Africa. No honestly, wherever you are loved, you are home. No wait! OUR OWN MINDS MAAAN. No REALLY, as Aesthetic Apparatus we were recently invited to lecture at a design conference in Tijuana. The event was inspiring and the street tacos were so amazing. That's the farthest place AA has been.
RH: Have you ever been bitten by a turtle?
AA: A turtle? Come on, man. Of course not. A narcoleptic, hermaphaditic Orca? Yes.
RH: What's the worst swear word you can think of?
The Post Family: Well, AA has successfully met our challenge thusly forcing us to omit the reply. Both The Post Family and Aesthetic Apparatus agree that we in no way endorse such a horrible term but respect it's horribleness.
RH: I've seen your work in so many design annuals and magazines... is that something that's still exciting or does it lose its appeal after a while?
AA: Well, it's not like if you enter enough design competitions you suddenly don't have to pay anymore so if you're seeing our work in design competitions it means at least 8 months earlier we were still excited enough by seeing our work in these annuals to pay the entry fee. It is still really flattering and an amazing honor to be accepted to the annuals that we submit our work to. Honestly though, it's kind of a snake eating it's own tail. If we keep getting a piece or two accepted we're going to keep sending work in. But if we stopped, or never got anything in, we probably would not keep, or ever, send anything in. It's a strange dynamic there regarding design annuals though that will always spur debate. Who is benefitting the most from their publication? The publisher, the designer or the consumer? I think our parents enjoy it the most.
RH: When I was in college, I had a job at a bingo parlor. I got to call the numbers and get harassed by the same old ladies every day. Probably the worst job I've ever had. Before you started AA, did you have any jobs that were just terrible?
AA: For the first couple months of Aesthetic Apparatus times were tough and we had to sell our bodies on the street. Dan's specialty was masturbating in the cabs of pickup trucks until one night when a bunch of homophobes picked him up and beat him up because they thought he was gay. That ended that revenue stream right then and there. Later that week, trying to think of how we were going to raise enough money to really get this business going, Michael stopped by a donut shop. As he was waiting in line the person in front of him pulled a gun and told the employee to empty the drawers! He got the money but right before he could get away a customer sitting in a far booth shot him in the back! When the bullet hit him, the gunman shot the guy behind the counter and then when the guy behind the counter (who ALSO had a gun!) got hit he accidentally shot the customer in the booth! Basically, with everyone in the donut shop dead, Michael thought for a second, picked up the bag of money, walked out the door and all our money problems were solved!
RH: What are three things you can't live without.
AA: 1 dead Solenodon (a mammal found primarily in Cuba and Hispanola), 1 painted portrait of Louis Pasteur, and 1 dream
RH: Are there any habits that either one of you have that just annoy the shit out of the other one?
AA: Most days it's just the sound of the other person still breathing that cuts the deepest.
RH:Describe a typical day at the office for you guys. Do you stick to a fairly normal schedule? (Bonus points if you can put it together in a song like Axl Rose in Mr. Brownstone.)
5:30 am: Get into the studio. Feed goats. Take vaccination
6:45 am: Order pizza.
7:00 am: Complain that pizza has not arrived
7:05 am: Cancel pizza order
8:00 am: Nap
11:37 am: Awake from nap
12:00 pm: Surf internet
3:45 pm: Beer break
4:45 pm: Fire up graphic designer program on CPU
4:50 pm: push "make graphics" button
5:00 pm: Meals on Wheels delivery arrives
5:12 pm: Lock doors, go home.
RH: I have a problem with youtube. I'll sit on it for half a day watching clip after clip of stupid stuff that I don't really care about. I'm trying to limit the amount each day, but it's hard. Are there any time wasters that you have? Websites that you visit?
AA: The internet is a big black hole that sucks our time away daily. Just the list of things that we have to check on every day before and after work takes WAY too much time. We also start a lot of fires in our neighborhood. We've been told that's called "arson." We are true rogues.
RH: I've been reading in the news lately about this recession we're in... is this something that's affecting you at all? Does the doom print series sell better the worse it gets?
AA: The day the economy really went in the shitter our online sales dropped considerably. Which, honestly, makes no sense and is what is wrong with America. I mean, we you have no money at all what you really need is a limited edition, screen printed piece of art. Nothing can stimulate the economy better than millions of people buying pieces of paper with skulls and birds on them. I MEAN....RIGHT? COME ON AMERICA.
RH: What's in the future for AA besides getting your new studio in order?
AA: We just recently had a big breakfast meeting where we talked about what we'd like to do for 2009, goals we'd like to reach, projects we'd like to tackle. The truth is that probably 5% of everything we talked about in this meeting will probably get finished, or even started. We have goals we want to reach but we've never really been too worried about them. We try to kind of let the studio run itself. We'll never turn down an opportunity or ever disallow another person to do something they want to do because it's "not Aesthetic Apparatus" but to actually tell you what our future plans are would just be an impossibility. Space travel? Underwater chiropractery?
Davey Sommers: you mentioned how you're inspired most by nature and what randomly comes out of test prints/ fuck-ups saying, 'nature and chaos make better art than i ever could' with 'unimaginable colors' and such. can you talk a little more about inspiration along these lines, and if you see art/design as an unattainable reach to recreate the human response to society and nature.
AA: Here's the crackpot theory: The human mind is a simple one, it wants to organize and structural rules to understand the world around us. The whole reason we're here today is that the human mind was able to come up with this great invention called "the square" and the rest is history. But adversely, there is nature. Nature works on a completely different set of rules than the human mind. Seriously, when have you seen a square naturally occur in nature? The organic progression that nature works through with always yield "beauty" to the human mind because it's just a process that the mind can't forecast. The test print process falls into this category. There is no way for us to predict what will come from the process compositionally or otherwise, and it will always blow our minds when that process yields a completely different interpretation of the art we're printing at the time.
RH: You have done a lot of work with record companies/musical artist over the years and you have seen the transition from record shops to digital DLs... you mentioned you were working on developing a new type of item for the shelves (awesome!)... what are you proposing, will it save the record shop, and what do you see in the future for music's 'on-shelf' life?
AA: Wow, who have you been talking to? What did they say we were making? This must be some Fight Club type shit where our split personalities 'Lance Crutch' and 'Tanner Boosk' have been manufacturing a 'music packaging savior' or something because we have no idea what this thing is that we're supposed to be working on. If you do find out will you tell us? We'd love to take credit.
More photos of our tour on The Post Family Flickr page