Thu. December 18, 2014
Why did you decide to study Studio Art at The University of Texas at Austin?
I was born and raised in Austin and wanted to pursue some type of career in the arts after high school. After seeing the tuition for private, out-of-state schools, I came to the conclusion that UT Austin was the best bargain for my education. In addition, I could continue to expand upon my local roots. I had a spectacular art teacher, Mauro Garza from Anderson High School, who introduced me to screenprinting, got me interested in the UT program, and also introduced me to gig posters, which is my passion and has driven me up to this point.
It has been a year since you graduated. What aspects of the university still resonate with you today?
Creating art is a privilege and should be treated as one. If you take the day off or are stagnant in your creativity or production, others who are willing to put in the time will pass you. If you aren’t feeling creative, spend the day exploring the Fine Arts Library at UT, which is probably one of the greatest arts resources in the world. Bob Anderson was a huge inspiration my first year, and I was extremely fortunate to have him as my drawing professor the year before he passed away. He helped me to try new things and proved, through his amazing work, that abstract art could still be immensely detailed and meticulous, while remaining expressive.
Jason Urban was my most down-to-earth professor and was honest with us about how hard we must work in order to succeed as artists. He always pushed his classes to create their best work, demanded our best, and had very helpful critiques. Jason also demonstrated the importance of research to creating artwork. Tim High showed me the importance of persistence, patience, and tenacity in printmaking.
The most inspiring art history class I took was definitely Islamic Art History, taught by Stephennie Mulder. She is a fantastic professor, who has visited a majority of the sites we viewed in class and introduced me to what is now my favorite type of art.
What advice would you give to current or prospective students?
A strong work ethic is invaluable, as well as surrounding yourself with motivated artists. Finding a group of like-minded artists has been very beneficial in my experience. You can play off each others’ strengths and make up for potential weaknesses you may have. Create a strong team so you can all lift each other up with your combined strengths.
I have been running a screen-printing and design business, CogDut, for a little over a year now. CogDut was started when I teamed up with a Chris Davis (BFA in Design, 2013), a design student going to UT Austin at the same time that I was. A few years later, CogDut was strengthened with the help of Raw Paw editor and founder Will Kauber. We quit our day jobs and took the business full-time.
The last bit of advice I will give is that school is the easy part. Once you're in the "real world," it is a constant hustle, and the competition for attention is much greater. Develop a strong work ethic now while there is relatively little risk involved, so that you will have already built momentum once you have graduated.
Also, look outside of the gallery world for work and inspiration. If you can turn your artistic interests and talents into a specialized service, you will have a much greater chance to make money with your craft. Money is important; you have to be able to buy the necessary “free time” in order to create artwork. If you can make that money doing something related to your artistic goals, then you are in an ideal situation. Most artists I have met are constantly hustling to stay where they are at, and a surprising amount of them have day jobs completely unrelated to their art form.
You've worked with some really amazing people. Which project has been the most interesting?
Designing posters for Utopia Fest was incredible; mainly because I could pick any of the artists I wanted and create a poster for them with very loose terms set by the organizer. I picked GZA and Dan Deacon—it was surreal designing for a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, especially because I have been listening to his music for longer than I have been a screen printer. Both GZA and Dan Deacon were very appreciative of the posters, and I got to meet them after their performances. Meeting professional artists of any kind has always been a source of inspiration.
Earlier this year, I painted a mural for Practice Yoga Austin, which is a really nice donation-based yoga studio on East 6th Street. The mural design has since been adapted to t-shirts, tank tops, die-cut stickers, animation, and reposted countless times on social media. My relationship with Practice Yoga has served as a great introduction into branding for a business, and they couldn’t be any cooler to work with. Lastly, I have to include Holiday Mountain, who I have been designing for a little over a year now, and are my favorite local band. It has been awesome watching their audience grow. They are a truly unique and talented group, and they are great friends.
How did your alumni artist series come about?
We started printing the CogDut Artist Series in early 2014 as a way to support our friends, bring attention to their work, and grow our own audience. Basically, we provide the funding for material and production cost, then print a limited edition of 30 shirts. We give the artist five shirts to give or sell to friends and family, then we sell the remaining 25 shirts and split the profit in half with the artist.
The alumni artist series is the fourth series we have done so far. In the past, Chris, Will, and I each picked an artist to feature; however, lately we have done themed artist series. I wanted to do a series featuring some of my favorite artist peers from when I was a student: Melissa Murray, Jacob Hamrick, and Annalise Gratovich. I feel like this was the greatest series we have done to date! Past artist series also featured the following department alumni: Santiago Tolosa, Rachel McClellan, Connor Shea, and Gillian Rhodes.
Do you have any future projects that you're really excited about?
I can’t disclose any specifics, because the projects are still in the making, but we are currently in the process of rebranding a massive coffee roasting company, which will include a new logo, redone packaging in the form of coffee bags, and a new website. The company has been really great to work with so far, and I see this being a milestone in our creative careers. It will be a real trip being able to walk into any HEB or Costco to see my work on display, and hopefully boosting sales for the brand. An added plus is that I love their coffee, so it’s pretty much a dream job. We were also offered an exhibition at one of the most successful galleries in Austin during Print Week, which is a huge honor that we are excited for. We will be creating all new art prints for this show, centered around the theme of inner and outer space.
Fri. December 12, 2014
Jeff Williams received a 2015 Headlands Artist in Resident award. Read more about the Headlands Center for the Arts on their website.
Fri. December 12, 2014
Erina Duganne, PhD Art History, 2004, co-organized Northern Triangle at Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio. The exhibition includes work by Adriana Corral, MFA Studio Art, 2013, and Ricky Yanas, MFA Studio Art, 2011, and will be on display December 4, 2014 – February 15, 2015.
Thu. December 11, 2014