We are back with our third artist interview. As many of you know I am a huge movie poster collector with Star Wars being my favorite topic. What you might not know is that I have an addiction to collecting said cool movie posters. In my insane searching on E-Bay I came across an artist I had never heard of before with a print for Coruscant in the style of a travel agency poster. I immediately loved the style and craved to learn more. What I found surpassed my wildest dreams. Justin Van Genderen is a graphic artist who decided to try a new approach to his profession and began to utilize simplicity over the busy images and styles he was tasked to do for his day job. The result is one of my favorite takes on pop culture movies and comic books. Take a look at his art and some of our wonderfully pressing questions below. On a side note, I would pay extremely close attention to our facebook page in regards to Justin. We have teamed up with him to hold a contest where we will give away three of his limited edition prints, two of which are sold out (meaning this or Ebay is the only way you’ll ever be able to snag one)! I’m not authorized to release the contest info yet, but the three prints can all be seen in this article! Enjoy!
JP: Give us a brief bio.
JVG: I grew up in North Jersey in a town called Prospect Park. I attended college in Michigan at a small liberal arts school; Calvin College. I graduated with an art degree with a concentration in photography and design. Shortly after that I moved to Chicago and worked inside an advertising department for a real estate company. After some very long days inside cubicle walls I eventually started to freelance full time with my design work and have been doing that ever since.
JP: How did you get started making posters/prints?
JVG: For a long time I was using photoshop strictly as a photo-manipulation and advertising tool. I would spend hours working on surreal pictures that were very detail oriented. So in an effort to explore a style that was new and different to me one afternoon I decided to go the complete opposite direction. I started to simplify things down to there most essential parts. A minimalistic portrayal of the Star Wars Planets was the result. After that I started to read up on old printing methods and the role posters have played in the past. The rest was history I suppose.
JP: What are some of your inspirations and influences as an artist?
JVG: I am influenced a lot by design history, typography, old printing methods and, of course, movies/nerdy stuff from my childhood. In fact most of the personal projects I work on are a combination of these things. There are also a lot of different designers and artists that inspire me.
JP: Who are some of your favorite artists?
JVG: Some of my favorites are: Chris Huet, Scott Hansen, Josh Keys, Jeremy Geddes, Frank R. Paul, Hydro 74, Stanley Kubrick, Milton Glaser to name a few.
JP: Why/how did you chose to use Star Wars planets for your first foray into minimalistic travel posters?
JVG: The idea for the posters came to me after re-watching the original Star Wars trilogy and thinking of how old these movies must seem to the newer, younger generation of Star Wars fans. I was inspired visually by Simon Page’s astrology series. I also drew ideas from old Art Deco style prints and vintage science fiction posters from the 1960/70′s.
JP: Which do you prefer, Star Wars or Star Trek?
JVG: I’ve always been more of a Star Wars guy. Besides the fact that I just watched Star Wars more growing up I think I could also make the point that Star Trek doesn’t have (and really never could have) a character like Han Solo. I also really liked the idea of the Force. I don’t think I would say I disliked the Star Trek films, I just liked Star Wars a lot more.
JP: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people wouldn’t know about you.
JVG: Hmmmmm. A nerdy secret eh? Well, I will watch pretty much any movie based on a Phillip K. Dick novel. Even if it has Ben Affleck.
JP: What is your favorite movie?
JVG: It’s always so hard to chose a favorite; but if forced I would probably go with 2001 A Space Odyssey. The movie, besides having some nostalgia esoteric qualities, was a great mix of intrigue and wonder for me. Without blatantly telling me what it was about I was forced to try and answer all my own questions that came up. Of course I saw it at a pretty young age so those questions weren’t all that deep, but it made me think at least. I also really enjoyed the pace and minimalist visuals, it captured the vastness of space as well as the wonder and adventure of it.
JP: What is your favorite video game?
JVG: The Next Tetris, two player mode. Not a very well known game I think but I could spend hours playing it – it is a mix of Tetris and Dr. Mario. How could you go wrong?.
JP: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
JVG: Although it was a short lived series I was always a big fan of Battle Chasers by Joe Mad. I always thought it would make a good movie. But my favorite character has to be Jimmy Corrigan. The reason I like Jimmy has a lot to do with my interest in the author Chris Ware. Jimmy Corrigan is a very shy, quiet and insecure man. Characteristics that describe a lot of Chris Ware characters, including ones that (I think) are supposed to portray the author himself. Being able to see how these characteristics and insecurities play out in the story of Jimmy’s life are very interesting to me. Not only because we see how the character thinks about the world but also we get to see a little bit about how the author thinks of himself. It’s also interesting to see because of similarities I see between me and the character/author.
Once again Nerdom has found an amazing artist to portray the best he has to offer. I especially like how Justin seems so well versed with comic books as well as movies and translates the meaning of character and location with the most simple of images. Yet as simple as it may be, the effect is extremely powerful. Justin just unleashed his newest ode to pop culture in the form of a Detroit travel poster. And you guessed it, it’s for a certain lovable cop we all know as Murphy (Robocop to most of you. See image below)!
Justin just completed a redesign of his website, so definitely stop by and check out all his work. If you’re like me and you absolutely have to own unique works of nerd art, than stop by his shop (click here) so that you can showcase some of this beauty for your own walls. And if I may be so bold as to offer my opinion, I would pick up some of his work while you still can. His popularity will only grow with time, making his prints ever harder to attain.