Monday, October 20, 2014

Jim Evans - TAZ Artist Interview

When I first started seeing rock posters and collecting them many years ago the work of Jim Evans - TAZ stuck out immediately. Big images and brightly colored posters that demanded you look at them. The work of TAZ got your attention to see what was on that poster. Then as you looked closer you realized they had elevated the medium to another level, an art form that just being discovered all over again. Starting in 1992 and ending for the most part in 1998 they were one of the leading artists that brought the rock poster scene back from the dead. It wasn't until about 2003-2004 did I first see them along with all the other rock posters that I was discovering at the time. The TAZ 1996 Pearl Jam Charleston poster with the big spider on it was the 3rd ever Pearl Jam poster I got. Years later I found a gallery that had a bunch of the posters on display in a room with a black light and the love for the work just increased. Every TAZ poster needs to be seen under a black light.

Through the years I wondered who was TAZ, what happened to them, why did they stop making posters. It wasn't until June this year when I saw the Pearl Jam poster for Berlin did everything become clear. Being able to interview Jim Evans really was a thrill and something I never thought would happen.

What does T.A.Z. stand for exactly?
T.A.Z. is actually based on an anarchist handbook that describes a methodology of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control. In the case of the T.A.Z. art collective, we made a creative collaboration, with no formal hierarchy. Although, it has lasted long enough that it no longer can be considered temporary. The original members included,Rolo Castillo, Gibran Evans, and myself. It is now more of a traveling art circus, picking up performers as we go.

1998 was the last year you created rock posters on a regular basis, what made you stop?
Over the years, I’ve gone through cycles of engagement with various forms of art. 1998 was just a random end to rock posters, music changed, and I turned my attention to other things. Now I love posters again, and will do lots of rock and other kinds of posters, even using the poster format to expand into fine art. No other form of art registers visually like a great poster – and every poster doesn’t particularly have to sell a band, a film, or a product,it really doesn’t even need to function as a poster.

The biggest question fans wonder also is what have you been doing since then?
In the 90’s I created a digital design group called The Big Gun Project that then evolved into The Independent Project. Then, we folded into Atomic Pop, eventually becoming the Division 13 Design Group. I work with a lot of my friends in Hollywood to engage people,and get them interested in seeing a film – there is a lot of creativity that never makes it to the screen.

In 2004 you were ahead of everyone when you did the Saw movie posters, were they a personal project or did you make them for someone?
I was working with Tim Palen at Lionsgatefilms; he is an amazingly creative guy who comes up with ideas that make work fun. The SAW posters were one of the collaborations I did with him. We recently worked together on special collectible posters for the SAW 10TH Anniversary release.

With the current popularity of movie posters do you have any desire to do more?
Yes, after doing a collectible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and two new ones for SAW, I quite like the idea of doing special edition interpretations of films in poster form. I’d like to do more of those, and right now I’ve got a top secret one in the can that I’d love to show, but need to wait for the marketing to hit. It mixes rock poster with film poster, to create a unique blend. I’m working on films all the time, so drawing instead of using the computer is pretty easy – just switch chairs.

Back in the 1990's when you were doing so many posters that were so bright and eye catching with the florescent inks what would you say were your influences since there was no Internet?
When I started doing rock posters again in the 90’s, I initially decided to steal from my own underground comic and the psychedelic poster style that I did in the late 60’s early 70’s. I figured the savage ink style and irrational color choices were perfect for what was happening musically at the time. Beyond that, my main external influences were, early MAD magazine, EC comics, Tadanori Yokoo, Japanese manga, the Beggarstaff Bros, DADA, Rodchenko, Situationist philosophy, and Krazy Kat.

Friend of mine wanted to ask, is Rollo still printing your work?
At the moment he is not, but we may collaborate on something soon.

On the recent 2014 European tour you did the Pearl Jam Berlin poster. How did they convince you to do a poster for them?
I had previously done a lot of posters for them, and always enjoyed working with the band. So when they called about this new one, I jumped at the chance. Plus, Eddie is a fellow surfer, so how can I ever turn him down?

Obviously computers have made artists jobs a little easier over the days of rubylith and cutting it for the screen-printing process. Some artists still use rubylith for screen-printing. Which are you using these days?
I use illustrator now to make all the separations, I cut enough rubylith to last me a couple lifetimes. Any non-computer hands-on time I now spend on an actual drawing, can never really do that as well on a computer.

You recently had a show of your work in Los Angeles, any more gallery shows planned?
Yes, the Los Angeles show was the surf-oriented Tazbones collaboration. I was also recently in a group show in Dallas, with a hot selection of street artists, and a recent show in Taos, “Orale! Kings & Queens Of Cool.” I think that 2015 will be an interesting year, as I’ll spend more time on art and gallery shows, plus it gives me a reason to travel. There is already one being lined up for February that will display a five year chunk of my work from the mid-80’s.

Any plans to do more rock posters and what do you have planned coming up?
Right now, I’m involved in an interesting project with Ethan Browne, and I’ve got a few rock posters lined up – I try to pace myself a bit, so I have plenty of time to spend on each one. If I had more time, I’d record my own band, we put together a few songs for the Tazbones show. Also working with Pierre at Limited Runs to make more of the work accessible when it comes out.

Found out you are a big toy collector, which ones are your favorites?
Yes, huge toy collector, you could do an entire interview with me just on that, I have thousands. My collection runs from an extensive selection of Ultraman and Japanese metal robots, to the latest vinyl toys. Some of my current favorites are by Mari Inukai, Woes Martin, KAWS, Martin Hsu, Luke Chueh, and a cool new figure by Greg Simkins – favorite place to hang out is Pretty In Plastic in North Hollywood.

What are your thoughts on the current gigposter scene, any artists that catch your eye or posters?
Emek is a good friend and one of the most steady rock poster artists ever I always like his work. The Ames Bros are impressive by their scope and ability to hit every style and do it well. I see a ton of good poster art on your blog,a lot of those artists are crafting some beautiful statements.

As I mentioned last week you can have a chance to win the Pearl Jam poster from Limited Runs. Click HERE to enter to win a signed numbered copy of T.A.Z.'s Pearl Jam poster from the group's June 26th show in Berlin, Germany. Contest runs through October 22nd.

Also the poster is going on sale this Friday. Follow Limited Runs on Twitter, and they’ll let you know on October 24th when the print becomes available which will be between 9AM and 11AM PDT. in their store HERE

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