Thank you Lee for making Mute Swan’s trip to Phoenix a more-than hospitable one.
Thank you Lucas for capturing the magic of Full Moon through film.
Thank you Alex for lending a helping hand, an extra pair of eyes, and kind words all night.
Thank you Sushi for help building the stage
Thank you Dak for loaning us a projector screen.
Thank you Kiah for assisting with artist communication.
Thank you to the security, bartenders, and Pressroom staff for staying up late to put on a successful event.
Thank you to the DJ’s, ravers, fire-spinners, breakers, and glowstick shakers.
Thank you, Arizona. Thank you for taking risks. Thank you for letting us take risks and thank you for believing in one another’s risks. Thank you for your art and your music. Thank you for your tasty grub, refreshing beers, potent cannabis, stylish clothes, relentless heat, attractive inhabitants, grid-based street system, hangout spots, refuges, and all the hidden nooks waiting to be unveiled.
We never thought we’d be where we are in year – but 7 months? Any attempt to express the overwhelming gratitude we have for you all wouldn’t scratch the surface.
The Deli started as a way to cure our boredom. To eat new food, hangout at new places, and meet new people. The brilliance blossoming within our young community is undeniable. You are all doing so much cool shit – without inhibitions, pushing boundaries, supporting one another – every day. And we thank you for that.
Arizona is amazing, and we’re excited to continue learning why.
The pair weave crisp percussion and resonant basslines with expert precision. Each track brings a refreshing beat switch, set to the tune of glitchy blips, darting stabs, and quirky samples.
It invokes a certain nostalgia.
Of UK dub.
And Waka Flocka Beats.
And nabbing coins in a retro video game.
Which is funny, because this record makes you feel like bopping in a club with a pocket full of coin.
While their unique, respective influences and processes are laced within the record, every track is undeniably synergistic with any of its siblings. And the camaraderie these two share becomes more obvious seeing them live. We were lucky enough to catch them two days after ‘Desert Storm’ dropped, as a literal desert storm passed overhead.
On a day with plenty of sunshine, an eerie drizzle of rain and wall of dust set the landscape for their HOCO Fest sets at Hotel McCoy on the South side of Tucson. It felt like a resort out of Fallout New Vegas. Sweaty pool people, caked in a desert haze, nodding agreeably to the dirtiest of dubplates.
Both artists carry an air of mystery and intrigue in their music and their personalities. The tracks can lead you down a musky, stone corridor towards a dungeon lair. But their music is accessible, as well. It urges you to fist-bump with your sunnies on next to the sub. It feels natural. The beats could be repurposed seamlessly to the tempo of a grime rapper’s pengest flows. Yet they’re a glimpse into an industrial, dystopian future. It’s two-step, break-beat, bass-infused bliss.
One track that caught our attention early is Jock Club’s “Mohawk”. It urges you to step-up in someone’s face. Probably because it’s, aggressively, up in yours. A true standout is a collab between the two “Shadow Boxing”.
The intros and breakdowns are ominous and reserved. Like a ghost DJ’ing in a graveyard. Then you’re smacked upside the head with bass and 808’s. Clean claps round out the track, adding sonic tingles that encourage movement. Or as one might say “Going ape.” The album’s closer, “Nutmeg”, doesn’t quit. It caps the record and the party. A sweaty night of moshing and nodding with your peers. Desert Storm. Through-and-through bangers.
You can catch Jock Club at select Phoenix shows, such as this month’s “Futurists” showcase at Valley Bar. Diversion Program is heading to London join the Master’s Program of Sonic Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Jesus Pieces has been painting sheets of flash for three years. And entering his home to visit and chat, there was no indication he’s interested in stopping anytime soon. Seriously. Throughout our entire visit, he was poised and focused intently on his work, while we maneuvered around and prodded him with questions.
He sticks to classic designs from tattoo history. Anything from hard-as-nails dragons and panthers to playful pigs and Wile E. Coyotes. “I wanted to be a cartoonist growing up. I fucking loved the Looney Tunes! And that stuff is what I find the most fun to draw.”
Other than Saturday morning cartoons and the anime he grew up on – Bleach, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z – he draws inspiration from legendary tattooers. Bert Grimm, Rosie Camanga, and Mike Malone were a few names thrown around.
He’s open to sharing tips with other budding painters – what supplies to use, how to achieve a certain look, where to find designs. “I feel that I struggled through learning all this shit and I wanna pay forward by helping those I see who have that same dedication and passion I have. I’m not insecure about competition. Regardless of what I show or teach someone, the time I’ve put in will always outweigh the ‘how’.”
And it’s evident. His three-year old Instagram displays only paintings. No works in progress. No family. No day-to-day shenanigans. Paintings. “Your audience is here to see your work, not your life. Take pride in your brand and display a finished product.”
He has stacks of finished paintings. “My plan is to finish 3 sheets a week for the next few weeks.” His commitment to the craft perpetuates the traditions of iconic tattooers. Banging out dozens of designs daily – he’s proving not only to others, but also to himself – that tattooing is the path for him. Tattooing is not a simple task. Hunched over every day – dealing with stiffs, flakes, and squares – permanently altering their organs to earn your honest keep.
None of his work is hung in his home. “After one to two weeks, I’m sick of looking at it.” He hopes to hone his distinct style over time, and works on custom pieces sporadically, but realizes the difficulty in standing out amongst others.
“With the abundance of tattooers and painters doing [traditional] style, standing out in any way is fairly difficult. So, for me – at least this early in my overall understanding and skill of the art – my style is always changing and developing. Hopefully over time I’ll find my way. Every painting is a learning process, even if I’ve painted that particular design 100 times. It always changes a bit, so I figure the more I paint, the better I’ll get.”
We think he’s killing it. Check for yourself.
You can find him painting sheets at Arizona Classic Tattoo Co. They’ve got him running aux cord duties…and we’ve gotta say…the man’s got eclectic taste. Here’s some of the heat he’s been throwing in the shop:
Electricity shook us the first time we entered The Sunroom.
Was it the motley crew of fervent devotees, cast across the backyard?
Or the attention to detail which goes into their events – from the painstaking lineup curation to tailored visual accompaniments.
Maybe it’s because there are four incredibly-imaginative dudes who live there. And going on their third year in the Tempe house, they decide week-after-week, “Fuck it – let’s do some cool shit!”
We fed off that get-it-done mantra. So much, we came to them with the idea for an article. And in true Sunroom fashion…they asked if we’d be down to throw an event. Our first event. The Open House Festival.
So we sat down. We sat down some more (every Saturday for about 6-weeks, actually). And we hashed it out. Side note – there was a whole lotta drama surrounding the need for a sun shade, which we purchased from Home Depot and never ended up using. Shoutout to the Depot’s satisfying return policy.
We wanted to accomplish a few things:
Mesh music and art in a gorgeous, organic space.
Provide a platform for lesser-known Arizona acts to play amongst bonafide talent.
Bring friends and strangers together, to start conversations. Conversations which, we hope, make Arizona more badass than it already is.
Did we hit our mark? We thought we rocked the fuck out of it…but we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
“We honestly wanted to showcase two specific genres, and provide a space for everyone to have a good time until sunrise. No other motives, just a little fun and proper music for everyone” – Stoneypie <3
And don’t forget to stay hydrated, loves. Just don’t spill on the hardware.
On their sophomore album, “On Flat Earth”, Phoenix band Herbert Walker encapsulates the claustrophobia of a torrid Arizona summer.
Peep their brand new music video for ‘Eat Forever’, premiering exclusively – right here at The Deli.
“Summer’s here,” perks lead singer Francis Bartolomeo on ‘Digging Up Worms’. The optimism in his voice is palpable. Visions of cold ones enjoyed in lawn chairs out back, and courting cuties at the community pool.
“…and this house is a balloon!” His intonation quickly backpedals, seeming to crumple his latest list of shining ideas, tossing it to the overflowing waste bin in the corner.
Anyone who’s from suffered from June to September in Arizona knows temperature and ambition share an inverse relationship.
So it’s refreshing that Francis, the band’s sole lyricist, is able to rival the desert’s dry heat with his parched perspectives.
Francis admits he dug deeper, emotionally, on this record compared to their first.
His anecdotes are teeming with very personal details – about change, complacency, and navigating the stormy torrents which flow between an innocent lust and a deep love.
Luckily, his musings are abstract enough to safeguard their true intrinsic code. Each line is hieroglyphic. But if we crudely trace the edges of his painstaking etchings, we decipher a story that’s oddly reflective. Uniquely our own.
The record invades our neural hard drive, digging through our most sensitive folders, and extracting melancholies we filed away long ago.
Where Francis’ words ground us, facing the humility of our realities, the brilliant instrumentation of this record sends our imagination soaring towards the cosmos.
The sounds of “On Flat Earth” are immaculate. Every member of the band flourishes on this album.
Greg Lloyd lays the trumpet down with silky precision. He also mastered the record. Francis says he’s the “most adult of the bunch”.
Vance Nowe’s hefty bass lines assert a serious tone on the tracks, while heading groove duties. He jumps in on keys in a couple songs, cementing his presence in the deepest layers of the tunes.
Sam Lekander, the second founding member of Herbert Walker, shoulders tempos with thoughtful precision. His percussion isn’t bombastic. It doesn’t need to be. He conducts the drums with care, weaving in and out of tracks with expert touch. Sam’s influence blossoms on ‘Balcony’, ‘Doggo’, and especially on ‘Long Arms’ – the album’s lengthiest track.
JJ Hernandez (guitar and keys) contorts vibrations, ensnaring you in sonic bliss. His sounds are sandy feet dangling off a creaky boardwalk. Time spent scouring the flowers for friendly critters. And snuggling with your pup in the grass. All packaged into a gorgeous, psychedelic parcel.
Herbert Walker’s “On Flat Earth” sprouted from incessant jam sessions, contagious camaraderie, and an apt towards trying new things.
This album is the score to our vivid daydreams, projected in technicolor behind our eyelids.
Enough droning. Give the record a listen. We highly suggest it.
We expect to take some killer skateboarding shots, arriving to the charming Farmer-Arts District abode of Phoenix artist Adam Zanzucchi.
Upon opening the door, we notice the Arizona artist was rocking a swank shoulder bag, much like our own. Except his has some next-level strapping mechanism we aren’t yet keen on.
“I dislocated my shoulder skating yesterday,” Zanzucchi passively relays with a subtle chuckle.
Visions of vintage Dogtown grandeur, squashed. So it goes.
A septum piercing dangles crookedly between his nostrils. Messy tufts of hair tucked carefully behind his ears. Light-washed denim cropped just above a pair of HUF sneakers.
He quickly ushers us to his nook of the Tempe house, “I don’t spend much time up here, I’m usually back in my room.”
Darting past a wall of broken skateboards, the kitchen, and laundry – we enter Adam’s hybrid living/working/soirée-ing space. “It’s actually an add-on to the home, not an actual part of it. This is the secret dance room during parties – like Halloween,” he proudly states.
We kick it with Zucchini at his pad for a minute. By a minute, we mean a couple hours (for our older readers).
Yes – Zucchini. He says it’s easier to remember than his legal moniker.
Zucchini was actually the word that knocked us out of the 3rd grade spelling bee, so putting it to paper has been an emotional conflict in-itself. Two c’s – not two n’s – you fucking dolt. Anyways..
So yeah…we kick it with Adam for a minute. We’re surrounded by finished pieces, works-in-progress, and sea of acrylic-spattered paper plates – his tortoise, Matisse chillin’ in the corner.
He tells us he spent some time tidying-up before we showed. We kinda wish he woulda kept it in its original state, but we appreciate his hospitality.
The abstract artist squirrely darts around the room, spouting musings in a flickering stream-of-consciousness. He calls it rambling. We call it articulate spontaneity.
He often opts to show rather than tell – cutting himself off to fetch a visual manifestation of his loose verbiage. A testament to his personal brand of effective communication.
We chopped it up about his record collection, how he discovers new music, and a gold chain rockin’ Hamburger Helper dude.
Listen in on our conversation below:
“This is literally like less than. It’s like two years or less, ya know?”
There’s a Sun Ra sticker. What is that from? We see that dude (who created them) at Cartel all the time.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So Sun Ra was a pretty like outrageous jazz group back in the day. And they just made really experimental shit.
But yeah, people have given me certain stickers. The homie Vida, she made this like Anti Stupid one. Just slapped that on [the sketchbook]. Cause the cover’s a lil cheesy, so it’s nice to mix it up. But yeah dudes, there’s a lot of shit here.
It used to be the type of thing where I’d wake up and walk over here and I’d draw. But now, it’s kind of like [painting] is taking up a lot more of my time. You know?
Just like – I wanna start thinking about the art I’m making. Cause it’s fun to just mindlessly draw sometimes, but it’s like, I’m really trying to push some shit. You know?
*Looking at whiteboard* What are all these dates on the wall?
Application dates for when I thought I was gonna go to art school *laughs*. For master’s. And then I was like, “I need to take more time on this shit and figure out why I make what I make.”
And then I was like, “Maybe I don’t even have to go to Master’s school for art”. It was just a time in my life where I didn’t want to go to Master’s school for architecture.
Oh these are for architecture school?
These were for art schools, but it was because I didn’t want to go for architecture. I was kind of like, stressin’. I was like, “I don’t wanna go for architecture, I gotta go for something else,” then I was like, “maybe I’ll just chill.” *laughing*
Do you mostly collect old records?
I mean, not necessarily. OK – this is of an older time. Grant Green from Green Street Dreams. But it’s like brand-spankin’ new. You know what I mean?
If I do find a nice old record, then that’s fine. There’s this shop in LA. It’s all jazz. Like this is the Bill Evans Trio Live. This dude’s a gnarly piano player. This is an old ass record. This is legit. You know?
Yeah. That place is pretty rad. It’s the record shop I liked going to, because it’s right in Central Phoenix.
But, you know, I got some new [records] for sure.
And it’s mostly jazz?
For the most part, it’s jazz. Cause it’s like – I don’t know – I can just put this shit on and it’s nice. You know?
And you can work to it.
Yeah, but also the fun part is – it’s like…OK. Let’s see, for example, hold on give me a second.
*shuffling through collection*
Let’s just take the Mac Demarco 2. You know what’s gonna be on this. And yeah it’s nice to listen to some times.
But when I go to the store, and it’s like, “What the fuck is this disco record gonna sound like?” I don’t know what it’s gonna sound like. Let’s just buy it, see what it sounds like, ya know?
It makes it more interesting. There’s a lot of jazz records like that, where’s it’s compilations of different jazz artists. And I’m just like, “Let’s fuckin’ see what it sounds like!”
There are some [records] in here that are bad, and I don’t really want them, though.
We remember in high school – some of the best music we ever found came from skateboarding videos.
Yeah! So, that’s where a lot of my music taste comes from is that shit for sure. I just grew up watching mad skate videos every day. It’s just what I’d do before I go to school. I’d come back, watch more. So that’s another outlet for music as well.
There were a bunch of videos called the 411 videos. And it was just skating at the time. Just putting videos of anything really random together. And those always had some sick music. You know?
Skateboarding’s more-so just recreational for you?
Yeah, just hangin’ out with friends. A lot of the time I just skate alone. I just go to the skatepark and do that. Cause it’s like, if I’m not doing that – I’m stressing out a little bit. You know? Like if I’m not making art.
When I make art, a lot of the time it’s alone. So then when I go skating, I like this alone time, I’ll take more of it.
There’s always a couple friends I have and we’ll still skate. I never got big into big groups of skating. I know all those dudes – they’re nice and cool. You say hi to them when you see them. But it’s never people I’m hitting up all the time. That’s just me though.
No, it was all skating. I remember my mom did get me a longboard and I was pissed. I was like, “I don’t want this!” you know? *laughing*
But I didn’t know skate culture. I grew up playing Tony Hawk video games and I just thought, “That’s someone else, and they can do that.”
I didn’t realize I was capable of that. It’s kind of like a late realization. I remember this kid we took in and fostered for a year. He would skate sometimes. And he was like, “Yeah dude, you can flip the board with your feet.” And I was like, “Ah dude – just like the video games!”
I thought that shit was fake. You know? *laughing* It was kind of goofy.
We were pretty into skateboarding when we were younger. Never got into actually skating, but we always gravitated to the art on the boards.
Exactly. So my mom was just getting me Walmart boards. Which is chill. I didn’t really care at the time. I just didn’t want a longboard, because I knew I couldn’t olley on it.
I remember in 8th grade, I went to Cowtown for the first time. There was this board there, I really liked the graphic. It was the Hamburger Helper dude. He had all these gold chains on him.
Was it DGK?
It was a DGK board! It was so goofy, going there with my dad. He’s like, “What does DGK stand for?” And the dude behind the counter was like, “Dirty Ghetto Kids.”
My dad said, “You’re getting this board?”
And I’m like, “Yeah the graphic is so cool!” Hamburger Helper’s got like a gold tooth and shit. So funny.
I remember in 4th grade. My friend brought this really cool drawing of Goku [to school]. From Dragon Ball Z, you know?
And I was like, “Dude that’s so cool!”
And he’s like, “Yeah dude – I drew this!”
So we’d just always try and draw Goku in class. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school, I drew something that was my own, and have someone say, “Woah that’s sweet!”
I wanna show you something. From freshman year of high school, I’ll show you what I was drawing. Some goofy shit. I don’t have the ‘Gram’ on my phone, I got it on my iPad. Not trying to use [my phone] as much. I’m a goofy guy.
*shuffling through Instagram on iPad*
I gotta go way back, here.
I wish I could still think this goofy. Now things have to be, for me, better detail, better drawn. I guess I’ve become more of my own worst critic. But in a good way.
Here’s an ostrich with a machine gun. And he’s got an antenna coming out of his head. It’s some weird shit, dude!
I remember getting my first girlfriend, and it was cool, because it’s like, “Damn someone thinks I’m tight”. That feeling, you know? Like…”Woah – that’s sick!”
So I was inspired by that. Here’s some shit I drew from that.
It’s kind of like The Mask.
Yeah, yeah! I remember that was one of my favorite movies growing up. I remember all of those cartoon scenes, with the heart beating out.
Here’s a robot with some legs.
Even in the few photos you’re showing, your skill keeps getting better and better.
I remember my art teacher looking through, cause I was letting him look at one of my books. And he said, “Yeah I remember when I was a lot younger, fuck was a pretty popular word.”
I used to heavily fuck with colored pencil. I fucking hate colored pencil now. I don’t have the time or patience, you know what I mean?
The texture of it kind of bothers us too.
It’s weird. I agree. Before, it used to be fun. Whatever, you know? Colorin’. Then I transitioned into water color after that. This is tight. This is easy. But it’s hard to do watercolor this fucking scale. So I’ve transitioned into acrylics.
I’ve only been using acrylics. It’s been like a year now.
You were using all water colors before that?
Yeah kind of for the past 5-6 years, I guess. This is when I got into college, and really started doing it, you know? It was something that wasn’t really messy. Like [acrylics] are really fucking messy. I have to put a sheet down. Watercolors you can wipe that shit off if it gets on anything.
This is the nice thing about getting out of college. You can try new shit. I wanna get into some screen printing.
The making money off art fucking ebbs and flows. There’s no telling if I’m gonna sell a piece or something like that. It’s kind of why I want to get into screen printing. Put it on some shit that’s easy to sell, maybe, like shirts.
But I also don’t really like talking too much about the financial part of making art. You know? It’s a weird thing. It’s strange. *laughing*
Do you have attachment to your pieces?
I used to, a lot. And then this shit started happening. My room started getting cluttered. Like I need to get rid of this shit. People just need to have it if they want it.
Some people come over, and want pieces to take home. I’ve got a whole stack of shit you can pick through, honestly. Like for free. Cause I’ve just been like, “Take it! I don’t need it anymore!” You know?
Or maybe thinking of better ways to store it. I’ve been looking at trying to buy some flat files. But those are like $700. It’s kind of like an industrial metal drawer.
I was cleaning up before you guys showed. There was a piece here, a piece there. You couldn’t even see that thing, you know? *laughs*
Like I said, I used to be attached to shit. There are certain things I used to price out, I guess it just depends. It just depends who’s trying to buy it. It’s kind of tough.
Yeah he does! You gotta support other people. You know what I mean? So many people won’t do that. That’s such a big thing, like “I’m not gonna go to their art show cause I’m not too good of friends with them.” You gotta support other people!
That’s how you become friends with people – supporting them!
I’ve just met some people who are kinda sus about that. Or they’re too about themselves.
It’s easy to be too much about yourself. Because that’s what [art] is all about. You know?You’re sitting here, constantly thinking about, internally, making art.
You always gotta support the other people. It’s always good to do that. And you’re right, you make friends that way. That’s how it’s done. Sorry I’m just rambling.
This is kind of a corny question. Now that you’re older – how do you keep your imagination going? Does it come naturally, or do you still have to find ways – like watching movies?
There are certain things that do come from media. And movies. Most of the time, you’re taking stuff, but you’re making it your own, kind of thing.
Generally I’ve been trying to look more in-depth with myself. And the shit that’s happening. Shit that stresses me out. And try and make some art about that.
So I guess the creativity is coming from that. I don’t know, it’s just here-and-there. We take so much shit in, so picking through, filtering out what I want to try and represent, you know?
That’s why the sketchbook helps. Cause [the canvas] is serious, you know? I’m putting the paint on. This is where it’s going.
The sketchbooks, that’s why there’s so many of them. I put anything in it, and it’s kind of like, that’s where I pick and choose shit. Like, “Oh – I like the stuff I did here on page 37. But I like the colors I used on page 54.” And they’re totally different things. Totally different meanings. But maybe they can mix, you know?
Do you do that often? Sift through sketchbooks and take different elements from various pieces?
It’s typically the [sketchbook] I’m working on at the moment. That’s the goal when I move. Kinda go back through more of these and really analyze what the fuck I was thinking about. And seeing if it’s now good enough to put on a canvas.
I’ve done more thinking before just putting it on a canvas. Cause before I didn’t really have an experience with acrylic paint. I was kind of just painting to paint, you know? Getting better at it.
And now it’s like, alright, let’s do a bit of both. Let’s do some thinking. Let’s do some doing. Kind of find a happy medium.
Do you like movies?
I enjoy movies. They’re pretty cool. But my biggest problem is I can’t, like – it’s hard for me to sit in one place and watch something for a minute.
It was easier when I was younger, because I was glued to the TV. But there are some interesting movies I’m like, “Alright I’ll sit down and watch this.”
A lot of [my inspiration] was taken from books. So I’ve just been trying to read more, since I’ve got out [of school]. There’s this book by Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary. I’m reading that.
He is a fucking psycho! *laughs* Yeah he’s really wild. Maybe after I read the book, I’ll watch the movie. Compare and contrast. Take shit from it. But…I do like movies. They’re pretty cool, and they’ve inspired me, here I’ll show you, to get my own kind of camera.
*fetches video camera*
To film really anything on with.
Have you been using it?
A little bit here and there. I got this tape and one more. I gotta figure out how to convert it digitally. There’s cords you can use to hook up to it, and it can go into your computer, and what not.
Everything kind of interests me. I don’t know if I’ll really pursue it. But it’s fun to do it from time to time. Kind of compile it together.
There are other things that are like that. Like the acrylic. It was a time-to-time thing I’d do. And now, it’s like I’m doing it all the time. Same with the collage. So it’s like, maybe in the future I’ll find some time to do more of it, you know?
I remember taking [the video camera] to a couple parties, just filming random shit. Shit that didn’t really matter. But maybe I can cut and paste and make something out of it.
But there’s only been a couple things I’ve written ideas down about. Like a storyline. Maybe not for a big movie. But for a short movie. Something simple, with no talking. Kind of just – I wouldn’t say performance art, but it’s more just going through the motion of day to day life type of thing. And you kind of understand it that way instead of having dialogue.
Cause I feel like that’s another hard thing. You gotta find the right people who can act. And it’s like…no one has to talk. You can just move! *laughs* In that regard, I like movies.
Same thing with skating. You’re always filming, or you’re always being filmed. So that was a big influence growing up. That shit always fascinated me.
Same with the point and shoot camera. Let’s just take this out and do experience stuff. Whereas, someone like Jake [Hines]. He’s got a different perspective on the camera. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Same in the art world. There’s different perspectives on how you paint. Or how you apply shit to the canvas. [Jake and I] come from two different backgrounds with the use of media, like the camera.
I’m trying to use it as more of a personal experience diary type of thing. Here’s the homie Oscar climbing the fence.
We forgot to ask this earlier. The Breakup Shoes album cover. How did that come about?
Give me a second.
*retrieving original artwork*
Maybe I should give this to Nick, actually. Because, ya know, he’s in the band. Here’s the original. I framed it.
[Nick] saw the Hall of Lame stuff. He really liked that and how chaotic it was. I remember posting – oh fuck, I have it!
This is the actual album. I posted a picture of that on my story. And [Nick] was like, “We really like the collage mixed with these boxes, you know?” He wanted to use this as the front cover.
And on the back cover, I was like, let’s still try and use the boxes, but just make it really textured, you know?
Did you do the handwriting too?
Obviously not on the actual artwork. But on some trace in my own handwriting, then sized it correctly. Put it in Illustrator and tweak certain things, you know? I like that style. Have you ever heard of Girl Skateboards?
Girl and Chocolate. The dude who does a lot of their work, Evan Hecox, all of their names and graphics have that handwritten style. So I was trying to go for something like that.
How long does it take you to make something like this?
Well, these are pretty small. Maybe 5×5 squares. They were pretty easy. The dude, the yellow and blue in the background, and this text going across. Three separate things, I guess.
This one, I was cutting out words and making it rain on him, you know? It wasn’t too tedious. I tried making it not so tedious on myself for that reason.
This shit. *pointing at work in progress* It’s so massive to be putting, like, one piece and it’d overlap. Then I’d have to cut it correctly. So sometimes it can take a while. The one I pitched was a bit simpler, but I liked the way it came out.
Have you checked your fire alarm lately? Odds are, you haven’t.
Shit…most of us don’t – due to ignorance, laziness, or a combination of the two. And one Arizona designer seeks to change the way we view fire safety. Especially in low-income communities, where it’s a burgeoning problem.
Christa MacDonald (known colloquially as Kraysta), a recent Graphic Design graduate from Arizona State University, puts humans first.
A badass, 21st-century, Renaissance woman – Kraysta’s designs span illustration and sculpture to animation and furniture.
Sound the Alarm, her latest installation for the holistic “Beacon” exhibition, takes the unglamorous topic of fire safety head-on. Using clever design, Kraysta engineered an all-encompassing fire kit.
Equipped-with a safety checklist, fire alarm, and a wealth of other carefully-curated items – the package ensures low-income families can mitigate a potential, blazing crisis.
The best part? She proves functionality doesn’t need to compromise beauty. If you’re like us and often skip over fancy buzzwords: THIS PACKAGE LOOK SEXY, YO.
When she’s not meticulously grinding at the studio or orchestrating intensive client meetings, you’ll find her kickin’ it around Arizona.
She seems to be friends with fuckin’ everyone, guys.
It could be her apt for charming and engaging conversation. Or her natural ability to sniff out truly genuine individuals. We think that’s a good start to explaining it.
We linked-up with the Arizona designer at her favorite watering hole, Casey Moore’s Oyster House, to chat about work and life (definitely not to drink beer and smoke cigarettes).
Peep our conversation below:
Tell us about your trip to London.
I went to London with my family in the Spring of 2017. I was really lucky to be able to visit, I’ve always wanted to go, and I was finishing up my junior year at ASU so I was ready for a break.
We went to so many museums, my dad is an architect so we had a great time geeking out over architecture, design, art, music…we ended up at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Prix Pictet was showing.
I worked my way to the back of the exhibition and the first thing that really caught my eye was Benny Lam’s exhibit. He did a photo series about subdivided housing in Hong Kong, and it broke my heart.
I saw what could be my family, or anyone’s family really, living in a space the size of my closet back home. I couldn’t help but see the contrast between my privilege and the constant struggle of these people.
It was a confusing feeling, I didn’t quite know how to process it at the time. It ended up being a major turning point in how I approach my design process.
Your “Sound the Alarm” exhibit for Beacon was extremely well-put together. Why fire alarms?
Well it started from examining a larger problem that exists in low-income housing.
When you subdivide an apartment, it can create unsafe living conditions. There’s a much higher risk of not having a proper fire escape, or having faulty wiring that can start a fire.
The Arizona Burn Foundation was super helpful in walking me through risk analysis, they look for communities that have a high fire occurrence by zip code, communities with a lot of buildings built more than 10 years ago, and historically low income areas, as well as the current population density.
Sound The Alarm was originally designed in Traditional Chinese as a kit for distribution in HK, but after doing more research, it was abundantly clear what a global issue fire safety still is.
When I spoke with people about the exhibition the common question is usually “why fire safety?” and you would be very surprised, and disturbed, by how many of those people couldn’t remember where their smoke alarm is or the last time it was changed, or told me they disabled it completely.
You mention empathy as a cornerstone of your design philosophy. What other factors do you consider when approaching a design problem?
Well, empathy is huge to me.
I could talk all day about how we can analyze big data until we’re all blue in the face but that would never tell us anything about what the human experience is like. So when I approach a design problem from the position of empathy, my first step is to talk to people. Talk about the ideas. Make a mind map of what I think the solutions are, and then contrast that with what people who know more about it have to say.
It doesn’t help to design something to solve a problem when I’m blind to the actual experience of that issue.
I also look at budget, the time I have to complete a project, and how the project needs to be realized – whether that be print, digital, or a combination of both. I also spend a significant amount of time sketching before I even touch a computer.
Does design always solve a problem?
Not always, sometimes design can be really fucking awful.
Like you set out to design something but it turns out worse than you could have ever expected. But there’s some real beauty in that, some mastery that I think a lot of people never find because they’re afraid to make something that looks bad. That’s experimenting. That’s learning. It’s process for the sake of process.
I took a case study class on Charles & Ray Eames with Max Underwood, a very talented professor and a passionate learner. We had a material study as part of the course that lasted all semester. We played with one material – my group chose resin – and as designers we really had to work hard to put away the part of our brains that make things attractive and legible and usable. We made these resin pieces that were gorgeous, but not interesting to Max. He could sense we weren’t playing. We took a saw and cut them into pieces, we dragged them tied to a string behind a car, we drilled holes in them to see through the pieces we had cast. That was interesting. I learned more in that class than I ever thought possible.
Why’d you put Trump on the $100 but Pence on the $20?
Pence was put on the $20 because I saw him as this pawn, this ignorant child who knew nothing about how he was being used in the presidential race.
I sort of thought if he was on the 20 and Trump the 100, Trump would have found a way to convince him it was the best bill available and he would have just went with it.
Obviously this was an observation completely beyond what was relevant at the time I designed the bills.
How have your parents affected your affinity for design – if at all?
My dad is the architect, the artist, the passionate creative. My mom is the doctor, passionate and creative in her own ways. She’s full of surprises. My dad taught me to embrace my creativity, to make it work, to take a bad critique and to learn and get better.
My mom taught me to be smart and tactful and gracious. It’s not always easy to be a designer, a lot of clients think you aren’t worth your rates because it’s a creative service, and a lot of them think they could just do it themselves if they put their mind to it. My mom showed me the importance of knowing my value and being able to run my business.
You’re often pointing out great design – what are everyday examples of bad design?
Menus!! Menus everywhere!!! I cannot even tell you how many horrible menus I’ve seen. The type is either giant, or microscopic, or too tight, or way too loose. Don’t get me started on the layout. It’s rarely right. When I see a good menu I know the restaurant cares about what they’re doing.
P.S. Valley Bar just redid their menus and they look amazing.
How would you improve them?
Keep it simple, give me a title, a couple words to describe a dish, and a price. Don’t make me trace a 6 inch line across a page to see the price. Don’t make me hunt for things.
We liked your recent work with Chaz Martineau. You can create a record cover for any musical artist – who is it?
Well I’ve been wanting to do more albums, so this is a hard one, but Michael Kocour is at the top of my list. He’s the Director of Jazz Studies at ASU. I’ve seen him play many times around town, and he’s always coming out to gigs to support his students. Everyone appreciates and respects Mike, and I really admire him and his work.
Getting inspiration from the internet (as opposed to what’s really out in life, hit up a museum, go to the library, get inspiration for design from anything but design when you’re first starting a project)
Anything depicting a mason jar
Chevron print (the absolute bain of my existence)
The most comfortable chair you’ve ever sat on is _________
A Le Corbusier chaise lounge, the LC4. It will change the way you think about sitting.
In a perfect world – design is taking you _________
To Rihanna. I love how she works with designers to create strong brands, from Fenty Beauty to SavageXFenty, she is killing it. I want to buy everything she puts out.
Goals are tight. What’s a non-design related goal you hope to accomplish this year?
I want to finish working on my bike! I have a vintage Trek road bike that I’ve been building up for about a year now. I’m ready to finish her and start riding farther.
Best place in Arizona to eat a slice of pizza and watch some jazz?
Easy, Spinelli’s on Wednesday nights. They have a jam session from 9pm to midnight, and some of the best musicians come out to play. You might even catch a professor.
Three Arizonans doing cool shit, whom everyone should know about, GO!
Andrew Flores, a super great musician all around, and a good guy to chat up.
That’s right. Magazines aren’t just for the check-out aisle.
Publishers spanning the globe, from Tokyo to Barcelona, are producing stunning content on a spectrum of industries.
There is a carefully-curated magazine to suit every art fiend’s dreams, from architecture and product engineering to interior design and streetwear fashion.
And now – you can shop some of the world’s premier prints at the newly-opened Pulp Magazines.
Pulp was founded by two partners who sought to put people onto foreign, niche, and hard-to-find magazines. Or as we like to call it at The Deli – cool shit.
But unlike the lurid tabloids found amongst the winterfresh gum and assorted lip balms, these magazines are all one thing: timeless.
“We want to carry stuff that doesn’t go out of date, bringing in [magazines] that no store in Arizona has.” one founder says, just minutes before the shop’s public grand opening on Saturday 3/31.
Pulp’s shelves house an array of publications, both new and old. You’ll find stand-by staples of any magazine collector’s stash, like Berlin’s 032C, to collectibles like Nigo’s “A Bathing Ape” and a Supreme Rizzoli hardcover for the stanniest of stans. Mind your grubby fingers, though…these are in the private not-for-sale section.
We swung by to chop it up. Here’s a piece of our conversation:
What are three publications that inspired the creation of Pulp Magazines? Victory Journal, Apartamento and Popeye Magazine
Do you hope to expand the shop? Definitely. We are carrying half the amount of stuff we want to. We want to increase in other categories like architecture and design as well as collectible items and clothing like capsule releases from other brands that also put out mags.
Has a specific article/magazine ever lead you to do something you never thought of doing? Of course. That’s why we read right? Discovering places to travel is an obvious one, but a lot of artists and people [are] doing things, [and it] shows you it’s possible to do them yourself.
Was there a need for a shop like this, or did you create it without seeing much of a market? With all things, the best ideas tend to come when you have a problem or need, yourself, and can’t find anyone or place that solves it. Pulp was born more so out of passion but definitely partly out of need. I don’t think you get into specialty mags for the money, let’s put it that way.
Have you created a publication of your own? Not yet, creating your own publication takes such a tremendous amount of work as you, at The Deli, know. We have big respect for the publications we carry for this reason, and want to put people on to their hard work.
We even grabbed some reading material for ourselves.
Magazine B from Seoul, Korea follows a singular iconic brand in each issue. Our choice? Pantone. The magazine catalogues the history of the famous color-coding firm, and how their products are used by an array of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The 33rd issue of 032C, featuring the elusive Frank Ocean, also caught our eye. 032C strives to blend high fashion ads with stories and photos of Germany’s underbelly within its 290 pages.
There ya have it. Pop into Pulp Magazines Fridays 12-4pm and Saturdays 11am to 4pm.
You can find Pulp Magazines on Instagram or in person at 225 W. University Dr. #108, Tempe, Az.
Yo! Stop typing our URL into the search bar every Friday. Get these emails to your inbox, weekly…your inner lazy sleaze will thank you.
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