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Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Jay Shaw (AKA Iron Jaiden)

Who is Iron Jaiden? What about Jay Shaw? For one thing, this is the guy who turned me on to the artist Michal Ksiazek, who did the Polish Blade Runner poster I am seeking to add to my collection. This is also the guy who rocked the screen printing poster community like a silent storm and has amassed quite a following in slightly under a year. He not only has learned how to pull his own screen prints, he also hand-built most of his own equipment and has managed to open up his own business, create some super iconic screen prints and has been a part of some pretty big gallery shows around the US. I’m already a huge fan, have been from day one. So let’s get to know Iron Jaiden (Jay Shaw).

Nerdlocker (NL): So hey man, thanks for spending some time answering questions for Nerdlocker.com. There is a lot of talk about your work and your future work, and you have been mentioned in quite a few other interviews we have done recently. Other cats are saying, “Be on the lookout for Iron Jaiden in 2012.” I am still pretty new to the screen print community but I was able to witness your leap into the artist/screen printing realm. On a forum, I specifically remember you saying “I’m gonna make a sincere run at illustrating full time and really learning to screen print in hopes of getting a proper small shop together.” That was almost a year ago today. I know how you did, but how do you think you did?

Iron Jaiden (IJ): Haha wow that was a year ago wasn’t it? Seems more like a decade. Well I’m most definitely a full-time poster artist now and I did put together a small print shop, so I guess my base goals have been accomplished. To be honest, I didn’t think this was going to work when I said that so I’m just as surprised as anyone else.

NL: If you made any mistakes during this growth, what do you think they were so others can learn from you?

IJ: Oh man I make far more mistakes than anything else. I’d like to think that’s true of everyone during their “rookie” year but I probably screwed up a little more than most people. My first big mistake was creating bootleg posters for movies I had no right to. I was well aware of how licensing worked but I basically ignored that side of things because I wanted to make posters for movies I love. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized how much doing that was an impediment to my career. I wish I would’ve stuck to material in the public domain and courted more independent filmmakers for poster work. Now that I’m on the legit side of things I get to do far more interesting and rewarding projects. I’ve already got enough lined up this year to satisfy all of my creative needs. I also had no idea running my own business would be so much work outside of drawing and printing. The logistics involved with what I do is a full time job in itself. Had I known I’d be working 90 hours a week I might have asked someone to help me in the beginning.

NL: How long have you been a collector before you finally said, “I can do that?”

IJ: I’ve been collecting movie posters since the ’80s but it wasn’t until I started collecting screen prints in 2007 that I felt like it was something I could potentially do myself. I’d been meaning to get off my ass and make things but like a lot of people I lacked drive. My wife finally told me to shit or get off the pot so I shit.

NL: And shit you did; you have been printing and designing like a mad man, and it has all been top-shelf stuff. The first time I met you in person was at a Mondo event here in Austin; I snatched you from the airport and we all had burgers and beers and then you told me later you are vegetarian. I felt like such a tool. Anyway, living in Denver, how do you think the screen print poster scene is faring there compared to Austin? It can’t really be called a ‘scene’ so much as a community.

IJ: Well Austin is a bit of a hub for this kind of stuff. Between Mondo, SXSW and just the all-around DIY culture down there it’s no surprise. Denver has a much smaller group of poster collectors and artists but we make up for it with our athleticism and sexual prowess. You dudes spend a lot of time eating and watching movies so Austin’s fairly out of shape. Honest answer.

NL: Hmm. Sorry, I missed your last answer as I was drinking a Fireman 4 while eating a bacon pizza…and ooooofff sorry…what? Spilled my green chili fries. Okay, you’re right, we are a tad out of shape – thanks Alamo Drafthouse!

IJ: I gained ten pounds during the Fantastic Fest last year. The portions in Texas are obscene!

NL: Do you have any plans on moving to Austin? I’m just curious because I have now mapped out a ton of vegetarian joints in town for you.

IJ: Austin is not in the cards for me other than visiting as often as possible. I love the town but I’ve got two young children who are going to be starting school soon. I’d rather send them into the woods with food around their necks than have them attend public school in Texas. I kid, I kid. I’m sure Austin has wonderful schools. The things I love most about Austin are almost exclusively grown-up activities though. My kids won’t give a shit about Fantastic Fest until I’m old enough to collect social security.

NL: I know you have a pretty good pulse of what is happening in the screen print world. My question is, who do you see is going to be the stand-out, must-have screen print artist for 2012? Besides you, of course.

IJ: Well I’d say it’s the year of Rich Kelly but it’s been the year of Rich Kelly since the dude started making posters. I just think this year he’s going to finally explode the way he should. Rich makes wonderful posters. I also really dig watching Russ Moore go where he’s going. He’s a great dude and has a very keen eye for design. He’ll do awesome stuff this year. Phantom City ended 2011 on fire and I don’t see that changing this year. Great work from them (I’m pretty sure it’s two people) on a consistent basis. The artist I’m most excited about this year is Malleus. I’m always excited about Malleus but they are off to an amazing start with the Argento series and I think it’s only going to get better.

NL: I have to agree with you, I recently saw a Malleus “L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo” in person for the Argento series, it was eight colors plus the sparkling red glitter tossed on them was out of this world. I have never seen anything like that.

IJ: I recently had the dude who re-meshes my screens put a 40 mesh on one so I can pull glitter like the Italians do. It’ll look like shit but I’m going to try anyways.

NL: That’s screen printing jargon, I’m a computer nerd, dude; I’m easily confused. You have been cranking out some major prints for some amazing shows and getting killer commissions lately. Do you find it harder to pull your own prints now that people are taking notice of your work and wanting you to illustrate for them more often?

IJ: I find it nearly impossible to do my own stuff these days. I’m working on something like 25 commissions right now so that’s pretty much all I’m doing. Luckily almost everything is for awesome projects but I plan on taking some time later in the year to sit down and draw a bunch of weener people. Just for me.

NL: I’d buy a weener person original 1/1.

IJ: Alright, “just for us” then.

NL: So I know you as Jay or Iron Jaiden, but sometimes you have been in shows and you use the name Jay Shaw. This isn’t really much of a question but I’m curious why the change-up? Iron Jaiden kicks so much ass.

IJ: Iron Jaiden is a silly screen name for internet forums. When it came time to pick a name it was either that or Jaysus_Christ_69. Jaysus was taken. It’s a fun name so I don’t correct anyone when they say it. It’s a hell of a lot cooler than my real name. My wife and kids don’t call me Iron Jaiden though so it’s tough to connect that name to myself outside of the internet. I’m just stoked anyone knows who I am though so call me whatever you’d like.

NL: Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years, cranking out prints by hand or maybe just sticking with designing and farming out your screen printing? You are always so damn busy, in a good way.

IJ: I’d like to model my next few years after the mighty Jay Ryan in that regard. Dude runs a wonderful print shop and cranks out gorgeous poster art all day. I’d like to eventually employ a small staff and really get things cranking. That’s the five year plan. In all likelihood I’ll screw something up and be stocking shelves at Target by Christmas so I’m gonna ride this wave while it’s still under me.

NL: I seriously just blew beer through my nose at your stocking shelves at Target comment! I feel like I just did a beer neti pot…beer burns. With MONDO being a leader in recent months, would you consider working with them if they asked you to crank something out? You are already doing some kick ass stuff for Cinema Overdrive.

IJ: Stay tuned (see below).

NL: Trust me, we will all be staying tuned. So who are some of your favorite artists? I am constantly seeing you give away prints when you do print drops and I saw what you had when you did a poster tube sale, but who are your favorites and who’s adorning your walls?

IJ: I’m a Malleus nut. Have been since the word go. I probably own 40 Malleus posters of which 10 are framed.

NL: One of the most impressive things I have seen come out of all that you do is your Poster Subscription for 2011. Those tubes are chock full of amazing prints and you also made shirts for what you have dubbed, “The Ninth Circle of Nonsense.” Do you have plans to offer this for 2012?

IJ: I’m going to do the Ninth Circle again but it’s going to be much smaller for the 2012/2013 season. My current workload has made getting tubes out to everyone in a timely manner damn near impossible. When I originally started the subscription things were much different for me career-wise. Once the 2011/2012 season wraps up I’ll take on around 20 subscribers for the next year. With a number like that I can put out the kind of work I intended to originally. Also with a much smaller subscriber base I can do things like send out originals and personalized work. The current subscribers will get more posters than they know what to do with but that idea needs a little fine tuning for me moving forward.

NL: I also wanted to ask you about doing prints for artists you meet on screen printing forums. I know you have a passion for learning about screen printing, it shows in every piece you do, but what drives you when you see an illustration a random artist has created on a forum board and boom – it’s printed?

IJ: I put together a show called The Machines Are Winning last year that featured artists I’ve gotten to know a bit through the online poster community. A few of those artists got noticed in that show and have subsequently gone on to produce posters on their own. I’ve done some printing for them. Unfortunately I won’t be able to do much of that this year but it was really fun to get to print work for other folks. Always interesting to see their design process from the inside. I’d really like to see more people get into screen printing their own work though. It’s such an accessible medium. Anyone that has even an inkling of desire should be able to pick it up and put out great stuff.

NL: Can you talk about any new pieces that you have been commissioned for or are doing for any art shows? I have to say your Black Dynamite Submission for Gallery 1988’s Adult Swim Show is one of my favorite prints at the moment along with your Blunt Graffix Dead Rockstars submission Unknown Measures.

IJ: I wish I could but I’m sworn to secrecy on almost every project I’m involved with. Lots of gig posters and lots of movie posters. Stuff I’m quite honored to get to work on. 2012 is shaping up to be a very busy year.

NL: I figured as much but I had to ask. As for your screen printing artwork, You have a very distinctive style. Do you work in other mediums like water colors, oil painting, or pencil? I’m trying to get a feel of your art background without asking the same old questions other interviewers ask.

IJ: I like to work a lot in pencil, charcoal and sharpie during the design process. Almost everything starts out on paper and later makes its way onto the computer. I’ve experimented with watercolor but the medium doesn’t translate to screen printing very gracefully so I tend not to use it. Everything I create is done so with screen printing in mind.

NL: So I shouldn’t be looking for an Iron Jaiden weener person watercolor Christmas card next year?

IJ: Haha no but I sincerely almost did an authentic “weener tree” card last year. That would be where you dip your weener in ink, slap it on the front of the card and draw ornaments and star over top of it. Ran out of time though.

NL: You have to do that for Christmas 2012. I’ll put it on my mantle between my mom’s card and my dentist’s “Happy holidays Mr. Rainblot” card. I see in 2011 you have been commissioned to band prints for bands such as Rhymesayers, Polica and others, Do you enjoy doing Band screen prints? and how much artistic freedom do they give you?

IJ: For the most part I love working with bands. Unlike movie posters, you really get to spread your wings creatively and just go nuts. The first poster I did for Polica featured a skull-faced girl peering into a window. Not a damn thing to do with the band but that’s the kind of image I saw when I listened to their music and they really dug the design. The newest poster for those guys is twice as creepy. There have been a few pain-in-the-ass bands but for the most part those guys trust the artist to come up with something cool.

NL: I love that skull-faced girl peering into a window for Polica, I think it fits the band wholeheartedly. I love the mellifluous bass and fluid nature of the AutoTuned vocals; it’s just a perfect print for the band’s vibe. Did you listen to the music of the bands you have done work for before or after the commission?

IJ: Always before and often while I’m making the poster unless I don’t dig the band for whatever reason. I’m working on a Charles Bradley poster right now, and listening to his album (along with a little Otis Redding) is essential to the process.

NL: Okay now is the part where I get to know more about your nerd side. Your passion for movies is obvious with the kick-ass prints you have made, but what is your favorite movie of all time?

IJ: John Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite film of all time. It isn’t the best film of all time but it is my favorite. I just watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) again last night for the thousandth time and I think that may run a close second followed by Romancing the Stone.

NL: I’m with you on The Thing, it’s in my top five list. And what is your favorite video game? Do you even have time to play video games?

IJ: I want to have time to play video games. I bought a PS3 specifically for that purpose but it’s turned into the Lego Batman machine for my four year old. Half the games I own are still in their wrappers from November. I got to play a couple hours of Batman: Arkham City before Christmas and it was amazing. Favorite game of all time is Arkanoid though. I used to play that in the arcade when I was a kid. The top five scores on that machine at Cosmo Arcade in Florida belonged to me for a solid couple years.

NL: And lastly your favorite comic book or comic book artist?

IJ: Alex Ross is easily my favorite artist and Death of Captain Marvel is probably my favorite book of all time. That shit was heartbreaking. Batman: Year One comes in a close second. When Miller’s at his best he truly is the best.

NL: Your comment about Miller is gospel. Jay, I want to say thanks for letting readers into your life, and I personally dig everything you are pumping out of the “Kingdom of Nonsense.” I have a real good feeling that 2012 is the year to be watching your drops; you got mentioned in two recent artist interviews that we have done here at Nerdlocker.com so there are already a lot of people keeping their eyes on you.

IJ: Oh yay more pressure. Kidding. Thanks for letting me babble for a few minutes.

If you would like to purchase any of Jay Shaw’s (Iron Jaiden) prints, try hitting his website http://kingdomofnonsense.com/ and sign up for his newsletter for info about his print drops. You can also start following Iron Jaiden’s twitter @tweetofnonsense. for more info on up-and-coming shows his art will be in and new prints that will be available for sale.

And following a Nerdlocker tradition, Jay has offered up a print for a social media contest through Nerdlocker.com and Nerdlocker’s Twitter and FB. But wait! There’s more! He was cool enough to drop something super badass. Jay Shaw will be pulling and then giving away a rare special one-of-one variant of whatever print he is working on at the time of the giveaway. It may be a gig print, it may be a movie print, or even an art print. That means there will only be one of these prints in existence through all time and space. And you could be the lucky winner to own it. This is by far the coolest giveaway in any artist interview I have ever done, so be on the lookout for that in the next few weeks.

In other Jay Shaw news, Drafthouse Films’ new movie COMIN AT YA! is being released in Texas on February 24th, so Iron Jaiden has a new print coming out on February 15th at a random time on MONDO. It’s an 18″x24″ screen print, hand numbered and signed, in an edition of 85 pieces printed by Kingdom of Nonsense Screenprinting for only $30. Sign up for MONDO’s newsletter on mondotees.com or follow them on twitter/Facebook to check for drop status.

Also Iron Jaiden has his second MONDO print for the movie Kill List coming out soon. The poster is also only $30 and will be in a very limited run of only 100 pieces.

I hope you Nerds enjoyed the interview as much as I enjoyed spending time talking to Iron Jaiden or Jay Shaw…whatever you want to call him.

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Nerdlocker.com. Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me aaron@nerdlocker.com