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Kissed, 2012

Last month, i speed interviewed David O'Reilly as a preview for the Pictoplasma conference that will take place in New York in a few weeks. Pictoplasma, as i might have written about 20 times so far, is one of my favourite events and because i can't fly to NYc next month, i'm using these short interviews as a way to be part of the event. Today it's Julia Pott's turn to answer my questions!

Julia studied animation and illustration at Kingston University then moved to the Royal College of Art for an MA in Animation. But she started piling up the awards and press articles long before she had even graduated. Both her very first short My First Crush and more recent film Belly have received praises and prizes from San Francisco to Amsterdam. She has since received commissions to make illustrations for magazines, music bands, fashion brands, big commercial names... Even for tattoos and tea towels!

Her films and drawings often present human experiences and existential questionings embodied and voiced by animal characters. There's something bitter-sweet and unsettling in seeing cute animals voicing concerns associated with feelings of love, loneliness, passage to adulthood, struggling to find their place into the world.

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Small Magazine, 2009

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Be Brave, 2011. Mural created for Frank Public Art in Austin, Texas

Many of the characters in work are animal species who dress, feel and behave like humans. Their stories are often quite moving, they experience love, regrets, rejection, loss, etc. Do you think that the reason why we empathise so much with these characters is because they look like animals, not humans?

When I initially began designing animals instead of humans it was to make the process more amusing for myself. Whenever I would animate humans I found the subject matter seemed too black and white. The animals became embodiments of our human characteristics in more endearing packages, an easier pill to swallow.

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Walter Album Cover, 2010

You work on both the story and the drawing of your short films. Have you ever dreamt of collaborating with someone for the scenario part of a film? He or she would would come up with the story and you'd just illustrate it?

Absolutely. I was trained at art school to be in control of every aspect - story, design, editing etc. and that feeling of control can be quite addictive. However as soon as you bring in an outside entity you have the chance to make something you would have never thought of on your own. If you can find the right collaborator it makes the process much more enjoyable than sitting alone in your studio with a pencil - it takes some of the weight off your shoulders and makes me, personally, much less critical of the work. My most recent film, 'The Event', commissioned by Random Acts, is based on a poem by Tom Chivers. Having that script to work from was hugely helpful - an important element was already taken care of and I was freed up to play with the atmosphere, the characters and the scenarios within that structure. The upcoming projects I am most excited about are ones that are collaborations with other filmmakers.


Julia Pott, The Event

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How would you feel if you were told that you are not allowed to create and draw animals anymore? Never ever again? Would you still like to be an illustrator?  

Story telling is the part of the process that I find the most rewarding. Having worked in animation for a few years now I am eager to move into live action and see if the feelings I deal with in my animated shorts translate well into this medium. I think I will always still illustrate, even if I was banned from animals for life! Can I still draw pizza?

Do you get to look at the work of artists working in other fields (painting, music, video, etc.) a lot and do you draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?  

I look to animation for inspiration in terms of colour and playfulness in design and movement. However when it comes to inspiration for story I often turn to outside resources. I would say I was most influenced by literature and film. I am a huge fan of the writing of Jon Irving, JD Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut and I often turn to their writing when I begin a project. Woody Allen, Joss Whedon, Wes Anderson and Rob Reiner are filmmakers I greatly admire.

Often at the initial stage of a project I will listen to a particular album or genre of music to get inspiration. At the moment I am very into eerie 50s love songs.

Any advice you could give to young illustrators / students who would like to be as successful as you are?   

I know it's a cliché but it has to be said; never give up. It can be tough going in the first few years and your friends will think you're a weird hermit, but if you can stick it out it can be very rewarding. Also it's always good to go with your gut, don't follow trends or create work for other people. Make what you love and other people will see that in the work.

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Is this your arm? Because then you have some of the coolest tattoos i've ever seen...

Ha no that is not my arm, but I'll tell the person attached to it you said so! It belongs to a friend of mine who commissioned the tattoo from me a few years ago. She has another design of mine on her other arm of a bunch of animals having a knife fight. She's kind of brilliant.

What are you going to present at Pictoplasma? 

At the Berlin Pictoplasma conference this year I was a little nervous and apparently this resulted in me talking very fast. It would be wise to anticipate this from me again. I will be talking through a few projects and how they came about. There is also a pretty good picture of Jonathan Taylor Thomas in there, for the ladies.

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Don't Get Scared Now, 2011


Julia Pott, Belly

Any upcoming project you would like to share with us? 

I'm currently working on a short film for the Miami based collective Borscht, and then I am co-directing my first live action film with LA based director Dustin Bowser. I just finished up an illustration project I'm very excited about but unfortunately I am not allowed to share the details just yet!

Thank you Julia!

Catch up with Julia Pott at Pictoplasma NYC conference on November 2 and 3 at Parsons the new school for design.

Sponsored by:





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First turn off the lights and watch this film full screen if you haven't seen it already. We can talk later...


The External World

David O'Reilly is a film director, an artist and i'm not going to add that he's a genius because everybody's done that already, including me after i first saw his work at Pictoplasma Berlin back in 2007. The External World had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2010 and was shown a few months later at Sundance. It has since won numerous awards. Another of his most admired short films, Please Say Something, received the Golden Bear at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. The film was the only animated film to win the title since Pixar's first short film.

But before i go any further, let me point you to Octocat. It's my favourite and I've watched it 4 times today. I can't get enough of the stupid voice ("Mmmh That looks like some chicken. Mmmh I'm just gonna eat. Mmmh, that's delicious!")


Octocat Adventures

O'Reilly's stripped down 3D animation films treat cute and/or bonker characters in a rather brutal way. He doesn't do adorable. he can at best stretch to bitter-sweet (see the video for U2's song I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight.)

But animation is only one of the channels that O'Reilly is using to explore the utterly baffling. Check out #1 twitter @FREE_FACTS! if you dare. Or its tumblr pendant.

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OFICAL #1 Tumblr Facts! 100% Free Real and true facts for u! New facts every day - always FREE!

David O'Reilly is going to give a talk in New York in early November as part of the Pictoplasma conference. And because I've never been shy about professing my love for Pictoplasma, i'm going to do exactly what i did last year: run a series of interviews with some of the speakers in the run-up to the event.

O'Reilly's interview is the first one to go online but don't hold your breath! He's not one to reveal much!

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Doodles by the central character of Son of Rambow, 11-year-old schoolboy Will Proudfoot, created by David O'Reilly

I almost fell from my chair when i saw the list of awards your animations have received over only a few years. All of them are deserved of course but since you've shown your work at major movie festivals such as Sundance, Berlinale or the Venice festival, i've been wondering why you have never been tempted to adopt the super protective behavior of many film makers. Instead, you let anyone watch your films for free on the internet. Why not just put a trailer, an extract and ask people to pay if they want to see the whole film? What do you gain from putting your film online?

The idea with releasing things online is you hopefully gain an audience. You might make a little bit of money if you charge for your short film, but at the expense of potentially millions of eyeballs.

I've never been really protective about my short films, it always seemed normal to put them online and then move on to the next one. I had actually been making animations for years before ever entering a festival, I never saw the point of going to all the trouble of sending out DVDs and filling out forms. I also (correctly) thought most of them were really bad.

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You work on both the story and the animation of your short films. Have you ever dreamt of collaborating with someone for the scenario part of a film? He or she would would come up with the story and you'd just illustrate it? And if you had your pick, who would that scenarist be?

I have been writing almost everything I do with Vernon Chatman for the last 2.5 years. He's a much more experienced writer than me and has taught me a lot but we're a good team. I'm not sure about illustrating someone else's script but I'd love to adapt Chris Ware's work, I think he is amazing.

Do you get to look at the work of artists working in other fields (painting, music, video, etc.) a lot and do you draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?

I know a lot of geniuses whose work I really admire - Vernon, Jason Woliner, Steve Ellison, Willie Bensussen, Eric Wareheim, Tim Biskup, Adam Buxton, Garth Jennings, Jon Klassen, Gregg Turkington, Mr.Doob, Aaron Koblin and others.

Any advice you could give to young illustrators / students who would like to be as successful as you are?

I would not give any advice yet as there is usually a strong possibility I will be homeless every 6 months.

What are you going to present at Pictoplasma?

I will hopefully talk about the small projects that I do in-between the big ones. Ways to stay occupied when you are tired and feel useless, that kind of thing. Also secrets... many secrets.

Thanks David!


Please Say Something

Catch up with David at Pictoplasma NYC conference on November 2 and 3 at Parsons the new school for design.

Previously: David O´Reilly´s talk at the Pictoplasma animation festival.

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Dreams

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Poster for the Off Centre festival 2011

It seems to me that Raymond Lemstra came out of the blue. First of all his style is unique and as such doesn't remind me of many illustration works i've seen before. But more surprisingly, he's only started to focus fully on drawing last year. Yet, he's going to be one of the key actors of Pictoplasma NYC, a festival celebrating contemporary character design and art.

Before working as an illustrator, Lemstra toured as part of the multimedia performance collective PIPS:lab and worked for MTV Networks as a designer.

His characters live in a sepia tone universe, some wear tribal masks, others are gentlemen with a neat little moustaches. Most have disproportionately big heads and unsmiling eyes that might make you worry about what's going on in their mind.

I'm happy Raymond accepted to answer my questions:

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Collaboration with artist Femke Hiemstra for the 'EEN WEEK' ('A WEEK' in Dutch) exhibition at the GO gallery

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Fire Pants

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Full Moon

Maybe it's the colours, or the way the characters dress but to me, the universe you create seems to be anchored in another time. Is it conscious? Do you have a specific decade or moment in mind when you work on new pieces?

There is not really a specific decade, but there are many periods in history that inspire me. For example the Renaissance with artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer who both had such diverse interests. The fact that arts and science mixed so naturally is something nearly impossible to imagine in present time, as people need big computers to calculate everything these days. Bauhaus has a beautiful sense of proportion and shape, I am thinking of Marianne Brandt's household objects, or Herbert Bayer's typography. Similar themes are found in the Amsterdam School, it makes me want to construct buildings or sculptures. I also find primitive masks very inspiring. Seeing man translating expressions and emotions into shapes onto a masks in different cultures, for different uses and through time is awesome.

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Tame

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Totem II

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Death

Where does your inspiration come from? In particular the masks and totems, where did you encounter them? through travels, books?

As I walk around I encounter many interesting shapes, colors and ways they relate to each other. This could be in nature, architecture, fashion, or any random object. When you place these shapes in a different context they will have a different meaning, as they will have a different intention. They become charged with a certain expression. I think the human mind is very willing to recognize faces in anything, so it is a natural choice for me to create faces with these objects. This way I basically ended up with totems and masks that seem related to precolonial masks.

There doesn't seem to be many female characters in your work. Is there a reason for that?

No specific reason. For example in my masks I am, amongst other things, searching for a boyish sort of awesomeness, so I end up with these masks that are kind of tough in a male way..

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Fur

I particularly like the Fur work. What is the story behind it? Who is this character? Where does he come from?

Everybody that approaches me about this drawing has a different story, I like it like that. It certainly is a character that is dressed up and ready to join a ritual of some kind. He is part of something bigger. But at the same time there is something bothering him. Maybe his girlfriend just broke up with him?

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Portret

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

I will be showing some new drawings and some prints.
And I will be giving a lecture, which is pretty new to me.
I tried to imagine what I would like to know about someone who's work I enjoy.
Basically I would like to know what inspires him/her and how he/she developed over the years.
And then some other stuff.

Any upcoming project you'd like to share with us?

I will probably build an installation soon.

Thanks Raymond!

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View

Don't miss Pictoplasma NYC. The conference takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design, the exhibition will be open on 3 - 6 November 2011.

Back to our Pictoplasma interviews. This time i'm talking with Andy Kehoe. I think it's the first time i'm interviewing a painter on the blog.

After having embarked on what he calls "a long and expensive tour of art schools", Andy ended up studying illustration at Parsons School of Design in NY. Nowadays he is successfully showing and selling his paintings in art galleries across the U.S. For more flamboyant information about his life, this is the way to go.

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Krampus in the Wild, 2011

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Forever My Fellow, 2011

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Ambassadors of the Otherworldly, 2010

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Roamer of Reverie, 2011

The world they inhabit seems to be as important as the creatures in your paintings. Can you tell us something about this universe? Is it somewhere on Earth? On another planet? A parallel universe? Do men have a place there?

I like having a world where I have the freedom to create anything and that would mean stepping far away from anything too Earthly. Too much reality and not enough magic going on here... and a serious lack of magical creatures and roaming spirits. Too human all around. I like that strange creatures, giants and spirits are known to exist and it's just a part of life. Though there is a connection to Earth, and humans have stumbled upon it and brought things like guns, whiskey, tweed jackets and crude humor. But any humans end up mutating into some sort of creature after a while. Honesty, I'm pretty horrible at drawing normal human people. Can't even remember the last time I even attempted it. Even when I was young, I preferred drawing Ninja Turtles and mafia-based comics that involved a gang of animals in suits.

Your world also seem to enjoy an eternal Autumn...

I have a deep connection with Autumn. Not exactly sure why but every year I try to absorb as much of it as I can on every sensory level. But there is a level of melancholy to it as well since as soon as all the bright colors of Autumn appear, they seem to disappear to the cold dark of winter. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the bittersweetness of it all. In any case, Autumn rules in my land and I get to live in it all year long.

Are your creatures happy living in that world?

Well, I'm not certain if everyone is happy living there but they seem to be doing fine. They certainly seem to witness more wonders than I do on a given day... and possibly more horrors. Comes with the package of living in a magical world I guess.

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A Fresh Soul in the Murderous Wake, 2009

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Be Wary of the Dark Places, 2009

How would you feel if you were told that you are not allowed to create and paint characters? Never ever again? Would you still like to be a painter?

That would certainly be tough for me. I love painting the landscapes as much as the characters but I feel like they are very connected and intertwined with each other. It would be hard to separate them. For most of my paintings, I have an idea for character when I start, but it isn't fully realized yet. I don't draw very much out before I start or make any preliminary sketches. I like to make the background and landscapes first and let that determine how the character grows into it. I never really have a complete idea how it'll truly look until it's finished and I feel like the characters and the world are evolving together along the way. Over the years, my favorite and craziest ideas have come when I broke from the plan and let things happen naturally. Now I just try to not have too much of a plan at all. This allows me to try new things, and lets life influence me the way it will through out the whole creative process. But if it came down to it, I could certainly spend my days painting empty forests and lonely mountains.

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Ideas Flourish, 2009

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Humanity Returns, 2009

Because your paintings evoke fairy tales and mysterious world, i've been wondering if you were influenced by artists working in literature but also cinema and music. Do you get to look at the work of artists working in other fields a lot and do you draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?

When I was young, I read a lot of fairy tales and kids books like the Little Golden Books, Hans Christian Anderson, Frog and Toad, etc. I also had a lot of fairy tales on tape so my brother and I spent countless hours sitting around listening to these fantastic tales. Those audio books definitely had an influence on me because it really left my mind free to wander and imagine these lands and characters. I still listen to a lot of audio books now while I paint and a lot of it is still in the same vein. I'm listening to A Game of Thrones and The Bartimaeus Trilogy right now so still on the fantasy kick. I listen to a lot of non-fiction and historical fiction as well, but I always gravitate towards works of high imagination.

Cinema is one of my biggest inspirations. I don't know if it directly influences my work, but directors like Terrence Malick and Wong Kar Wai have made films that have definitely influenced the themes and mood of my work. Their movies are so beautiful and they have a way of stirring emotions that I really strive for in my work. Miyazaki's movies are also an inspiration for me in the animation realm. All his movies are so fully realized and creative.

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Revel in the Wild Joy, 2011

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Walking with Wisdom, 2010

Any advice you could give to young artists who would like to be as successful as you are?

I guess one of the big things I can say is to not worry so much about succeeding. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to develop work so focus on ideas that interest you and be patient with it. The last thing you want to do is pander to what's popular and become a flash in the pan. If your work is genuine and sincere, people will notice. Once people start noticing and opportunities arise, make sure you take full advantage of those opportunities and continue to push yourself.
And internet really helps.

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

I'm submitting various works from some recent gallery shows. Of course, they'll be pieces that are more on the character-centric side.

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Parting the Darkness, 2010

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Onward Again My Friend, 2010

Any upcoming project you would like to share with us?

I have a show opening at Roq La Rue Gallery next month called, "Arise Feral Night." It'll be in Autumn which is perfect and also around Halloween. So the show will be about the coming of night and all strangeness that entails. My sister said the new paintings are kind of scary but I think they're more on the beautifully spooky end of things. The show opens October 14th.

Thanks Andy!

Previously: Pictoplasma focus - Interview with Joshua Ben Longo and Interview with Geneviève Gauckler.

Don't miss Pictoplasma NYC. The conference takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design, the exhibition will be open on 3 - 6 November 2011.

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Geneviève Gauckler, Food Chain

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Invasion

Last week, i talked with Joshua Ben Longo about his work as a character artist and designer. It was my first post in a series that brings the spotlight on Pictoplasma, an international platform that showcases the work of illustrators, animation makers, graphic designers, street artists, fine artists, fashion designers who explore 'character-driven aesthetics.'

This week i'm interviewing French artist, illustrator and art director Geneviève Gauckler. My first encounter with her work was quite a shock. All over French magazines and on billboards in the streets of Paris were these ads staring black little characters sitting on eye shadows, inspecting nail colours, gushing over the beauty of the model's complexion or, as in the image below, campaigning for the right to have clump-free lashes. It was a shock because i had no idea you could use humour to sell beauty products.

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Ad for Bourjois

But the work that completely sold me to her talent was Food Chain, an exhibition at MU in Eindhoven in which she explored the ambiguity of food.

Geneviève Gauckler has been working with and for people or companies as different from each other as the record label F Communications (Laurent Garnier, St Germain), French/German cultural TV-channel Arte, the collective Pleix, Vogue UK , PlayStation, cult Paris boutique Colette, etc. She also created books, objects, toys & Tshirts.

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Illustration for the French magazine for children Bonbek

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Illustration for the French magazine for children Bonbek

Bonjour Geneviève! I went through a few interviews with you and you are often asked about the graphic designers and illustrators who inspire you. How about artists who work in other fields? Do you get to look at their work a lot and draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?

I used to work as a graphic designer so many of these influences are in the graphic design, advertising and art direction field. I'm quite impressed by their sense of harmony and the strength of the images they're working on: Paul Rand, Robert Brownjohn, George Lois, Alexis Brodovitch, I spent a lot of time in bookshops and libraries to find rare books about graphic design in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Recently I've discovered the fantastic work of Corita Kent, I'm amazed by her creativity and freedom. Also, I was fascinated by British graphic designers like Malcom Garrett, Neville Brody, Me Company, Peter Saville, Designers Republic, during the 80's and early 90's. I liked their way of dealing with typography, the way they were mixing photography and graphics, very efficient, very spectacular artworks.

And I'm still a fan, I keep admiring many graphic designers and illustrators, the list would be very long! In other fields, I used to be into pop art, conceptual art and contemporary art, now I keep loving Ed Rusha and Robert Rauschenberg's art.

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Paris postcards

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I like this place

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Designers for Japan

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Hollandaise Party

How would you feel if you were not allowed to draw and create characters? Never ever again! Could you still imagine working as a graphic designer?

That would definitely be a big issue ha ha! I think I would do something totally different like being a gardener or a farmer. Seriously, I could become a graphic designer again, no problem!

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Food Chain in Eindhoven

I completely fell in love with your work when Angelique Spaninks from MU in Eindhoven gave me the catalogue of Food Chain. How did the project develop? Was it a commission with a clear definition of what MU wanted you to make or did they give you carte blanche?

Thanks a lot. Actually, I met Angelique a few months before, for the opening of Geoff McFetridge show at Mu, and then I proposed the idea about creating a show around the food theme. I love this theme because it's wide, it includes everything, it's both about everyday life and philosophy. It's actually my favorite show so far, I'm very proud of it. The Mu gallery in Eindhoven is a fantastic place to hold a show.

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Food Characters

There is something truly magical and charming about your sense of humour. Would you say it is very French?

Thank you for your nice words. Well, I guess the best side of French sense of humour looks like British sense of humour! Which is a kind of self-deprecation (but in a good way), to make fun of one's own weaknesses, trying not to take oneself seriously and also irony. I've noticed that I like having the APV, "the Alien Point of View", which means looking at daily things as if you were an ET coming from another planet. It can explain this "magical" touch.

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Marsatac Riot tshirt

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Jewellery for Le Buisson. Photography © Pierre Mendelssohn

Any advice you could give to graphic artists who would like to be as successful as you are?

It's important to remain curious all the time, trying to learn new ways of thinking, of making things, to work a lot (!) but also not to spend too much time on the web looking at things, it's really a challenge because there are so many great things happening all the time.

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Kings cards for Pictarot, a tarot published by Pictoplasma

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

My latest works and also some case studies, showing the creative process, whether I'm working on a commercial job or on some personal work.

Merci Geneviève!

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Digitally Isolated

Previously: Pictoplasma focus - Interview with Joshua Ben Longo.

Geneviève Gauckler will be speaking at the Pictoplasma NYC conference which takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design. The exhibition will be open on 3 - 6 November 2011.

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Joshua Ben Longo for the Renegade Craft Fair

In the Winter of 2007 i found myself in a small cinema in Mitte, Berlin, to watch my first Pictoplasma screening. It was a lazy weekend, i didn't feel like staying at home working. I loved the animations so much that i came back for the other screenings and for the conferences. When the festival was over, i bought the books and DVDs. Then i went to Pictoplasma US premiere in New York city. After that, i always planned to attend other editions of Pictoplasma but new media art and interaction design kept me busy elsewhere.

Pictoplasma focuses on contemporary character design and art. Not little humans, not animals. Characters! Whether illustration, animation, graphic design, fashion, street or fine art - the emphasis is not on the limits of style or format, but on the shared dedication to explore character-driven aesthetics.

It looks like i'll miss the festival again went it opens in New York city in early November. One thing is sure though, when the festival stops at La Gaite Lyrique in Paris in December, I'll be there with note book, popcorn and camera to document the character party. In the meantime, i thought i'll cure my nostalgia for Pictoplasma with a series of interviews with several character designers/artists. As you will see in the coming weeks, they are quite different from each other.

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Big Monster, 2008

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Belly, 2011. 22in x 36in Acrylic, Ink

I'll kick off the series with Joshua Ben Longo.

Joshua trained as a Industrial Designer at Pratt Institute. He quickly moved away from the world of commercial design and started working on independent projects which includes sculpture, furniture, elaborate exhibits, and illustration. He has shown his design and art pieces in the US and in Europe. In 2010, he was asked to design monsters for the re-branding of o2 Germany. He currently teaches 3-D design and drawing at Pratt Institute and is a design consultant to the fashion and home industries. If that were not enough, Joshua also writes music and makes movies.

I can't remember having smiled so much while reading an interview i was about to post on the blog.

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Sketch for The Sha

Hi Joshua! The world you design is never gloomy but it has its dark sides. It's populated with monsters, decapitated animals and disquieting creatures. How is the everyday co-habitation with this menagerie like? Is it pleasant to live with them? Don't they give you nightmare sometimes?

My house is currently filled with my work, but I don't see them anymore. They peacefully coexist in my space. My mind is so preoccupied with what I have to do that day, that I rarely stop and talk with my work. I should more. I never considered my work dark, I don't even see them as monsters anymore. They are more like children or pets. I love them. buttttttttttt......I have nightmares on at least once a week. I often wake up and not know where I am. I sit up and bed and see people and things moving around my room. Sometimes these visions scare me and sometimes they don't. I don't know that the two are related, but that's why we have psychologists and art critics.

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Monster Skin, 2006-07

I'm crazy about your Monster Skin Rug. Then i saw the price. You sell other more affordable pieces but it's still the rug that i keep looking at. Have you ever thought of using cheaper materials so that you could sell more of your rugs to the masses and me? Or would that completely devalorize your work in a metaphorical as well as a financial way?

The monster skin rug has been received very well and continues to get me attention and press. The original rug was made with cashmere, was hand cut and was hand sewn. It took about a month to finish. I now get the scales die cut and use a high quality dense wool felt, but it still takes at least a week to sew. Just the materials alone cost a few hundred (US) dollars. I'm sure I could make in china for cheaper using cheaper material, but that was never the plan. I am interested in mass producing the rug, which will bring down the cost, but I want to make a high quality product that is respected for not only the idea, but the craftsmanship and materials used. I don't want to make cheap shit that will degrade over time and end up in a landfill. I would rather make a quality product that will last and stand the test of time.

I will likely mass produce the rug or license it to someone at some point, but I have been busy with other projects. My attention has been on gallery shows and special projects these past few years. With all that said, I try to make pieces that are more affordable, but everything is still handmade by me.


Longoland x VCCP x o2, 2010. Monster commercial

The German ads for O2 are hilarious. I'm curious about the way the project developed. At which point did you intervene? Did the company have very clear idea of where they wanted to go or were you asked to come up with most of the scenario?

I was approached by VCCP to design monsters for a new phone ad campaign. The details are fuzzy, but the story goes like this......one of the head creatives had purchased a small piece of my work while traveling in Brooklyn at the only store/gallery that I was showing at the time. The piece has been a unofficial mascot of the office for a few years and when the idea came up to use monsters for a commercial I was called.

It is my understanding that they pitched my work to the client as the overall feel for the commercial..........I was given the treatment and asked how much it would take to do what I do........ but for their client....... and that was it. It took about a two weeks to design the monsters and get them approved. It was quick and they looked 98% the way I wanted them too. (I'm never completely satisfied)... I did not storyboard the work , but I did make suggestions on movements, noises, and the overall fatness of each creature. This was also the first time the creatures were not made by my hands. That was hard trusting someone else especially since my name was going to be attached to it, but unknown to me they used the production studio that built the monsters for the Hellboy movies. They were in good hands.

The hardest part was dealing with all the legal aspects that are involved in licensing your art's likeness to a commercial client. I also learned people in advertising make a lot of money.......

There best part about this story ......I had recently got myself in a difficult situation and was living in a 8ft x 8ft room at my parents. All of my belongs were stacked up to the ceiling around my inflatable mattress and my cpu. I was on a conference call with the account manager in London and the creatives in Germany negotiating the creative terms of the project. My mother knocks on the door loudly and screams "DO YOU WANT A SANDWICH? I'M MAKING PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY?" (I was 29 at the time).... I respond.... "I'm on a very important phone call, could you please give me a minute."........ My mother responds...."NO YOU'RE NOT, DO YOU WANT A SANDWICH OR NOT?"... I don't know that I captured the absurdity of the moment, but it was precious.

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Longoland x VCCP x o2, 2010. Concept sketches

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Longoland x VCCP x o2, 2010. Concept sketch

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Character from the commercial Longoland x VCCP x o2, 2010

I read in your bio page that you also work as a design consultant to the fashion and home industries. What are you working on exactly with them? Monster furniture and body-eating dresses?

I lead a triple life.... I also used to tour in a post rock band, but I had slow down a bit. I create art under the name Longoland, I teach Industrial Design classes at Pratt Institute, and I consult for a list of companies generating income to cover my bills. I am a trained and seasoned industrial designer with work all over the world, but my name is not attached to it. I am usually brought in to generate ideas for whatever style or aesthetic they are going for. Or just to make crap with peace signs on it. For instance these past few years I created art that was printed on beach towels... They have recently ended up in a series of pornography. I attached an edited photo safe for all viewers. I'm a design chameleon or mercenary of sorts. In the past few years I have spent more time on Longoland and hope to do more commercial projects through Longoland, but until then I will continue designing chandeliers, forks, tabletop, beach towels, tshirt graphics, and anything else people ask me to do.

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Decapitated Deer Head w/Fuzzy Parasite

How would you feel if you were told that you are not allowed to create monsters anymore? Never ever again? Would you still want to work as an artist and designer?

I don't think I would ever stop making art or drawing. I have been painting and drawing more recently and have filled countless sketchbooks with subway drawings......but if none of that was possible I would write music for movies and become a stand up comedian. I love making and hearing people laugh. I want to stand up on stage and entertain.

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So Hush You Little Ones, 2010. Solo Show @ RA Antwerp

Do you have any advice for 'character artists' who would like to get as much recognition as you have?

I think it is important to have a unique voice with your art. My influences are obvious to me in my work, but I unintentionally created an aesthetic that runs consistent with all my work. Overtime this helps distinguish yourself from others. You also have to do whatever you are doing better than anyone else. Lots of people do monsters, but no one is a better Longoland than me. The less you worry about recognition, the better. I love press, interviews, and exposure, but it is all very fleeting. It helps your cause by exposing your work to others and potentially making a living on what you love. The reason you get real press is by doing work you love, not because everyone else loves it... that comes as a bonus. I never thought the rug would be become what it became for me. You don't want to get in a cycle of trying to anticipate people loving what you do. The work gets safe and you never evolve. That's why I stay away from the rug. I made it in 2006.

My head is in a totally different place now.... I'm ranting. I obviously think about this a lot. I love attention. I want it all the time. I want my inbox to be filled with praise and orders and requests for shows. You just have to do what you love and all of the other shit will fall into place. It helps if you have that mother tells you "You are special and handsome" all the time.

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The Sha, 2010

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

I am not sure yet. I have some ideas, but I want people to laugh and walk away saying, "That Josh, He sure is special and handsome, I am going to give him a million dollars to make that dream movie no one knows about".

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From Joshua Ben Longo's sketchbook, 2008

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From Joshua Ben Longo's sketchbook, 2011

Any upcoming project you would like to share with us?

I am finishing up a few furniture commissions, made some masks for a music video soon to be released, and potentially working on a great project with this snowboard fashion company.... I started a website to show my painting, illustration, animation not directly related to Lonogland. Otherwise I am writing more and want to start making more movie shorts and animations. I will also be speaking at this years NYC Pictoplasma conference. I will be speaking about Longoland, process, buttholes, and trying to make people laugh. Please do come out.

Thanks Joshua!

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The Little White Three, 2008

Pictoplasma NYC conference takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design. The exhibition will be open on 3 - 6 November 2011.

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