When you think show posters in Montreal, the local scene predominately shakes into frame one man, Jack Dylan. Jack is a visual artist, whose distinct gig advertising drawings rake in $100 a shot. In conceiving over 200 images to showcase upcoming concerts, his work can be viewed exhausting a safari of concepts from exercising countless superhero depictions, to spotlighting self satisfying locations in the city, to sliding in cameos of notable industry players. These days, Mr. Dylan has steered his magical hands away from the poster paper to focus more towards magazines, but when promoters come begging the fingerprint left behind is still unmistakable and smears eye candy.
How did you trip upon/discover the opportunity to fill a void in creating show posters?
Well I had moved to Montreal with the intention of creating a large studio space for myself and several other artists, I wanted to recreate the atmosphere I had grown accustomed to in art school. There would be a silk screen studio, a dark room, and painting studio. I found a 4000 sqft warehouse space in little Italy, and invited four friends to move in. What I didn't predict, was that the real success of the place would come from the shows we would begin to put on there. Some of my friends were quite adapt to booking bands and drawing in a crowd, something I knew nothing about. As it happened though, just as my lifestyle of struggling painter was beginning to wear thin, the shows wound up presenting me with an outlet to make posters for the events we were hosting at my house. And this was the perfect opportunity to create work quickly, and to put it out there just as fast. Something that painting in privacy and waiting for a show didn't allow. The venue also acted as a gallery, so through the music I was able to gain an audience. It was the perfect symbiotic relationship, each art form bringing attention to the other. And I should mention that I always loved and created posters, my first series of paintings were all posters, ironically they were advertising things that didn't actually exist (see pic below). I was just making up info to put around a painting.
Where does the concept for each originate, solely your design or clients input welcomed?
The nice thing about designing for promoters is that they're not art directors. They rarely put in their two cents, so as the artist you get total freedom. Usually I'll sit on a commission for a few days, and see if any idea's strike me. Or sometimes there will be something that I've been wanting to try that may work. It may be topical to the news at the time, or strictly seasonal. I usually try to place my illustration in whatever we're in at the moment. -- I'm really inspired by formal illustrating styles, like the covers of the New Yorker, or vintage Harpers. Comic books of all kinds too obviously, and I like to place a narrative into the poster if possible, giving it the quality of a page that you can turn to find out what's inside. But of course you can't turn any pages on a poster, but I suspect that that's what makes them work, that tension of unresolved intrigue they create.
How much time is put into drawing up each?
It varies, sometimes I spend days, my latest series for Pop Montreal took about five days each. Usually though I can knock them down in two good days, or occasionally one if the style is more simplistic. (The nice thing about working for promoters and not art directors is that I can be completely elastic with my style, if I want to make them look like peanut characters, I can do that. If I want it to look like an oil painting, I can do that too.)
Is there any significance behind the locations/scenery in mtl you choose to illuminate?
Absolutely, in many cases at least. The posters are often very personal to me, and are littered with dozens of references to inspirations, other artists, friends and my own biography, past, present and fantastical. You spread all the posters I've done out over the last few years, and you virtually have my diary in pictures. My own very public diary.
With the public accustomed to the copyright issue in music, curious to know its importance in visual art, is imitation unavoidable/acceptable?
Well, I'm pretty sure you're supposed to avoid it, but so long as we're not making any real money I think we're on safe ground. You can't get blood from a stone and all that, and as seemingly popular as the Canadian music scene may be, it's actually still extremely underground. We're not putting these things on MTV or anything. So again it's another great example of the freedom that not getting paid for something can afford (having said that, I have been more careful lately).
I imagine its pretty gratifying to see your artwork plastered anywhere and everywhere all over the city? Is the authors door ever knocked on when posters are illegally posted?
No, not really, thankfully there are too many beatings and violent crimes for the law to concern itself with me. But actually, I'm just the guy who's selling one legal ingredient to make the whole illegal product. I'm just designing the thing, it's the promoters and the poster pasters who can catch the heat, I'm at safe distance from that. They on the other hand can catch a fine, but mostly the city just likes to tare the posters down as fast as they're put up.
Understanding your gradual move away from these endeavors due to the wage constraints, curious whether there is additionally any attached artistic limitations or skill hindrance associated with the gig aiding visuals?
Just the medium itself. After creating over 200 of them, I get a little frustrated by the fact that they're all just posters, and none of them have turned into a film or comic book yet. And after a while you just run out, a poster a week is a lot, and there's only so much there for me to express in them. That's the biggest problem now I think, that's why I'm slowing them down a lot. I want things to evolve, I'd like to be able to turn that page now.
Is it conceivably possible to dig a decent living out of artwork in the music industry? Peeps seem to throw their wallet at grasping vintage concert posters, is prized artwork strictly adhered to the work of yesteryear?
Oh I don't know about that, I'm sure if you had a well negotiated deal with Arcade Fire it would still be possible, but I wasn't able to talk them into it, no.
In a never ending chase for new music, one is quick to throw aside gems without letting them fully mature on the ears, thought I'd balance the dizzying effect by staring down alternative action from previous names highlighted and dicing in some freshly squeezed lemons.
Beach House - astronaut
dry tears are surfing down my cheek
High Places - new grace
for all kindergarten teachers whose drug induced students were lost on Feist's '1,2,3' in class insertion for practicing digits.
Lykke Li - little bit
Feist_y swedish singer, born in 1986. wowzers
Paavoharju - kevatrumpu
finnish psych-folk, I'm still lost in their stellar trance. Off the tongue loving Laulu Laakson Kukista album
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - kurt cobain's cardigan
smart, smart, smart. every band playing should put the intriguing man's name in a song title, the song would never be overlooked, cliche or not. Again, I like 'the smith's' comparison here.
The Rural Alberta Advantage - the ballad of the raa
hands up, my most valuable 3 minutes 27 seconds of sonic bliss in 2008. "And right here what we've had, is a good thing, it will last"
Shearwater - whipping boy
"are medium-sized long-winged seabirds. There are more than 20 species of shearwaters, a few larger".......
anyone looking for more of the Austin 'iron & wine', ici. While on target try out the Hawksley like 'century eyes'.
Titus Andronicus - no future
named after Shakespeares first tragedy, yawn. This is the debut for this Glen Rock, New Jersey act, music sounds nothing like a titus andronicus, more like conor oberst. potentially a future?