Hi Eric, welcome to this textual interview with Monk. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
You're a graphic designer, illustrator, and expert screenprinter who, from the looks of it, loves to fish and has a strong appreciation for Pennsylvania wildlife. You were born in Scranton, PA and educated in Lancaster before coming to Philadelphia, where you currently live and work freelance.
Omoi has been carrying a selection of your excellent PA-centric risograph prints for a few seasons now. You make tees, stickers, and put out a prolific amount of design work for clients. I (a Philly native) bought one of your Wildlife of Philadelphia tees right around the time we began stocking your prints—somehow the Instagram algorithms had me stumble onto your page independently of you and Liz making contact.
The subject matter in your personal work captures this sort of carefree joy of nature that one can experience in a state park or wildlife preserve visitor center, or even the feeling one gets when you have to rely on signage alone to guide your way and thank god that signage was well done. Your design work frequently features hand done typography and illustrations of area wildlife, state maps, and detailed renderings of buildings and famous locales. There's an air of pragmatism, clarity, and homage to graphic communications from the early-middle decades of the 20th century—all with a subtle touch of humor (Schuylkill River Surf Club, for example).
So, with that on our minds, please enjoy these questions we have for you:
What kind of environment did you come up in, and what kind of environment do you like to make for yourself today?
I grew up in what I consider a very average, middle class, suburban, household in Northeastern, PA.
What kind of stuff were you into when you were like, thirteen? Any advice for thirteen-year-olds today?
I was heavy into skateboarding and snowboarding. Those were also the prime years of “Jackass" and so I was deep into all of that combined culture. Punk rock and that DIY attitude were also very much in the mix.
As far as advice to 13 year olds. Fitting in with your peers is not nearly as important as you think it is.
What's your stance on magic?
Magic is mostly trickery, we are all trying to trick people at least some of the time. So we are all magic? HAHA I don’t know?
Do you have any design pet peeves or criticisms at the moment?
I think in the age of Instagram and Pinterest and Google search it's more important than ever to get into used book stores and junk shops and find references that aren’t so basic and widely used. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an illustration, design, or tattoo, and recognized the source image from top of page 1 on Google image search... Nothing wrong with that, but maybe start at like page 5 or use a different search engine.
What is something you think could use better signage in Philadelphia?
Too many to list and I’m too polite to name specifics hahaha
What's something you'll spend money on, and something you refuse to spend too much money on?
I never deny myself a book. Show catalogs from museum exhibitions and source books always have high return on investment and I ALWAYS purchase them if I think I like them. I don’t buy overpriced streetwear t-shirts. I'm a spoiled brat and get a lot of mine for free or steeply discounted but also worked in the apparel and printing business for the better part of a decade. (your “streetwear t” is often a $3 Alstyle blank with maybe $5 worth of printing that is sold for a ridiculous $48-80 or more. No t-shirt is worth that much.
Area fashion trend you wish would retire?
“S. Philly special” Socks, slides, and a white tall Tee. Y’all can do better.
What's something you wish people engaged with more?
ART and creation! I hear so many people say "You’re so talented I wish I could draw!” WELL NEWSFLASH YOU CAN! It is a learned skill like anything else. If you want to get good all you have to do is try. More people need to find creative outlets even if it's just for fun and not a job or career.
A peaceful view of the home studio
And, any shout outs?
Of course. I’m keeping it ART related for the sake of space… I wouldn’t be here today without Ralph and Shaky and all of the many employees at Awesome Dudes Printing. Thanks to them for giving me a space to create and job to support myself. On top of that I got to meet so many future design clients just from being in the shop day to day. Eric Kenney (@heavyslime) he was the dude I wanted to emulate when I first started there. Kees Holterman, Zak Parsons of Four Finger Press. ALL of my clients and customers over the years. Christian Cantiello of Keystone Signs, Mat Hiller of Revival Letterpress (these are my go to guys for signage and printing), All 3 Dans… Dan Nelson, Danny Reed and Dan Santoro. These guys all gave me a platform to showcase my “fishy/outdoorsy” work and that launched me to new places and got me in the door with much bigger design gigs. Leah Tanner (*Your re-post changed my life forever) The whole IG community really. I know it gets a lot of flack today but my career has been entirely made and maintained on this platform and I’ve connected with sooo many amazing people. ANDDDDDD of Course Omoi Zakka for being the first Philly shop to regularly carry my work
The artist in his main studio