Illustrator Rhys Cooper
Melbourne boy Rhys Cooper has been making a name for himself in the Aus Rock poster scene, working for such bands as Them Crooked Vultures, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age and Pearl Jam amongst others.
Hi Rhys, Could you tell us about your illustrating background?
I was one of those kids who was always drawing. On book covers, my school bag, things like that. Then around 14 I got really into comics and started emulating the styles and linework in those and over the years it evolved into my own style. It’s constantly changing. One day I’ll be happy with it.
You’ve become well known for the rock posters that you do. How did you get started doing that type of work and what keeps you interested?
It was a chance meeting with John Harris from Beyond The Pale Posters at a Queens of the Stone Age show that got me started. We kept in touch and I started designing tour dairy covers for QOSTA who along with John have always been a great support. As for staying interested it isn’t too hard. My peers in the gig poster community (which is mainly based in the states) are constantly putting out amazing work which keeps you on your toes and wanting to push yourself to do better. Some days the work is so good you want to up and quit but designing for bands and the freedom good bands give you is too good to give up.
What are some current/upcoming projects you are working on or excited about?
I just finished a set of 4 posters for the Alamo Draft-house, an awesome cinema in Austin for a showing they had of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Four Japanese type scrolls, one for each turtle in scenes from the film. The idea being it would be something Master Splinter would have in his dojo documenting the events of the film and the stories of his students. As for upcoming work I’m pretty exciting about doing a new piece for PangeaSeed, a group in Japan that raises awareness about the horrors of shark fining through cool art. Also planning on releasing a few more art prints this year and maybe do a collaboration series with my fellow rock artist Ken Taylor.
You recently did a poster for the Them Crooked Vultures, how did this project come about?
Through the hard work of John at Beyond The Pale Posters and Joshua Homme (QOTSA). I have done a few posters for Queens of the Stone Age over the years and two for Foo Fighters plus others for friends of the band though it was really John who put it all together to get the result we did in the end. A very rewarding and fun poster to work on.
Could you describe your typical work flow for an illustration?
Research and planning of the idea and concept may take 2 days to a week but once I have everything the drawing normally takes about 2-3 days than another 2-3 in the computer adding the colours, textures, finalising the design etc. If I’m getting the poster screen printed than it takes another 2 days to prepare it for print.
Are most of your posters commissioned?
Originally through Beyond The Pale. Most of my posters are commissioned through Beyond the Pale or through people contacting me directly. I chase a lot of jobs as well. If a band is coming to the country that I think I could do something cool for than I might contact John who will then look into it, contact the band, tour manager etc or the venue.
Are there any particular works you’ve done that stand out as your favorites?
I’ve always enjoyed working with The Bronx. I contacted them a few years ago about doing posters and they have always been supportive. My last two posters for them I’ve been proud of as well as my 3 panel poster for Them Crooked Vultures. Getting to do a poster for Rage Against the Machine was a dream come true as I thought I had missed the boat with them (they re-formed for a world tour).
If you could pick any band and or movie to create a poster for, what would it be?
Ah that’s a tough question, I’ve already consider myself very lucky in doing posters for some of my favourite bands. Maybe Turbonegro or Rammstein if they ever come back to Australia. As for movies I don’t know, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Oldboy or Kick Ass. Fight Club or The Warriors would be great as they already have inspired some of my rock posters.
Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?
I’m constantly being inspired by other artists and using their art and talent to motivate myself. Florian Bertmer, Angry Blue, Godmachine, Tyler Stout, Ken Taylor, Malleus, Aaron Horkey and Alex Pardee would all be at the top of my list.
What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Just stick with it, and whenever you do a job do the best work you can. Hopefully word will spread and lead to more work and then you are on your way. Don’t let other people stop you from doing what makes you happy.