January 21, 2013

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SIMON BERNDT ARTIST INTERVIEW

1. Your new range of boards for KFD are great. You seem to have an addiction with all things gory. How did the concept for the boards come about?

skull chief

I do sometimes enjoy a bit of gore. God Machine is one of my favourite artists and his work is gory in the extreme! I love detailed illustration for metal posters as well even though I’m not a big fan of the music genre. I think that kind of darkness also comes through in this work a bit as well.

The concept kind of came together with wanting to do something very African, quite dark and accult(y) but at the same time very iconic. We referenced those iconic skulls in American Indian headdresses, African masks, black magic, voodoo, tribal occultism, skulls and all sorts of other creepy stuff. All stuff I’m pretty interested in. It was fun to work with all of these things in a very African sphere.

It was also a great experience doing the image research for this project. My mother has loads of books on African art and sculpture, which were great to look through. Also looking at jewellery, face painting and headdresses from a bunch of African cultures and then bringing them all together in the illustrations.

2.Your older work seems to be less “African” inspired. Does this mean a new style and influence is beginning to creep into your style?

skull mask

Maybe. I definitely got very inspired by the research. I’ve always been deeply fascinated with North American culture and myth, mysticism and legends. Some how I’ve always been more drawn to American and European imagery but I’ve got a few things lined up for the year that are very African inspired. This project has definitely woken something up inside of me which I would like to explore further in the future.

3. How do you think the public will respond to the Zulu Zombies? Have you had a good reaction from it?

witch doctor

Yeah so far people who have seen them seem to really dig them. Apparently the KFD skaters all loved them as well, which is great, as I guess they are sort of the target market. I think people will appreciate the craftsmanship and time that went into the work and I think its also something that will appeal to a pop culture audience while at the same time being very African, which is often a challenge. I also like how dark they are. I think kids will love them and mothers will hate them, which is great for me. At the same time I think they’re quite sophisticated and will appeal to a wide audience.

4. Have you got any interesting future projects such as these boards in the pipeline?

Hold Fast

I’m busy working on all the tattoo convention stuff at the moment, which is always fun, but what was great about these boards is that I gave myself enough time to really flex my creativity and skills, which I don’t often have the luxury of doing. Hopefully I’ll get some more opportunities to do that this year. I’ve been invited to exhibit in an international poster show in Collarado, which is very exciting, and I’d also really like to try and take a few months off some time later in the year to start building towards a solo exhibition for 2014. I’d definitely like to look into getting some boards made for that!

5. You also known for being the designer behind the Cape Town Tattoo Convention. How did you get the gig and how long have you been doing it for?

This is now my third year working on it. I do all of the poster design and curate the art exhibition with my girlfriends, Candice Jezek of Salon 91 Gallery. I’ve known Manuela for quite a while now, I think I offered to help out with design a few years back as they were doing everything in house and struggling to fit it all in amongst tattooing and all the other admin that go into the convention every year. We worked excellently together from the start and its just gone from strength to strength every year. Its always a great, very creative place to start the year, even though its pretty stressful with deadlines! Hopefully we can keep working together for a while yet!

6. Are you a fan of tattoos? Do you have any cool chops?

tattoo02

Yeah I’ve always been a fan of body art since I was a kid. I think I always knew I’d have tattoos. It has grown into a bit of a minor addiction now. It’s a matter of finding what spaces you have that you can fill with this or that. I love it though, I think I’ll be getting tattoos for many years to come. I like to think that all of my tattoos are pretty great, there are none that I regret, that’s for sure. Some of my favourites are my Alfons Mucha art nouveau American Indian girl sleeve on my right arm that Manuela did last year. We worked very closely together on the design and it took about 11 sessions to finish. I was in the Alfons Mucha museum in Prague in 2012 and all of the tourists wanted to have photos with me; it was pretty great!

tattoo01

My favourite is a painted buffalo skull by my good friend Raoul at Wildfire, which is definitely one of my favourites. The rate at which he’s grown as a tattoo artist is pretty amazing and for me he’s one of the best up and comers in the country with a very unique style. Its also a great experience for me to get tattooed by people you know and have a good relationship with. it adds a lot to the process and makes the personal interaction of getting tattooed that much more comfortable and open.

7. This years branding for the convention has a nice clean and classic feel to it..would like you tell us about the concept behind it?

We’re really sort of pushing the nautical theme this year. It runs through all of the posters and across the art exhibition briefs. Obviously its also very tattoo inspired. We always start with a discussion and then Manuela will supply me with a rough sketch that I then take and transform into the final design. It’s a great creative process. We both enjoy working with similar visuals and concepts.

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8. What was you most exciting project for you in 2012?

This KFD range was probably my favourite but I also really enjoyed working on the Great Apes tour stuff and I did an illustration for a book of 100 poems illustrated by 100 artists called chocolate chips and rocket ships. I think its still in production but there are some amazing artists and artworks in it so far. It was great to be invited. It was also a real honour being involved with the wavesacpe exhibition this year and showing work with the likes of Brett Murray, Roger Ballan, Guy Tillim and Wim Botha.

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GA tour web

Police Pony

Another project that I’ve been enjoying, as its very different to what I usually do, is the stuff I’m doing for Psych Night. Psych Night is a monthly Psychedelic rock event that I’m hosting with a few of my good friends. They’ve been very successful so far and we’ve got some very exciting plans for 2013.

PSYCH NIGHT 2 A3