Shadows of the Paranormal wallpaper print for Pottok Prints by Geoff McFetridge; Traveler Deadstock board from Solitary Arts.
FP: How has your work changed over the years?
GM: The thinking remains pretty consistent. The game seems to be applying this thinking to the constant formal exploration that I do. I am always following my interests and digging deep into different ways of working. I remember a moment years ago when I was working on a show. I had an idea and I was trying to draw it out to make a poster out of it. Then I had the realization that instead of the image of the thing I could just put the actual “thing” into the show.
This simple realization freed up my thought process by disconnecting my thinking from what I was doing formally. It also made me free to apply what I do to any form, media or style of working. So the work I do may appear to be visually unhinged, but it all feels very close to me.
FP: A lot of graphic designers now are super focused on computer drafting and how digital technology can aid design practice. How does that statement apply to you? How do you incorporate hand-drawn designs into projects mainly done on a computer?
GM: I work a lot on the computer, and it makes what I do possible. I mainly use the computer to speed up a type of production that is very traditional. I still control the work in the analog world and the computer just helps me get it done.
When you look at my work you can see that I do a lot of vector-based graphics that are very clean, but also do a lot of work that is very handmade looking. The surface appearance of my work varies, what is consistent is that at the center of what I do are art shows and installations. My creative momentum is generated from doing these projects, which are universally handmade, and often physical experiences. In that way the most important work I do is generated in this hands-on way, so even when I am making things on the computer they are always looking back towards that work.
FP: You once said, “When I do a motion graphics project I find myself making things that barely move.” Do you get asked to do many motion graphics for clients? Does it take a lot of convincing to steer them away from the Hollywood big budget effect?
GM: Nobody comes to me for big budget effects. I have have also noticed that even the flashy effects based places are doing more simple and rough solutions for motion graphics. This means it’s time to get into doing Hollywood big budget styles!
The reality is, that all these designers doing stylistic stuff and copying each other are just doing work that is going nowhere. There are rewards along the way, but really there is no end to it. Working the way I do is very much about staying out of it. By suggesting that motion graphics do not need to move I am not trying to make myself obsolete but to focus instead on a discussion of what the graphics are meant to say, not how they fly around.
FP: So what are your dream projects?
GM: I really would like to focus on public art projects. I have found that these types of projects (on a large scale of course!) are exactly what I want to be doing with my art. It is everything I like about doing graphics but without the baggage.
FP: What else have you done lately that you’d like to share with the world?
GM: I recently did the cover type and illustrations for the inside of the New York Times magazine [Editor’s note: the September 2 issue; the Times credited McFetridge in a correction that ran on the 20th] and was not credited for it. It was a jawdropper of a mistake. So that’s news. The illustrations were small drawings that are about Spike and his personal history and illustrative typographic treatments.
I have done a lot of the marketing materials and graphics revolving around Where the Wild Things Are film. There is a line of fabrics I did that Urban Outfitters is releasing on Friday. I also have a wallpaper company Pottok Prints and a skateboard company called the Solitary Arts. We are coming out with new product in a few weeks as well.