Jonathan and I met some months back at a trade show and I’ve always been really into his work. We sat down together last week and I got to ask him a bunch of questions. Here’s our conversation and a few of his designs.
My name is Jonathan Bussiere. I am 27 years old From Southern Orange County California. I have a bachelors in tv and video production and a minor in studio arts from Loyola Marymount University.
Yea, I took an initial screen printing class at Loyola which was a more poster printing class. The same professor the semester after that class wrapped up was offering another screen printing class, but this time it was for textiles. Since I already knew the basics of how to do things, he allowed me to explore more with an artistic focus, as opposed to a strict focus on the process. During the time of these classes I had 24/7 access to the studio, so when no other classes were in the studio I would go in there super late at night and work from around midnight to 3am pumping out my own stuff so no one would get pissed I was using up the school supplies for my own agenda.
After this I signed up for a class at OTIS art school, just to basically have access to a screen printing facility. I told the professor that I was not taking the class for credit and that I would not be doing any of the assignments…I dont think we ever spoke again after this. After that I got an internship at Quiksilver in Huntington Beach printing samples in their huge printing facility. I learned a lot there about production, ink control, color matching, and all the little ins and outs of printing styles that can be picked up when working with guys who have been printing for 15-20 + years.
So I was not initially over the idea of film related career. My passion in filmmaking was/is documentary films. My thesis project I did was a documentary called STAR F*CKERS. It was on paparazzi photographers and how/why they do what they do. All the films I had seen up until that point were all about celebrities with paparazzi as an afterthought. What I wanted to portray in my film was why they shoot celebrities, and how they do it. It was a crazy experience and I actually got hired on as a paparazzi photographer with this really small agency for a summer in 2006. Got yelled at by Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst threw eggs at my car, and was threatened numerous times by other paparazzi to “stay out of the way”. The film came out good for what it was, and my initial plan upon graduation in 2007 was to take it to work on it a bit more, expand it from 15 min to about 30, redo the soundtrack, color correct it properly etc. At the time of graduation (2007) I was also looking for production jobs, with no avail.
Everything that I came across was doing some sort of lame PA type deal and nothing having to do with production. And the PA stuff was all lame reality TV or comparable type stuff…not documentary jobs to be found. Also at this same time I was kind of frustrated with the filmmaking process and how it took so much energy to just get something started. For example, if you are a painter, you can just go and paint, no crew or other people are needed. But with filmmaking there are so many things that need to come together to just simply start creating.
Yea, later 2007 I think. I really didn’t get serious until 2008. That’s when I applied for all the right business licenses, set up my site, the e-commerce store, got incorporated, and trademarked the name. During these times I was working at the DC shoes store on Melrose, as well as a screen printing place, still trying to learn both ends of the business that I wanted to throw myself into.
Yea, I mean I wrote up a whole business plan to show to my parents who gave me the initial start up capital to get things going. My dad is an executive in the apparel business, and has been for many many years. So I think having a concrete plan that he could see helped me convince them that this was something I was dead serious about. I dont think they would have given me the necessary funds if I just mentioned to them it was something I wanted to do…as they were already a little confused as to why I had just gone to film school and now did not want anything to do with film.
Yea, I mean film is definitely still an interest of mine. I recently worked with a buddy of mine from film school and we, got a pretty cool short together. I must say I didnt really do much besides provide the content…it was all my buddy Alfonso and his brother Luis Estrada who did this…I love it…
Oh shit! This is great!
(laughs) Yea they did such an amazing job! The initial animation sequence blows my mind.
I wanted to ask you about being straight edge.
(laughs) Yea, straight edge has and does play a pivotal roll in most everything I do.
I read a little bit on your site, and I can see that influence in your work as well. You’re not punching it down people’s throats though, it seems more like a lifestyle choice for you.
I am not hardline or anything, I dont really care if people drink, use drugs, smoke, or boot black tar heroin when they wake up. Yea, I mean I think I only have one friend that is still straight edge. It was never about the gang mentality or an uppity attitude. It was just something that I felt comfortable with, and fit my goals and personality. It initially started in High school when me and my friends started to get into the hardcore music scene and came across this thing called straight edge.
I think most philosophies are best enjoyed like that, to be honest.
Yea, I mean at the time it was when most kids were first experimenting with drugs and alcohol and at first I didnt really partake but still found no problem with it. It was only maybe a year later my junior year of high school where I really saw a change in people I knew and some of my friends. Like some guys that I used to love to hang out with cuz they were always down to go surf, or go to shows or whatever now had a new “thing” they needed to do. So now the surfing and the shows took a backseet to drinking and partying. This I did not understand and still dont really understand.
So this kind of left a bad taste in my mouth and then I kind of had this straight edge ideals float around in my head for a while because I did not want to start claiming this ideaology to all of a sudden go back on my word…so after about a year or more of thinking about it, I finally my freshman year in college was comfortable telling people that I was straight edge and that my ideals aligned with these beliefs…It definitely comes out in my designs though to a certain extent. Just my frustration with society’s, especially western cultures ignorance, and stupidity about most things that I find important.
A perfect segue! You deal a lot with pop culture and fashion, pin-up culture, beauty culture (or cult of beauty.) It’s like you are commenting on it from within if that makes sense.
Yea, I mean I find myself in the middle…like hating it for being so frivolous and plastic, but at the same time being interested by it and buying into it more times than I would like to admit. It is this frustration and hypocrisy that drives all my art, whether it be paintings or graphics for apparel.
They taught us in school about simply discussing something in your art without making a statement either way. Like you were just drawing attention to one thing or another, without saying its good or bad or making a value judgement.
…I really dont like shoving things down peoples throats, and 9 out of 10 times people get a totally different meaning out of my art than what I intended, which is good but can be frustrating at times.
You are in an intersting position, being a designer, making art about fashion…
…a few years ago I made a design to look like a boxing poster where it was marilyn monroe vs Jackie Onassis. People thought that this was a totally comedy type deal and thought it was really funny. I guess it could be funny, but what I was trying to say was to wake up from this celebrity obsessed bubble you have created. The same shit you see today where the media pits Jennifer Aniston vs Angelina Jolie is the same shit they pulled with Marilyn and Jackie. I just wanted to point out that, hey this has been done before, and don’t-believe-all-that-crap-you-read type thing.
But at the same time I’m not saying reading this stuff or enjoying this gossip is wrong to a certain extent, but just want people to be aware that it is marketing to sell magazines, and that there is more going on in the world than how much Oprah weighs this month.
That’s a really good comparison…I never really thought about the media of the past being so much like the media of today. I had this naive notion that there was a more pure time…
Yea, I mean I think there was for sure…which takes me to a design that is just coming out…a photo of JFK riding in the limo before he was assasinated, and below it I put innocence lost…because I feel that, once that moment hit, the country really lost its innocence and everything, not to sound too pessimistic has gotten shittier since. Not that it was perfect before, and I’m sure I am speaking somewhat naively, but that people cared more back then and were more in tune with important things. When the New York Times is almost bankrupt, but the Kardashian sisters could buy their own country, you know things are a little fucked.
Holy fuck, the Kardashians. I am constantly astounded by how much mediocrity is rewarded.
Its not just that mediocre people are famous that is frustrating, its that mediocre people are more famous than people who should be widely known.
The awareness factor does seem to be at an all time low right now in current culture. And this really disturbing “dumbing-down” trend. So tell me about your short list of influential artists before we give the K sisters anymore press, (laughs).
As far as artitsts I’d say: Faile, Bast, Tazio Secchiaroli, Invader, Jose Parla, Miss Bugs, Kaws (old stuff), Damien Hirst, and Joseph Cornell…
There’s a Damien Hirst show over at Bergamot right now. Its some of his print stuff, butterflies, etc. And I don’t know if you ever get over to Royal/T but they are in love with Kaws. The last two shows have had his stuff there.
I’ve been to Royal T and they do love the dude…I really like his old stuff when he used to repurpose bus ad posters.
Making skull necklaces on runway models!
That’s the stuff I liked of his…new stuff is ok, but almost a little too mass marketed with all the toys and whatnot. I think I like more what Damien Hirst gets away with and selling than actually most of his pieces…some of his pieces I really enjoy, but for the most part his influence on me has just been teaching me that if you approach something artistically and market it correctly it CAN be art.
Couple more quick ones…Favorite thing to do in LA? Secret art hangouts?
Hmm favorite thing to do…God, I dunno, I am such a homebody that I am basically just working all the time. I do enjoy good art openings, and really like the gallery NEW IMAGE ART in West Hollywood…I interned there for a while and actually had a group show there, which was like a highlight of my life. I like to go the see screenings of old movies at the Egyptian Theatre. I like learning about other artists processes, so if there is a screening at a theatre where the director of cinematographer is there I like to go. Or like I said, good art openings.
Right on. Anything on the Hips and Hair horizon you’d like to mention? Art shows? Events?
I am doing an event this weekend in Silverlake called Silverlake Jubilee…should be a rad time! I’m gearing up for a sale of artwork that is going to be on FAB.com which hopefully does well…and then just creating new designs for POOL tradeshow that happens in August, which will be for Fall/Holiday 2012.
My day to day is just struggling to make ends meet, and to try and make my dream into a reality. I have no illusions of riches and fame, just simply want to not work behind a desk for someone else.
I can totally relate.
Any artistic endeavor is tough, which I’m sure you more than know, and it is hard to keep a constant positive attitude when so many things are stacked against you. My main motivation besides creating art, is just my hatred of all the other jobs I have ever had, and the fact that I will do almost anything to not go back to those.
You know, if we can make it work now, in this economy, we’ll be so ready for when it picks up.
(laughs) Yea, iffff it picks up…(laughs) I’m kind of a negative person…if you couldnt tell.
Fingers crossed. Maybe the Kardashians will bail us out.
Yea, dude, if you see Kimmy, tell her to pick up one of my shirts and then I think I’ll have it made.
Oh, how can people find you, get in touch with you, tweet, fanpages, etc?