TUESDAY, APRIL 28th, 2015

Here’s another entry for the #OXWpizzabong contest!  @jazzpunkx is now in the running to win passes to Ottawa Explosion Weekend and Way Bad tee shirts and shit!  He’s most stoked about seeing Big Zit from Chicago play OXW.  Nice photo, too; you can really see the stream of beer pouring down the slice.  We’re dealin with a pro here.<p>

Still time to enter!  Keep ‘em comin!  Click here for details!

Q&A: Jacob Escobedo talks conquering boredom and creative dry spells

As Vice President of Creative Design, Jacob Escobedo has been an integrated part of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim since 1999, acting as a compass for each brand’s ever-changing and uncompromising visual aesthetic. The Nevada-born, Atlanta-based illustrator and designer doesn’t call it a day there, however, always with another side project or two in the works. He’s the man behind a number of iconic album covers (Broken Bells, Vampire Weekend, The Shins, Danger Mouse), commissioned New Yorker illustrations, eye-popping tour posters, and any number of varied personal projects. And his stylistic vision seems to shift with every new wrinkle added to his repertoire (David Lynch once emailed him about a joint project, simply writing, “TRY HARDER”). It may not always be immediately apparent where Escobedo has lent his talents, but that only speaks volumes of his versatility and vast experience.

Ghostly got back in touch with Jacob recently, working with him on the art and design for our latest Adult Swim collaboration, Ghostly Swim 2. After the ink dried on his cover, a florid interpretation of the iconic ghost logo, we decided to shoot over a few quick questions about his background and artistic process. Friendly and forthcoming, Escobedo wrote back to us with some fantastic advice, as well as a bit of insight on his influences and inspirations. He tells us how music, cartoons, and his father’s art directed his path, why distractions like Facebook and boredom are a creator’s kryptonite, and how his Ghostly Swim 2 design came to fruition.


When did you realize you wanted to do art and design professionally?

I don’t know if it was ever a conscious decision to go into this field of work. The desire to be creative was so consuming, I had no choice. As a kid growing up in a remote town in Nevada, I realized that I could either tile bathrooms for a living or I could draw and paint. Those were the only things I was any good at. I didn’t want to be stuck cutting tile around a toilet for the rest of my life—nothing wrong with it, but not for me.

My dad was an outsider artist who was always experimenting with materials: abstract washes and surreal drawings of amazing themes, like angelic fantasy women fighting dragons and elaborate Aztec fight scenes on erupting volcanoes. Think R. Crumb and Henry Darger mashed up with Jesús Helguera. He had a huge collection of art books, Mexican magazines, comics, and a sizeable record collection acquired from thrift stores or yard sales. This was my real education. I would sit next to him, drawing on a makeshift desk made from an old door propped up on cinder blocks, and we’d listen to records.

Music really played a big part in my decision to go into design specifically. The thoughtful combination of art, typography, and photos put into albums was so inspiring. I would pore over all these details, trying to understand what kind of statement they were trying to make. Later in my teenage years, I was exposed to Peter Saville’s work with Joy Division and New Order, and that changed everything. Wire and Sonic Youth albums were also incredibly memorable. These all might seem like obvious choices of inspiration, but to me as a kid, they were everything. I also loved classic literature, the covers were important. It was remarkable to me that a single image could represent the heavy themes contained in these books. I consumed everything I could get my hands on: Vonnegut, Steinbeck, Poe, Bradbury, Dahl, and all the classics my Lit teacher made us read.

Lastly, I have to mention Saturday morning programming in the ‘80s. Cartoons were so good then, [like] Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera! All of these fragments I was exposed to gave me such a boost. I ultimately wanted to be a part of the world they were coming from.

How do ready yourself for projects with new clients?

All projects are so different, [so] I don’t have any secrets to readying myself for new clients. I try to bathe every day and brush my teeth. Cleanliness helps new relationships. Research also helps. Figuring out why they came to me is important. What work have they been exposed to from my past that they’re identifying with? That usually gets me moving in the right direction.

What are some of your secrets to overcoming creative dry spells?

Drawing is such therapy for me. The world goes away and the focus of line on paper makes everything better. I try to encourage a bit of experimentation with the designers I work with: lots of handmade stuff, drawing, painting, and photography. You can see some of that playing into projects like the Adult Swim Singles covers we do every year and a lot of the packaging for Cartoon Network.

Do you have any rituals or special preparations that help you work?

I have to block out distractions. I think that’s one of the things that stops people up. There are so many distractions: habits, rituals of boredom, Facebook scrolling, Twitter updating, selfie pics… I was just reading David Foster Wallace’s last novel, The Pale King, and stumbled upon this quote which explains everything. “The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable… It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.” I want to frame it and nail it to my kids’ walls.

Tell us about your concept for the Ghostly Swim 2 art.

This was one of those moments where I sat down to clear my head with a drawing and it turned into the cover. I presented Sam [Valenti IV] with a couple different options. One was this organic take on the ghost icon and the other was a collage of sunken ships. After he saw the initial organic drawing, he kept asking me to go back and consider it for the final cover. I think it felt the closest to relaying the feeling and textures of the compilation, solemn with a bit of optimism. It’s really just an interpretation of the Ghostly logo in my own style, which is perfect for this. It’s Ghostly through an Adult Swim filter.

うきうきウィークエンド1 付き合い始めた彼

Ukiuki Weekend 1 • Tsukiai Hajimeta Kare

Bullet has announced a new R18 drama CD (series?) to be released in the summer! In this series, you’ll be spending a sweet weekend with the boyfriend who loves you. (Yay for fluff! ´ ▽ ` )

Synopsis (Paraphrased):

Before you knew it, since first going out with your boyfriend, you and him have become a happily established couple. Before this, you two went on countless dates, and after he confessed to you, it was then that you two began to go out. 

Because he wants to carefully cherish you, you haven’t even held hands with him yet. (Really? How adorable.)

However, on this day, you’ll be staying over for the very first time. With an anxious expression on his face, he comes out to greet you—

Exactly how will this weekend with your boyfriend unfold…?

CV: 三毛猫之介 (???) *I have no idea, we’ll just have to wait and see. • ᴗ •

Release Date: July 24th, 2015.