My pen is always in my pocket, it's always lying around. I draw simple things with it and write down notes. My drawings are spontaneous; I do them while travelling around, like my pictures of planes and my portraits. I work in an artist's book with my favourite pen; the Pentel Stylo MLJ20. I really like the heavy contrast of black and white; I don't use pencil. I like to have mistakes in my drawings. I don't do pencil work first then ink over later, I just go straight in. I don't really see them as mistakes, they're just part of the work.
My written pieces are mostly made from quotes, from lyrics of my favourite bands. I'm not a poet, I'm not making them up in my head, I just connect them to my life situations and pick sentences out of the lyrics that are special to me. I decided how the lyric is portrayed; I mix my own phrases with the lyrics. It's nice for me to have these around as it's like having a record but without the music. The bands I use are mostly from my teenage years; Pavement, Ariel Pink, etc. If you don't know the bands and the lyrics, you connect the quotes to something in your own life, it's interesting. I also use quotes from my friends, I've used some from Lawrence. The pieces themselves are on white paper or canvass and I colour the whole thing black, leaving the text behind. I get through a lot of ink.
I started designing t-shirts as a teenager in school. I was involved in skateboarding, and within that scene they have many different brands and they all have their own special design style and image. I started drawing on plain t-shirts, and my friends started asking for them. After a while I asked my older sister to lend my some money, and I used that to make my first silk screened shirts. Now I'm still doing it with my company Lousy Livin. We have two series of t-shirts every year. It's very professional now, but it still [feels like] a hobby.
Through Lousy Livin I got together with skate companies in Hamburg, one company I work for is Cleptomanicx and they asked me for my first board. Now because of my art, I've been in contact with the European skateboard scene and all the small labels. In London, I design boards for my friend Mark Forster and Landscape skateboards. I'm doing some American stuff as well, I'm so happy to skateboard graphics.
My colour works are done in my home studio, I need more of a set-up. I use water colours, inks and airbrushes. The works aren't as spontaneous as I think about them more when making them, but the inspirations are still the same. Some topics and themes are different, but that comes with using a different medium.
When designing a cover, sometimes I listen to the music on the release and sometimes I don't. Often I have musicians come over to my studio and decide what piece they'd like for their release. Julius [Steinhoff] and Pete[r Kersten] come here for meetings and they look at my work and decide what pieces could fit too. With the Christopher Rau album, Asper Clouds, I was having real difficulty designing a cover for it because all the music is so special and interesting, I didn't know what to do. He was hanging around my studio, flipping through some of my work and he was really into the sunset one, so we used that. Sometimes I don't have the eye for these things but they have another point of view, that's what happened with Christopher.
When I was young, I was so into looking at record covers, it was the best thing. I was the biggest Iron Maiden fan because of the cover art. When I was 8 or 9 I was wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts because of the art—not because of the music.
A good friend of mine, Rajko Müller (Isolee) lives in Hamburg too and knows my work from my t-shirts. In 2005 he asked me to design the cover of his new album at the time, We Are Monster. I wasn't aware that this was a long awaited album or how big of an artist he was. I got in contact with Ata from Playhouse, because he was the art director for the label and he gave me total freedom, which was nice for my first record cover. When the record was released, everyone went crazy for it. Then, Toshiya Kawasaki from Mule Musiq got in contact with me and asked me to do covers too.
I'm good friends with Julius Steinhoff. In 2004 he asked me to do the logo for the Smallville shop in Hambug. After a while they started throwing parties, and so I designed the flyer artwork for those too. Eventually, they had the idea to do the Smallville label and it was quite clear that I was going to do the covers for them. At the time, the label was nowhere near as big as Playhouse or Mule so we decided to do things how we wanted, no compromises. I think of the covers more like an art edition, something you'd put on a print. I'm happy it turned out this way, I didn't want to design covers for some shitty CD I wasn't into. I really love 12-inches and hate CDs. It's just not big enough; you can't touch the paper with this plastic case around it.
For the RA X poster, the piece I chose is a dancing scene with smoke and strobe lights. I did a series of these drawings because there was a time in Hamburg where squatter's buildings were used for parties, they had them in the basement with very strong strobe lights, little space and smoke machines on all the time. It was fucked up; it had the loudest music ever. That's where I got the inspiration for this piece. When Lawrence came back from the London party he told me that the posters were really high quality, so I'm happy to have them made.
As part of the festivities, we've commissioned ten of our favourite designers to make a limited-edition screen-printed poster for one party in the series. With only 75 made available to the public, you can be sure that you're one of the only people on your block with this unique piece of art. Purchase one for the RA X night in Moscow exclusively via the event listing on RA.