• Artist Editions: Seldon Hunt X UO

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited edition graphic t-shirts created by a rotating roster of artists from around the globe. 

    Known for his rock graphics, Australian artist Seldon Hunt has created intricate artworks for bands like Neurosis, Earth, and the Melvins. We caught up with him at his Brooklyn studio space to chat about his latest work. 
    Photos by Tavish Timothy

    Who is Seldon Hunt?
    Thats a good question. I’m an Australian who moved to NYC ten years ago to pursue a more active creative career. Most of my clients, and especially the creative culture I was working, in were based in the US, so it seemed like a logical journey. I was pretty much unknown in Australia at the time and was frustrated with a lack of opportunities. So here I am ten years on.

    When did you first start creating art? Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist as your profession?
    I started creating art in design school outside the syllabus. I guess this was the start. After a couple of obligatory years of working in design firms and traveling I came back to creating art. I wasn’t sure I could make a career out of it. In some ways, I was late to the whole creative process as I didn’t really even start drawing until my late 20’s. I was commissioned to create a CD cover by a legendary Japanese noise artist after he saw my work. I think this moment I gave me the impetus to pursue art as a career. 

    Your work is known for its density and intricate detail— what did your earliest works look like and how has your style evolved over the years? 
    My earliest work was very rough and chaotic and I guess heavily influenced by the deconstructed typography of the early ‘90s when I studied design, lots of chopped up heavily layered abstract Adobe Illustrator! The dense intricacy that I became known for was a refined version of of the earlier works, layering grids and reflections in Illustrator, and printing these on an offset press using similiar techniques they use to print currency. It was pretty cool fun and some of the results were startling. I then started doing a lot of tour posters for metal bands and turned to collaging biological illustrations  to reflect the symmetry of nature and chaos. After a couple of years, I started to draw my own material and this led to other work doing more illustration work for black metal bands etc. I guess I’ve completely stopped using the computer for illustration, everything I do is hand drawn now.

    Nature is featured prominently in both your illustrations and your photography. What is it about these natural elements that appeal to you?
    The nature that has appeared in my illustration stems back to when I studied biology in college for two years before I turned to design. When I first started doing screen printing I went back to that college and used a lot of the reference books of early 20C anatomy and flora, mostly as I thought it looked cool and weird and strangely alien, especially the microscopic flora and fauna. It suited the music I was working with and I guess that alienesque aspect of the hidden natural world has stayed with me. The photography is more about capturing a sense of desolation, fear and doom, that I find in landscapes, the absence of humanity, the utter silence of the woods... That has been more of a reflection of my works with black metal culture over the years. 

    You’ve created work for some of the best metal bands out there. What first drew you to heavy music and darker themes?
    Ive pretty much always listened to metal, going back to the 80's. So I dont know what originally drew me to it, as it feels like thats always been the music I listened to, but I guess Ive always had an interest in darker themes since I was quite young, from literature to film etc. I’ve always enjoyed solitude and found a lot of solace in bleak spaces, winter beaches, industrial estates, anywhere kind of desolate, since I was a kid!

    How did you go about getting involved in that scene? It’s seriously the best. Did you know the bands personally or did you work through the labels?
    I did some work for a few noise acts out of Japan then travelled around the world back packing for a year, taking some samples of work with me. While in Europe I was commissioned to do another Japanese artists cover work through a Belgian label so I went there to do the project (this is before the days of laptops). That same label distributed most of the the music you’re talking about, so I was introduced to a couple of bands via email and I visited them in the states just on a casual basis, and one thing led to another in terms of doing art for them and subsequent related artists. Most of these bands were unknown at the times so it was an interesting journey (and somewhat of a dream come true) to be part of a scene/movement that became internationally recognized.. 

    Can you tell us a bit about your designs for Artist Editions? How did the ideas come about?
    Well, firstly I wanted to create something fun without losing the darker theme, considering UO is not a metal band! I wanted to create a kind of diorama aspect, almost like a weird children’s book aesthetic, I’ve always liked that idea of creatures living in a giant head or a cloud or something impossible. That was the main direction,so I went with the wooden skull refinery image, for some reason... like a lot of this kind of work, I just kind of made it up as I went along.
    Can you walk us through your process for creating a new work?
    Its pretty simple really. I usually just write a bunch of key word ideas. Then sketch really rough images, then select stuff that i think will work and do a more detailed sketch. Then I’ll start on the pencil outline of the finished piece, adding and subtracting elements. Im really not a particularly skilled draftsman, so I have to work hard on getting the pencil outline perfect before I ink, so this is the most difficult and frustrating part of the process. Ive become quite confident with my ink and fill style so this is the fun part, so ill happily sit and ink for hours with a movie or tv show on in the background. 

    What makes a t-shirt design so important? 
    A t shirt should say everything and nothing, a brief but casual visit into the impossible.

    Do you have any favorite band t-shirts of all time? 
    I love 80's metal shirts, the Iron Maiden ones in particular. They’ve become somewhat of a hipster cliche now of course, but at the time they were so iconic and confronting!

    What’s next for you?

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