Blood In The Ink Vol. 2: Angryblue

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

Death by Party | Our gift to you? A Death by Party original interview merry Crackmas

It’s Christmas time, all the little youth food are either sleeping like good little meals or trying to stay awake to catch some fat, drunk, homeless guy in a bright red Adidas track suit breaking into their house to make out with their mom and then kill the entirely family slowly, with eggnog. Or something like that, I heard some sort of musical story like that once. I’m not really a “current events” follower, so this whole gift giving thing is a new concept to me. Usually I show my appreciation with a rag full of chloroform and the sudden realization you just woke up in a bathtub full of ice and you’re missing a spleen. This year however, I decided to break from tradition and not just abstain from ritualistic gingerbread cannibalism, but I’d also give something back to the teeming masses of well trained and badly behaved consumers/supporters of the Swellco & Swellco way of life. That something, is this article and interview that I was already going to post anyways. Enjoy.

Firstly I’d like to impart to you this month’s bit of art and wisdom from Godmachine.

I got into graphic design 7 years ago out of the necessity to get word out about the band I had started. We launched a guerilla marketing campaign involving several months of pre-promotion for a band that technically didn’t exist. We didn’t fucking care. Looking back, at the beginning I had no goddamn idea what I was doing with that mouse and a (possibly pirated) copy of Photoshop. But I knew what I wanted and I set out to find the tools to help me along the way. That’s when I ended up Googleing something to the extent of “Photoshop blood” (I was 17, I thought blood was evil or something, fuck off) and happened upon the website of one Angryblue, at this point I had no idea what an Angryblue was, but I did find a download page that had some Photoshop brushes and a couple custom fonts for fucking FREE. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is one of the several moments that changed my life for the better. Because this is the moment I got my first real taste of what was possible with a computer and the right tools.

Original art by Godmachine

Now it’s almost a decade later and I’m completely fucked up and it’s this bastard’s fault. I introduce to you, Angryblue. When I first found him he was already a pretty well established artist, but now he’s built up such an immensely crazy client list that I’m really surprised he’s managed to stay as underground as he has. Seriously, he’s done work for everyone from GWAR to Lil’ Wayne to Peeping Tom to Soundgarden to The Pixies and back to The Melvins. If there’s a good band or musician out there, it’s starting to seem like he’s probably made something for them.  And ya know what? It’s well fucking deserved, from what I can tell, he doesn’t stop. Ever. It took me two months to get him to stop long enough to answer some questions for me.  So, without further ado, I present, the Angryblue interview

 –insert drum roll and curtain opening-

SnakeOilGhost: Please state your name for the record.

Angryblue: Justin Kamerer

SOG: Tell us about yourself.

AB: I am a dwarfy illustrator who spends most of my time in my dimly lit studio drawing ugly stuff with the intent of taking it over to the Crackhead Press shop I share with my studio-mate and making prints.

SOG: What’s the story behind the moniker Angryblue?

AB: It’s really not very exciting. It’s based off of a nickname a friend had for me. Then, just sort of the same approach as a band name, since I still ended up liking it after a week, I just stuck with it.

SOG: I know that you’ve been in a few bands. Do you feel like having experience on the other side of the designing helps or hinders your creative/business process?

AB: I love writing music. I used to fairly actively play in a few local bands, but it wasn’t really a defining part of who I am. Once I ventured out on my own and quit my job to do the art thing, I had to stop writing music to be able to spend enough time focusing on making working for myself actually work.

In the meantime, I’ve still obsessively listened to music. I can’t function without it. But only recently started getting interested in writing again. Getting a used iPad off of craigslist made me dust off my pedal board and start having some fun again. I’ve gotten together with a few ex-bandmates people to figure out how work in a style I’m uncomfortable with so I have to study a new way to approach writing.

I don’t think it makes much of a difference. Though, I ‘get it’ when someone comes to me with the idea of a themed album because I’ve done that – it still makes me hesitant to want to do anything with it because the idea is usually so grandiose and vague at the same time, that it can be a pain to work on.

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

SOG: When one looks through your collected works, several themes reoccur, insects, flowers, nature in general, birds, eyes, rabbits, old school cartoons and… hmm… that’s weird… I know there’s something else I’m missing…. Oh, right, SKULLS. How did you end up with so many themes running through your head?

AB:  The skulls are pretty easy. I grew up listening to Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses and between punk and industrial music, that’s a pretty consistent theme. Plus, Pushead did all of that great merchandising for Metallica. Whenever I pictured a skull that was how it was supposed to look. Gnarled, corroded and ornate at the same time.

I started drawing birds because I wanted to try focusing on something I was unfamiliar with that I’ve always enjoyed looking at. There are only so many times you can draw a skull before you go, “ok. I get it. I understand the structure” but birds were completely unfamiliar territory. I think whenever I introduce something new; it’s for the same reasons. I’ve been drawing a lot of flowers and plant-life because, I’ve never bothered before and I feel like I should understand their structure and it gives me a chance to try to grow and learn some new things.

A lot of different things inspire me visually; I just kind of draw whatever I like, so I don’t get bored.

SOG: You have some very interesting things you’ve collected over the years, everything from various insects to medical supplies to dead birds, vinyl figures and several gazillion skulls (I’ve seen quite a few in pictures, but I can only assume you have tons of them.) What are your 3 favorite items and why?

AB: 3 favorites? Oh I dunno. That’s really tough. I collect a lot of things to inspire me in random ways. Insects/skulls/medical instruments/teeth/whatever can be used in so many different ways that just having them all around keeps a constant source of inspiration flowing. If I stay in a nonstop place of brainstorming, it makes working a lot less difficult.

For instance, when I was working on The Acacia Strain album art, a friend had recently given me a dead bird and I had a piece of dental equipment for students to practice various things on and I put them together and took a few reference photos to get me started.

Once, I was stuck on a poster design for Russian Circles. I wanted to have something I’d be really proud of and turned around to my bookshelf. I had a (Virgin) Mary I’d set up holding a cicada and she was surrounded in bisque doll heads. It was perfect. I made her have 4 eyes and put in a few other elements and BAM. Done.

My most recent purchases were a pair of dental exam lamps from the 50’s. I’m still pretty excited about those. I have a weird love for lighting.

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

SOG: You tend to make a lot of really off the wall pieces that seem more anchored in graffiti culture than the traditional “band poster/shirt designer” What part if any does that culture and art play in your life?

AB: I don’t know if graffiti culture really plays a strong part in my regular thought process, but I definitely love the off the wall protest/punk street art stuff. I love to play on words and have a sort of random sense of humor that I try to play with when I can. If you mix that into my love for D.I.Y. punk and snarky humor, I guess I could see it reflected a bit.

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

SOG: Have you ever come up with an idea that was too ridiculous to make?

AB: I don’t think fear of ridiculous would stop me from doing something. Usually, it just makes me go for it more, I suppose. I finally got around to making a few batches of crack rock candy to be branded by Crackhead Press. That was fun. Especially since one morning my girlfriend was at work and trying to figure out why she felt so run down before she remembered, “oh yeah. That’s right. I was up all night bagging crack with intent to distribute.”

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

SOG: Speaking of crack cocaine: We at Swellco feel that people should get on high on God (and or weed). What part, if any, do you feel drugs play in your creative process?

AB: Drugs don’t really do anything for me. Pot makes me feel like a 3rd grader who’s next in line to read a book report in front of his class. That’s a terrible feeling. I do, however, like a good bourbon.

SOG: Tell me about Crackhead Press.

AB: Jeral Tidwell and I were in his studio a few years ago and talking about printing posters. He had DieselFuel as his publisher for prints at that time and I didn’t know much about screen-printing as I’d only had 2 or 3 done for myself and we decided we should just get the equipment and set up a manual press. With the help of the amazing Bill Green, we got the money together for some supplies and put everything together (well, they put it together as I was still employed doing web design at the time) and thus the ugly little baby known as Crackhead Press was formed.

Since then, we’ve ‘published’ a ton of posters and have done a few art books. One is coming up pretty soon with a day of the dead theme featuring 2 other artists other than Jeral & myself.

SOG: Any future projects or plans you’re particularly stoked on and want to tell us about?

AB: I’d like to put together a book in the spring featuring a ton of the merchandising designs I’ve done, maybe some detail shots of drawings/paintings/typography-based art I’ve done and whatever else I can stuff in there. I love the idea of putting out something that has a collection of things I’ve done with a limited edition print or something.

I’ve got a few new things I want to work into my printing toolset in the next few months like printing foil. I think that would be a lot of fun.

Since I’ve started doing music again, I thought it would be great to put together a solid collection of songs with some off-the-wall overdone packaging and put it out in the world.

Other than that, I’ve just got the usual flow of new prints and posters coming out.

SOG: Finally, I just wanted to thank you for putting out the free fonts and brushes on your site, I wouldn’t be on the path I am without them.

AB: Thank you. I just put those things out at the same time I was obsessed with the same stuff. I wanted to learn how to make a font and tried it out. I would LOVE to try doing a few of those soon as well since it’s been so long. I hate the ones I did, but it’s really fun to stumble onto them used in weird ways like album art, videogame covers, horror movies, Halloween packaging and tattoos. I think one of the weirdest was being in Zurich, Switzerland and seeing promotional posters for 50cent’s album at the time and thinking, “Hey! That’s my terrible handwriting!”

Rock Artist Justin Kamerer, AKA Angry Blue

So as the Christmas sun rises over the charred husk of the sleeping sustenance, a fat man, high from inhaing reindeer ass fumes for 24 hours and drunk on the power to choose who lives and dies via coal and toys, swerves violently to avoid an imaginary abominable snowman and crashes his sled made out of the carcass of a ’78 Ford Pinto with a floorboard of wooden shipping palettes into the icy tundra of the North Pole. He’ll drag his deadbeat sociopathic ass to a warehouse filled with elves under indentured servitude who never stop building toys covered in lead paint.

I’ll leave you with a few final words about Angryblue: The man is an artistic machine, unafraid to call it like he sees it, yet still capable of being one of the good guys in the fight against shitty art. Having already done work for several big names in the music, clothing and entertainment industries, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him. Spoiler alert: It probably involves skulls.

Go to his website, follow him on Tumblr and Twitter, and stalk him on Facebook. But most importantly, go buy stuff from the guy, I have a few of his prints and they look INCREDIBLE. Go, give him all your money.

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