Derek Van Gieson is way too modest about his work. We met in the early ’90s during undergrad. In Kalamazoo, Michigan. We frequented the same crusty hardcore shows, hung out at the same dive bars–but I only knew him as the nice, cute boy who loved Siouxsie as much as I did. Why wasn’t I aware of his artistic talents back then? (See first sentence above.)
A couple years later, I moved to Chicago for grad school and, sadly, my friendship with Derek stayed in Michigan. We lost touch. Fast-forward to 2009 and I’m living in Brooklyn. I went exploring one day, in search of street art, and ended up at Spoonbill & Sugartown bookstore in Williamsburg. And there it was on a display table. A book published by thee Derek Van Gieson himself. Pages and pages of decadent, ink-splashed drawings with quirky-as-fuck phrases mixed in throughout. I flipped to the bio. Wait. He lives in Brooklyn. Wha?
So I found him. After almost 15 years. And finally learned just how amazingly talented DVG is. Dude has insane skills. He makes drawings, paintings, prints, music, photographs, board games–and a kick-ass cheese plate. He can hocus pocus up a painting of a fancy lady out of coffee (yes, f*ing coffee). Rabbits! Hats! Magic! What can’t he do? But seriously, his work kind of makes my heart explode.
Derek’s illustrations have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Third Coast, Fantagraphics, Bridge, and Chronogram. This list needs to be longer. Much longer. And now for my quickie q&a in 3s with Mr. Van Gieson.
JH: If someone has never seen your work, how would you describe it to them?
JH: And your top 3 influences?
1. Aubrey Beardsley
2. Ronald Searle
3. Otto Dix
JH: What have you been listening to lately while you’re working? Top 3 records.
1.The Pretty Things-SF Sorrow/Parachute
2.The Soft Boys-1976-1981
JH: Describe your creative process in 3 steps.
1. Relaxing, preparing to be in the state where the ideas can come about easily
2. Paper selection, this determines how little or much control I have over the image
3. The direct transmission of ideas to the pen tip or brush
JH: Who are the people in your work?
1. Ex-girl friends, current lovers, imagined lovers
2. Specters, dreams, ghosts, etc.
JH: And the oddly-shaped animals? What’s up with them?
3. The animals. I don’t know why they’re in the pictures. I think animals are weird, we live among
these freaky beasts. They’re a hell of a lot more fun than drawing somebody wearing sweatpants or
drawing a contemporary car
JH: What are 3 things that you love about New York?
1. I dig the kinds of people who live here
2. The mass transit system (they need to connect the damn G to Atlantic, seriously)
3. The architecture
JH: Top 3 Dream Jobs/Gigs
1. Cover artist for the New Yorker
2. Art directing a magazine
3. Co-writer with David Lynch on ?
JH: 3 things that people don’t know about you—that they should know about you.
1. I don’t own any animals
2. I’m a damn good cook
3. I do what I want
Check out more of Derek’s work here.