Jake Pruim – A colourful look at the world

Monsters vs. Gods. Nature vs. Industrialization. Cartoons vs. Realities. This is the world Jake Pruim creates. One inspired by a generation brought up on Saturday morning cartoons, sugar cereals, and comics. Now Having to deal with a much larger and less innocent world.


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Me: Update

Hi Everyone!

I have been quite the busy girl as of late. I’ve been illustrating and writing a kid’s book with my pal Jake Pruim (who I will be interviewing very soon for this blog) doing a lot of commissions and building my website.

Here are some of the things I’ve been designing/painting lately, enjoy!

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05: Ambird

This next interview is with a very talented lady. I have followed her for years now and have been completely blown away year after year. She inspires me with her illustrations, photography and general fantastic disposition on life.

Who are you and where do you live?

My name is Amber Lynn Seegmiller, a.k.a. ambird, and i was born and raised in Whittier, CA.

Have you gone to school for art?

No. I tried it out once but i couldn’t get into it. I think that being self taught up until i decided to take formal art classes really screwed with my ability to tolerate being told how to create something. i ended up dropping out of all of my classes before i could even finish my first semester in college.

Who are some of your main influences?

Its a combination of different things, really. Its hard to pinpoint certain people that influence my work because, in all reality, i don’t pay far too much attention to what other people are doing. I suppose the people that influence me more than anything are the ones that make me feel like a child such as Shel Silverstein, Edward Gorey, Thurop Van Orman, and Pendleton Ward as well as random illustrators, that i don’t even know the name of, that worked with Nickelodeon Magazine. Goodness, i loved that magazine. As far as internet persons that really get my creativity roaring, i could never deny my love for Melanie Stringer, Sean Morris, Benjamin Constantine, Danny Brito, Sarah McNeil, Natasha Allegri, Ivy Atoms, Coreena Lewis, Manon Charette, and so so many more.

What is your favourite part of your artistic process?

Inking is most definitely my favourite part. All the little patterns and detail are so absolutely therapeutic to me. If i’m having a relatively stressful day or I’m feeling let down for whatever reason, drawing tiny patterns brings me back up.

How did you come up with your newly finished “Vanity” series?

I was stuck in an artist block; nothing i did was satisfying and everything felt static. I needed a change. To me, the easiest way to change anything, the best way to help settle those urges, is to change my hair. Thats when Vanity hit me.

How would you describe your style?


What artist would you want to collaborate with?

If i were to collaborate with anybody, i would collaborate with a photographer to help make Vanity into actual portraits. Now, that would be an interested endeavor.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m not hoping to be anywhere, I’m planning on going somewhere. I would love it if i was no longer working in retail! hah hah! But doing illustrations for children’s books or other types of publishing would be my absolute dream in five years.

Which way do you think is the best way to get your stuff out there?

From personal experience, I would have to say that the internet is a handy-dandy tool for getting your artwork out there. If I hadn’t been persistent with keeping internet portfolios then I wouldn’t have met the amazing and inspiring people that i have that have helped me move forward with my artwork.

Has anyone (other than me) told you that you’re their favourite artist? If so, what was your reaction like?

Oh my! I have a handful of people who persistently tell me that I’m their favourite artist. Its absolutely overwhelming! Whenever anybody hints at their admiration for what I do, i stammer and lose my train of thought. There are no words to describe how it makes me feel. In a way, its as if people have nestled into my mind and are hesitant about leaving because they are so content with what they find there. I’m happy to have them.

Smitten as I am with Ambird’s stuff? Go check out her Flickr and once you’re really in love, go buy some prints from her Vanity series from her Etsy.

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04: Christopher Lusher

Christopher Lusher was born in 1974 on a ferris wheel in Columbus, Ohio.  A terrible student in school he dreamt of being a policeman until he discovered comic books and skateboarding.  After breaking his ankle and unable to skate he entered a ten year blur of debauchery before finding love and creating Hillbilly Mag : The Cross Pollination.  He has since presided over the 2010 Appalachian Film Festival bringing Harmony Korines ‘Trash Humpers’ to the area and producing the most successful festival ever in its ten year span.  He has also exhibited photography and artwork throughout the state.  His photos have been featured in purple DIARY, the official blog of Purple Fashion Magazine.  He currently resides in West Virginia and is producing an upcoming show entitled simply ‘Hillbilly’ for this August.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Chris Lusher and I’m originally from Ohio but moved to West Virginia when i was 17.  I’m 36 now so I’ve been here over half of my life.

Did you go to school for photography?

No.  I started shooting three years ago for my girlfriend who lives in Italy so she could get a feel for the surroundings here and just eventually became obsessed with it.  I think that schooling in the arts often does more harm than good.  I suppose its nice to learn techniques and technicalities but I think it really drains the ‘individual expression’ out of art.  Alot of people I know that did go to school for painting, photography etc. became burnt out on it and lost their love of the medium they were studying.  I feel that creativity is something that is bred into your bones as opposed to say someone who THINKS they want to paint, be a photographer, poet etc. in some romanticized way so they go to school to BECOME that thing and it never seems to work out.

What other mediums are you experienced with?

I started drawing when I was very, very little and was told I was quite good at it which I did until I become old enough to want to be Indiana Jones and then I spent years running through the woods aimlessly before starting to paint when i was about 18.  I painted for a few years and then stopped doing that and began writing for various online magazines.  After a few years of writing I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker and shot a thirty minute short that has never been seen and will probably never be seen.  There are some really good ideas in it but it wasn’t perhaps executed properly.  I then played in a few bands and recorded a cd.  That all fell through around the time I discovered photography.  Currently I shoot alot of photos, do collage work and short experimental videos.

What’s your favourite subject matter?

I honestly don’t have a favorite subject.  My favorite thing to do is make people look at everyday objects in a new way.  To see things they’ve seen a million times before in a different light.  A pile of garbage and a portrait are equal to me.  There are things that are really obvious  photography wise that would make a good photo and I found myself falling into that trap.  Having people say ‘I like your tree photos’ makes me want to go in another direction.  I began selling prints and everyone wanted the same sort of photo which was usually something sky related and I reacted in the same manner.  Turning away from the obvious is good for a photographers eye.  It really makes you aware.

Do you think the internet is a good source for getting yourself out there?

The internet is awesome and terrible in equal measure.  It is a great launching pad to be seen and heard but you are competing with layer upon layer upon layer of shit.  How do you get past that?  You hold onto the faith that the cream rises to the top but whose to say what’s good and what isn’t?  I’ve been fortunate to be featured quite alot on my favorite magazines website, http://www.purple-diary.com/, but I think that comes from a shared sensibility.  The whole reason I started Hillbilly was for this exact reason though.  So my friends and myself could have an outlet to be seen and heard.  I’m currently on the third incarnation of the site and it is kind of amazing the amount of content in that it is like a progressing gallery that just grows and grows.  I’m really proud of it.

How often do you have a camera in your hand?

I always have my one little pawn shop camera with me which is my only camera.  The thing is tough as nails and it is basically like my child but I haven’t done the whole guitar thing and named it.  Its an abusive yet loving relationship.  I can’t believe it has put up with my shit this long.  The only time I don’t have my camera with me is when something beyond incredible presents itself and then I get depressed and binge drink for about 24 hours.

Do you find it hard to take self portraits?

I find that quite easy.  That makes me sound like an asshole I guess but it’s a great way to learn.  I shoot self portraits nearly the same way everytime.  Same wall, same composition but it gets to a point of oversaturation in that you’ve done the same thing so many times that there is no differentiation.  I also am not very good at pulling stupid faces or poses so I have an abundance of self portraits of me looking righteous or tough for the sake of not pulling stupid faces or poses.

Film vs Digital, go!

Well I’ve only ever used digital so I’m biased on this question.  I know there are the purists that hold onto the romance of film and the process as there were also people who continued to ride horses after cars started hitting the road.  I’ve just never known the past as something good to hang onto.  As well I’m an instant gratification kind of guy so I want results immediately hence my hairy palms.

Favourite artist?

William Eggleston, Jeurgen Teller, Dash Snow, Dan Colen, Harmony Korine, Aurel Schmidt, Jack Siegel, the pro skateboarder Alex Olson is a really good photographer, Jess Holzworth, Basquiat, John Currin, Dennis Hopper, Banks Violette, the Gonz.  I used to think I liked Terry Richardson but have you seen that guys blog?  It’s fucking terrible.  Repetitive and the photos are usually total crap.  Wait.  Did you mean just one artist?

If you could give any advice to a person very new to photography, what would it be?

Look through the hole, square it up and push the button.

To read more about Christopher’s projects and see his photos go to his personal blog or his site for Hillbilly magazine

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03: Peggy Tremblett

Peggy Tremblett is a visual artist/part-time graphic design/full time disaster. She is in love with sleeping with her window open, men who read the news on television, the smell of new, freshly stretched canvas and tea parties.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Peggy and I live in a little city with brightly painted houses and music pouring from the streets in Newfoundland, Canada.

What inspires you?

Tiny memories of childhood, the drawings i made when i was a kid, all the little girls with circle cheeks and disjointed bodies. my friends. they all make such wonderful art. my mother.

Tell us about the project you run..

Oh, you mean the one i mentioned where artists swap paintings? This is not something I am in charge of, it’s called “Out of Purgatory”


I’m just participating this year.
I would love to start something like this though and auction off the pieces in the end.

Living where you do, what’s the art scene like?

The art scene is fairly large. We even have our own postal code – A1C. According to Statistics Canada, per capita, the AIC Postal Code has the highest concentration of artists in the country. I live right in the middle of it. Surrounded by artists, almost artists, wannabe artists, musicians and designers.

What is your favourite medium?

I’m a Textile Artist by trade. I get so turned on by natural and chemical dyes…getting my hands all messy and dying fabric to stretch and create and felting and sewing and oh!
But I love working with acrylics the most. I have very little patience and acrylics are fast so you work quicker and plan better. I started out with oil paints and while I adore oil paints and all that you can do with them…acrylic is my boyfriend.

If you could collaborate with one artist from history, who would it be?

Egon Schiele. Absolutely. His artwork has taught me to see bodies a little differently. He’s always been one of my favourite artists.

Do you find you have a distinctive style, and if so, how would you describe it?

I hope my style is distinctive. It’s been this way since I was a kid…of course my line work isn’t as shaky as it used to be and I am sure it’s a little more polished…but overall I would describe my style as child-like. Sometimes the subject matter is a little more adult, but then I feel like that pervy 12 year old boy drawing nude ladies with big boobs.

Do you think the internet has helped the way artists interact with each other?

Totally. Some days I hate the internet for all that it has taken away from us – like actual human interaction sometimes. But I love the internet for all that it has given us.My eyes have never been this full. I spend at least an hour a day pouring through other people’s artwork and being insanely inspired. And oh the ability to get your artwork out there and to be noticed is amazing. But overall, the way artists can connect to each other so easily now is wonderful. Like you and I. I stumbled upon you and fell in love with your work and now here we are.

What is the best feedback you’ve gotten on your art so far?

Every little bit. Even the not so positive comments. I love when someone says “I want to take this one home with me” I think that is the biggest compliment. I feel like a mama and my paintings are my little babies and I am terribly proud each and every time someone buys a painting or commissions me to paint something for them. I am often insecure about my work…I’ve even dubbed my paintings my “ugly girls” which has sort of stuck and other people call them that too but every compliment I get makes my heart want to burst right out of my chest.

Do you sell your art, and if so, do you sell it online?

I do sell my art. Usually a piece or two every couple of months. I sell online, at art fairs or art auctions.

If you want to  become a fan of Peggy and look at more of her stuff, go here!

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02: Alyssa Marzolf

The second person to interview was blessed with a name that is only pronounced correctly by a few special people. A city girl who grew up in the outskirts of Buffalo, New York but considers herself a bit of a farmer and suburbanite. An interesting photographer with interesting subjects.

Who are you and where do you live?

I am Alyssa Marzolf. I live in Chicago in a big, beautiful music venue.

What inspired you to start doing photography?

I’ve always had a need to create things. I didn’t take a photograph, other than with disposable cameras at school dances and birthday parties, until I was 18-years-old. When I started applying to colleges I had to really think hard about what I’d want to spend the rest of my life doing. I knew I wanted to be an artist. I chose photography while on the phone with an admissions person at RIT, who was forcing me to choose what to major in. I was taking photography in highschool at the time and felt like it had the perfect mixture of mad scientist and artsy fartsy for me. I thought “Okay, okay, photography might be my thing. I’ll pick that” It was really hard for me at first, but I got the hang of it and now we’re like peas and carrots. I guess my start in photography wasn’t really inspiration, but inspiration was the reason I stuck with it. I had a strange combination of professors. I was constantly trying to prove myself to them and to my peers. I would pick out someone in my class to “beat” in critique the following week. It was a little game I played with myself to try to keep the bar up high. You know, you’re paying a hundred thousand dollars, if not more, for your education. I kept that in the back of my mind. I thought, ‘I’ve got to make this worth it and come out of here feeling like I’ve won something.’ As far as inspiration goes, it’s always changing. I go through phases of obsessions. Fashion, documentary, advertising campaigns for things like post-it notes or water bottles. Sometimes I’m inspired by some major life event. I’ve always been really inspired by movies. Some cinematography just blows me away. I remember I saw the Darjeeling Limited in theatres and every few minutes I’d catch myself wanting to run out of the theatre and start writing down ideas that the movie was stirring up. It was intense. Adrien Brody wearing his Dad’s glasses? That killed me. I completely, completely got that. As for specifics, in case people are yearning to do a google search and get into things, Sally Mann has been a huge influence to me. There’s a good documentary on her. She’s a great human being. Roger Ballen is really up there on my list. If you’re one of those people who is also newly interested in South African culture and Die Antwoord, Roger Ballen directed one of their music videos.


Do you think to be successful with photography you have to go to school?

This is an idea I’ve encountered a few times. I think if you are very independent and aware of your complete obliviousness to the wealth of knowledge there is out in the world on every subject you can think of or even imagine, you might be able to be successful without an education. Honestly, for me, I need direction. I need deadlines imposed on me by authority figures. I’m too lazy and too distracted to be self-directed. I think it takes a uniquely passionate and strong individual to be able to learn something on your own from the ground up. Photography is very much about who you know. Many of who I know I’ve met through education in one form or another. I also think the measure of success varies from person to person and what I see as success might not be what another sees.

What photographer would you want to shoot with?

Ideally I’m photographing on my own at all times. I’m not the kind of photographer that is constantly shooting. I’m a big believer in the photograph becoming a tiny death. I tend to visually erase what I see when I have a camera in my hand. This is not purposeful. It’s sort of a phenomenon. For example, when I’m on vacation and I see something I want to remember for myself, I make a point not to photograph that thing. It exists in the moment, and it exists in my memory. If I want to show it to the world, I’ll sacrifice my memory of it by photographing it. Although if I got a phone call from Alessandra Sanguinetti and she asked if I’d like to go with her to Argentina to photograph for the summer, I’d say yes. I’d watch her and I’d probably start my own thing too. 


Film vs. Digital? 

Film! Film! Film! I guess it seems silly to choose film over digital given the current trends. But I am very afraid of digital. It’s iffy. I know my film is going to come back, as long as it is exposed and the lab doesn’t screw it up somehow. With digital, I put the card in the reader and for a few seconds I have so much doubt running through my mind. If you throw the card in your bag too aggressively, the tiny fragments might come loose and then all of your photographs are gone. They just disappear. At least I know my negatives will always be tangible as long as I have them. There are a lot of nice things about digital, but I have yet to succumb. It will probably happen soon though. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to get away with shooting film. Living in Chicago, there are still a few labs I can use but I know if I were living in a smaller city or a suburb somewhere, the change to digital would be coming along much quicker.


What camera do you swear by?

I shoot with a Koni-Omega Rapid M medium format camera. It’s huge and it’s old but it’s really reliable and it can handle some knocking around. I’m a bit of a klutz so I shouldn’t be around very breakable things. Although, I’d love to own a Mamiya 7. It’s just not happening right now.

What’s your favourite subject matter?

Definitely people. But I’m a series kind of girl. I like to photograph the same thing over and over again. Right now my work is of one group of people that all have lived or are living under one roof. They’re a strange sort of family and they’re all very lovely people. I’ve been photographing them for a year and a half now. I don’t know how I’ve gotten away with it but it’s working and I love it.


Do you find it difficult to take self portraits? 

I do. I think it’s tough to remove yourself from the process. I’ve done self-portraits a few times and I always found myself overanalyzing how I was going to be perceived by others through the image. Although I do think it’s a great way to learn a lot about yourself and about interacting with other subjects.

If you could do anything rather than photography, what would it be?

I’d make movies or write. I’ve dabbled in both but haven’t fully immersed myself in either one. Sometimes I dream in movie-mode. I’m an actress in a movie, but the movie is real life. But it’s a dream. I’m not myself, but I look like myself, just a bit twisted. Working on a film would be completely amazing. I have a ton of admiration for people who can take on such a huge amount of work and sort through it and complete it.  I think writing is really admirable as well. I think when I calm down a bit and have my life together, I’ll start writing seriously. I have a lot to say.


If you want to hear what else Alyssa has to say, or better yet, see what else she shoots, check out her website.

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01: Behold the Destroyer


The first person I’ve decided to interview for my blog is a good friend of mine. He’s his own breed and is fully capable of quick wit, fashion advice and naming every super hero that has ever graced the earth (or any other dimension) He is a professional web/graphic designer with a good eye for colour and a particularly strange style of drawing.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Ray Smiling I’m from Brooklyn, NY the home of Biggie Smalls, Type-O Negative and Isaac Asimov. I create work under the name behold the destroyer. I’ve only met one of those people.

Where did you go to school/what for?

I went to a school called R.I.T in the snowy industrial metropolis that is Rochester, NY. If you’ve never been to Rochester, it’s essentially the Prague of western, upstate New York. I went to school for a variety of things including (but not limited to) bio-technology, information processing and multimedia. I’d like to think I still use all those things now. In reality though, probably not.

Do you think school is a must for success in the design scene? art scene?

In a word no. Education and critique on your work is necessary but you don’t have to do it through a classical forum. You can get a lot of that from thorough research, community critique, self motivated work and internet forums. things you can also get from internet forums: bootlegs, pr0n, mixtapes and really cute pictures of animals doing things like they’re people. That’s not really necessary to growing as an artist/designer but it’s a lot of fun.

Do you feel like you have a distinctive style? If so, how would you describe it?

I’m still refining my style. More so than being concerned with a distinctive illustrative style or design aesthetic I’m more concerned that my work has a consistent mood about it. I want everything I do to be a lil surreal, part sci-fi, part esoteric, part near nekkid ladys & really vibrant. If it looks hot and maybe makes people scratch their head a lil then I’m happy with the project.

What inspires you? 

I read a lot of random things, and it all finds it’s way into my work in some form or fashion. Lately I’ve been really intrigued by chaos magic and meta belief, the idea that belief in an idea is enough to affect reality objectively. Straight up Men Who Stare At Goats, Neo at the end of The Matrix “There is no spoon…” type stuff, you know? I’ve also been reading about time a ton, partially in the “Does the time travel in Terminator create an unresolveable paradox?” way and part in the “How can I get more stuff done in 24 hours?” way. Also, I’ve been listening to dudes who smoke copious amounts of weed rapping which is kinda weird because I’m straight edge. But, if you think about the first two answers I gave to this question it all kinda makes sense.

Who are some of your favourite local artists?

I’m a big fan of Benjammin Marra’s stuff. He makes independent comics like Gangsta Rap Posse, which is best summarized as: what if N.W.A lived 100% of gangsta rap’s mythology. Which is an amazing concept. His execution is awesome because he writes all of his dialogue like it was straight from a straight to video Van Damme flick, with all the intensity and scene chewing built in. Which is awesome and kinda punk rock. Shout out to the muscles from Brussels.

 If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be? why?

I actually have this idea for the world’s best and most expensive pornographic film ever. In a perfect world I’d like to work on that with Sofia Coppolla. She’s one of my favorite working directors, she has a great mood to all of her work & superb cinematography. I think it’d be a great collaboration you know, have her put her feminine touch on it. No Hetero. 

 I am a soon-to-be proud owner of a shirt you made, have you made any other ones?

I’m working on some other ones as we speak. The “less bullshit, more blast beats” shirt has been really well received. I’m aiming to make some shirts that’ll have other chicks looking at you like “oh she think she’s cute!” on like some Mean Girls type shit. But then you just hit em with the stale face like “oh you mad cause I’m styling on you”. And at that point they will know they have in fact been served. 
Unrelated: did you know they’re making a Step Up 3D? 

I’m aware you’ve been told that your art/design could be read as misogynistic, thoughts?

Yeah, I’ve been altered to that although I would have to say I don’t really agree. I’m a fan of the female form I don’t hide that, but nowhere in anything I’ve done do I see a inherent objectification or degradation. As soon as i learn how to draw well proportioned men there’ll be some of them in my work too. With their titties out too, to keep it fair and balanced.

Do you have any up and coming projects?

As always I write about interesting media and share work on my blog behold the destroyer. I have those tshirts I mentioned which I’ll debut on my blog hopefully in the fall. I’m working on a couple of collaborative projects in various mediums (none of them is my epic porn project. Sofia please call me, let’s build together.) Lastly I have a mixtape project I’m steadily working on, where I make mixes with custom artwork usually from genres or artists that have kinda gone overlooked. By the time you’re reading this my latest one Lamborghini Loafers should be out. It’s a collection of pre-1985 electro dance jams. It’s also the soundtrack to an action/romance movie in my head about a flash dancer and a Colombian drug kingpin.

To read more intelligent banter by Ray Smiling, go check out his blog.

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