10 Artists To Check Out At Flatstock 48


For some, A.R.E.A.M. – “art rules everything around me” – is the perfect motto. If you’re also the type of person who believes the only thing more important than art is music, then naturally, gig posters = heaven. If you’re still not convinced, then Scout Shannon’s 2012 doc Just Like Being There is enough to persuade any skeptic to believe the fusion of music, art, and 100-pound stock is a culturally significant phenomenon. Luckily for all of us, heaven is a very real place on earth and it’s called Flatstock.

Presented by the American Poster Institute, this year’s edition is returning to the Austin Convention Center at South By Southwest (March 19th-21st). Flatstock 48 will be free and open to the public, and it presents the opportunity to wander through the endless aisles of imagination and meet the artists that created them. You’ll spend hours discovering booths and shoveling over every dime you have on posters you’ll joyfully take home – only to realize you need more walls just to hang everything (true story). The reality is, Flatstock itself can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to the scene, so to help out, we’ve put together a small guide that highlights our favourite creatives and underlines their devotion to art.


Flatstock 48 - Burlesque Of North America

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: Patience! The right answer won’t always come immediately. It’s not uncommon for any artist – be it a painter, musician, or chef – to get frustrated while working on a project and want to crumple the whole thing up and throw it in the trash. It’s important to know when to take a breath, take a break, and come back later with a fresh set of eyes.

Music Or Commercial Art?: That’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite! I grew up listening to music, watching MTV, and making my own music. I also grew up watching cartoons, playing video games, and making my own comics. They were always so inherently connected for me and still are to this day. I love working on design projects for musical artists whose work I admire and I also love working on my own music projects that I can create graphics for.


Flatstock 48 - Cotton Candy Machine

The Medium I Enjoy The Most: What I love the most is actually switching between all of them; working hard on an exhibition of oil paintings, then doing a poster, then designing a toy, then making a drawing, then working on a package design, then working on an advertising illustration. It keeps it fresh and interesting for me. I think I’d get bored if I was only working with one medium all the time.

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: An alarm clock.


Flatstock 48 - Dan Stiles

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: All good art comes from good ideas. Regardless of your medium, your mind needs to be able to develop interesting concepts, otherwise nobody is going to care much about what you’ve made. Your brain is your greatest asset. Beyond that, knowing how to draw is pretty key because drawing is the baseline skill that underpins most visual art.

Going Through Phases Of Colors: I tend to use a lot of complementary colors to create contrast. That means usually you’ll see a red, a blue, and a yellow in my work. The shades will vary and maybe I’ll throw in some other colors or drop a color, but generally speaking I’m pretty consistent. Sometimes I’ll decide I’m really into black, or gray, or whatever and use it on a few pieces in a row.

(Dan’s new collection ‘One Thing Leads To Another’ is out June 2nd via powerHouse Books)


Flatstock 48 - DKNG Studios

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: A mind for creativity and problem solving. Technical skills can be learned as your career develops, but a strong concept is essential before an artist dives in to the specifics of a project.

The Hardest Part Of Making “Art” A Career: Not knowing what the future will hold as far as making the business profitable. We try to diversify our business as much as possible so that we’re not relying on a single revenue stream for all of our income. That allows us to also take chances on passion projects and personal endeavors that ultimately end up fueling interest in the business.

(DKNG are debuting their “Illustration For Designers” class later this month on Skillshare.com)


Flatstock 48 - Epic Problems

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: The ability to fuck up and try again. I often can’t stand the work I do but instead of throwing in the towel (which I often want to do), I strive to make the next thing better. Sometimes it’s not, but as long as I’m improving, I feel like I’m on a decent path.

The Hardest Part Of Making “Art” A Career: For me, the difficulty has been managing time with expectation and budget. I always want to take things as far as I can; to spend weeks drawing, coloring, separating and printing. Unfortunately the budget for a project isn’t usually big enough to devote an entire month to it, so I have to allocate my time where it’s most needed. It’s tricky though, because if I want to keep getting great opportunities, my work needs to carry the quality that I’ve built over time.


Flatstock 48 - Erica Williams

How Important Is Customer Lettering?: I think it’s important in that I try to do as much of it as I can for each project I work on and that it makes my work more unique and special. I don’t feel right looking through a set of fonts. It’s more enjoyable and meaningful if I do custom lettering instead.

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: Motivation. Even if you are in a lull, you’re sort of required to overcome any blocks. That motivation could be from within or from the client themselves; it’s the motivation to work that matters. If you are working, you’re learning and growing as an artist, regardless of if you are drawing boxes or creating a masterpiece.


Flatstock 48 - Jason Munn

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: A point a view, which is essentially a continual process of course. Trying to get the way you see things into the problem you’re solving creates the most memorable work in my opinion.

How Important Is Recognition As An Artist?: It’s nice to be recognized, but that can’t be the goal. My goal is to be thankful for what I have to work on and do my best with that work.


Flatstock 48 - Miles Tsang

How Would You Describe Toronto’s Art Scene?: It’s “colorfully under the radar”. We don’t have the same cache or vibe as say Los Angeles or New York, but the concentration of culture here in Toronto is extremely diverse and as strong as anywhere else in Canada. There’s an insane amount of talent flowing through the veins of the city.

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: The proper attitude goes a long way. A bad job can become a great learning experience or an adversarial presence to push against. The best job can become time-sucking hell unless you keep your priorities straight. A good attitude endears you to others and allows you to keep learning and improving as an artist, a business, and a person.


Flatstock 48 - Nate Duval

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: I would say these three are vital: an open mind, thick skin and a great accountant.

How To Deal With Overbearing Clients: I have been lucky enough to have a super busy schedule at all times which allows me to be very selective with client work in my balancing act of contract jobs and self-published merchandise. I can usually tell if a client will be “easy” to work with just initial conversations and by analyzing the tip of questions they ask and the amount of preparation and research they have brought to the table on the creative brief. Not really knowing what they want are the only way things go south. I refer to that as “wanting the artist to pull rabbits out of their hat”.


Flatstock - We Three Club

How Promoting Shows Turned Into Gig Posters: When you promote shows, you need posters. We both immersed ourselves in art anyway and it was just natural for us to create these posters for our shows. Growing up in bands and being surrounded by friends in bands… we were gradually asked to work on artwork for them as well. But we don’t just design posters. We work on a whole range of things from company branding, record artwork, restaurant menus right through to website design.

The Most Important Tool An Artist Can Have: I think self belief is pretty damn handy. It’s hard to go from drawing things privately in your room to pushing it into people’s faces and essentially selling yourself. You have to have some self-belief that you are the right man/woman for the job.

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