POP Montreal Interview: Poster Boy Jack Dylan
I first met visual artist Jack Dylan at POP Montreal a few years ago. He was living with Graham van Pelt, the guitarist for Think About Life and the front man for a band-you-should-love-by-now, Miracle Fortress. At the time, they were both based in Friendship Cove, a massive, bi-level loft space that doubled as a weekend show venue. (They'd previously been evicted from a similar space dubbed The Electric Tractor.) Dylan has been handling poster duties for POP Montreal for the past four years, combining images plucked from superhero comics with portraits of Mile End's hipster royalty. (He's also responsible for some truly epic oil paintings, including one that showed a bereaved Al Gore cradling a dying panda bear.) I spoke with the artist about the newest round of posters for this years POP, which include inspirations from Edward Hopper, Woody Allen, and local Montreal make-out spots. -- Scott Indrisek
How did you first start doing the posters for POP?
It was four years ago. I had been doing some posters--at the time our venue space, The Electric Tractor, had just been shut down. We hosted some good shows there: Japanther, An Albatross, The Gossip, AIDS Wolf. POP rolled around. I did five posters then, all of different artists who were playing the shows battling super heroes. Very standard, the way when Wolverine meets Spiderman, and there's a misunderstanding, so they fight, but then they become friends. It was kind of based on that premise, that genre of comics.
When did you start working with the superhero theme?
Right then. That was the first time. I consider it playing the old standards, when an illustrator does a superhero. Each illustrator will typically tackle a superhero one time for something, and they'll do it in their own way. Chris Ware draws superheros, Adrian Tomine draws superheroes, all the contemporary underground comic book artists who aren't Marvel guys still do it. Like a jazz standard.
Do you consider the poster work a calling card for your fine art career?
Originally it was that. But then, as can happen to painters, illustration can take precedence. Postering was a gateway into professional illustration. Now I do a lot of work for magazines, fashion illustration. And I'm doing less posters. It's probably going to go that way as I get older; I can't afford to work for like $25 a day or it becomes more and more intolerable. I'd say the practice was the most important thing I got out of it. Also, there's no better audience than having your stuff right out on the poles.
Do people take your work less seriously and say, well, you're a poster artist, not a fine artist?
There's still some skepticism. I think that's probably fading as they realize--anytime the artist 'arrives'--in that their name is already known--that's an advantage. Nothing to sneeze at. Some posters are really shitty and they just carry a message and they're what you would expect. Some go above and beyond and really take it to that art form. They discovered there was a huge market for those vintage posters; things that used to be advertisements fifty years ago for Coke, [they're] now revered like fine art. The Moulin Rouge posters, vintage posters for wine.
After communities and scenes and decades fade away, the poster remains as the chronicle of that time--there's articles and recordings, but the poster art is left as the really major visual touchstone for what people will think of when they look back at that time. It's nice in that way.