Archive for the 'INTERVIEW' Category

CHAMPIONSHIP SLATERADE SHOWER!!!

Internet, avert your gaze if you don’t give a shit about sports as I once again check in with the homie Todd Slater on the subject of Basketball. This is a little late as I wanted to get this up hot on the heels of Todd’s Dallas Maverick’s first NBA championship.
It was tough not to check in with Todd while the Mav’s where making their run, I didn’t want to jinx it. Like when a guy’s pitching a no hitter, after five or six innings no one sits next to him in the dugout, there’s magic happening and no one wants to upset that mojo.
So anyway, it was nice to talk to Todd once the Mav’s defeated Ivan Drago and saved the planet from the end times. I called him the night of game six, the following is my email exchange with Todd the following week or so:
Jon: Alright, where are we at since we spoke? How many pieces of Mavericks championship memorabilia have you purchased and or tattoos have you acrued to your person? Did you go to the parade??
Todd:  Ok, I got 3 championship t-shirts plus one for Kristie to wear.  Kristie also bought me the champions backpack and Christmas ornament for Father’s day (finally, a benefit to being a father :).  I dunno if that sounds like a lot or a little but I never buy crap like this.  I’ve wondered so many times who wears Championship junk years after the event… well, now I know.  Expect to see me at Seattle Flatstock in 2020 wearing a worn out Mavs Champions shirt with all the little caricatures of the team.
Jon:  Buy all that Championship gear! I remember my dad’s old ’79 Championship Sonics stuff growing up, it was cool. I love those caricature shirts, I have one from the ’87 All-Star game at the Kingdome somewhere.
I just checked it’s $100 on eBay.
As we know my NBA fandom is in limbo, so I have to latch onto any and all ties to the 206. There are surprising Seattle ties to the Mavericks. Jason Terry of course, Rick Carlisle had a scant tour of duty as color commentator for Supersonics games when he was between coaching gigs and two of the best assistant coaches in the league Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts coached for many years under Nate McMillan and George Carl in Seattle. That and I will always love Mark Cuban for being one of the only 2 NBA owners to vote AGAINST the move of the Sonics to OKC, a classy gesture.
It’s kinda sad that this is all the NBA is to me, it’s just chunks of nostalgia floating around. I’m not the kind of fan who can just watch a league, I’m a homer, I have to align myself somewhere. Should I just pick a team and follow them until David Stern is out of power and Seattle gets a new arena and a new team in 50 years?? Portland? Do they still have Rudy Fernandez? Liked him in the Gold Medal game in the Olympics.
Todd: Man, timely Rudy F reference dood. Dallas just traded their first round pick for him tonight.  I’d expect him to fill DeShawn Stevenson‘s or Peja’s spot next year.  Good player, I like the trade alot considering the pick was at the end of the first round.
I can’t believe Rick Carlisle was actually a color commentator… I mean I know he worked at ESPN, but man, he just doesn’t seem to be happy.  I think he’s a great coach, but doesn’t really enjoy coaching ya know?  You can tell it takes a toll on him, I’m hoping he’s enjoying this championship.
Jon: Guru it up! Last time you threw out some some prognostications. I think you picked the Spurs to win it all….what’s in your crystal ball? Aside from lockout talk cuz this league has serious issues and the lockout might nuke the entire 2011-2012 season. I just mean in general, what teams you see getting better or worse and any thoughts on the draft.
Todd:  I did pick the Spurs… heh.  The league is really wide open right now, no juggernaut’s or dynasties happening right now.  The Heat are probably gonna get it done here soon here I think.  I love the parity in the league right now tho, it’s great.  There was a time for awhile there where I felt like other teams didn’t really have a chance against the Lakers and that was kind of a drag.  But also, the league has never been just about the champion for me (well, except for this year), I mean I like watching Milwaukee and Minnesota in November.  The draft is fresh on my mind so I’ll go into that now:
– Michael Jordan had a nice draft tonight.  He got Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo while adding Corey Maggette but losing Stephen Jackson.  The Bobcats are in full blown rebuild mode but I still like the young talent he got this year.  Might be the worst offensive team in NBA history next year however.
– Please cue up the Star Trek 2 Kahnnnn! scream on youtube in reference to GM David Kahn… the Timberwolves are baffling.  They draft the one position they don’t need (SF/PF) with the number 2 overall pick in draft.  They then trade away their pick in the 20s to Houston for another first rounder next year.  The Wolves seem to acquire picks only to keep trading them in a cycle we see every year.  They also give Jonny Flynn away as part of the trade with Houston.  Flynn was the number 6 pick in the 2008 draft which shows how quickly they give up on their guys.  But hey, Houston did give them a 35 year old Brad Miller in the deal, there’s the big man we all wanted to see Rubio paired with right?  I listened to Bill Simmon’s podcast on ESPN and he really goes after Kahn on the Flynn deal and presses him for answers.  Kahn says he believes that Flynn will become a very good PG in the NBA, and maybe even turn into an allstar, but didn’t feel it could happen playing for Rambis in the triangle.  Well ok, that’s all fine I guess (not sure why you drafted him), but all reports are that Rambis will be fired before the season starts.  This series of events is precisely what puts teams in the lottery year after year.  My advice: just keep Flynn.  You got virtually nothing for him in the trade and even if he’s not a starter for you maybe he’s a rotation player ya know?  You need some guys to play 20-25 minutes a game (checkout how many the Mavs have this year).  It isn’t ideal for a high pick to play reserve minutes but it’s better then giving him away because he’s not a starter.  Alright, have I talked about Kahnnn! enough?  Ok, I’ll let it go…
– Nice job by the Heat grabbing Norris Cole.  I think he can start for them and just knows how to get nasty… like him alot as a late first rounder.  Chalmers is probably heading out of town.
– I wish Jimmer well but there’s just way too many chuckers on that team.
I really feel like next year will be wide open again.  The Lakers will probably bounce back, the Mavs, Celts, Bulls and Heat will all be contenders.  OKC will have another year of experience and could very well be ready to go to the Finals.  The Jazz are rebuilding very quickly and altho they won’t be a contender next year I think it could be coming with all the picks and young guys they have.  If the Clips don’t make the playoffs next year then I don’t know when they will.  I believe the Raptors and Bobcats will be the worst teams in the league *next* year.  I think Deron Williams leaves the Nets.  I just don’t see them putting enough together to keep him.  I definitely think Dwight is outta Orlando too and I doubt CP3 stays long term in New Orleans.  I think Sacramento will be a total mess next year, ego’s will get in the way and they’ll have the worst chemistry in the league.  All guesses here, just throwin’ out the HSOs (hot sports opinions).
Jon: Yeah I caught Kahn on Simmon’s Podcast, that dude is creepy and his explanations didn’t hold a lot of water.
It’s been an all-time shitty year in Cleveland obviously. Winning the draft lottery against the odds was a bit of a silver lining but when you look at this draft, could it be a worse year to have the top pick? P.S Derrick Williams will be the best NBA player in this draft, Klay Thompson the dark horse/sleeper.
Todd: Williams probably is the best player in the draft but he won’t get the minutes to showcase his talent unless a trade happens.  I *despise* the draft the best player available and figure things out later theory.  Hate it, rarely pays off and here’s why:  How can you build trade value if the player isn’t logging big minutes?  Beasley and Love are more NBA ready right now and they will rightfully have earned the lionshare of minutes when the season starts.  So now, Derrick Williams starts to get disgruntled, lowering his already sinking trade value due to the fact that he can’t get enough minutes to develop and begin showing his skills.  Don’t forget that Anthony Randolph is also in that crowded rotation. Enes Kanter was the guy they should have picked even if his ceiling isn’t as high.  2 years ago the Thunder took James Harden number 3 overall in front of Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings because they already have their PG.  And that was absolutely the right thing to do.  Now if you’re the Cavs, and you’re rebuilding your whole team then I’m fine with taking the best available.  
Klay Thompson is fun to watch, really like him, and it’ll be interesting to see if they use him in an 6th man role or if they trade Monta and start him. Marshon Brooks is pretty smooth and I’ll bet he puts up some decent numbers next year on a depleted Nets team.
Jon: Well that’ll do it, Internet. To the five of you reading this, thanks! I’ll have Todd back on the blog to discuss the next NBA season, in 2013!

I'M BACK

Doodled to look like ME, not Jesus Christ in case you're confused. Although Jesus came back too, one time....

My fellow internets,

Jon Smith is officially getting back on the wagon with the Association. This is the first of many steps toward reconciliation. My statement to the NBA is thus: “You don’t have to sleep on the couch anymore. …Let’s stay together for the kids.” So I’m not going out of my way to watch NBA basketball but I’ll treat it like anything else on TV or the internet, I will pay as much attention to it as any other sports fan without an NBA franchise would(to those who don’t know me, I am a Seattleite. Born and raised Sonics fan, pretty bitter).

Nothing has changed between myself and the likes of David Stern and Howard Schultz. Those creeps can eat a truckload of dicks in Hell, I really hope I never see Howard Schultz around town…don’t know what I’d do. Slim chance of that though, as I have no life and rarely go downtown. So you’re lucky Howie!

So as I slowly re-acclimate myself with Napoleon’s traveling circus, I will need to lean once again upon Todd Slater: the nerd prince of basketball, to help navigate these murky waters. 

The following is an Email conversation between Todd and I:

ME: It cannot be denied that due to officiating or this generation of players, this league is soft. Not nearly as aggressive, not nearly as tough to score especially in the paint as it was in the glory days of Jordan/Magic/Bird BUT It’s nice to see one young man taking advantage of this generations soft defense: BLAKE GRIFFIN. How’s that for a segue?? This kid is the closest thing to Shawn Kemp we’ve seen since….Shawn Kemp. Not quite as powerful but just as electrifying and unstoppable, more athletic.
Is this the usual cock tease fans get from the Clippers every 3-4 years or do you think Blake can break through and make the Clip show a contender?

Todd: Well, they haven’t had a tease this big in a long while.  I have to say I’d exercise *some* caution regarding Blake and here’s why:  I’m weary of freak athletes because when the hops fade they fade fast.  If your game revolves around jumping over everyone in the gym you’re going to deal with alot of wear and tear on the treads.  Your chances of getting injured exponentially increase if you play the way he does year after year.  Remember how different Vince Carter’s game was when he came into the league versus now?  To Vince’s credit he’s still a useful player, but Air Canada doesn’t fly nearly as high as it used to.  Blake’s doing the right thing, he’s the best athlete on the court and he uses it to his advantage every possession.  In the offseason, he needs to develop a better mid-range game and continue to build his fundamentals so that he’s ready to evolve into something else in 6-7 years or maybe sooner should an injury occur.  I’d trade great fundamentals for athleticism every time tho… see Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.

ME: Wanted to start with Blake because that’s kind of the catalyst for my getting back into NBA fandom. What else is there to be excited about, what’s Todd Slater excited about? Specific players or teams getting hot? Is there a dark horse you like to win this year? Seems like the Celtics and Lakers are old and vulnerable.

Todd: So many things, just gonna do a stream of conscious here: Grant Hill continuing to defy critics and turn back the clock for the Suns, DJ Augustin coming into his own under Paul Silas in Charlotte, Darko Milicic starting and playing pretty damn well for Minnesota (love the comeback story), Mike Beasley doing his best Carmelo impersonation after being traded away for a bag of chips, Chris Paul bouncing back from an injury riddled 2010 to be an MVP candidate this year, Elton Brand quietly returning to form after multiple surgeries, Kevin Durant becoming a top 3 player in the league… he is a true superstar, Raymond Felton playing like an all-star, Monta Ellis looking like Allen Iverson, Deron Williams being the best point guard in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge showing off all his work in the offseason, Danilo Gallinari showing that smoooooth stroke (despite looking semi cross-eyed), Russ Westbrook melting faces, Derrick Rose showing off the range (god he’s fun to watch), Brandon Jennings breaking ankles and John Wall being the fast human in the world.
As far as dark horses I’d have to pick the Bulls.  They’ve been missing Noah for months now and should be ready to roll when he returns.  Boozer has been as advertised and Rose is an MVP candidate.  Deng looks really nice as a third option too and is having a great year.

The Lakers will turn it on when they need to like always.  Jerry West had an interesting quote about their defense this week: “If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get it? The reason you ‘can’t play defense’ is because you can’t! …I don’t think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can’t change a player’s tires.”

I think it’s Celts and Spurs in the finals.  Spurs win it all.

ME: Boozer should have stayed in Cleveland, would have had a ring by now. Yeah I’ve noticed the Bulls have been building a beast in the shadow of the Lebron shenanigans.
Oh yeah, so part of me being back on the NBA wagon will mean I’ll have to get back in the Gigposters Fantasy League. Does Dave run that league? Do YOU run it now? Will there be room for me next year?

Todd: This guy in Cali runs it, I’ll make sure you get in next year if you want.

ME: How are your Mav’s doing?

Todd: Kinda just trucking along.  I think they make a splash at the trade deadline.  I’m confident Cuban will always put out a quality product.

ME: Hey is Cuban involved in the UFL?? That’s his league right? I think it kinda has a chance, and will benefit from a lockout in the NFL.

Todd: Well, he’s suing them right now for 5 million for an unpaid loan so I dunno where he stands.  UFL fantasy football?  That would be hilarious… gotta get our fix somehow.

ME: Shit, I got dibs on Maurice Clarett!

Given you did a GaGa poster, thought you’d like to know I’m doing a Ke$ha poster….

So I’m watching this Mavs/Celtics game tonight, who is this small foreign looking Guard you have?…I’m not talking about Jason Kidd, Ha!

Todd: That my friend is Jose Juan Barea, better known as the Puerto Rican AI (Allen Iverson), he goes by JJ for short.

He has some nice games every now and again.  He’s a good spark plug type guy.  A real fan fave too.
Ke$sha!  That sounds pretty fun.  Make her look super slutty and hot.
ME: Ahhh, I was gonna guess Sarunas Marciulionis. I forgot your coach is Rick Carlisle, the internet agrees he looks like Jim Carrey but I also kinda think he looks like a liiiiitle bit like George Jones.
Shit I think that’s all the time we have, Todd. I’ll get back with you around tourney time. Good win for your Mav’s though, that’s the first NBA game I actually watched to the end in years….weird seeing Tyson Chandler as an old stiff now, he was always one of those straight out of high school baby face busts for years, like a homeless man’s Kevin Garnett. Oh wait Kevin Garnett is old now too. Yoi.

I’M BACK

Doodled to look like ME, not Jesus Christ in case you're confused. Although Jesus came back too, one time....

My fellow internets,

Jon Smith is officially getting back on the wagon with the Association. This is the first of many steps toward reconciliation. My statement to the NBA is thus: “You don’t have to sleep on the couch anymore. …Let’s stay together for the kids.” So I’m not going out of my way to watch NBA basketball but I’ll treat it like anything else on TV or the internet, I will pay as much attention to it as any other sports fan without an NBA franchise would(to those who don’t know me, I am a Seattleite. Born and raised Sonics fan, pretty bitter).

Nothing has changed between myself and the likes of David Stern and Howard Schultz. Those creeps can eat a truckload of dicks in Hell, I really hope I never see Howard Schultz around town…don’t know what I’d do. Slim chance of that though, as I have no life and rarely go downtown. So you’re lucky Howie!

So as I slowly re-acclimate myself with Napoleon’s traveling circus, I will need to lean once again upon Todd Slater: the nerd prince of basketball, to help navigate these murky waters. 

The following is an Email conversation between Todd and I:

ME: It cannot be denied that due to officiating or this generation of players, this league is soft. Not nearly as aggressive, not nearly as tough to score especially in the paint as it was in the glory days of Jordan/Magic/Bird BUT It’s nice to see one young man taking advantage of this generations soft defense: BLAKE GRIFFIN. How’s that for a segue?? This kid is the closest thing to Shawn Kemp we’ve seen since….Shawn Kemp. Not quite as powerful but just as electrifying and unstoppable, more athletic.
Is this the usual cock tease fans get from the Clippers every 3-4 years or do you think Blake can break through and make the Clip show a contender?

Todd: Well, they haven’t had a tease this big in a long while.  I have to say I’d exercise *some* caution regarding Blake and here’s why:  I’m weary of freak athletes because when the hops fade they fade fast.  If your game revolves around jumping over everyone in the gym you’re going to deal with alot of wear and tear on the treads.  Your chances of getting injured exponentially increase if you play the way he does year after year.  Remember how different Vince Carter’s game was when he came into the league versus now?  To Vince’s credit he’s still a useful player, but Air Canada doesn’t fly nearly as high as it used to.  Blake’s doing the right thing, he’s the best athlete on the court and he uses it to his advantage every possession.  In the offseason, he needs to develop a better mid-range game and continue to build his fundamentals so that he’s ready to evolve into something else in 6-7 years or maybe sooner should an injury occur.  I’d trade great fundamentals for athleticism every time tho… see Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.

ME: Wanted to start with Blake because that’s kind of the catalyst for my getting back into NBA fandom. What else is there to be excited about, what’s Todd Slater excited about? Specific players or teams getting hot? Is there a dark horse you like to win this year? Seems like the Celtics and Lakers are old and vulnerable.

Todd: So many things, just gonna do a stream of conscious here: Grant Hill continuing to defy critics and turn back the clock for the Suns, DJ Augustin coming into his own under Paul Silas in Charlotte, Darko Milicic starting and playing pretty damn well for Minnesota (love the comeback story), Mike Beasley doing his best Carmelo impersonation after being traded away for a bag of chips, Chris Paul bouncing back from an injury riddled 2010 to be an MVP candidate this year, Elton Brand quietly returning to form after multiple surgeries, Kevin Durant becoming a top 3 player in the league… he is a true superstar, Raymond Felton playing like an all-star, Monta Ellis looking like Allen Iverson, Deron Williams being the best point guard in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge showing off all his work in the offseason, Danilo Gallinari showing that smoooooth stroke (despite looking semi cross-eyed), Russ Westbrook melting faces, Derrick Rose showing off the range (god he’s fun to watch), Brandon Jennings breaking ankles and John Wall being the fast human in the world.
As far as dark horses I’d have to pick the Bulls.  They’ve been missing Noah for months now and should be ready to roll when he returns.  Boozer has been as advertised and Rose is an MVP candidate.  Deng looks really nice as a third option too and is having a great year.

The Lakers will turn it on when they need to like always.  Jerry West had an interesting quote about their defense this week: “If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get it? The reason you ‘can’t play defense’ is because you can’t! …I don’t think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can’t change a player’s tires.”

I think it’s Celts and Spurs in the finals.  Spurs win it all.

ME: Boozer should have stayed in Cleveland, would have had a ring by now. Yeah I’ve noticed the Bulls have been building a beast in the shadow of the Lebron shenanigans.
Oh yeah, so part of me being back on the NBA wagon will mean I’ll have to get back in the Gigposters Fantasy League. Does Dave run that league? Do YOU run it now? Will there be room for me next year?

Todd: This guy in Cali runs it, I’ll make sure you get in next year if you want.

ME: How are your Mav’s doing?

Todd: Kinda just trucking along.  I think they make a splash at the trade deadline.  I’m confident Cuban will always put out a quality product.

ME: Hey is Cuban involved in the UFL?? That’s his league right? I think it kinda has a chance, and will benefit from a lockout in the NFL.

Todd: Well, he’s suing them right now for 5 million for an unpaid loan so I dunno where he stands.  UFL fantasy football?  That would be hilarious… gotta get our fix somehow.

ME: Shit, I got dibs on Maurice Clarett!

Given you did a GaGa poster, thought you’d like to know I’m doing a Ke$ha poster….

So I’m watching this Mavs/Celtics game tonight, who is this small foreign looking Guard you have?…I’m not talking about Jason Kidd, Ha!

Todd: That my friend is Jose Juan Barea, better known as the Puerto Rican AI (Allen Iverson), he goes by JJ for short.

He has some nice games every now and again.  He’s a good spark plug type guy.  A real fan fave too.
Ke$sha!  That sounds pretty fun.  Make her look super slutty and hot.
ME: Ahhh, I was gonna guess Sarunas Marciulionis. I forgot your coach is Rick Carlisle, the internet agrees he looks like Jim Carrey but I also kinda think he looks like a liiiiitle bit like George Jones.
Shit I think that’s all the time we have, Todd. I’ll get back with you around tourney time. Good win for your Mav’s though, that’s the first NBA game I actually watched to the end in years….weird seeing Tyson Chandler as an old stiff now, he was always one of those straight out of high school baby face busts for years, like a homeless man’s Kevin Garnett. Oh wait Kevin Garnett is old now too. Yoi.

Brad Klausen Interview(UPDATED 11.18.09)

Dig in, internet! It’s the long awaited Brad Klausen interview!!!

For most of you reading this Brad Klausen needs no introduction. But for the few of you who may not know, Brad is a Seattle based designer/illustrator best known for contributing a bulk of great design work including a ton of amazing posters for Pearl Jam. As a designer I have to say the way Brad came out of relative obscurity and hit the ground running with PJ posters when the bar had been established at a dizzying height by the Ames Bros. is pretty awesome.

When you get called up to the majors and you look like you’ve been there before, it’s a Hell of a thing. From that start with Pearl Jam(which he continues to do posters for) to posters for all kinds of bands(Built to Spill, Mogwai, MGMT, The Gossip etc.) Brad continues to be a fucking powerhouse in this screen printed, signed and numbered niche, and a super nice guy to boot.

So with all that said, let’s see if we can’t get to know the fella.

Jon: Alright let’s take it back, where you from? Montana? Idaho? Colorado? Everything east of the Cascades is all the same to me.

Brad: I am from LA basically… grew up in Santa Clarita, Newhall to be more specific, which is about 30 minutes north of LA. But I commuted to school in North Hollywood and all my friends lived in the LA area, my dad lived in Playa del Rey, so I grew up in a car stuck in traffic on the freeways of LA. But Newhall is by no means LA, over the course of years we had a variety of different animals, a couple of horses, 2 goats, 3 pigs at one point, they’ve always had chickens, there were some geese and ducks briefly,…to all my friends in LA I lived on a farm out in the sticks, and while we had farm animals here and there, it was by no means a farm. Since my folks have lived there, it’s changed drastically, the population I think has tripled. Not sure if you watch the show Weeds, but they filmed the first few seasons there, and where the show takes place in the planned community of “Agrestic” with all it’s “little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same”, that’s Santa Clarita now… growing up there you could just watch the development, that’s the wrong word though,.. development implies growth or progress and to me, covering over all the hills as far as you can see with boring, lifeless cookie cutter homes and cramming as many as you possibly can into as much land as you possibly can and then naming the communities something regal similar to  “Agrestic” to make it feel like it’s a fancy area is not growth or progress. How many of the same house can we cram into one hillside over and over again until all you see is houses… but it’s not just Santa Clarita, that’s just California for ya…

Jon: Yeah, “develop” can be good or bad. You can develop a bad habit, develop love handles, tumors develop…

Never would have pegged you for a SoCal guy…but then again most people I know around here are transplants to Seattle.

So how was High School? What John Hughes movie character do you most relate to?

I went to the same school from kindergarten through 12th grade. A small private high school in North Hollywood.. my graduating class was I think 63 students… I got a plaque at graduation for being there 13 years. You can’t really be a loner in that environment, teachers I had in third grade I had in 10th grade, it was a small environment that little did I know had made me socially retarded when I got into the real world. Standard stuff like meeting people and introducing yourself, were not skills I had from existing in the same place for 13 years. But all in all high school was alright… looking back on it I probably thought it was way worse then it actually was because I was an ignorant teenager and that’s what teenagers do. Towards the end I had had my fill of the place and couldn’t wait to move away and get as far away from LA as possible. I was applying to schools in Maine and Vermont but only made it as far as Denver, which wasn’t the opposite coast, but it wasn’t LA so I was fine with that.

As for which character of the Breakfast Club was I? Not really sure… when I was a teenager, I wanted to be Wayne Gretzky, but I wouldn’t say I was a jock in the true sense of the word. I loved hockey, it’s all I wanted to do… but I don’t think I fit the template of “jock”, I was tall and lanky and awkward and not necessarily all that confident, and being that it was Southern California our school didn’t have a hockey team, so playing hockey was something I did away from school and on my own time. I don’t know what label would have really fit for me… the school was so small, there really weren’t the cliche divided cliques of stereotypes… everyone had there core group of a few friends they hung out with regularly, but for the most part we all knew each other and hung out so there wasn’t enough of us to start calling out who was what. Whenever I would watch John Hughes movies I was sort of amazed when confronted with what “real” high schools looked like… we didn’t even have a lunch room or cafeteria where you have to deal with the social hierarchy of what table do you sit at or bullies knocking your food into your lap.

Jon: Where did you go to school after that? Art school, University?

Brad: After that, I went to the University of Denver. It wasn’t an art school but they had a nice little art department. Apparently DU is known for its business school, which shows what I know, I had no idea, even when I was there. I actually didn’t know there was such a thing as art schools, I found out about those after I graduated from college, again showing how oblivious I can be… a friend of mine who graduated from The Art School in Pasadena, CA took me for a tour through the school a little after I had graduated, and it made me wish I had gone to an art school… but the more I thought about it, I was glad I had the experience I did, I had a lot of fun in college and I don’t think I would have enjoyed art school nearly as much as a regular old college. Plus the small art department at DU was bad enough with all the kids in there trying to find their identity by playing the role of “eccentric art student”… those kids drove me up the wall… a few of them, that’s who they truly genuinely were and they lived and breathed it,.. but most of them were just trying on the uniform to see if it fit. You could tell who was for real and who was just searching for their personality when it came time to put art up on the wall for critique days. So I don’t know if that would have been worse at an actual art school, my gut says it would have been much worse. Always made me giggle though, you can make art and be an artist and not be a weird eccentric character, but for some people who they are is far more important then what they make…

Jon: Preach brother! In hindsight I would have preferred to have just gone to regular college, if nothing else you have other kids around who are in different programs who can offer a different perspective.

So were you always artistic, did you know early on that you wanted to do something creative growing up or did you have other interests/options? You’re tall, I’m guessing you had some scholarships on the table to hoop it up for Gonzaga or Xavier or some shit right?…I kid of course, feel free to take this opportunity to vent on the topic of short people asking tall people if they play basketball.

Brad: I don’t get the “wow you’re tall do you play basketball?” comments at all anymore. As a teenager, I got that all the time. I am not good at basketball… I am good for rebounding, but nothing else.

As far as I can recall, I always liked to draw and was always copying comics or cartoons I liked. I would often get in trouble at school for drawing in my textbooks. I can’t say I ever thought about having a creative career as a kid. It never really crossed my mind. When I was applying for college I figured I would try and study architecture, but I think that’s mostly because adults would say stuff like “oh you like to draw, you could be an architect”. I don’t ever really remember being fond of architecture or thinking about it at all really. At some point my mom was at a party and she met a man who was a graphic designer who told her “I know a lot of out of work architects and a lot of graphic designers that are always working”… my mom came home and mentioned this and with that one comment I changed from architecture to design. But neither was really anything I cared about too much, I was positive I was gonna be Wayne Gretzky… which is quite comical when I think about it in my adult life.

Jon: What would you say was your greatest artistic influence as a young lad? For me it was Jack Kirby hands down, comics n shit. I have a feeling for you it was something more photorealistic/detailed.

Brad: It was comics for me too. Loved them. Especially the X-Men. I often expose my inner nerd when any conversation comes up about the absolute horrors hollywood has done to my childhood heros. I couldn’t wait to go to the comic store on whatever day it was that new comics came out. My favorite artists were Arthur Adams, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. Lately I wish I had been paying more attention to the inkers then the pencillers, as theses days I am far more interested in the different ways people ink their work. I can’t say as a kid I even knew there was a difference between penciling and inking, they were just rad drawings. But I think not only the art but the stories were a huge influence on my imagination… like soap operas for boys, couldn’t wait each two weeks to see how the cliffhangers would resolve.

Jon: Yeah I don’t really read comics these days, as a  youngan I was into the same stuff though. As I was being pulled away from comics(time and money) after Art School I was really into Frank Millers Sin City stuff, that illustration style is amazing, it looks like he’s jumping straight to ink wihtout penciling first. Sin City is of course the only really perfect comic book movie, I too am quite a harsh critic with comic movies….I never understood why Hellboy was made live action, Mike Mignola’s style is so flat and unique it would have been awesome to see that animated. I’m going to stop here, this is a topic that could go on forever.

Can you tell the internet the story of how you got hired by the Pearl Jam back in the day? It’s an interesting story.

Brad: As for how I started working for Pearl Jam… my first job after college was being a design assistant at a broadcast design firm in Hollywood, CA. They had 4 designers there and I was their bitch. All the boring, monotonous work they didn’t want to do, I did. At first I was just happy to have finally landed a job with a design firm after months of no luck. But eventually it just became less and less interesting. I got a newsletter for the Ten Club and I was looking at it thinking this is the type of design I want to do. Prior to landing the job I did, I went around to every record label in LA hoping to get a job working in the art department. I wanted to do design work for music. So when I got the newsletter I decided I would design a poster/resume and send it in and see if they needed anyone to do posters or art for them. I had no idea who the Ames Bros were or that they were handling all of Pearl Jam’s artwork or that they had designed the newsletter that I was holding. I just saw it and thought this is what I want to do.
So I designed this letter into a corner of this horizontally long poster saying who I was and what I wanted to do. I emailed the Ten Club to ask if they got it, and they said “yes” and “thanks but no thanks”. So I figured at least I tried. 8 months later I got fired from my design-bitch job, and rightfully so, I had stopped showing up on time, going to lunch for longer then I should have, talking to friends on the phone and not doing a lot of the things they wanted me to do, I wasn’t into it and apparently, I was showing that in my lack of effort or concern for my job. The day I got fired was a great day though, I can remember driving home and feeling very happy.
My girlfriend at the time, her mom had these free tickets to Europe through some frequent flier miles scam and they were about to expire. So my girlfriend and I figured “hey we have no jobs, no money, nothing going on.. why not take free tickets and try and travel around Europe with no money”. At some point we were in Italy and my mom called me at the hotel late at night and said “guess who called?” ( at this point it’s important to note after college I moved back in with my folks in Newhall/LA) I guessed a design firm called The Attik because that was the only place I wanted to work and had been quite persistent in calling them and submitting samples of my work and was on the verge of them possibly offering me a job.. my mom says “better than The Attik…” which didn’t make sense at the time, since to me there was nothing better. The Attik was it or nothing else! But then she says “Pearl Jam called you…” which was the last thing I was expecting her to say, it had been 8 months since I sent that poster in. Apparently they had put the poster up on their office wall in the Ten Club, and luckily I had put my phone number on there, and when it came time for them to find an  in-house designer, my number was right there on their wall.

Got home from Europe, they flew me out for an interview and asked if I’d be willing to relocate from LA to Seattle, which I quickly replied to with “YES!” since I couldn’t wait to get out of LA once again and out of my parents house (don’t get me wrong, my Mom and step Dad are awesome, but when you go from living on your own in college to moving back home, it’s no good). I moved up to Seattle in November of 1999, right in the midst of the WTO riots… it was a quite a greeting…

Jon: Ha! Way to date yourself grandpa. I watched the WTO riots on TV in High School, Junior year. I still need to see that movie about the WTO riots, it looks kinda shitty though. Plus Michelle Rodriguez is in it and she renders all things she stars in unwatchable.

Okay we’ve talked about this before in person plenty, without getting too convoluted I think generally people think of Brad Klausen as an illustrator more than a “pure” designer although I find the more designy posters in your catalog just as impressive as the hardcore line art posters…but this is more of a technical question than a design vs. illustration question though. I want to know how often you use, and how much you like or don’t like Illustrator. How do you look at it? The approach, you know what I mean…

Brad: I use illustrator mostly to clean up my hand drawn type. I’ll draw all my letters and then scan them and bring them into illustrator and redraw them in there so that i can make things more consistent.. you know, make the spacing between things more even and make sure each letter is the same height and width where it needs it. But other than type, I don’t use Illustrator all that often. I might use it to make a pattern or a particular shape if I want to make sure that things are precise and even and symmetrical. Mostly I just draw everything in pencil then use a light table to ink the drawing and then clean or alter that in photoshop. I use photoshop far more then I use illustrator. But I like Illustrator a lot, it’s a resourceful tool in the shed.

Jon: I’m sure by the time this posts your Monsters of Folk poster will be out there for all to see and purchase. I had the pleasure of racking this print at D&L, I trust the registration held up and the there were no bugs??? Blend turned out nice?

Brad: It came out great, the graveyard shift did well as always. Blend looked good too…it’s always kinda cool to see how blends can actually start to blend away from the original idea and combine the two… there were a few in there where the brown overtook the orange and the blend went from a brown to orange to a brown to a lighter brown, but those looked cool too… I know both Steve and Cary get mad at me for using blends as frequently as I do… you might be more privy to them cursing me when the blend isn’t working right on a print run of 1500 pearl jam posters that need to be done tomorrow…

Jon: Oh, I’ve been meaning to tell you, you’re targets are too big. To pinpoint the registration it’s a lot easier to work with a target that’s like 3/8″ , so I would say shrink your targets by about half of what you usually use.

Anyway, speak on the future of Brad Klausen, workwise and or personal if you got anything cool going on. I know you just moved, if you’re digging your new place/neighborhood etc.

Brad: The new place is ok. It’s on the west side of the hill of Magnolia near Discovery Park. And while it’s awesome to take the dogs for daily walks through Discovery Park, this side of Magnolia is sleepy and quiet. Mostly just old folks and families. It’s kind like living in a sleepy midwest town, there’s Magnolia VIllage, which is one or two streets of a few restaurants and shops I think there’s a pub, and on a Friday or Saturday night after 8 pm it’s a ghost town. No one comes over here. My girlfriend and I have started referring to it as “Mangolia”.

As for workwise, trying to get through the last batch of posters for 2009… this year feels like it’s been the most poster intensive for me and I think it’s starting to take it’s toll. Starting to get pretty burnt out from having to just go from one poster right into the next one without any time in between. I am hoping in 2010 to work more on a few other things not poster related, like start painting more… I really want to start teaching myself more and more about painting and see where that goes. Would also like to get back into playing music too, not in a band, but making little fun recording projects with protools at home just for kicks. Anything to help break up all the poster stuff, which I will most likely always do, just need to start introducing a few more alternate creative outlets other then rock posters.
Jon: You mentioned Weeds earlier, seems these days with all the cable channels and the interwebs people really only make time for a handful of shows to fit into their life. Personally I’m spoiled with Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office right now, whatchu watchin dog?
Brad: We got rid of our cable and just watch stuff online now, and oddly enough find myself watching more TV online than I think I did when we had cable…dammit. I like Weeds a lot, even though the most recent season is kind of boring. My all time favorite show though is easily It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I love it. It can be hit or miss from one episode to the next, but it definitely had it’s hooks in me from the first episode. The guy Charlie on that show, can’t get enough of him, they need to make a spin off focusing solely on him. I also like the new show Community, so far so good, seems well written.
Jon: Yeah I’ve been watching Community too, you’re not from here so you probably don’t know that Joel Mchale is from Seattle, played Tight End for the Huskies and got his start on the now long defunct local favorite Almost Live.
Community is a decent show, I’m pulling for McHale and Chevy of course. Alison Brie has pulled off a television coup, as she is a prominent cast member on Community and has a recurring character on Mad Men, the second greatest show in the history of man after The Wire.
I was going to get into a thing we have in common, which is we are both grandmasters in the art of blackout….but those stories are best left for in person story telling yes?
Brad: Yeah, it’s quite a skill I have… and sad but true that if I am a grandmaster in anything, blacking out is probably top of the list. It’s quite an honor to be bestowed with such a title. I’d like to say those days are behind me, and as much as I think they are, every once and a while one will sneak up on me from out of nowhere and clobber me in an unfamiliar street and steal my flip flops and wallet …  As for the stories, there are many…and better left for in person… or to be told by someone who actually remembers the whole story, I can only be counted on for the retelling of the leftover clues the next day like a detective at a crime scene speculating as to what took place…
Jon: Yeah it’s real Jekyll and Hyde thing, or like the Wolfman of the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner. You wake up, asses the damage, interrogate anyone who has information of the previous evening’s events. It sucks, I too try my best to keep these occurrences few and far between but it still happens sometimes. I’m no doctor but I think blackouts happen because there’s a point where you’re body knows you’ve drank too much and most people puke at that point and feel better. Those who don’t, black the fuck out.
Well that’s it internet, hope you enjoyed our little chat. Pretty abrupt ending there, it really could have gone on and on, hopefully we catch up with Brad a little further down the trail. I welcome your comments and or questions, thank you for reading.

Todd Slater Interview PART 2

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We start this part off jumping out of poster talk into…personal interest I guess would be the best way to describe it. Dig in!
Jon: So whatup with this NBA? You mentioned your Dallas Mavericks earlier, you’ve been a Mav’s/NBA fan since grade school I presume. That being said advise me sir, as an older and wiser hoop fiend. I’m a grieving Sonic fan, my team has been assassinated.
I still love the NBA but regardless of any geographical bias, I have to say David Sterns NBA is an increasingly watered down product. “More European” some might say. That’s a convoluted way of saying “soft”, basketball was invented in North America and perfected in the good ol’ USA. Why would you want to tweak your game to be more like the guys you used to slaughter in the Olympics? It’s not as physical as it used to be, NBA playoff games used to be knock down, drag out, grudge matches. Call me a caveman, but that shit was intense thrill a minute stuff with all the drama of a Rocky movie, it was kind of like this and nowadays like I say, pretty soft not as intense. I’m less enthused.
So my questions are thus, what would you do if the Mavs where sold down the river as my Sonics were? And do you agree with my assessment of the softness of the NBA? The Todd Slater state of the NBA basically. I’ll be asking you about the Mav’s directly next….
Todd: Well, I have some understanding of your pain because the Houston Oilers leaving for Tennessee left many here betrayed, bewildered and just really pissed off.  If the Mavs switched cities I would continue to follow them because the players are who I care about most.  If I was a Sonics fan I’d want to watch Durant develop into a superstar…that would be fun to me.
The 1989-90 Piston Championship teams really encompass what an ideal NBA is for me.  That was a team I watched as a kid but I know that physical style is gone now.  The NBA will never be full on Euro-ball because the US produces the freakish athletes.  It’s incredible to see the difference between the US and other countries during the Olympics.  The grudge matches are probably gone but there’s enough heat to keep me interested.  It’s possible that 2 of the 3 greatest players to ever play the game are playing right now (Kobe and Lebron) making the NBA very interesting to watch.  While I’m talking about the greatest ever here is my all-time list:
1. Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. Wilt Chamberlain
4. Lew Alcindor
5. Magic Johnson
6. Hakeem Olajuwon
7. Shaquille O’Neal
8. Kobe Bryant
9. Pete Maravich
10. Julius Erving
11. Larry Bird
12. Lebron James
Shaq, Kobe and Lebron all stand to move up as their careers continue.  One day I could see it being: Jordan, Lebron, Kobe.
Jon: Wow, where to begin?….I’m not a big enough man to see through all the bullshit and just follow my Sonic players in Oklahoma City and even if I did, eventually all the guys who were once Sonics would move on or retire in time and I’d be rooting for a 100% homegrown Oklahoma City team and that wouldn’t make sense. I know Adam Carolla is an L.A native who still follows the Rams in St. Louis but these cases seem pretty rare.
Per your list, that’s a Hell of a lot of respect for the Dream, he is underrated I’ll give you that but you have to put Shaq ahead of him for the number of championships and doing it with different teams…but Hakeem is arguably the best defensive Center ever.
But back to my Sonics, I think they are the Oilers of basketball…except Houston got a franchise back relatively quick and I don’t think Seattle has a prayer for a new team while David Stern is in power and the city(politicians not fans) seems content to let their “Center” rot.
Give us a thumbnail on how hot you are on your Mav’s going into next season. How does Shawn Marion brighten the Dallas picture?
Todd: I’m heating up about my team but don’t believe that they are a true contender this year.  The signing of Drew Gooden as both a PF and C is underrated and will be of great help this year.  If nothing else it will be nice to have a guy who scores in the post.  Marion is a good fit for a couple of reasons:  He played best under Nash, and Kidd is that kind of great passer and creator that Marion needs to thrive.  The Mavs just signed Tim Thomas today and they are looking more and more like the D’Antoni’s Suns from years past.  I’m guessing I get a 55 win season this year.  They’ll make things interesting in the playoffs but are still clearly outmatched to the Lakers.
Jon: Have we ever talked college hoops? Is there a school you root for in particular, would Texas be too obvious?
I actually like Duke…heh.  I would root for Texas over Duke but I admired the Duke teams of the 90s so much that I kinda still end of rooting for Coach K.  A lot of my fav NBA players that aren’t Mavs went to Duke too: Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, JJ Reddick and Carlos Boozer.  The guys that come out of Duke have an understanding and respect of the game that I like…they know how to play the game the right way and usually have great balance in their game.  You won’t see a guy like Marbury coming out of Duke.
Jon: True that, yeah you have to respect the Dukies. You must have really liked Reddick in college to name him a favorite NBA player.
What do you make of these Washington Huskies in the NBA? 10 years ago the only Seattle area products representing in the NBA were Doug Christie and Detlef Schrempf who went to UW via Germany obviously. Now we got Spencer Hawes, Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, recently drafted Jon Brockman from UW and Jason Terry, Marvin Williams, Aaron Brooks and Jamal Crawford also coming out of the 206. Am I forgetting some Gonzaga products? I don’t think many of them guys have stuck in the NBA, Adam Morrison WTF???
Todd: Marvin Williams is a pretty incredible athlete, he’s getting overshadowed a bit in Atlanta but I like his game a lot and have owned him the past 3 years in fantasy basketball.  It probably only takes a few stars making it to inspire young kids in the area and I’d expect the cycle to continue.  Adam Morrison had a really good summer league for the Lakers and I’m hoping he cracks the rotation for them this year.  Playing with Kobe everyday has got to improve your game right?
Jon: Let’s hope so, he’s an interesting character. I think the rain forcing kids into the gym and growing up in the Shawn Kemp/Gary Payton era is likely responsible for this recent explosion of northwest hoop talent.
Segwaying from “sport” to “game”, I recall Emailing you for some reason a year or two ago and getting a reply about you being away at some kind of Star Wars gaming tournament. Care to elaborate about this game, does it involve cards? Dice? Mana????
Sounds pretty nerdy, if you’d rather not share I understand.
Todd: Nah, it’s cool.  If I try and hide this I risk a John Anderson segway type thread popping up on gigposters.  I play a game called Star Wars Miniatures that is produced by Wizards of the Coast who put out Magic and D&D.  I’m actually going to the World Championships in a couple of weeks in Indianapolis.  The game involves maps, small painted figurines, stat cards, dice and dudes who will never get laid…ever.  I can’t really explain how to play it in an Email but it’s a good escape for me.
Jon: Beside hoops and this Star Wars game, is there any other huge hobby or interest you have that competes for your time outside of posters and family?
Todd: Well, I collect vintage sports cards for basketball and football.  There’s a company I send them to that grades them and seals them in clear plastic cases.  Some free time is spent looking for deals on ebay and going to card shows in the area.  I also see a ton of movies and used to be an assistant manager and projectionist at a theater in Austin right after high school.  That’s where I met my wife Kristie actually.  She was my boss and I enjoyed many a long night in the manager’s office (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  Truthfully tho, she was very professional and I’m still scratching my head on how I landed her.
Jon: Heh,
Okay, off the top of your head, the best movie you’ve seen in the past 6 months or so and the shittiest movie you’ve seen in the past 6 months, in theater.
Todd: Parts of Drag Me to Hell where insanely cool but I can’t say I loved it.  The Hangover is probably the best thing I’ve seen recently and I liked Funny People just fine.  I wanna see Sam Rockwell in Moon too.
Jon: I hear there’s a sequel coming to the Hangover. That’s Hollywood though, if you make a ton of money you have to make a sequel regardless of whether or not there’s any plot to make another movie.
TV, what shows do you make time for? If you haven’t watched all 5 season of The Wire you need to get them and clear the schedule for a couple weeks. Greatest television series created by humans ever, just sayin.
Todd: Not much actually, I usually just have a dvd running in the background while I work.  I do watch: The Office, South Park and the reality trash fest Big Brother.  I like watching seasons on dvd, I just finished Flight of the Conchords this week and it was pretty good.  I’ll put The Wire on my netlfix.  You’re not the first to recommend it.  Oh, and I just finished watching Spaced on dvd (Edgar Wright wrote it with the guys from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead) and it’s fantastic!  Watch it.
Jon: I like that Simon Pegg. I would also recommend Eastbound and Down, Deadwood, Mad Men of course and there’s a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm starting soon….Mad Men, Curb and football season, you guys can just stop coming back to this blog I wont be getting much work done this fall/winter…and Friday Night Lights will be back at some point.
So I’m the one man shipping department at D&L. I pack your boxes, I write goofy shit on them boxes. I’ve scrawled many a half baked nickname or alternate spelling of your name on these boxes but have found “Turd Slaughter” to be a pretty awesome nickname, it’s funny yet extremely tough. I think we might have something here, what say you?
Todd:LOL, yeah, I laughed when I saw that.  I like seeing the blank stares from the UPS drivers most tho.  I got one in today with “POOH Richardson” written on it.  I’m used to being called Toad so Turd is a welcome the change.  Can I be Turd Ferguson?
Jon: We don’t choose our names, sir. Take it from me, Doug Fister.
Back to posters, let’s take this interview out with a glimpse of the future. What do you have on the horizon sir? Anything art printy, out of the ordinary show posters in the offing?
Todd: Working on some Dead Weather designs for Rob Jones right now.  Also, more Ween prints later this month.  I’m pretty steady with making posters and haven’t really strayed from that too much since I started.
You’ve covered a lot of huge name bands in your time, is there still a short list of bands you’d sacrifice a pinky toe(with nail polish) to do a poster for? You can get fantastical and get into dead bands that will never play again too…
Todd:Ok, of dead musicians it would be Jimi hands down.  There are a ton of Jimi art prints out there but I’ll still probably do one at some point…not the same as a gigposter but it is a way to get it out of my system.  It worked for Jim Morrison and Johnny Cash.  Maybe I’ll try and do a Jimi print for this year’s Seattle Flatstock.  I think a Zappa poster would have been a great challenge.
Bob Dylan has to be really high on my list of living musicians. Also, Prince and Bowie.  Primus was a really important band to me in high school and I’d still like to do a print for them.  Also, Beck, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave.
Jon: I believe it was a year, maybe a year and a half ago I mentioned to you that I really like when you’re prints don’t include a solid black, suggested maybe laying off the black a scosh here and there. I believe your response was something like “Buzz off junior” yet since then you have done some of your best work sans the use of black ink:
I guess this was more of a statement than a question
Todd: Oh yeah, I remember that.  It was an Iron and Wine poster and you were right man.  I hadn’t thought about it until now.  I look at that poster now and am like, how much more black can this be?  And the answer is none, none more black.
Jon: Oh shit, forgot about this one, how do you and Rob Jones know each other? I know there’s an obvious Texas connection but I’m sitting here in Seattle and I don’t know half the fools making posters in this town….
Todd: I was submitting posters to the White Stripes at the same time he was doing their stuff and he offered to help.  He’s kind of been looking out for me ever since.  He is the wind beneath my wings Jon.  Honestly tho, he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met and is painfully honest in his poster critiques.  That’s what I needed and he recognized that.  He’s just a very giving and generous guy, with his time, his thoughts and ideas.
Jon: Yep.
Alright internet that does it for this interview, I plum ran out of questions and I need to get my ass to work, I’m late. Hope you enjoyed yourself, I should have another interview  up in a few weeks..probably with Brad Klausen, we’ll see.

Todd Slater Interview PART 1

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Welcome internet, get ready to read! What we have here is the first half of a two part interview with Todd Slater. It is the first of what I hope will become a monthly feature on this blog: Jon Smith shooting the shit on the record with fellow poster makers.

Todd Slater is one of the bigger names in the screen printed poster game, a pro’s pro, refreshingly nice guy, roundball nerd and for me a much appreciated ally in this niche of ours. In this first part of the interview we talk background/origin, the second part deals more with the present and future….and a long tangent on personal interest, mainly basketball.
But anyway, part 1 here we go:
Jon: Let’s start with Todd the person, Todd the Texan. I know that’s where you were born and raised but you’ve moved around, lived in many a town down there. Is there a story there, were you an army brat or something, box car child?
Todd: My earliest memory is a warm place, a bright light and mother biting the cord.  My father is a writer and author (Bush’s BrainThe Architect) and has worked with the Dallas Morning News for the past 25 years. My moving really came after college as my wife’s career was taking off and her company moved us all over the place. As result I’m a virtual GPS of East Texas but live in Austin now.  It’s actually a suburb of Austin called Round Rock but we’ll pretend it’s Austin. The thing of note about east Texas is that there’s virtually no growth there…it’s an area of the world that’s frozen in time and will never change.
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Jon: Sounds like eastern Washington, Spokane is most definitely “frozen in time”. OKay so where’d you matriculate cuzzy? Art School or University?
Todd: I went to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, which is the oldest town in Texas. I majored in Art with an emphasis in design and minors in film and painting. The Prof’s there are all working artists and are passionate about their work which made the experience really worthwhile.  One Professor in particular, Robert Kinsell took an interest in me early on and I’m grateful for all that he taught me.
Jon: Where you always artistic, did you know early on that you wanted to do something creative growing up or did you have other interests/options?
Todd: My Mother encouraged me early on and in kindergarten, I started telling people that I would be an artist when I grew up.  There was a brief period in my life where I believed that I would become the starting two guard for the Dallas Mavericks but a good look in the mirror changed that thinking.  I was really into the process of film making in college and considered that as a career but ultimately did not like the team aspect of it. In film school you were forced to work with people on projects with varying interest in film and it resulted in a very uneven product. I found that things like painting and design were more of a solo thing, which suited my personality.
Jon: Yeah I hear you, in a creative endeavor it can be tough to get any satisfaction from the process if there are more than a couple people in the group. The most alluring thing about posters to me and I think most people is you’re flying free to do whatever you feel as long as the design fits the band. There’s usually not a lot of art direction.
What were you influenced by art-wise as a young lad, say in high school?
For me it was Jack Kirby hands down, comics n shit.
Todd: It was a group of figurative painters: Steven Assael, Lisa Yuskavage, Jenny Saville, John Currin and Peter Saul whose work most interested me.  For a long time I wanted to be a painter and I plan to return to it at some point in my life.  Painting is something that you can really obsess over and spend tons of time on, again suiting my personality. I am intrigued with the romantic side of painting that allows a bunch of weirdo’s to spend half of their life working on a single painting. Of course that was way before television came along, but you get the idea.
Jon: That’s interesting, kind of surprising but now that I think of it I can see a painterly sense of mood in your color choices. Some of that shit is pretty creepy, which is something I pick up in a lot of your work.
When and where did you get bit by the poster bug and what was your first ever legit screen print?
Todd: Basically, I had been searching for Ween rarities on the web after getting a few paychecks after college and discovered several silkscreens that I really liked.  It didn’t take me long after that to find gigposters.com and start reading the forums.  My first legit screen printed poster was for Pretty Girls Make Graves and I think it still holds up pretty well now. I don’t regret making any of the posters that I’ve made I just wish I’d revised some a bit more. My first Jack Johnson poster is pretty bad, the one with the feet on it. Rob Jones told me it looked like some “footsteps” thing that you’d buy in a Christian bookstore and that’s all I can see now when I look at it. The feet on the poster are actually Kristie’s, who has some of the sexiest feet you’ll ever see, so at least it has that going for it.
Jon: Ha! Yeah you mean “Footprints”. I remember seeing that on the walls of friends houses growing up, brilliant 70’s/80’s suburban American bullshit. So how hard was it getting poster gigs in Austin or wherever you were when you started?
Todd: It was tough, there were a lot of Emails sent with no reply and phone calls not returned. Once you’re “in” it’s much easier to get the gigs though. Austin is extremely competitive with gigs and 90% of the time the gig I asked for was already taken. Philaarts blew me off at first, but after I pestered him long enough he seemed to embrace the idea that I wasn’t leaving the party.  That’s what getting poster gigs was like for me at first; being the guy that stayed at the party long after the guests had gone. It was irritating to people at first but eventually they accept the fact that no ride is coming to pick me up and that this is all I’ve got.
Jon: How old is Todd Slater? How long u been doing posters and when would you estimate you were full time “I support myself on poster design”? Or not, do you still design other shits to bring home the bacon?
Todd: I turned 30 in July and I was 24 when I started doing this. Actually, I even remember when a wee lad named Jon SmithBumbershoot years ago and showed me a very nice Hank III and a sobbing Captain America print that he had just finished.  For five years now, I’ve been supporting myself on freelance design. I did a lot of work for Sony Signatures for several years and that basically turned into a part-time job, but they eventually laid off their entire staff and me with it. The best job is the one you create for yourself, they are no “safe” jobs, especially not now. When Sony went down I really turned my full attention to posters and realized that that’s what I wanted to do. approached me at Flatstock,
Jon: Ah yes, the newb Jon Smith meeting Todd Slater. What a mark, I remember I was like “You’re Todd Slater? Thee Todd Slater?” and whipped out a couple fresh prints for you to review…you see when I was in high school all I wanted to do was pencil comics, so since I was 14 or 15 I had been taking my full 11″x17″ penciled pages to comic book artists at comic-cons to get critiqued in person, most of the time they tear you a new asshole, I highly recommend it….but I’ve been doing posters for a few years now, done Flatstock many a time and I’ve never seen anyone bring in their posters and ask an artist for a critique, no one does that. This story just gets more embarrassing as time drags on.
Okay so like myself and so many other nxtlvl geniuses you run your prints through D&L Screen Printing here in Seattle though you live in Texas. I know you started back when D&L didn’t have a website or anything, how did you hear about D&L?
Todd: Dave Mayer from Philaarts recommended him(Steve at D&L) to me.  I knew he printed for Emek and Hampton at the time and that was all I really needed to know. It would be nice to print in Texas to avoid the shipping but D&L has come through on so many tight deadlines for me that I feel most comfortable with him and his staff. He understands that good screen printing is a craft and that it’s not something you can get anywhere.
Jon: Alright, I’m going to close out the nuts and bolts poster designery questions with this: What’s your day like? Paint us a picture of an average day of work posterwise or any other miscellaneous design.
Todd: Wake up, feed the cats, go to the post office, grab lunch, answer Emails, work on sketches, work on the computer,  go to a bookstore for inspiration, listen to Rob Jones yap about Frasier, talk to Dave Mayer about fantasy sports, check the omgposters and gigposters for new stuff, play with my daughter, work on the computer, eat dinner, shoot some hoops and clear my head, and of course kiss my wife.
Jon: Nice! I have to ask Rob about Frasier next time I talk to him then, pretty lame show. Of course being from the PNW, I hate it more as it paints Seattle as even more snooty and boring than it already is….I don’t know how these sitcoms last so long. Old people will watch anything I guess, same phenomena that makes Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens a hit.
Alright so that’s it for Part 1, I’m editing and linking up Part 2 right now, It should be a lot longer than this. Hope to get it up in a couple days…

Monday updatery: The Best Part.

Howdy! Last week was shit, my sleep was all outta whack, got behind on things. A note to anyone who placed an order in the past week or two, I’m shipping any and all outstanding orders today so at worst your tube is leaving the station now.

Jason Dean of The Best Part design blog bestowed me with the honor of Poster of the Day(of the week) this week. To him I would like to express gratitude and appreciation. It’s a neat blog.

Coming up, I have a two part interview with Turd Slaughter, aka Todd Slater. The first part should be up in a day or two and the second part will go up next week. It was pretty fun, half the interview is poster talk and the rest is misc. nonsense and of course we talk plenty of hoops!

Should have two new prints/poster designs done this week, hoping to get a sneak peek of some kind up asap.

Seehox looked pretty alright on Saturday in San Diego, a win and no one got hurt. The corners looked bad though. CORY REDDING IS THE TRUTH…I think.


NEWS:

The Head and the Heart, Lykke Li posters in the store now!!

Print releases and interviews coming soon!!!

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