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Artist Interviews: Print Mafia

We talked with Connie Collingsworth of Print Mafia to get the dirt on their company, their personal style, and the print they made for us.  Along with her business partner Jim Madison, the team believes in hand-making thoughtful designs and staying true to rock 'n' roll.

Introduce yourself and Print Mafia!
I’m Connie Collingsworth. Still rooted in Bowling Green, KY, Print Mafia takes pride in being a creative, independent business with handmade products. We strive to be a testament in the current day to artists and lovers of art. Making things without a mouse click is valued. Tangibility isn't dead. Classic, lovely imagery paired with thoughtful design still means something. 

How did Print Mafia get started?

There were tiny toys, weird magazines, and vintage clothes—oh, and a pinch of screen-printing—in a little shop-above-another-shop that Jim Madison and I started. Screen-printing was just an interest at first; Print Mafia was an idea. Many painstaking church and community event T-shirts were produced, and many tiny toys and weird stuff sold from the store before a first poster gig. In 1997, Print Mafia came into reality. Producing a huge catalog of gig posters in diverse genres, we've made stuff. And made more stuff. And made stuff from other stuff. From The Melvins to Marilyn Manson, Jack White to John Mayer, each individual poster—and this is a vital rule of Print Mafia's work—is created by our hands and in our own style: distorted, gruff, messy, and very much alive.

Tell us about the print you made for us!
The Famous Stereo print is 100% handmade in the USA. It is hand-pulled and screen-printed on 100lb. Heavy White Stock. We do not design using computers and we print with out the aid of semi-automatic or automatic presses. Our design tools are our very old, worn-out copy machine, X-Acto knives, scissors, tape, glue sticks, and a vast archive of found images that we have been collecting since our teenage years. Every design by Print Mafia is a two-person collaboration from start to finish.

What was the inspiration behind the print?

The Stereo Afro print is our tribute to music, soul, style, and vinyl. We were inspired to make this design by the various vintage logos that can be seen on old album covers that we collect from thrift stores and flea markets.

Who are some of the artist you’ve worked with in the past?
The White Stripes, The Shins, Interpol, Spoon, The Dead Weather, KISS, Marilyn Manson, Lucinda Williams and many more.

Describe your printing style in five words.
Rock, roll, cut, paste, and destroy.

What is your print shop like?

Most of the components of our print shop are handmade just like our design style. We print on a table press that we built ourselves 14 years ago from a table we found at an auction. We designed our own washout sink and built our own exposure table. We surround ourselves in the shop and design office with all the elements we love from pop culture. We live what we design.

Do you ever create prints for your friends and family?

We do create projects for friends and family quite often. They can be some of the most challenging work. You want to please those you care about. They would say they like it even if they didn't so we don't want to leave that to chance.

What are your five favorite colors to use when printing?

We have several ink colors that we have used for years and we feel confident and comfortable that they will always suit or style. The color names are Autumn Gold (a mustard like rich gold color), Apple Red (picture a red found on a old country barn), Pirates Cove (a Mid-Century Modern teal), Roasted Pepper (very vintage ‘70s warm and funky orange), and Black (black is always classic and finishes any project in a rock ‘n’ roll style.

Creative Growth for Everybody

These three awesome tees were created in collaboration with, and all proceeds benefit, Creative Growth Art Center, an organization that helps foster art and creativity for adults with physical, mental and developmental disabilities. 

Aurie Ramirez

Located in Oakland, Creative Growth is the world's oldest and largest visual arts center for disabled adults, and the T-shirt collaboration features the work of Creative Growth artist Aurie Ramirez. Ramirez creates ink and watercolor works inspired by glam rock, punk, and candy, and she paints at the center every Monday and Friday. You can meet more Creative Growth artists here, in their videos

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Artist Interviews: Brainstorm

Here we speak to Briana Feola, half of the print-duo Brainstorm.  Along with Jason Snyder, the team has made an name for themselves by mixing fun designs and hard work, creating some fucking fantastic prints.  Below, we talk to Briana about how it all began, the challenges of being artist, and their latest set of prints that they created for us!

Hi Briana! Tell us a little about your company, Brainstorm.
Brainstorm is a screen-printing and illustration studio working in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (live free or die!). We make limited and open edition prints, pulling some by hand and printing others with our semi-automatic press. 

We heard you’re doing a little bit of traveling. Where are you right now?
At the moment, we are in Valparaiso, Chile teaching screen-printing to El Niños in cooperation with the Valpo Surf Project. The VSP is a non-profit youth mentorship based in Valparaiso. We’ve done a bunch of illustration and poster work for the guys and are psyched to finally get down here to meet the kids firsthand!

Tell us about how Brainstorm got started.
Jason Snyder and I started working on print projects together in college after we started dating. There was no “Brainstorm”, it was just “Jason and Briana”. We took some of those early prints to a few craft shows and they sold really well, which planted the seed for our business. From early on, we never knew where things were going. We just took it one day at a time, with an overreaching goal to be self-sufficient. Five years later we can look back and say it was a pretty crazy, rough road to get to where we are now. Not saying we still don’t have our challenges, but it’s humbling thinking back to the early years.

What were the early years like?
Working super long days and nights, living with parents or roommates, living in places that sucked just to save money, finding some kind of balance between being business partners and romance partners, working in shared studios and murky basements, having part-time jobs, and basically hustling and doing whatever it took to have a career as full time artists. But we always knew it would work out. Somehow. 

So, tell us about the prints you made for us!
This is our second round of prints that we have worked on for UO. Fucking Fantastic is five colors on 100lb Cougar Bright White. Awesome is three colors on 100lb French Spearmint Green. Northern Hemisphere Star Chart is two colors on 100lb Nightshift Blue. Fucking Fantastic and Awesome are both combinations of hand done type, which usually start as sketchbook doodles, with a mix of humor. The Star Chart print incorporates hand done type and some science. In addition to funny, lighthearted work, we also love making prints and posters that teach you something.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Our inspiration for new work comes from everywhere. As artists, we’re professional sponges and take in everything all the time, everywhere. We never know how things are going to come back out, or in what form, but it just happens and it’s kind of a difficult thing to explain. We don’t have one specific inspiration source. Being alive is cumulative inspiration and its fun to see what kind of work comes out.

What is the design process like when making your prints?
We don’t have a set design process for anything. Everything involves sketching, drawing, and writing all the time and just constantly getting ideas out on paper. There’s always a revolving pile of ideas in the studio and we both work on concepts together all the time. 

Do you usually work together on everything or do you each do your own prints?
Sometimes ideas are completed more by one of us than the other, sometimes it's an even split, but we’re always involved in each others ideas. Every final print has input from the both of us at some point—whether it be as simple as a color or text change, or as big as a complete re-work because we argue and hate the progress which sometimes, hopefully, creates a new idea altogether.

What is the hardest part about what you do?
The hardest part for us, being an artist today, is trying to keep up with the internet jones’. Sometimes it’s tough to keep up with our self-employed artist peers who seem have so much going on and simultaneously let the world know via however many social networks, blogs, pictures, store updates, shows and everything. It’s so hard to balance making new work and being a creative, but also being business-y and keeping everything updated, new and fresh because you have to keep the momentum going.

What’s the best part of working for yourself?
To be super corny, the best of part of working for yourself is freedom and job security. We can’t fire ourselves. I mean, we are writing these interview responses in South America and we don’t have to worry about losing our job. Our success depends on how hard we work and that self-reliance allows us to be anything and go anywhere.

If Brainstorm weren’t around, what would you be doing?
If Brainstorm were to not be around for some reason we would still have to work for ourselves in some way. We could never go back and have some kind of desk job life. If Brainstorm disappeared tomorrow, we would try to start a farm and startup selling veggies at a roadside farm stand or something equally entrepreneurial. We’d still have that passion and spirit for self-employment in anything we would choose because we couldn’t go back to working for anyone else and living life on nights and weekends. Life’s for livin’!

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Dienst Illustration

We love the new Dienst Illustration website.   The drawings are so chic and we really want that first jacket!  If only our doodles looked anything like this.

Artist Series: Rasmus Svensson

Our Art Department asked some of their favorite designers to show us their take on Urban Outfitters by creating a limited edition shirt for us.  Meet the men and women behind the collaboration!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm Rasmus Svensson from southern Sweden. Living in Berlin. Mid-twenties. 

Describe to us the inspiration behind the design you used for your shirt.
“Photoshopping in Dubai.” 

Are you working on anything else at the moment? 
Yes! I am involved in a number of publication projects with artist friends: Administrating the data-haven PWRSHARE.INFO, working on the next issue of the phuturist zeitung PWR PAPER, working on a project involving stone-carving, working on a romantic multimedia-collection called DEEPSTREAM, etc… 

What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
Getting people to give you money to do it. And in general, finding a position in the merciless stream of global post-millennial post-internet culture. 

How did you get started in design?
I got into design through music—making record covers, show posters, stuff like that. 

What was the first thing you created?
Skipping over my pre-pubescent years I'd say it was the cover for a band I had when I was 15 called Chaos Through Programming. It was a printout of the code of a simple program generating random results. 

Where did you go to school? 
I went to school in Sweden and Denmark.

What is a typical weekend like for you? 
As I do not really have a job every day is more or less the same. Work/life balance. Yin/yang. 

Describe your style for us in five words. 
Cutting-edge, serious, team-player, reliable, on-time. 

Who are your five favorite artists
Caspar David Friedrich, John Bauer, April Greimann, Andy Kaufman, and Hakim Bey.

Shop Rasmus' shirt.

Artist Series: Natalie Rognsoy

Our Art Department asked some of their favorite designers to show us their take on Urban Outfitters by creating a limited edition shirt for us.  Meet the men and women behind the collaboration!

Tell us a little bit about you, including where you are from. 
I'm Natalie Rognsoy and I am 26 years old and have lived in Oslo for the last six years. I come from a small island called Hareid where the population is about 4,500 people. The weather is rough but the island is surrounded with beautiful mountains and fjords. 

Describe to us the inspiration behind the design you used for your shirt. 
I wanted to do something painterly that did not look like it was done on the computer. 

What other projects have you been working on lately? 
I have just finished my Bachelor in fine art. I have also been a part of exhibitions in Bodega in Philadelphia, Alessandro De March in Milan and Y3K in Melbourne. 

What inspires you the most when you're working? 
Nature, looking at photos, walking and listening to my favourite hits. 

What is the hardest part about putting together an exhibition? 
Being confident in my choices. 

Where did you go to school and what for?  
I went two years at art school where I was drawing and working with photography mostly. Then I applied to the art academy where I almost immediately started working with sculptures and installations. Now I have finished my BA. 

What do you like to do on a typical night out? 
Have a few fruity drinks with my girlfriends and then go out dancing in circles. 

Describe your personal style for us in one sentence. 
I am not sure if I know how to do that!

What are your favorite materials to use when working? 
Fabric, plaster, paint and wood.

Shop Natalie's shirt.

Artist Series: Nathan Cowen

Our Art Department asked some of their favorite designers to create a limited-edition shirt for us.  Meet the men and women behind the collaboration!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Nathan Cowen. I was born in Santa Cruz, California on November 14, 1983. I moved to Seattle when I was one year old and then I moved to Hawaii when I was just under two years old. I played soccer, basketball and little league baseball. I took art classes, painted and road mountain bikes. I wanted a skateboard, a BMX bike and rollerblades. I watched movies every time in between. I don't surf but like it. I like sushi but do not like fish. I am Chinese American and 1/16 Swedish. I currently live in Berlin, Germany. 

Describe to us the inspiration behind the design you used for your shirt. 
I wanted to create a digital spray-paint painting that also resembled water color. 

What other projects have you been working on lately? 

What inspires you the most when you're working? 
Simple things like making burritos and BLATs. 

Tell us about your job at Hort.
Hort is fun, challenging, not what you expect, sad, a struggle, happy, still new, German, EIke, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tobi, Ina, Mick, Jacob, Adli, Alan, Serafine and Lizzy. I am allowed and able to do a lot of things here. 

Where did you go to school?  
I went to the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco, California. 

What was the most important thing you learned there?
I could have learned more.

What is a typical night out with you and your friends like?

Describe your style in one sentence. 
Arial Black. 

Your website is called Cabinet of Natural Curiosity.  If someone opened a cabinet in the place where you're living now, what five items would they find? 
Bauhaus toolbox, German boom box, my passport with visa, Comme Des Gar√ßons 2, and Air Jordan 6 shoes.

Shop Nathan's shirt.

Artist Series: Michael Alfred

Our art department asked some of their favorite designers to show us their take on Urban Outfitters by creating a limited edition shirt.  Meet the artists behind the collaboration!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I'm Michael Alfred, 25 years old. I grew up in the Franconian suburbs. In the moment I live in Leipzig, Germany, or drive with my old red car on the Autobahn 9. Apart from that I'm a dog owner. She's named after a '80s Berlin pop singer from a DEFA-movie called "Solo Sunny."

Describe to us the inspiration behind the design you used for your shirt. 
Hokusai's great wave off Kanagawa, and Peter Saville's Joy Division Unknown Pleasures cover go for coffee on Photoshop. 

What other projects have you been working on lately? 
I just came back from Berlin where I was planning a small exhibition with friends. It's going to be my debut with a more preformative approach. That’s exciting for me. Besides that, I work on my theory-thesis about replica, inspiration and original in the field of contemporary graphics and I started to run a small studio with friends of mine, called Unfun. 

What inspires you the most when you're working? 
'80s classic Chicago post-punk acid Detroit doom brass house music all night long, and a delightful cup of coffee. 

What do you find most challenging about design? 
Some might say it's about solving problems, finding a solution. When I was working for a studio in Berlin, the guy that was running the studio said once: mega solutions for micro problems. Thinking about that is pretty much challenging, isn't it? 

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I studied graphic design in Wuerzburg, Zurich and Berlin. Right now I'm graduating at the Leipzig Art School. 

What was the most important lesson you learned while you were there?
Learn to stumble and to stumble across. 

What is a typical night out with you and your friends like? 
Do you remember Jumanji?  This will not be an easy mission—monkeys slow the expedition. 

Describe your style in one sentence. 
A vague somehow-or-other can't stick together all-alikeness changed to an easily described hang-togetherness that is unlike that anything that is different. 

What are your five favorite words? 
Post, Bambule, Autobahn, Arial, Untitled.

Shop Michael's shirt.

Nathalie Daoust "Frozen in Time"

5 Pieces Gallery just announced new releases from Nathalie Daoust's "Frozen in Time" series– a limited edition run of 25 signed prints of each work will be available.

A Handsome Project

We love swimwear label We Are Handsome because they have that "good people" vibe going on.  Case in point: They're helping to showcase emerging photographers by letting them shoot their suits, then featuring them on their official blog.  Get involved here (no experience necessary!).

Encaustic Triangles

Miranda of design duo Sewing Machines is selling pieces from her senior project to help pay for grad school.  Using her preferred method of painting, "Encaustic Quilt" uses hot wax on wooden triangles to pay homage to a quilt her grandmother made for her when she was a kid. 

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics

If you pick up a copy of one of Jillian Tamaki's special edition Penguin classics in the fall, it probably won't have an original hand-embroidered cover– instead, each book will have been treated with a special sculptural-embossing technique so you can feel (almost) every little stitch. 

Eric McHenry

Insight Garage Artist Eric McHenry is a North Carolina native and Los Angeles transplant making the kind of comically raw and ugly character art we want plastered all over our skateboards, walls and shirts.  We were already loving his mustache maps, but we're practically giddy now that we know there's a tee helping us keep our facial hair formations straight.

"Great Showdowns"

From Brad and Janet vs. Dr. Frank-N-Furter to The Breakfast Club avoiding Principal Vernon, Scott Campbell (NOT the tattoo artist) captures some of the most notorious film face-offs in "The Great Showdowns" exhibit (open now through February 26) at Gallery 1988's Melrose space.  Speaking of The Breakfast Club, starting on February 11, the Venice gallery space will host the works of 50 artists paying tribute to John Hughes and his generation-defining movies. 

Tim Burton at TIFF

If you missed him in New York, the master of monsters has landed in Canada.  TIFF in Toronto is now hosting Tim Burton, a collection of the director's earliest sketches and stories all the way to his most well-known works.  In Burton Double Bills, catch screenings of his movies along with the films that inspired them for combinations like Nightmare Before Christmas and Nosferatu.  The exhibit will run through April 17. 

Casey Weldon

Casey Weldon has been pumping out series after series of awesome paintings lately, from a collection of Bill Murrays as Wes Anderson characters to farm-yard Twilight actors to a bunch of four-eyed kittens (in an attempt to "double the cuteness" at the Trifecta Gallery in Vegas). If you missed his gallery shows, word has it that some of his works will be on display at BriefSpace in San Francisco early in the new year. 

Ardour: Teebs Record Release Party and Gallery Show

This Saturday, November 14, hit up Ardour: Teebs Record Release Party and Gallery Show at Space 15 Twenty from 6-10pm, where you can see new artworks by Mtendere Teebs Mandowa in support of his debut release on the imprint Brainfeeder created by Flying Lotus. There will be special live performances by Teebs with Gaby Hernandez, Take, Matthew David, and yuk., plus DJ sets by Frosty, Co.fee, Arti, Kab, and pLo.

Salvador Dali at Time Warner

Ok, that's a Movember worthy 'stache–the Time Warner Center just opened a special exhibition of Salvador Dali's art, including 40 never-before-seen-in-NYC drawings and watercolors from the private collection of Dali's secretary and close personal friend. 

Deanna Templeton Show

One of the raddest art couples out there has to be Ed and Deanna Templeton.  They met when they were just teenagers (he was 15, she was 18), and have been snapping together ever since. Deanna's new show for her Scratch Your Name On My Arm exhibit, for which she photographed a series of young people letting their bodies be branded by their favorite idols and companies, is opening in L.A.'s Paul Kopeikin Gallery tomorrow night from 6-8pm.

Dr. Seuss Taxidermy Auction

In the early '30s, before he wrote any books, Dr. Seuss created the "School of Unorthodox Taxidermy," a sculpture series that lived in a child's room and then a storage barn for many years before it was uncovered.  The series is now for sale on eBay in unrestored condition, and the winner and a guest will be flown out to oversee packing and shipping of the collection.  Oh, the things you could buy (with $1,000,000).