For volume 26 of TransWorld SNOWboarding, we’re bringing in guest typographers for each issue. Each month will feature new type and illustrations, from the column headers to the cover photo. September Issue‘s guest typographer is an artist by the name of SaDe Coy. Pick up a copy of the September issue and see what he’s done.
What is your history with Transworld Snowboarding?
I was Design Director for two seasons, starting in 2001 I think. It was an awesome team and a really fun project.
As Art Director what did your role entail?
Hiding messages in the text and photos. I can’t believe some of that stuff made it through. The beauty of C,M,Y, and K.
What brought you to America, and how did you get involved with the skate industry?
I was living the skate dream. Which for me was coming to California to skate and do art and creative work with skate companies. I was hanging out with two friends Scott Taylor—who I basically lived with—and Arron Springer. I had a sketch pad full of drawings that I thought would make cool graphics, and through their introductions and other random circumstances, I ended up showing them to the Foundation skate team. They chose about ten drawings on first look, so I ended up staying in California. It was great. I’m still here, keeping the dream alive.
Any key lessons you have learned in the past 10 years?
I wouldn’t want to sermonize, but I can tell you a joke instead:
What was your thought process / approach to developing the department titles for this issue?
It primarily developed as a variation of an ongoing work I have made called “The Artist At Work” (Decoy No. 10). It’s a drawing of an animated cartoon character playing at being an artist, standing in front of a blank canvas with paint brush and palette in hand. Of course the drawing is an adaptation of Yogi Bear, so it can also be a proxy of me. Its a joke and a decoy. It is a kind of portrait of an artist who is caricatured and animated by the very process of appearing as an artist. It pokes a little humor at this process of being invited to do commercial “art” projects, and of artists who basically caricature themselves by making variations of the same work over and over. “The Artist” is a popular trope right now, has been for a while, but it always appears to be affected to me. I can’t quite take it seriously when I see some people present themselves as artists in certain scenarios, probably because I respect the idea of it too much. So I just worked the titles around this idea of breaking up “The Artist at Work” into various pieces and compositions, and spreading it through a range of other peoples messages or agendas. Thanks for the opportunity. It was fun.
While having a successful career you decided to uproot from California to Chicago to attend Art School. You received a scholarship if I am not mistaken, correct?
Yes, it maybe sounds a little backwards. Most people I know drop out of school. I guess I dropped out of work and dropped into school. I attended The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. It was amazing. I studied with some great teachers and fellow students, and in an amazing environment. I attended a program called Visual and Critical Studies, which is primarily a combination of cultural and contemporary art theories. After that I came back to California and attended a similar program at Calarts called Aesthetics and Politics. Lots of art theory, which I love.
How has four years of schooling changed the way you think and create work?
All said it was five years total. Can I tell a joke again? Just kidding.
Your past work has consisted mostly of commercial design with underlying themes of confusion, and messages about the mass public such as the naming of Emerica and Popwar’s identity. Is creating dimensional pieces with a bigger idea more impact-full / fulfilling than working with a flat medium such as a magazine or skateboard graphic?
For me there really is no difference. Or rather, I tend to think of it the other way around, meaning I was always more interested in the complete print run of mags rather than a single issue, or the complete run of boards than the single graphic. Primarily I’d say that I always considered creating what you might call a “brand” as a hugely dimensional work, rather than a single graphic or page. To create an artwork or an installation is a lot smaller than creating a brand, however it still deals with the same core values of painting or picture making—composition, interaction, semblance. So even though a final focal-point might appear as a flat magazine page or graphic, there is nothing flat about fitting into a global system of production, distribution, and appearances in a cohesive manner. That a set of disparate parts can go out into the world in all sorts of different ways, but still hold together as a single thing–that is what really interests me as a producer. And then the privilege is to really consider if you are complicit or critical of that distribution. It’s fun to tweak the distribution.
I think it was Naploean who said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon”. I think of a brand—or any system of parts that aligns to claims of being one thing or another—in the same way: a set of parts agreed upon. For some reason we strive for that agreement in all forms, and the forms become social.
That is why I describe what I make as “Decoys”. A decoy doesn’t need to be defined or framed by the terms of “art” or “graphics” or any other criteria that might effect its reception. A decoy can perform in both while potentially being the other. As soon as I admitted to myself that I was making decoys, the hierarchy between original and copy—between making the real thing and a duplicate—was erased, and that space is more comfortable for me. Why privilege a painting for example when a photo of the painting can be just as good? But further it is the combination of painting, photo, print, and everything else in its entirety that is really the most interesting. That is the one good thing about design that I think is completely overlooked: it is both the original and the reproduction at the same time.
Would you mind explaining the golden copier image titled “canon”?
Oh yes, Decoy No. 7—”Canon.” You could say it is an object that embodies the “canon” of contemporary art history, or is a symbol of creative culture. It is a copy machine that I turned into an icon. The machine is on, the light moving back and forth, on and off, ad infinitum. So it appears to be a working copy machine, but produces no actual copies in the expected sense, only copies of itself. The icon itself is now the means of production. This very question is case in point: an opportunity to make another copy, but in a genuinely unique and authentic way.
What are some future projects that you are excited about?
I’m visiting my psychic later today. I’ll let you know when I get back.