• UO Studio Visits: Robin Gnista

    Robin Gnista doesn't talk much, but then again, the most prolific artists have never really relied on speech. His psychedelic poster art is a modern take on the black light banners that hung in the smoky rooms of Sabbath-heads, and have been commissioned by over 300 musicians in an effort to make their show flyers more epic than expendable. In describing his designs, Gnista simply notes that they are "made by hand, to hight standards." We talked—sort of—to the Swedish artist about his process and what charges his vision.
    Photos by Angela Blumen, words by Abigail Bruley

    Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
    Sure, [that's a] hard question though! First, when a client contacts me, I try to get a good understanding of what they're doing and how I can approach it. Then I usually start to get ideas, and I start to sketch. If ideas won't come, I drink more coffee and crank the music higher. After sketching, I'll do inking—which is my favorite part. Last, I make printable files in the computer. 

    Does the music you're listening to while you're working typically match the band you're creating for?
    Yes, often in style, but always in the feeling it gives me. 

    What made you want to get into music poster art?
    I'm not sure, I think it began with realizing that the record covers were actually designed by somebody. I then got into the '60s poster masters. I still love those. 

    Who are some present-day artists whose work you admire? 
    My current favorite is Pier Parra, and Gabriel Orozco is also amazing. Musicians I like [include] The Black Angels, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, The Sonic Dawn, and Queens of the Stone Age. 

    What came first, your love of art or your love of music? How does one influence the other?
    Drawing definitely came first, but music has an enormous influence over what I do. The influence of music has been about the same level, since I discovered The Beatles at age six or so.

    Do you work exclusively in music as your subject?
    Well, not exclusively, but ninety-percent of what I do has to do with music. Album covers, shirt designs, [and] poster designs. 

    And what about '60s psychedelia, is that your main love?
    Yeah. Some of the '60s music and culture is kind of hard to beat. Having said that, I dig a lot of '70s, '80s, '90s, and contemporary stuff. Purism is stupid. 

    Ha! What do you mean by "purism?"
    Oh, maybe it's just a Swedish word? When you're all bogged down in a certain direction and won't accept any variations. 

    Right, yeah, of course. Stupid. What has been your art education—schooling, experiences—what has all of that been like?
    I grew up in an artists' family, which has been great, but [I've had] no actual schooling in any way. Art has only been fun for me. Well, art is also work for me now, but I tend to forget about that. 

    Were you influenced by the art your family members made?
    Yeah. I didn't plan to be [an artist] myself, but I fell into it eventually. The real art education has been doing hundreds of posters!

    Okay, picture one of your pieces hanging on the wall of a room. What's going on in that room?
    Ha! A hypothetical? Steamy windows? Who knows! 

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