It’s been a while since we last caught up with things in the (predominantly black, white, gold and grey) world of Skullboy. A Durban local through and through, he currently spends his days working as a senior designer at Modern Museum while remaining consistently active as an artist, illustrator and curator in the low-brow art exhibition scene. Most recently, Skullboy has been collaborating with Mathew Kieser of Sol-Sol to co-edit and art direct a soon-to-be-launched zine called FRIENDS. Here, we chat to him about his creative journey and approach, and we take a look at some of the fantastic things he’s been creating of late.
Growing up, was there ever any indication that you’d be doing what you are now?
I think I was in Grade 3 or 4 when I first saw Richard Hart’s painting for a Lizard surf ad (the human/lizard hybrid surfer illustration). It clicked right then that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of time. I didn’t know what ‘this’ was actually called back then (I even thought it was called ‘marketing’ at one point) but I always knew I would do something creative.
When did you realise that a career in the creative industry was something you wanted to pursue? And now, although there are overlaps between the two, do you identify more with the title of ‘artist’ or ‘graphic designer’?
I knew very early on I wanted to do something creative but wasn’t sure about fine art or graphic design. I went with the latter for employment reasons but it was a choice that I’ve never regretted.
Feeling insecure about my title as a designer, I worked for a lot of years towards being considered an artist and then, as I got older, I worked really hard to be considered a legitimate designer. I worked a LOT, ha. Nowadays, I’m less concerned with titles. At the end of the day I’m a fucking hard worker who makes not design, not art, but WORK. The outcomes define whether something is considered art or design, but for me the process of arriving at each of those is the same.
Tell us a bit about your process. What sort of balance do you strike (or endeavour to strike) between spontaneity and routine?
“I’m routinely spontaneous” would have been an amazing (faux-intelligent twat) pull-quote. I don’t necessarily have specific pockets of time that I set aside to work but I am working constantly. Sometimes more in a day, sometimes less, but I’m engaging with projects or project-related admin every day. So I guess it’s spontaneous as in I work when I can…which doesn’t sound as fun and frivolous as the word suggests, haha.
You choose to work with a very limited colour palette of black, white and sometimes gold. Why is this?
I work exclusively in black, white, gold and more recently, grey. Colour is just so complicated. I’d like to think my work is very concept-driven so if I have a thought – whether it’s abstract or coherent – I want to communicate it as quickly and powerfully as possible. Maybe that’s the designer in me? I’m pretty sure it won’t match your couch.
In terms of aesthetics as well as subject matter, how has your work developed or changed since you first started out?
I’ve been working hard over the past couple of years to develop my work, so it has changed quite a lot. Because I’m working almost every day, that progression is just natural I guess. My earlier subject matter focused on youth and night culture, which I still think is a key theme to a lot of my current work, but the voice has grown up a bit (I hope).
Born and based in Durban, how does your environment influence and inform you?
Apart from the visual and cultural cluster-fuck that is Durban, Durban taught me drive. Our scene is growing and developing but if you still want something to happen, you gotta make it happen on your own. Too few galleries, too few buyers, not enough money – these lil fuckers force you to get pretty creative when trying to achieve anything.
What sorts of things could a typical day for you entail?
I am currently a senior designer at Modern Museum so usually my day starts with sleeping/emails/smoking-while-looking-out-of-windows before I’m off to work for the day. Then it’s back home to throw dinner together and work on personal projects, peppered by the occasional after-work drink, indoor football game or skate session.
Mat and I have been friends for a long time and were hanging out flipping through a couple brand-zines. We started talking about how so many of our homies were keeping busy and doing cool work so we decided to document it. I think we both really just wanted to make something cool – something we’d like to read without 30 ads and an article on how to get better abs. So we’re co-editors in this endeavor, with Sol-Sol handling distribution and myself the art direction.
We’re well into 2014 now – what have been some of the highlights of the year for you, so far?
It’s been a quick, brutal fucking year I tell you. The Space summer campaign I worked on at Modern Museum; painting the 8 Morrison murals; the completely desperate, incoherent affair that was the Wyatt wedding; proudly launching FRIENDS on Indiegogo.com; discovering Odd Future.
And finally, what’s next?
Keep having fun at Modern Museum, totally fucking up the internet when FRIENDS drops and making more (and better) art for my gallerist at Baang+Burne.
Mathew and Louis are running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the first 1000 copies of FRIENDS. Go here for more info and to donate, if you’d like to!