After being drawn in by his acid toned, surreal art, we reached out to artist Jo Minor about collaborating on some designs for our latest collection, De-hibernation. All about that weird post-holidays transition period where you feel like you’re sleepwalking when waiting for the bus to work, Jo’s trippy and uncanny creations were perfect for that bizarre, ‘what day is it’ time of the year. In the end, Jo created artwork for three pieces in the collection, the longsleeve tee, dungarees and smock dress, each featuring his typically other-wordly, vivid creations. To understand the thought behind the designs and get to know him a little better, we had a virtual sit down with Jo, to ask him all about his life and his work.@ josefminor
AN INTERVIEW WITH JO MINOR
Hi Jo! How are you and where are you?
Hey! I’m doing okay! I’m based in Denver, CO at the moment.
Tell us a bit about you - what’s your favourite meal, place, person, movie, pair of socks?
Wouldn’t say I have an absolute favorite anything but I do love Szechuan food, Iceland, my Grandma, The Thing, and these soft purple tube socks I have.
How would you describe yourself, and your art style?
Goofy and weird for both!
How long have you been working as an artist?
Not long actually - maybe 4 years?
What does your workspace look like? Are you WFH like us, or WFS (Work From Studio)?
WFH for sure. My work space is just a desk in an otherwise empty basement room haha. Honestly pretty drab!
What are five things you can’t start your working day without?
Really it’s just coffee and a small sweet treat like a muffin. Ideally get a bit of sun too but I’m a night owl who works best in the morning so I tend to wake up late and have to dive right into work. Wouldn’t recommend this way of doing things tbh lol.
We love the bright, surreal nature of your work. What inspired you to take this format, and what themes/influences do you pull from when you start your creation process?
Thanks! I think that’s just what initially attracted me to other folks’ work. Also it was risograph printing that got me excited about actually making things - so those vibrant inks played a big role in that as well. As far as themes, that’s usually mostly up to whoever commissioned me. I’m always pushing for weirder creative directions though. The more ridiculous and abstract, the more fun I tend to have with a project. In personal work I think I’m interested in letting my subconscious, loose thoughts and instincts run wild.
Some of your art features really uncanny and tortured looking people/creatures/beings, what do they represent to you, and what do you hope they do for the viewer?
Haha - I definitely have heard that a lot whenever I try to incorporate characters. In a couple of cases the work is for a movie where I’m just essentially doing portraiture so they’re supposed to represent actual actors. I would say most of the time though I don’t intend for the characters to be tortured persay but I think my drawing style just comes out that way, which is kind of funny. It really depends on the project for what they represent to me, but mainly I just want them to suck people into the image and maybe let them forget about something stressful for a bit. Life is hard for most people, so I hope my art can add something fun and unusual to their day.
Do you have any routines or rituals that help you get into a creative headspace?
Yeah! Usually going on runs or walks helps get my brain working. I also collect a lot of art books and images on my computer, so I’ll often turn to that for influence.
When Lazy Oaf approached you to work together, what were your initial thoughts?
I was glad for the opportunity! I was given a lot of freedom which is always ideal. It was a really smooth-going process without too much drafting or back and forth which is pretty rare.
We’re obsessed with the alien-like illustrations you made for our De-hibernation collection - what was the thought process behind the designs?
Thanks! It’s been a bit, but I think the idea was to represent the idea of reemerging into a brighter world after a long sleep. So I was going for more dream-like/surreal images of growth and brightness.
When you’re working with a client, what are the steps you take from those first initial conversations to finally delivering the work?
First just some sketches - usually these are black and white contour drawings. I try to get the composition pretty dialed in at this stage. Then, once-approved, I’ll take those into Photoshop or Procreate and mask out all the forms and color/ shade them in. I usually spend hours incorporating textures and getting values sorted out as well - I definitely get pretty swamped up in small details (that’s something I’m trying to loosen up on).
Which piece from the collection is your favourite, and why?
Might be the longsleeve just because I prefer things slightly simpler, as boring of an answer as that is ha. They're all pretty fun though!
Do you have any dream projects or brands you’d love to work with?
Mainly musicians! I would love to design a record-sleeve for the New Age artist, Iasos someday. In general, I’d love to do more work for more experimental music projects that lend themselves to more experimental visual interpretations. Of course, I’d also love to work for some bigger artists - pretty far-fetched, but doing something for any of the members of Yellow Magic Orchestra would be the ultimate dream.
Which artists from past and present do you admire, and what is it about them and their work that resonates with you?
Loads. A big one from the past is Tiger Tateishi - I just love the way he renders space and toys with sequence and abstraction. I’ve also been re-discovering Al Jaffee (I was a big Mad Magazine reader through my early teens). Also just to list a few other artists and designers I’m always looking at: Ghulam Rasool Santosh, Helmut Wenske, Nicole Claveloux, Paul Davis, Kazumasa Nagai, Vello Vinn, Harry Smith, Jakub Erol, Michael Trevithick, Yoji Kuri, Philip Kirkland, Mati Klarwein… Also a lot of more well known painters like O’Keefe, Dali, and Miró.
Any final gems of wisdom for our readers?
To end on a hokey sentiment… Next time you’re stressed I encourage you to grab a scrap of paper and draw whatever. Anyone can make art! If you do make art, always remember you don’t have to be a brand and should always feel free to experiment beyond what people expect from you. There are no rules other than don’t be an ass. Also, YouTube and the internet is an art school if you want it to be, that’s pretty much how I learned everything. You don’t have to go into debt to try and make art your job.