• Artist Editions: Thom Lessner X UO

    Step inside the studio of our latest collaborator Thom Lessner for a glimpse at what inspires the self-taught Philadelphia artist.
    Photos by CJ Harvey

    You grew up in Ohio and moved to Philly. What keeps the city interesting? What makes you want to stay?
    I've been in PhilIy longer than I've been anywhere so my roots are wide here with great people. There’s a Questlove / Sheila E / Morris Day & the Time Prince Tribute block party coming up that’s got me wanting to stay. 

    Tell us more about how parody and pop culture play into your work? 
    Basically I draw stuff I really love the best way I know how. Usually it's based on growing up and nostalgia, alotta times involving music. I don't consider it a parody, more like a tribute or homage. But I like to make stuff look fun and outrageous so I can understand it being seen as a parody. I’m just sharing my own tastes. I love being entertained, getting a feeling from something… I think I’m just trying to carry that out even more, from my brain.

    How did you develop your artistic style? 
    I never had any formal training, I always just made stuff, getting little tips from people but mostly figuring it out on my own. Technique is learned and I practiced that but the style I have, I’ve always had…it’s like skateboarding. Best to stick with what you came into the world with and make the best of it. 

    You’re known for your stylized drawings of rock bands. In what ways other ways do music and your art come together?
    Pretty much in every way. Sometimes I think all my work is just a portrait of me listening to music. Or sometimes bringing a huge rockstar down to size or show an vulnerable side or something. I'm a super fan first but I've always recorded and been in bands since I was little. I'm in a band currently called Fabergégé. 

    How did you find your style? In what ways has it changed or morphed since you started?
    My style has always been there (whether good or bad) I’ve just let it add shapes from different inspirations but as far as it morphing maybe it’s gotten a little tighter. And I’m still trying to use space better, dumb things down to the essentials.   

    Can you briefly explain your creative process? What usually comes first? 
    Whether it’s a job with someone else’s creative direction or my own it’s usually the same.
    I dig in alotta places for references and take time studying them and reconstructing what I see and it eventually gets me in a place to make some sketches, then lay more ideas on them, then when it’s in a good spot I’ll ink or paint it all. 

    When you started working ‘professionally’ how did you develop your distinctive visual language?
    If I'm clear and confident with what I really love and am inspired by, it makes it more distinct and easy to communicate whatever my subject is. I try to have that type of focus anyway. So, if I can be my authentic self and let people connect to that, I think an attraction is bound to happen. 

    Name 5 things currently inspiring you and your work:  
    1.Ready For the World
    2.Sheer Mag
    3.The new Wet Hot American Summer
    4.Hoof Hearted Brewing

    What’s on the horizon for you? Any current or future projects you can share with us? 
    Most exciting has been putting together a music festival for Hoof Hearted, the brewery I work for. We've gotten a lineup I'm so pumped for (headlined by Guided by Voices) and it's been a gas figuring out how to make it all work.  
    Then after that we're expanding the brewery's tasting room so I gotta figure out how to make it look great inside then the constant flow or more cans and merch.  And just started a new series for Enjoi skateboards.

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