In the first ever Poster Spy interview, we talk to Jeremy Wheeler, a graphic artist who specialises in gig posters, movie posters, illustration, comics and more. In this interview Jeremy talks about his life as an artist, his influences and what helped him develop his skills as an artist. Also, for all you aspiring artists out there, Jeremy gives some advice on how to develop your style and get your work out there! So, let’s get the ball rollin’.
Jeremy, you have a very distinctive and vivid style, what kind of artwork inspired you to start creating such bold pieces?
Thanks so much! Comic art is a big deal to me. Comics, man. They’re great. Being a movie nut (I was a movie reviewer for the All Movie Guide for 12 years), I love movie poster art. I have a large collection of books on the matter — and the ones that inspire me most are ones from the 70s and Japanese poster design. Both feature photo collages and vibrant color schemes. Check out the Ignite talk I did on the subject here…
So it’s really a big mix of comics, grindhouse posters and Japanese poster art. Also advertising in the 60s and 70s. In my gigposters I homage everything from colors to layout, whether it’s Burger King ads or Showa kids toy ads.
It’s clear your skills range from hand-drawn work to vector artwork created on the computer, but how long did it takes you to find your initial style?
My hand drawn/montage technique has been around for years now, ever since I was drawing Cyberpunk posters in junior high. Most all my computer work was developed through making gigposters for The Bang!, an ongoing dance party I co-started in 2001 (see 125+ posters here… https://www.behance.net/gallery/16680521/Bang-Productions-Branding-Posters). So 13 years of that has given me the room to develop a few different artistic approaches whether it’s vector, photoshop or hand drawn. Alternative movie art I’ve been doing for around seven years now, featuring a range of styles. Most all of it features limited color.
For all the emerging artists out there, what advice could you give them to help them find themselves as artists?
Personal projects — work on ’em. Love ’em. Never stop. The professional art world is great, but the rewards can sometimes lead to frustration because other opinions are involved (this also can lead to amazing work as well, I might add). Doing stuff for yourself gives you a canvas to play in that’s all yours. Try out different techniques. Give yourself a space to fail. And deadlines. Make it so that you can’t work on your art forever. The more you do that, the less other interesting work you could have done in the meantime.
Out of all the pieces you’ve created over your lifetime, what would you consider to be the piece you’re most proud of and why?
I quite love my 2012 poster for Space Bang! – could be my favorite. It’s simple. It draws you. Again, limited colors. 2001 font. Yeah, that’s a favorite. Otherwise I love whatever newest piece I’ve done.
As a kid, what influenced you to become the artist you are today?
I grew up reading comics, so people like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola & Bill Sienkiewicz helped shape the kind of immediate impact that I like to have in my pieces. Sienkiewicz has remained my favorite artist. He’s still incredible and adept at many different styles, which has informed me in developing a range of solutions that can be applied to various projects. Otherwise my older brother, Grimbro, was *the* guy who taught me how to draw, think and love movies + art. He continues to be an amazing monster artist. Well worth checking out his stuff. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-of-Grimbro/141427935883292?sk=photos_stream
What’s your favourite movie and why?
Split tie between Jaws and Carlito’s Way. John Carpenter movies are way up there too. Jaws due to everything that everyone loves about Jaws, plus everything that all us super geeks love about Jaws (and Jaws 2 and Jaws 3 and Jaws the Revenge). Carlito’s Way is personal in that it was made with superb skill, yet I keep going back to the character of Carlito Brigante. The dude is cool, knows how to dress, is loyal to a fault, and wants to do better, no matter what the cost. Plus it’s a time bomb of a flick – with a finale that’s near real time as Carlito races to paradise awaiting him on the train tracks. Just gimme a break. It’s great. I wrote all about it & got to draw a cartoon-style illo for Esquire once here: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/carlitos-way-underrated-gangster-movie
Are you self-taught or did you go to an art school? And what have you learnt from your experience?
I was lucky enough to go to college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh when they offered Associate’s Degrees in just art. No other training. 2 years and I was out. Went in for makeup special FX and left with a Visual Communications degree specializing in Graphic Design. I was way into David Carson at the time. He made me love typography even though he’s renowned for butchering it. Anyway, that was where I learned the basics of Adobe programs that have carried me through today. Also working at VGKIDS (http://vgkids.com/), the high quality silkscreen shop in Michigan, has given me leaps and bounds worth of knowledge when it comes to the print game. They’re highly skilled and the level of artists, galleries & companies we work with is bonkers.
For artists who might want to get their work out there, what would you suggest to them?
I understand the adage of “don’t focus on every social network”, yet I’ve found that you never know which one out there will score you some eyes. Get a system in place for updating a host of sites and stick to it. Get on Behance. Get on Tumblr. Get on Pinterest. Get on other blogs. Reach out. Even if you don’t get any responses, continue to reach out to people. Even ask other artists if they have advice. I do that. Be tenacious and if you find something online that’s a diss to your work — maybe they have a point. If they don’t, fuck ’em. Move on. Make more art.
Finally, what is your most memorable experience from your career?
It’s hard for me to beat being involved with DeathWaltz Recording Co.’s Record Store Day release of 1990: Bronx Warriors on vinyl this year. That’s quite a high point. Knowing that so many people who truly love that wild ass movie have that in their possession is massive. And it came with a 36″x36″ poster of my art that’s massive. Fuckin’ massive all around with that one. Thank you, Spencer. Insane honor to have been involved with that.
That and meeting John Carpenter and having him dig my art was a blast. I was sweating. Dude’s work means everything to me. Just about every beat I’ve made for my process videos (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqhL7qQAajHjx1gPcvqz9VJNxR1GDawXO) are in some way tied back to his scores. Oh, and being interviewed by Poster Spy — incredible experience, man. Thanks for noticing and liking my work enough to ask these questions.
Jeremy’s Poster Spy profile.
Want to be interviewed for next weeks edition of ‘Poster Spy interviews’? Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org