ARTIST FOCUS: JOSH MIRMAN
Our feature today is on Josh Mirman. Simply put, Josh is a badass ninja artist with some insane design skills, and he’s here to talk about his past work, current projects and more.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
My name is Josh Mirman. I am from Long Island, NY, found it boring there growing up, moved into NYC for college, and now I’m in Brooklyn. But I promise I’m not a hipster. Beard isn’t ironic enough.
What is your day job?
Running my label, Zen Monkey Studios is my full time job. I do next to everything. I design illustrations and pieces I hope people would enjoy for it, I art direct and curate with other artists, I’m the PR guy if there’s a lost order, or someone accidentally gave us the wrong address. I travel to conventions to spread the word, I deal with printers to get the shirts made, and oh boy it’s a lot! I get help from my family for shipping and inventory, but either before or after New York Comic-Con, we will be expanding and will need to hire part timers and interns, which hopefully in the end of 2014/2015, those part time positions can turn into full time!
Zen Monkey Studios went live on July 4th, 2012. Before that I did freelance work with clients from concept art for ad agencies, to shirts for other merchants. Before THAT I did children’s books and BEFORE THAT I worked at… Rockstar Games! You can find my voice in GTA IV’s bowling alleys.
How long have you been designing/illustrating? What’s your “origin story”?
I went to the School of Visual Arts and majored in Illustration in 2006. From high school to around 2007 I was sorta-kinda-known for webcomics, but I became very overwhelmed and burnt out taking care of that stuff. I was unhappy with many aspects of it, and I wasn’t the nicest guy to people who deserved nothing but kindness. I am sorry. I had some emotional baggage that I was dealing with at the same time!
Anywho, not an excuse, but an explanation. I’m happier doing that stuff now because the comics have shifted into a hobby. I do it for the passion and love, and if that means I’ll update once a month, then that’s how it’s going to be.
My real origin story probably comes from the supportive parents encouraging me to always create, going so far back as reserving wall space in the closets to doodle on.
Who/what influences your art? Is there a particular person’s style that has influenced you?
My life inspires my art! My hobbies, my interests. I have gotten to the point in my career where I’m able to do something I have an attachment to, and as such, it allows me to create better things than if I was being demanded to make it.
Anytime a person tells me they love my typography, I tell them to look up one of the artists from the 60s/70s psychedelic/rock venue posters, such as Wes Wilson. All those pieces with the hair of a woman being the information of when and where Jimi Hendrix is performing is what inspired my typography.
What medium do you typically use when creating your art?
I was educated in many mediums, but the best for me, simply for speed, is working on the computer. I still sketch in a sketchpad with a cheapo pen or pencil, but the finals are brought onto the computer. My favorite end-result in a medium would probably be screen-printing which I was taught how to do in college. It’s a very tedious method, I found, but when the thing is done in front of you? The boldness of the colors, the little minor-imperfections that make each print unique. I love it.
Your Typography art style is what you are most well known for, how did the idea to do that come about?
If you told me that typography would be what I’m most well known for back when I was studying comics and illustration in college, I’d think you were making fun of me, simply because it’s so different than what I was expecting to be doing out of college.
It probably started with my college friend Mike Krol, who you should find on Spotify and listen to his high speed music. Growing up I didn’t like much music on the radio, pop-rock and what-have-you, so I didn’t listen to much music. But Mike knew a ton of the music world, and as a graphic designer at the time, he would show me his collection of rock venue poster compilation books while we’d listen to new CDs he bought, or even the rare vinyl he found. I always felt words drawn a certain way was very expressive and it stuck with me.
After college, when the recession was hard, I had plenty of time to experiment on styles while the clients for freelance work was low. I tried typography on-and-on for probably three years before it kinda clicked. And then it did. Since then it’s been about refining the style, making it better than the others, or as good as the best, and even…To prevent myself from being a one-trick pony. While I am very happy people know me best for that work, I don’t want to settle, go, “Okay, that’s it,” and just do it. I started doing it because I’m passionate about the style. I don’t want it to turn into a crutch. A few friends tell me that because I am consciously concerned about using it as a crutch, means ultimately it won’t become one, because I’d guilt-trip myself out of it.
How do you decide which characters you’re going to do next in the series? How do you decide which words make the cut?
Characters in the series are often things I’m a fan of or passionate about. Sometimes it’s an idea that I think would be a good collaboration with another artist and couldn’t do as well alone. I try to avoid characters from things I’m either not a fan of, or know nothing about. Because the audience can pick up on that stuff. I rather be at a convention and happily hold up a design inspired by the Legend of Zelda and tell the person that I have trouble picking A Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening as my favorite in the series. Rather than going, “Uhm, yep! Here’s your shirt, I guess. Bye!”
I try to use phrases, lines, and words associated to the characters/show. I do my best to avoid obvious words, but when I do, I try to keep them to a minimum. To make the designs more unique, I will even write the descriptions myself. So let’s say I’m working on Shredder from TMNT, I might want to write, “An evil man hell bent on destroying sewer dwellers.”
Tell us about your current projects. What are you working on? Any upcoming shows?
I’m working on cleaning up things with daily shirt sites. Because even though I have my own shirt site, it’s always good to expand the audience of my designs.
I’m still working on some comics, I’m currently at a coffee shop writing scripts for lousy animations I’ll record with friends. I have non-typography designs I need to work on to put on shirts in time for NYCC. I have to do some interviews to find part timers/interns… I have a list of designs I want/need to work on that is rather on the long end. Looking into making greeting cards and sweatshirts.
Gallery shows I currently don’t have time to submit to, but I’m talking to some popular Tumblr artists about us forming a gallery/music/performance venue that combines what we’re passionate about into some kind of show for an audience to love offline.
Conventions my current schedule from now until January is:
September: Baltimore Comic-Con
October: New York Comic-Con
December: Survive the holiday sales/Possibly make a pop up store in Brooklyn.
What is the best art advice you have ever received?
Hmm. No one taught me this but it’s really about not giving up. There’s no shame in moonlighting. Be humble and learn some humility. Don’t associate your art as an appendage of yourself. There is more to you than what you create, and many people will hate it. So remind yourself not to take it personally. You don’t suck if someone else thinks your work does.
Be happy now, don’t work to try and ‘maybe’ be happy later.
Are you playing any video games currently?
I’m playing Saints Row IV right this minute. Along with Pikmin 3. And I need to finish Shadowrun Returns. Oh I gotta go back into my Ni No Kuni run. Oh yeah I’m almost done with Tomb Raider. I just finished Borderlands 2, but I bet I can get better gear. Oh wait, I’m only half done with Metal Gear Rising…
What is your most memorable video game experience?
Probably working at Rockstar Games, working on games like GTA IV.
If you could be a dinosaur with any super power, which would you choose and why?
A Triceratops with the power of a super genius. There I’m super powerful, and crazy smart. I guess I’m greedy when it comes to super powers.
Interested in keeping up with what Josh is working on? Be sure to follow him on Tumblr for all his latest updates. Also check out Zen Monkey Studios for the latest and greatest designs. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.
"you’re gonna carry that weight"
PLEASE VIEW EACH IN FULL AND DONT TAKE OUT COMMENT!!
Okay so last weekend I took the whole weekend for myself and personal projects, which I hadn’t done in sooo long because I’ve been so busy with work and now moving, but it was much needed.
I’m planning on doing a Teen Titans fancomic, it’ll be like my own reboot kind of???? but I also want the tumblr fandom to pitch in with their ideas and headcanons and we can bring them to life omdfg gsfgslk it’ll be so cute and fun and foomfg i’ll hopefully be making a sideblog for this soon so you can all submit ideas and stuff! so yeah these are some of the redesigns for the dream team! i’m just missing wally west which I haven’t drawn also have the leader here!
tl;dr DC I don’t like your reboot teen titans so I’m making my own
I’m really fucking picky about my super hero comics but these designs are fucking gorgeous. And gvsdhfjkdgf STATIC.
Blue Beetle and STATIC SHOCK
YELLS THESE ARE SO CUTE