We’re back with our next artist interview, and you knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I finally get to show off an amazing artist from Cleveland! I discovered Oliver Barrett from his American Splendor print. Not only was the topic central to Cleveland, but it was also an extremely unique style. I immediately scooped up the print and anxiously waited for his next project. As with most of the artists we feature, his popularity has only grown as his work gets more and more exposure. Recently he has contributed to shows for Spoke Art and Gallery 1988. Check out our hard hitting questions for Oliver!
NL: Tell us a little about yourself.
OB: I’m a dude from Cleveland, who’s been born and raised here. As a kid, I spent my time drawing, scoring touchdowns, and beating my brother’s ass in Street Fighter 2. As an adult, I spend my time drawing, scoring touchdowns, and beating everyone’s ass in Street Fighter 4. Oh, and I design stuff too.
Eventually I spent some time in school and learned a few things, then I graduated and got a job that barely makes a dent in my Titanic-sized student loans.
NL: How did you get started making posters/prints?
OB: I’ve always been a poster enthusiast. I guess I started with doing some flyers for my band when I was starting college. After doing a few of those, I was fortunate to team up with Derek Hess on a few projects. I suppose that would be my start, but I didn’t really start breaking into doing my own prints until earlier this year when I was able to be a part of some cult-themed shows. It’s slowly gaining steam, hopefully I can continue to build upon the small momentum that I’ve developed and get some bigger projects.
NL: What are your inspirations and influences as an artist?
OB: I’m inspired by tons of artists, designers, painters, animators, illustrators, etc; but what really inspires me is hard work. When I see a new portfolio that not only has great work, but a lot of it, it gets me off of my ass and motivates me. I’m a competitive guy. I can’t stand being idle. If I see a great logo, package, poster, etc, I’ll think “man, I need to pick up an identity project and see if I can come up with a great piece.”
NL: Who are some of your favorite artists?
OB: There are countless people out there who are creating great work all the time, so it’s tough for me to be like “these are my favorites.” It changes almost daily. I’m always inspired by the great work of modern day design icons like Paula Scher, Michael Beirut, Frank Chimero, and others. Clever work always grabs my attention. Of course I love the work of some the big names in the cult poster biz like Olly Moss, Tyler Stout, Kevin Tong, and so on. I also hung out with some great talented people last month at WMCFest in Cleveland – Mikey Burton, Aaron Draplin, Dan Christofferson, Quite Strong, OKPants, Dan Cassaro, Nate Utesch, and so on. Sorry if that sounds like one big name drop, but those are incredibly talented people who’ve had an effect on my work ethic.
NL: Star Wars or Star Trek and why?
OB: I’ve always liked the original Star Wars trilogy better than anything Star Trek, but I’m gonna have to go with Star Trek here because my dad watched TNG all the time, so Star Trek always makes me think of my dad and my dad is awesome. Plus, there’s no Jar-Jar Binks in Star Trek.
NL: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
OB: I’m way into sports. So maybe it’s the complete opposite of nerdy. I get goofy about Fantasy Football and stupid stuff like that. I play in a couple of softball leagues. Won a bowling championship. It sounds lame and serious, but I have a lot of fun with it. I just try to have fun and goof around.
However, one nerdy thing that most people don’t know is that I’ve been itching to crank out a series of Street Fighter papercraft toys.
NL: What is your favorite movie?
OB: American Splendor has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it. I’m a big fan of Harvey Pekar and love the general concept of a comic about average, every day life. I’ve recently watched a lot of foreign films in search of a good horror scare. I liked REC a lot. During my foreign film spree, I stumbled upon Troll Hunter, which was fucking awesome. It’s not really a horror film, but it’s by far one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen in recent years.
NL: What is your favorite video game?
OB: I used to be quite the gamer, but have cut down since I’ve gotten busy. I’m big into fighting games, but I probably suck now. I haven’t picked up the sticks in months.
My favorite game of all time is Chrono Trigger. It’s got time traveling, swords, robots, dinosaurs, guns, and all types of cool shit.
NL: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
OB: The original, black & white, Akira. And if you’re gonna get into the whole ‘manga’s aren’t comic books’ thing, shut up. The artwork is just absolutely insane and the story is great.
As far as favorite comic book character, I’d say Nightcrawler. I don’t think he’s the toughest, or coolest, but he was one of the first toys that I remember having that wasn’t a Transformer or a Ghostbuster, and that was how I got into comics. Why the fuck isn’t he Marvel vs. Capcom 3?
Again, I know I’m biased because he’s a Cleveland boy, but Oliver is truly an inspired artist with an amazingly unique style. I love the way he is able to capture a characters persona in a facial expression. I am in complete awe of his talent and know his popularity will only grow. I just hope I will still be able to get ahold of his prints as that happens. The other unique thing about Oliver is that he maintains an extremely entertaining and witty blog. I find myself visiting it frequently. Check it out here. And of course, if you like what you’ve seen here, please check out more of Oliver’s work at his website, www.ohbarrett.com. Don’t forget to let us know what you think!