Beer and Pavement

Indie-Craft Interview #12: Ben Chlapek

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 16, 2012

Ben Chlapek prints posters and plays in bands. Of course, this only skims the surface of his creativity and drive. Ben’s Never Sleeping Design posters can be found everywhere. Half the bands covered in this blog have used a Never Sleeping poster to advertise a gig. Then, there are his music projects. The layers and textures Ben builds from scratch are pretty unforgettable and just as striking as his printed work. Luckily for me, as with many of the subjects of the series, Ben lives here in Columbia and agreed to answer my questions about his indie-craft.

Photo by Corey Hale Ransberg.

1. Describe your craft(s).
Freelance artist (illustrator, screen printer, painter) – neversleeping.com
Musician (guitar, keys, vox) – Enemy Airship, Neatly Knotted.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
Well, I suppose having a little control over what I do is the big reason. Though I’m totally broke, so maybe if a halfway decent corporation said “jump” I might ask how high. I don’t know though, I’ve always been a do-it-yourself type. I want to take broken things apart and fix them, and print my own drawings, record my own songs, etc. It’s really frustrating that I can’t do everything I want by myself, and that I have to get others involved to get a certain desired result. Not enough hours in the day to learn everything I suppose.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
It’s all entertainment, which is good and bad. People need entertainment like art and music to feel like they are people and not some sort of hamster in a wheel. At the same time, it’s totally disposable. No one has to care about it. No one is going to die if I don’t make drawings of weird little houses or play my guitar or synthesizer with the perfect tone that took hours to get just right. That being said, music and art affect me daily. Hourly. I can pour over an album or series of artwork and analyze every single detail…just totally get lost in it. Maybe one day someone will do that with something I make.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
I’d like to make a line of effects pedals. I’ve always been fascinated by that, and I think I might be good at it with a little practice. Fixing/building old mopeds from the 70’s and 80’s is something I sort of got into, just because I had no idea about it. I still can’t do a lot with the engines, but I know how to swap out parts and clean carbs and a few other things. More than I knew when I started. I obsess over sound and trying to get a good recording on my 4 track tape machine. I’d like to make a short film. Like, write the soundtrack and plan out every shot and be the only person in it. Or something along those lines.

5. What is your dream of success?
I know it shouldn’t have to do with money necessarily (or at least that’s what people say), but I won’t truly feel successful until I can stop living hand to mouth. It would be nice to get more exposure from any of my art or music endeavors, but it seems like you have to be in the right place at the right time. If I stay in Columbia, I’m not sure the “right time” will ever come around. I’d like to think if I make work that’s good enough then people will notice, though.

Follow Ben Chlapek on Twitter or Tumblr. Then go buy his craft in his etsy store. After that, be prepared to see Ben’s visage and his work everywhere.

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Indie-Craft Interview #10: Justin Nardy

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 14, 2012

I met Justin Nardy on a trip to St. Louis to see Caribou. An artist on his label (Ahmed Gallab, AKA Sinkane) was playing drums for Caribou and Justin was driving so that he and his partners could conduct some label business. I found that Justin was a likable, well-grounded artist, a rare thing these days or so I thought at the time. Since then, we’ve had some beers and BBQ as well as traded some vinyl. He’s a part of the small group of people I turn to in this town for information regarding the music and art scenes. He’s always good for inspiration as several of his pieces hang in my home. Here’s what he had to say regarding Indie-Craft…

1. Describe your craft(s).
Well I tend to dabble in a bunch of different things. I have been an active musician and part of the CoMo music scene for about 17 years now. I have played in numerous bands such as, Sooprize Package, Quatermast Wind, Amputee Set, Subscribe, Carryon Killaway, Bald Eagle, The Foundry Field Recordings, and I currently sing and play bass in New Tongues. Besides playing music, I was a co-owner of local record label Emergency Umbrella. I also work full time as a screen printer for two locally owned shops, and screen print posters out of my basement when I have free time, or a burst of creative energy. I have also provided bands, local business, and random cool people with 1” buttons for the last 10 years or so. I illustrate, and do random graphic design projects, and have always been the “art/design guy” in all of the bands that I have played in. So yeah I feel like I am jack of all trades, but maybe more successful in some areas more than others. Music has definitely been my main focus and craft for some time.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
That’s tough, but I think remaining indie really comes down to never having to answer to anyone but yourself. To always be able to have totally creative freedom in what you are doing, and by doing that I think you stay happy and sane (or I would like to think you stay happy and sane).

Though I feel like anymore it is really hard to stay indie, and not depend on a larger group or some money at hand. Most indie bands aren’t indie anymore, most indie labels aren’t 100% indie, there is money coming from somewhere, whether it is selling music to movies or commercials etc, but that’s what allows those bands and labels to keep going. So maybe the definition of indie has changed. I think it is fine to make money off of your art or passion, but remaining indie all depends on what you do with that money once you have it, do you completely change everything or do you carry on like always with a little more funds to help you along the way? I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but in the end remaining indie to me means I am happy and I don’t have to answer to anyone or change what my creative outlook is to please some asshole and make them money.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
Well I don’t know if I have ever personally created any art or music that has changed people’s lives or improved them, but overall I think music and art are two of the most important things people can have in their lives. I know that I would not be the person I am today without music and art. They improve the quality of life.

By being a musician in Columbia for such a long time I think I, with the help of many others have built a scene and a community of awesome people with many talents and that we have overall improved Columbia as a town. By creating music, art, putting out records, and bringing numerous bands to Columbia we have made it a better town to live in. We not only provided entertainment and things to do in a town that sometimes lacks entertainment and things to do, we have also created some pretty amazing bands and music. The musicians in this town are definitely a great group of people that are super talented and I feel like most of the bands here support each other and have each other’s back. And that is a great feeling to have, that we all have a support group and a tight knit of people that are always there for you and help push you to be creative. I am still blown away that places like The Hairhole and Rag Tag exist in this town, where you can go and constantly be surrounded by talented like minded people.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Other local bands, indie labels, lots of things on etsy, vinyl nerds, screen printers, people who book local shows, True/False, my wonderfully talented and supportive girlfriend Julie Hayes, indie record stores, craft beer etc. etc. etc.

5. What is your dream of success?
To wake up every day and be happy doing what I am doing and to be completely comfortable in my own skin.

I am not there, in fact there is much of my everyday life that is pretty opposite of that. I wake up and go to a job that I hate and make someone else a ton of money while I struggle to get by. Which is tough because I am doing a form of art that I love (screen printing), but instead of doing it under my own terms and conditions and remaining “indie” I am working for people that I generally hate and despise. I have been in tons of bands and l have loved everything I have done in those bands, yet none of them have been a complete success. When I turned 30 I thought I might completely stop playing music, and yet I still struggle with it and to be happy doing it. The record label that I was part of, that I loved and that put out a bunch of great records by friends and amazing bands went under. The part of me that loves to draw, screen print, and do design work constantly struggles to find motivation to do anything. So I feel like success is a long long way from becoming a reality. I am successful and happy that I get to wake up every day with a person that drives and pushes me to be creative, and that I am still actively playing music and creating art at age 31 but I definitely struggle with it at times. My ultimate goal of success would to be able to open a venue/bar/record store/screen printing/art gallery/musician practice space and employee all my wonderfully talented friends and make it the best thing in the world and have it support all of us and our families while providing an amazing place for people to hang out.

You can find Justin’s work at his old blog or his new blog. Buy his art here and you might be able to score a Bald Eagle record at Insound. In the meantime, don’t forget to peruse all the Indie-Craft interviews. There are still more to come…

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Indie-Craft Interview #4: Bob Hartzell

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 3, 2012

Bob Hartzell found me over a year ago, offering me an Archers of Loaf poster he printed back in the nineties. Since those halcyon days of yester-decades, he’s made quite a nice niche for himself in the Midwestern art scene with his Augratin Press. It’s nice to see the posters he creates for shows here, but his other projects are cool as well. Bob agreed to share some thoughts for yet another edition of the Indie-Craft interview series

1. Describe your craft(s).
I make things. I am mostly a silkscreener but I have been doing more light sculptures now that people are buying them. I also do as much community based work as I can because it is the most rewarding.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
It helps hold of the eventual moment when I start to suck.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
I think my community-based work encourages people to do creative things outside self-ordained, artistic environments. Other than that, my craft contributes nothing to society.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Furniture and Architecture as well as broken things.

5. What is your dream of success?
I am lucky to have done what I have. If it all goes down from here, I should still consider my self fortunate, but I will probably complain anyway.

Bob’s work can be found via Facebook or his website.

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