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Inspiration Is The Vibration: GAGE

Check out our new feature called Inspiration is the Vibration where we talk to creative humans that inspire us. This is a space where they can talk about the music that enlightens their creative vision. Now step into the mind of GAGE. This creative human is one of my favorite graphic designers and musician. I feel honored that GAGE has taken part in our new feature Inspiration Is The Vibration.

GAGE Graphic Art | Analogue Abstractions

 What five albums define the ethos of your design work? 

Crass: Feeding of the 5000

In all honesty, there is a small part of me that wants to list every Crass album here and call it a day. But for the sake of keeping things versatile, I’ll resist the urge and spare you the punishment. I remember the first time I heard Crass; I was going through my mom’s old cassettes and found a mixtape a friend made her in the 80s. I didn’t have internet back then, so I was using my stereo and old tapes to dub mixes I could skate around to. Admittedly, took some adjusting on my part. The high-end fuzz and incessant snare rolls seemed obnoxious even to me at the time. I wasn’t sure if what I was listening to even qualified as punk. But what can I say? It was like drinking a beer for the first time; eventually, I acquired the taste.

A few years down the line I was doing Food Not Bombs, getting arrested at protests, and attempting to read anarchist literature I didn’t understand. In a lot of ways, my worldview and belief systems evolved from Crass lyrics. And I think it goes without saying; much of my artistic vision took its form in the wake of Gee Voucher’s work. Whether it be ethos or aesthetic, this record truly altered the trajectory of my life.

Amebix: Monolith

I can’t even recall the first time I heard this one. But I don’t think I’ve gone a week without listening to at least one song from it for as long as I can remember. Aesthetically, I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole Austin Osmond Spare reappropriation they’ve incorporated in their designs (the original illustrations never needed to be altered), but musically this album is untouchable. I’m sure it’s been conceptually formative in ways I am not even aware of.

X-mal Deutschland: Viva

This LP is obscenely under-rated. The dark tone and evolving song composition, along with the strengthened production value offer a perfect example of artistic equilibrium. Viva reconciles grit and glam, in a way that I’ve never seen any other band accomplish. It’s the perfect half-step between goth and pop. The graphic design is good too. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dada influence they have incorporated in their logo but their departure from that, as seen on this record, is equally refined.

Paralisis Permanente: El Acto

Genius record. Hands down. Simple, dark, and to the point. The photos on the album are super influential to me as well. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Pablo Pérez-Mínguez exhibit last time I was on tour in Barcelona and damn, it was amazing.

Punk and Disorderly: Volumes 1-3

Okay I know I’m cheating a bit with this one, but I don’t care. I bought the CD when I was about fifteen and it turned my world upside down. Not only did it introduce me to dozens of UK82 bands I had never heard of, but it also solidified my understanding and development of punk and hardcore as a unique aesthetic. I remember going to my grandma’s house shortly after this discovery and printing the record covers of the featured singles out just to hang them on my walls. So many sick cut and paste design gems were showcased on the insert of this comp, that still inspires me today.

What two historic events or subcultures impact your design work? 

It’s hardly a historical event, but my upbringing shaped my worldview a lot. Like many of my friends today, I had a few rough father figures growing up. I was around a lot of addiction, mental illness, and abuse; my pseudo stepfather was in and out of prison, rehab, etc. These things have a way of shaping a person. A lot of my personal art, photography, and writing revolves around my personal mental illness, which I believe directly corresponds to my past.  My mom and grandmother have always been incredibly supportive of me, though, and I am very lucky to have been raised by them.

As far as subcultures go; punk and hardcore have had a huge impact on me. Without them, I would not have the support systems or artistic inspiration that I do today. I am constantly surrounded by so many talented and sweet people. People that motivate me to do better and to be better. It was through the lens of punk that my beliefs on social justice, prison abolition, and so on, came into fruition. It’s a bit corny to say, but it’s true; for better or for worse, I wouldn’t be who I am without the punk community.

 If you could give one piece of advice to a young person thinking of getting into design, what would it be?

It’s hard to give advice when I’m still trying to figure things out for myself. I have a tendency to think pretty negatively about the things I’ve made or the goals I have accomplished. Looking back on old flyers or album art I’ve designed makes me nauseous sometimes… I think to myself, “what the hell was I thinking?” I’ve made a ton of design mistakes in the past. There has been so much trial and error. Until this year, I’ve never taken an art class outside of an intro elective course in 9th grade, so I suppose that is to be expected.

All I can say is that art is a process, not a means to an end. There is no end. This is something I have only learned recently. So, at least for me, the goal isn’t just to finish what you’ve made but to enjoy the steps you took to get there. There will always be mistakes and there will always be someone you perceive as better, more creative, more talented, or even just luckier than you. The point is to enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it and once it’s done move on.  

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