This weekend brings the TRPS Festival of Rock Posters in Golden Gate Park. To celebrate, I’ll be going as both a journalist and a customer, bringing back interviews with artists, photos of the proceedings, and more posters to add to my flat file. To kick off our coverage, I caught up with local artist Gregg Gordon who goes professionally by GIGART. I first met him at the Ledson Winery when he was walking around with his portfolio, showing off some of his earlier work, and I’ve been following his career ever since. Thanks to Gregg for answering our questions.
Spinning Platters: What was the first work of art you did for money?
Gregg Gordon: I am not sure if it was the very first work of art I did for money, but the first job I was asked to do, which got to me where I am today, was to draw Felix the Cat. I was in college at San Jose State, and got a call from a friend’s dad who was working for Sony Signatures up in San Francisco. Sony Signatures was a company that created concert and licensed merchandise. I drove up to San Francisco, spent the day creating any product I could think of with Felix the Cat on it. For the next year and a half I ended up driving up to the city 3 times a week, and finished my college classes the other 2 days. Still in college, I started working on concert merchandise for bands such as Pearl Jam, Korn, Billy Joel, even Barbra Streisand. It was pretty random. But the work was all so different which made it really exciting, and not boring at all. After I graduated I started working there full time. This job threw me into the music scene and I have never left. I learned more at that job than I did all the years in college.
SP: What are your favorite places to visit when you’re on the road selling posters?
GG: Well the only places I really travel for poster shows are Texas for SXSW, Chicago for The Pitchfork Festival, and Seattle for The Bumbershoot Festival. The other shows I am in are mostly in San Francisco. I guess most of my trips are centered around the event. I usually get in and get out. Sometimes staying an extra day. But I do get to eat really well on those trips. Make a point to get great BBQ in Texas, a good hot dog or cheddar burger in Chicago, and Seafood in Seattle. Can’t beat that.
SP: Who are some other artists you’d like everyone to know about?
GG: I am a big fan of illustration. There are so many talented people out there that I am inspired by all the time. Just to name a few killer illustrators; Alan Forbes, Emek, Alex Pardee, Zeloot, David Dwitt, John Howard of Monkeyink…
SP: When you make a rock poster, how does the artist’s music affect your art?
GG: I always try to fit the poster to the band, something that a fan will see and know exactly why I did that. I listen to the music, read their lyrics, check out their merchandise and album art. I just really want to find out as much as I can about a band, and then give my interpretation of their music in print. Most of my work has lots of references to each band and is not just an illustration that I slap their name on top.
SP: What are your favorite guilty pleasures (in art or music)?
GG: I love seeing a band live in a small venue. I have been lucky to see many shows, and now look forward to more intimate shows. Fortunately I live in San Francisco and there are a lot of them. Also if I had done a poster for the band or the show, I usually try or am lucky to meet the band. I love hearing their take on my work and getting one signed to me. Even though I work with bands all the time, I am still a bit of a groupie. Ha. I have a really nice collection of signed prints and photos.
SP: Listening to any music these days that you’d like to recommend?
GG: I usually am just listening to my itunes on shuffle. So not so much new as just a mix of what I’ve got from Ween, Pavement, Sonic Youth and Jawbreaker to Hank III, The Mars Volta, Flaming Lips, The Sword and 80’s heavy metal…kinda all over the place. My friends are in this new local band, Leather Feather, that is worth checking out. Pretty heavy and they put on a great live show in the theme of the movie THX 1138.
SP: What are a couple of things you’d like us to put on your Wikipedia page?
- Hmmmm. I guess for starter please spell my name right. It has a lot of “g’s” in it: Gregg Gordon.
- My middle name is Ian. I got my company name GIGART from my initials and what I do. Which also fits well in the music scene, since it is a gig.
- I have a clothing line called “Tough Chick” clothing. http://www.gigart.com/toughchick
- I am featured in a handful of rock art books such as, The Art of Modern Rock, the new Gigposters.com Book, Swag – Rock Posters of the 90’s, The Melvins Book, Neither Here Nor There and many more.
- I created the cover art to the debut multi platinum album from Maroon 5.
- I created the Logo for the past hit show, Dog The Bounty Hunter.
- I am left handed.
- I like to eat breakfast for dinner.
SP: Who were/are some of the artists that inspire you?
GG: As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of illustrated work. I love seeing what people are doing and how they did it. I am inspired and have learned a lot from a few artists out there like Emek, Alan Forbes, Tyler Stout, and Jeral Tidwell just to name a few.
SP: What do you do to keep from repeating yourself?
GG: Since I try to fit each poster that I create to the band I am working with, it gives me a lot of freedom to mix up my styles and techniques. If you look at my portfolio of work you may not think one person created all of them. You can’t just pin me for one look. Changing it up all the time keeps me interested and challenges me to create new and exciting work.
SP: What are your favorite posters from your own portfolio?
GG: I am a huge fan of Ween. I have been lucky to work with them a bunch and their music and lyrics really give me a lot to play with. I am really happy with all of the posters that I have created for them, but I just created 2 new posters for Ween that turned out really fun. When you put them together they make one big poster. It has a lot of references to the band, and it was a new style I tried out with a more loose illustration and a wild color palette. I think I will be trying more in that style in the future. I guess a few of my other favorites would be my Hank III (cut out in the shape of a coffin)2006, High On Fire 2006, Cypress Hill 4-20 at the Fillmore…just to name a few.
Enjoy this gallery of some of Gregg’s favorites of his own, plus a few of my favorites of his: