New Flesh is a small art printing group here in Austin which consists of a small team of guys just creating art for the sake of art. They are still new to the game but have created fantastic prints for movies such as Silence of the Lambs (my personal favorite) and Edward Scissorhands.
One of the guys behind New Flesh, Vince, has been to every Mondo event I have been to here in Austin. By some chance of fate, I have never met him until recently. He was there at the first Mondo Mystery Movie here in Austin; the epic one where they showed Akira and sold Tyler Stout’s epic Akira print. Months later when I met Russ Moore at the AIGA event, I also finally met Vince for the first time.
Since then, I have slowly gotten to know one of the men behind the curtain behind New Flesh. In addition, he and N.E. have agreed to answer some of my questions – well, mostly Vince with a little bit of N.E..
NerdLocker (NL): I remember when I first heard of you guys. You posted randomly on a forum that you were doing a guerrilla screening of Silence of the Lambs with a print to go with it. Whose idea was the guerrilla screening? Were you guys afraid of any noise complaints, police, etc.? Wasn’t the screening on the rooftop of a building downtown?
Vince (V): When we started printing it was October and we really wanted to do a print for Silence of the Lambs but couldn’t decide where to screen it. Somebody I met a few years back gave me a tip of a roof near the ‘drag’ that was accessible so we went to check it out and figured it was a good spot to show a movie. I thought at any moment the fuzz was going to come up and tell us to ‘GTFO,’ but it went well. Everyone had drinks, some people got free prints, and we all watched a great film. The next guerrilla screening and print is going to be random. Who knows, maybe I’ll show Golden Girls at a random house party. Actually, that sounds like it could be a contest. Anyone who really loves Golden Girls can contact you guys. Once you pick the winner I’ll go to their house, screen a couple of episodes, drink some beverages, and give them a free epic print.
[I would like to note that they were completely serious about the Golden Girls print. Is anyone in the Austin area interested in – or crazy enough for – such a thing? If you are, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and please cc email@example.com!]
NL: How many people help out with New Flesh, and who is this N.E. fellow?
V: Right now there are two main people that print and are involved in New Flesh: N.E. and myself. As far as artists go, the number is increasing. We have two more artists for January. Right now we mostly keep to ourselves, not because of some weird isolation fascination, but we are honestly still fine-tuning what the shop is.
As for N.E., I’m convinced he is a minor deity from some dimension I wouldn’t comprehend. I met him of all places waiting in a line to watch Akira. We talked about movies and other nerdy shit for a couple of hours. Eventually we became really good friends and decided to start this lilliputian organization.
NL: Was N.E. the one who did that crazy Silence of the Lambs print? To be honest, I had no idea what it was until I saw an article about it. Pretty clever! Does he actually go by the name of N.E.? Do you guys have more mind-trick prints like that planned out?
V: No, he did not do it. There is a long list of designs we have like that. We just have not printed them yet. We have a really interesting design for Blue Velvet that we want to do. That would be another awesome movie to show guerrilla-style. I think it would be hilariously awkward to play that out in public. I can imagine someone getting mad when a grunting Dennis Hopper says “baby wants to fuck.”
N.E. has always signed his stuff as N.E., so that’s what I’ve referred to him as. It is kind of like A.C. Slater, J.R., or H.I. McDunnough.
NL: That N.E. sounds like a cool guy, but I have never seen him online. Does he just sort of hang out behind the curtain? Do both of you do the screen printing? I’m trying to get kind of a bird’s eye view of the operation, so to speak.
V: Well, we both try to not really put too much info about ourselves out there. I’m just really bad at it. Also, I like letting people know what we’re doing and being open to talk to if someone wants more info or if I need to take care of something person-to-person. I guess I’m like our shop’s Metatron.
We’re both interchangeable in the aspect of printing. Anything from laying emulsion to pulling the squeegee. I mostly handle prepping the screens and put forth half-ass attempts at maintaining the shop. When the time comes, we both print together. Everything in the shop is pretty self-sufficient, we even have our own giant printer, “Ash.” I usually upload printing process shots via Twitter (@newfleshprints), so you’ll get glimpses of our large printing table or wash booth. So all you wash booth aficionados out there, go check it out.
V: N.E. was a large proponent of that. Past art I’ve been involved in was a bit unorthodox, and mostly revolved around leaving one-offs in precarious locations or somehow involving internet shenanigans. He showed me some of his designs and really converted me to the church of screen printing.
I don’t like to consider this a “business” per se, but more as a project. There is a lot that I want to see accomplished for the sake of just seeing it exist. Right now it is almost like we’re experimenting with movie prints, but I’d like to see it evolve into more.
NL: When you say evolve more, are you saying you would like to focus more on art prints instead of movie prints?
V: Art prints would be one thing. I really have enjoyed how the movie prints have come out so I hope that continues. There is a lot of stuff we’re experimenting with and figuring out outside of screen printing, so that’s something I’ll hopefully unveil this year. I am also getting a lot of people I know locally that are really great artists. One of the things I have been prepping for is a piece involving the local Austin 8-bit artist, ‘Party Time! Hexcellent.’ She programs in Assembly, otherwise known as the code used to make the old-school NES games. She travels around the US to all the big 8-bit festivals and performs live visualizations of her programming. One of the first prints we’re doing with her is direct from her code. She has a lot of great stuff and if this first one goes well, hopefully she will be doing more with us.
NL: That sounds like the print could be interesting depending on how it matches with the material it is representing. What is your favorite video game anyway?
V: Well, the material is all original, and the concepts come from a mixture of her inspirations and the feel of the NES visualizations. The first one is going to be direct and crisp (in terms of how it looks visually). I think its simplicity is what makes it beautiful. So this one, like her others, are all original art. You’ll have to see it and I can’t wait to get it printed and put it on my wall. She’s a gem and a genius.
Shit. Well, I was born in the mid-’80s so I’ve been fond of anything related to Nintendo ever since. I don’t think I can name one specific game. I am really addicted to games like Starcraft and hard old school classics like Megaman 3 (if I can get past the awesome music in the title screen). I used to go to the arcade all the time as a kid. Last I heard my 20-win streak was still alive on the Tekken I used to play at.
NL: What kind of art have you done in the past?
V: I’ve done a lot of traditional stuff in the past. Oil and paint, water colors. One of the things I really got into was trying to make digital installations on the internet. Just making a web page that shows one image or one video, mostly weird shit. I also ran an internet television channel that would show outdated shows about science or old movies. A dash of dadaism, pop culture, and bullshit.
N.E.: Most of my previous work, art-wise, has mostly been some form of ink on paper. I’ve also done sculpture work and a lot of work in mixed media.
NL: You have started doing screen prints for the Blue Starlite Drive-in theater here in central Austin. How did you guys manage to convince the owner to do prints for his showings? Do you have any future projects planned for the drive-in?
V: I messaged Josh one day and showed him the prints we had so far. He dug it and we offered to make a couple of prints for his screenings. He was awesome about it and gave us the “OK” so we did our first print for one of their screenings in mid-December. Josh has been excellent and the people working there are really great. I had been there a couple of times before when they were at their old Cesar Chavez location. They pick out a lot of great titles each month, and they show a lot of important classics and contemporary stuff, which we’re all about. I feel it’s a good fit and we are indeed planning to do more together in the future.
NL: Now that your name is getting out there a bit more, have you guys had any offers for commission-type work like for a gallery, for instance?
V: This sounds very nice, but I still don’t believe that many people know we exist. You’re too nice, Bryan.
I will say we have done a couple short run items and prints specifically for “commission.” Whatever we feel can be accomplished in a way that it looks cool or would be worthwhile isn’t out of the question. A lot of friends give me ideas, so I might turn that into a handbill or just make a couple of prints for shits and giggles. I think it would be cool to submit something for a gallery or event if someone really wanted something. Really nothing is out of the question, except maybe kid’s prints. No way we will ever do Dora the Explorer.
NL: It sounds like you guys have a lot planned with the 8-bit artist and the drive-in theater. Would you say New Flesh is about at capacity with work seeing as how you mainly consist of two guys?
V: We definitely are getting our rhythm. I think we can do more, just need to be able to schedule it. Maybe we’ll start scouting for an intern, but even that sounds too official.
NL: Who’s your favorite artist?
V: Shit. This is another tough one to pin down. I’ll assume artists in general. I can go on how much I love every piece Dali ever made, but I’ll save you from that. William Blake, M.C. Escher. I also really enjoy Dutch art, anything by Pieter Claesz, Van Gogh. As far as movie screen prints go, who can’t love someone like Olly Moss? I think he’s a cool guy, too.
N.E.: I have always been most influenced by movies. The look of a film can be as iconic or moving as anything. I have always loved Fritz Lang or any German expressionism. The shadows and weight of the frame are both elegant and heavy-handed. The atmosphere in Vampyr by Dreyer is a diamond bullet to my brain every time I see it. Cinematographers like Jack Cardiff, Jordan Cronenweth, Conrad Hall, Roger Deakins and Darius Khondji have defined the look of my imagination. Ridley Scott, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese and David Fincher as directors are as masterful visually as any classical painter. As for poster artists, of course I have always loved Drew Struzan and Saul Bass. In screen prints, I am a big fan of the current work of Martin Ansin, Ken Taylor and Olly Moss.
NL: What unknown and upcoming artists in the movie poster genre do you see maybe bringing in some competition in 2012?
V: I think 2012 should be a great year for artists like Russ Moore and Jay Shaw (Iron Jaiden). Russ has a way of capturing moments. Like a warm island song warming my cold heart. He’s also a great guy. I know Jay has already produced a lot of great works, but I would wager that he is going to get huge in 2012.
N.E.: I think the prints that Bjorn Bauer is putting out are pretty great.
NL: Russ definitely has a unique style sort of with tones of McCarthy, but he also puts in a human touch. It’s hard to explain, really, but his stuff is unique. Now that we’re on the topic of movies, do you have any favorites you enjoy? Do you have any plans for prints for those?
N.E.: We have a lot of mutual favorite movies. If you can’t tell, Videodrome is one of them. We have plans for Videodrome but we need to do it correctly on all levels. So, for now, it lays in wait.
NL: Random nerd question: Who’s your favorite comic book character?
N.E.: The Maxx. In my opinion that is one of the most beautiful comics (and cartoons if you remember Liquid Television). I found a VHS copy of that about 6 year ago. I still watch it a least a couple times a year.
NL: For prints, what do you think of the illustrated look compared to the scanned look (ie, one poster where a guy draws everything by hand versus another poster where the guy just takes stock imagery and photoshops it around with filters, etc.)?
V: I’d go with illustrated, but not because of any ill feeling toward something being “shopped.” Everything we’ve done has been by hand. N.E. likes using a pad and stylus but it’s completely free-hand or free-stylus. For as computer literate as I am, I can’t use Photoshop for the life of me. I just scan everything at a ridiculous DPI. We both like stuff that looks organic.
NL: Thanks for the interview, Vince and N.E.! We’re working on a print giveaway. Stay tuned.