Interview: Jason Galea
Saskwatch, The Murlocs, Frowning Clouds and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. What do these Australian bands all have in common? If you’ve had your hands on any of the recent releases by these musicians, you will have seen the work of local mixed media artist Jason Galea.
Jason’s artwork first came to our attention when we interviewed Zak Olsen from the Frowning Clouds a couple of months ago. We were blown away by the band’s recent set of tour posters – the collaged images were a perfect fit for the Frowning Clouds’ aesthetic. After some coaxing, we managed to track down the Kensington-based artist, who took some time out of a very busy schedule to answer our questions.
Hi Jason, first of all thanks for the chat with Makers of Melbourne. Your work first came to our attention on several recent album covers and tour posters, but when did you start working with the Melbourne music industry and was there a “big break” involved?
I hadn’t done anything in the music industry until The Murlocs EP, early 2012. King Gizzard’s 12 Bar Bruise album and a couple of videos followed. Not long after that, Warner Music asked me to do the two Nuggets’ releases and I’ve been busy ever since.
When designing for other people or major companies is there a sense of artistic compromise, or do you have ways to separate the work that you want to create from the work that the artist or corporation wants?
There’s occasional compromise but I usually have a lot of creative freedom doing what I do. With that comes the task of creating something that works for the sensibility of the client. At the end of the day, it’s their visual identity I’m playing with so I have to keep everybody happy, not just myself.
When we spoke to Zak from the Frowning Clouds, he told us that you listened to their album to get inspiration for the cover art. Is this typical of the way you work and does music influence all of your creations?
I always try to start with ideas that are a reaction to what I’m hearing. Listening and discovering music has a big influence on my output, but the artwork and packaging for the music is just as – or sometimes more – influential to me.
When and how did you start creating art? Were you artistic from childhood?
Creating art has always been a big part of my life; I was the kid in class that could draw. Dinosaurs, Batman or whatever cartoons were on TV at the time formed my childhood art repertoire. In my teenage years my artistic endeavours revolved around recreating skate logos.
You work in mixed media, from video to collage. When did you start experimenting with different mediums?
I’ve always found myself looking for new things to get busy with. Filming and editing skate videos opened up a lot of possibilities to me. I studied Multimedia after high school and learnt about designing for the web, 3D animation and everything else digital. Bringing everything together into ‘Zonk Vision’ was when things started to get really fun.
Could you please tell us about ‘Zonk Vision’ and take us through how you got involved?
‘Zonk Vision’ is an AV collective formed in early 2009. At the time it was Danny Wild, Greg Holden and myself experimenting with audio and video together over the summer. We started putting our videos online and eventually put on our first show, then we kept the ball rolling from there. At the moment we are a loose collective of about 10 people. We put on events that blur the borders between live music, film screening and performance around Australia.
Your work has such a distinct feel, regardless of the medium/media used. We really like the way that you use colour and pop cultural references. Aside from music, what would you say are the biggest influences on your work?
The works of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Michel Gondry, Victor Moscoso, Martin Sharp, Tadanori Yokoo and Paper Rad have all helped shape my work. I’m influenced on a day-to-day basis by Danny Wild and Ben Jones from ‘Zonk Vision’. All the artists being published by No-One-Special are very influential to me, too.
Do you ever exhibit your work or do you have any exhibitions planned for the near future?
I’ve been a part of several group exhibitions, screenings, installations and live performances over the last five years. I’m regularly doing live visual projections for bands, too. This September, I’ll be going with ‘Zonk Vision’ to New York where we’ll be doing screenings and as many shows as we can squeeze into the three weeks that we are there.
Is art your full-time job or do you have a ‘nine-to-five’ as well? If so, how do you balance the two?
I was working in the video department of an evil corporation for five years, that helped me pay the bills and gave me time to work out my art, build up enough freelance work and I now never want to work in an office again! My art keeps me busy seven days a week, whether it’s work for bands, ‘Zonk Vision’ or co-running Steady Bumpen skateboards.