GRAYSON JAMES IN COVERSATION WITH T. REILLY HODGSON
A big chunk of what we're interested in doing with this platform is using it to provide a space to the artists and makers who are doing shit we think is cool with the chance to talk about their work. On what will be a roughly monthly basis we're going to sit down and have a nice long chat with somebody who's killing it. In the effort of being transparent I should disclose that I also work for Reilly, and consider him a good friend of mine - so if you're looking for some hard-hitting expose type shit, please go read something else.
T. Reilly Hodgson is probably one of the coolest people you know - or that you should know. He spends his time running No Fun Press, and is an accomplished photographer and artist. He's also amongst my favourite people to hang out with, so I got him to sit down with me and I asked him about the things that I'm most curious about
To start us off - top three inspirations?
Graffiti done by regular people, bike rides, and conspiracy theories (in no particular order).
Social media has obviously been hugely important to the growth of No Fun - why do you think you’ve been able to utilize it so well? Do you think there’s something about the way you developed as an artist that prepared you well for platforms like Instagram?
I think I'd argue that I haven't really been doing such an amazing job at utilizing it very well lately but I won't argue it's importance. As an artist and designer I've always primarily been into photographs and text so when I got onto things like Instagram and Twitter they didn't really seem very foreign. I grew up using computers and definitely was one of the first households on the block to have dial-up because my dad worked in IT, think Hackers, so sharing my work with people online isn't really a new concept for me either.
Following that - do you think social media has shifted how you approach creating work? Do you find yourself worrying about what your followers will think of a new product, or does that not matter to you? Does social media make you feel like you need to share more of your process?
Considering the insane amount of my attention that is eaten up by my phone and my computer I can't say that it hasn't affected my process in one way or another. I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily worried about what my followers will think though, I post some pretty lame and wacky shit on my personal Instagram. I'm more interested in trying to guess at which things will flop online and which ones don't.
Obviously I have to take my followers' opinions a little more seriously when it comes to the No Fun content- if everyone thinks the stuff I'm putting out is trash we'll be out of business. Occasionally I feel a little too pressured to share my process or what I'm working on, but at the end of the day I still feel pretty flattered that there are people out there who actually care what I'm doing. Its not a worry of mine though - getting feedback is usually a good thing.
What do you think the most important moment in your career so far has been? What do you think it will be in the future?
I'm not sure there has really been "one moment" for me, everything is sort of the 'next big thing', building on whatever I did last. I've done some cool shows with artists I admire and made some things I'm proud of but I feel that if your goals don't change over time you can't really progress as a person.
"As I'm growing the hardest thing for me is definitely finding the fine line between using my time to save money and spending my money to save time."
Knowing you personally it becomes apparent very quickly how important the DIY till ya die mentality is to your process - do you think as your business has grown it’s been harder to juggle those roots with real-life business commitments? If not right now, do you ever think that running a company will be an opposite to maintaining the DIY attitude?
There are a ton of things about running a company that run opposite to being a cool super DIY punk guy, but trying to keep that attitude has definitely been good for me. When you're starting a business, creative or otherwise, typically the more you can do yourself in-house means the more money you can save, and unless you've got some kind of crazy investor cashflow, every dollar counts. As I'm growing the hardest thing for me is definitely finding the fine line between using my time to save money and spending my money to save time.
What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever made? Least favourite?
I wrote and illustrated a book in elementary school called "Reilly is in a Coma", very dark material. Other than that, I have made so, so, SO much bad stuff, no least favorites, I just get rid of it all.
How do you feel about the contemporary art world? Do you think the products you produce fit into a “contemporary art” narrative (I.e multiples) or do you see yourself functioning outside of that sphere? Do you think making “products” and making “art” are two different things even?
How does anyone feel about the contemporary art world? hahaha Just like with anything else, some stuff people make is good and some stuff is crap. I spent a lot of years going to art school and I understand that "contemporary art" narrative - but its not a world that I feel especially connected to. When I was younger the artists I looked up to were all designing record covers, drawing t-shirt designs, that kind of thing, rather than finding gallery representation. For me, getting hired to design a skateboard graphic would be just as big a success as selling out a gallery show. Making limited edition photo or silkscreen prints isn't fundamentally any different to me than selling an enamel pin I made from one of my drawings, it just caters to a different crowd.
"I think there will always be ideas but I'm learning quickly that the 'when I have time' time just doesn't exist."
Do you ever see yourself slowing down your hustle? Or do you think as the company grows you’ll start to work on more side-projects? Ever since I’ve known you I’ve been amazed by your grind, and it’s hard to imagine you coasting on success - so I’m curious if you have some ideas you’re sitting on for when you have the time?
I think there will always be ideas but I'm learning quickly that the 'when I have time' time just doesn't exist. Living well is the best revenge, apparently, so everything is sort of a side-project. The challenge is just to figure out new ways to continue to be able to do what I like doing. I got a little too head-over-heels about vending machines in 2015, a bunch more of which will be rolling out soon. I've been wanting to teach myself more about making videos so maybe I'll make time for that in 2016, who knows.
How do you think your background as first a printmaker, then a photographer, has impacted the way that you produce designs and products?
I think that just by having a good technical understanding of how all of those processes work helps to give me ideas for products I can make. Knowing how something is physically made helps me improve my design process.
I wouldn't send an image with a lot of tonal gradients to become a patch, or send a text graphic to be a half-tone screenprint for instance, because both of those things would produce choppy results.
On that note - almost all of the work that I’ve seen from you across all mediums is centered around text and language. Why do you think that is?
I think that people innately want to communicate with one another and text is a pretty universal medium. Even if you're not interested in my art or my products your brain is probably going to read the words on them if they're in front of you, whether you like it or not.
My house growing up was full of books and LP's but I didn't like to read, so I would always pour over book cover artwork and fancy album titles, making up lists of fake heavy metal bands. The first "art" that I really found myself captivated by was graff stuff, which also deals with a lot of acronyms and wit and quick word play.
That's a tough one... Harmony Korine, Garbage Pail Kids, Predator franchise? The list goes on and on... There are a ton of brands and people that I think it'd be sweet to work with.
Any shout outs you wanted to get in?
Shout outs to you, shout outs to my boy Brendan and Prashant, and Olivia, and shout out to my dogs Trevor and Brandon and my real dogs chloe and elsie, also shout out to Iris and Duncan on the west coast, thanks for putting me up, and also shout out to Legend's Thursday Podcast, they're making moves, and finally I want to shout out everyone else I forgot to shout out, I'll smell you later.