Monday, May 18, 2015

Podcast: The New Crust

05.18.15 - The New Crust
Download the MP3, stream directly on Stitcher, or subscribe via iTunes!

The New Crust
Length: 00:56:36
Synopsis: New and exciting things are always happening in the world of art; people are innovating, movements are happening, and ideas are being shared. On this week's podcast, Jenny, Lindsay, and Chris talk about ownership. When is an original idea no longer original, and hen do you claim ownership over an idea, a piece of artwork, or an experience?

Show Notes:
Iceland Residency Opening Reception
Iceland Residency
Light Grey Game Night

Friday, May 15, 2015

Artist Interview: J Zachary Keenan


Meet J Zachary Keenan. Zach is an illustrator, designer, and art educator based in Minneapolis, MN. He is most known for his brand design, advertising, and hand typography. His work ranges from packaging to screen printing to animations and sound. He has worked with clients such as Readymade Magazine, the Walker Art Center, MPR, Target, Piece Studio, and many others. In addition to freelance projects, Zach is also teaching Design classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. We have had the pleasure of working with Zach on several exhibitions including HOT PARTY, the Expletive Show, You Can Do It, and the current Guts Exhibition.

His work is vibrant, playful, and filled with visual puns! We are thrilled to talk with Zach today about his studio practice, thoughts on illustration and design, and upcoming works! You can read the interview below, as well as see his work here:


Hi Zach! Could you tell us about your studio? What materials do you most enjoy?

My current studio is small. And it fills up fast. I like having raw materials around that inspire me. Usually, my organization method is “stacks of things,” which gets out of hand sometimes. I have bins of markers and pens that I probably should have discarded because they no longer lay down a clean, crisp line. But the marks they make still hold value for me. I love how a tool affects the process of making. A sharp knife will cut but a dull knife can give an unexpected result. I try to find beauty in the unexpected.


What is your creative process like? How does your process differ depending on the medium you're using? How is it the same?

With illustration and design, my final products tend to be digital. So I try to keep the initial process analog for as long as possible. I alway start with a sketchbook and a pile of content that relates to the task at hand. I like to think that whatever the medium (ink, pixels, wood, plastic, sound, etc.) or the type of project(imagemaking,brand design, art direction), my aesthetic sensibility and critical thought provides a common thread throughout everything I do. I’m not sure if that’s true—I hope it is!

What inspires you? What imagery you are drawn towards using in your artwork, and what about it excites you?

Visually, I really enjoy folk art and old rural signage—from all different cultures. The creator maybe isn’t so classically trained, but she/he is driven and passionate about what they’re making. Visual communication, self expression and a person’s life experiences all come together to make that final beautiful thing. On a larger scale, I’m motivated by nature and the outdoors. I think nature is one of the few things that we all have in common.


What are your favorite creative resources?

Everything, seriously. The cities (MPLS/STP) are a great resource. There’s enough cultural institutions, libraries, food and good people around to help my head get unstuck. Can you talk about your idea and process for creating your piece for Guts? What inspired you? How did the idea form? What did you encounter in the process?

I knew immediately that I wanted to make something tactile. And I wanted to talk about “guts” in surreal and magical terms. I think I started with a pallet of images, colors and textures that I like, and then figured out how that could represent the theme. I also wanted to present a contrast between natural textures ( the wood from the tree) and bright, saturated colors. Whenever I have the chance to work in 3D space, I look for ways to work 2D elements into the piece. I really love pattern, especially on a surface where the physical attributes have an effect the graphic. The whole process was a complete experiment. I had a clear image in my head of what I wanted to make, but I had never worked with a lot of the materials that were used to make the final piece.


Are you working on any exciting projects? What are some of your "dream projects" that'd you'd really like to work on?

I just started developing some creative concepts for a food truck. What a wonderful canvas to work with! I’d really love to do more super large scale work, in environment or retail, where pattern and material ideas could be let loose in a big space. I don’t know what that would be, specifically. But somebody should get a hold of me if they do.

Thanks, Zach!

You can see Zach's piece for the Guts Exhibition on the Light Grey website here! You can also follow Zach's work on his website and follow new projects on tumblr.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Iceland Residency Exhibition Sneak Peek!

Mark your calendars for the next opening reception and event, May 22nd from 7-10pm!

We are proud to present a two-part reception and creatives meet + greet featuring the Iceland Residency Exhibition, as well as a public artist talk by celebrated comic artist, Sam Bosma!

Iceland Residency Exhibition Preview
Preview by Maike Plenzke

The Iceland Residency Exhibition features new work, prints, originals, and books by the fourteen artists who participated in last year's residency. In August 2014, we traveled through Southern Iceland, exploring the landscape, making artwork, and sharing our unique practices through workshops and conversations.

Artists include Bryan Paul Patterson, Chris Hajny, Claire Hummel, Colin Foran, Gloria Pizzilli, Jenny Bookler, Kali Ciesemier, Maike Plenzke, Manuel Kilger, Meg Munt, Mike Freeman, Lindsay Nohl, Sam Bosma, and Teagan White.

Iceland Residency Exhibition Preview
Preview by Bryan Paul Patterson

The artist talk will be from 7-8pm, then stick around to view all of the artwork and say hello! You can find more information on the Iceland Residency Exhibition Facbeook page here! Prints and pieces will be available on the Light Grey Shop starting May 22nd!

Iceland Residency Exhibition Preview
Preview by Manuel Kilger

The event is sponsored in part by Seward Co-Op and The Wedge.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Podcast: Talking Guts With Pajau Vangay

05.11.15_Talking Guts With Pajau Vangay
Download the MP3, stream directly on Stitcher, or subscribe via iTunes!

Talking Guts With Pajau Vangay
Length: 00:43:39
Synopsis: As our current exhibition, Guts: What Lies Within, comes to a close, we decided to take the topic in a more literal direction, and reached out to Pajau (PJ) Vangay, a researcher who's working on her PhD in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology. A lot of PJ's research revolves around our guts, or more specifically the microbes within them. On this week's podcast Lindsay and Jenny pick PJ's brain about all kinds of guts-related topics, like how our fixation on cleanliness might be changing our bodies, fecal transplants, how your microbiome might shape your life more thank you know, and how your pets can help build a microbiological bridge to a loved one, and more.

Show Notes:
Knights Lab
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
Iceland Residency Opening Reception
Iceland Residency
Light Grey Game Night

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Artist Interview: Daniel Shaffer

Meet Daniel Shaffer. Daniel is an illustrator living and working in Baltimore, MD. Daniel is know for his colorful illustrations and narrative images. His work has been shown in various galleries and recognized by the Society of Illustrators. Daniel has participated in the BOSS RUSH!, Guts, and upcoming COSMOS projects with Light Grey Art Lab, and we are thrilled to showcase his artwork! You can read all about his expriences, resources, and thougts on illustration. You can also see more of Daniel's artwork on his website and blog here!


Hi Daniel. Could you tell me about yourself?

I grew up in a city called Decatur which rests right outside of Atlanta, GA. I have really fond memories of Decatur and the neighborhood I grew up in. Decatur is lush with vegetation and tall oak trees and it smells really beautiful during the Spring and Fall. As a kid I was always using my imagination to become dinosaurs and animals, and I was interested in drawing and painting from imagination. I pretty much knew I wanted to be an artist when I was in Elementary school. After high school I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) for four years and got my BFA last May. It took me a year in college to figure out that I wanted to become an illustrator.

You recently participated in the BOSS RUSH Exhibition, and much of your artwork in inspired by video games and media. Could you talk a little about your inspiration- are you attracted to the characters, story lines, bad guys, etc?

The BOSS RUSH! Exhibition was actually a turning point for me stylistically. I think once I graduated from college, I felt like I had a ticking clock behind me to get jobs so I started making a mad flurry of work. During this time I made a massive amount of experimental illustrations with shifting subject matter and style. At one point I was working completely flat and was pretty inspired by Joan Cornella's comics. I have always enjoyed gross humor so it was fun to paint a lot of butts and blood. What I really love though is color and atmosphere. I decided that my love for video games would be a good conduit for creating illustrations that pushed those two themes. When I saw the BOSS RUSH! call for artists I jumped on the opportunity because I thought it would be a good way to push myself to create a more polished piece than the illustrations I had been making prior. From there I decided to continue making movie and game related pieces because I knew that the passion was already there so all I had to do was create the image that I wanted.

Majora's Mask for BOSS RUSH!

Your work includes lots of playful characters, humorous scenarios, and dramatic moments. Could you talk a little about storytelling and image making. What is most compelling to you when creating artwork?

I grew up watching cartoons and anime so I was exposed to a lot of different ways to tell a story through images. Studio Ghibli had a really big impact on me as a developing artist and as a growing boy. The movie Princess Mononoke was a treasure trove of inspiration. In the third grade my friend rented the movie at a sleep over and I watched it for the first time. I don't think my mom would have been too happy that I had watched such a violent movie, but I couldn't stop thinking about it- I felt like it was one of the greatest creations known to man. I remember running as fast as I could through the little forest behind my school pretending I was running with wolves. So much of the world was unknown to me so I had to make up what I believed could be true. I think that's what's so compelling about making artwork. You get to create whatever you want in your own way.

Princess Mononoke

What is your favorite piece/project to date? What do you want to work on more?

I think my favorite piece that I've made was my tribute to Princess Mononoke. Not because it's dedicated to Princess Mononoke, but because it was a piece where I felt like I had unlocked something in myself that made the piece flow really well for me. It was one of the first times that developing the composition, colors, and lighting felt really natural to me and I just kind of knew what needed to be done. I definitely would like to continue doing tribute pieces, but I would also like to start working on my own children's book.

For the Guts Exhibition, you were tasked with investigating the insides of something. Could you tell us about that project, what you uncovered, and what you wanted to share?

For the Guts Exhibition I decided to choose the mythological Cosmic Turtle as my subject matter. Commonly in the mythology surrounding this creature, the turtle is swimming in space while holding a flat earth on its back that is being supported by four white elephants. Terry Pratchett actually wrote a series called Discworld that takes place on the earth that is supported by a cosmic turtle. I have yet to read the series, but it sounds really interesting. I decided to put a twist on the myth by making the action take place within the shell of a turtle creature instead of on top. I liked the idea of the shell creating a micro system of entities and foliage, while also protecting an entire universe which is represented by the white orb in the center. I thought this provided an interesting concept that could indicate an infinite number of cosmic turtles holding an infinite number of universes and how fragile this system is. It's scary and interesting to think about how the death of one Cosmic turtle could affect all the others that lie within it.

Protecting Life (Cosmic Turtle) for the Guts Exhibition

Could you describe your creative community? Locally or online? What things do you look for in a community?

At the moment I am still living in Baltimore right next to the MICA campus. I live in an apartment with artist and friend Matt Rockefeller. A lot of this past year has been dedicated to Matt and I working alongside each other in our in home studio. We often give each other feedback on the projects we're working on and also take breaks to go outside or play through different video games. At the end of June I am going to be moving back home in Decatur, GA to save some money. I will have lived in Baltimore for 5 years so the shift back home will be an interesting change for me. Community is still a concept that I'm learning about and take for granted. I was born with a chemical imbalance that makes my anxiety levels sky rocket pretty easily so I typically maintain a pretty small group of friends so that I'm not over stimulated. With that said, I think I need to be surrounded by an artistic community/atmosphere that share some of my core values in life. It also helps if my community is surrounded by lots of vegetation and animals! I would much prefer my view of the sky to be blocked by trees than blocked by buildings.

As an young illustrator, what is the most valuable piece of information/advise you have received?

I'm not sure if anyone ever specifically told this to me or if I just decided it was good advice on my own, but I would say the most valuable advice for me has been to just keep making work. I have only grown after making hundreds of things. The journey is often difficult and can sometimes feel hopeless, but I have found that as long as I keep producing work I will grow and improve as an artist.


What are some of your biggest sources of inspiration? (books, media, places, games, people, etc.)

As I mentioned before, Studio Ghibli has had a profound influence on me. Beyond that I would also say that Calvin and Hobbes influenced my thinking about the world. I was introduced to Calvin and Hobbes as a little kid. My dad bought me one of the compilation books that has lots of comics in it and I was immediately hooked. I really love how Bill Watterson writes his characters. There is something that is just so charming about the world that Calvin and Hobbes live in. It always makes me happy to read his comics.

What projects do you have in the works? What direction do you see yourself going in the next year to two? Any dream projects?

I'm in a transition period at the moment, so I don't have any specific projects in the works. I have been working on a collection of zines with my friends Boya Sun and Matt Rockefeller that will have the work of a bunch of different artists in them. The title of the collection is Bloom, and it won't be finished for a while due to the number of zines and artists we're working with. There will be more information about that in the future though. As for my direction, I would say that I want to head into book publishing in some form. I also want to do editorial work, so I'll be building up clientele to work with in the coming months. In the future I would like to work on my own children's book. I have wanted to do that since I was a little kid. I'll be working on a story in the near future!

Thanks, Daniel!

You can find more of his work on his website, blog, and the Cosmic Tuttle piece on the Light Grey shop here! The Guts Exhibition will be on display and online through May 15th.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Podcast: Take Your Pick

05.04.15_Take Your Pick
Download the MP3, stream directly on Stitcher, or subscribe via iTunes!

Take Your Pick
Length: 00:54:03
Synopsis: The summer is almost upon us, and people are thinking about new jobs, new paths, and new projects! With half of us being teachers, there's a lot of questions and anticipation flying around and it's got us thinking; how much agency do you really have when starting, and advancing, your professional career? On this week's podcast, Jenny, Lindsay, and Chris talk about searching out options, making goals, knowing what's right for you, and happy circumstances.

Show Notes:
Iceland Residency Opening Reception
Iceland Residency
Light Grey Game Night

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Light Grey Game Night: Master Plan

Light Grey Game Night: Master Plan
Deep in your heart, you know you've got what it takes. You've got the drive, the foresight, the resources... and most importantly, you've got a master plan. That must mean it's time for another Light Grey Game Night! So mark your calendar for Thursday, May 14th from 6:30 - 9:30 pm!

As you might remember, we're attaching a theme to each night to help people narrow down what games they might want to bring (although you're still welcome to bring whatever you'd like!). This week's theme is Master Plan. That wonderful moment you survey the board near the end of a long, hard-fought game, and realize that the last piece of your Master Plan™ is about to click into place. And there's (hopefully) nothing your opponents can do about it.

So come prepared to unleash your grand strategies as you outflank your enemy in Kemet, scheme behind the scenes in Lords of Waterdeep, or team up to save the world from destruction in XCOM: The Board Game, among plenty of others! If you have a favorite boardgame, bring it!

So grab your friends, family or favorite stack of board games, and come play with us! RSVP via our Facebook event, and feel free to share! The more the merrier!