Interviews

IdN Magazine: War and Peace Issue.

IdN: Would you please tell us something about your earliest influences, how you came to an appreciation of illustration and how you moved into illustration as a profession?

Sfaustina: I would say my earliest influences were during my bus rides to and from school. I was eight years old; my elementary school was located in Oakland, California. I remember waiting for a bus and noticing bubble type letters written on the bus bench. I also remember riding in the car with my mom driving under a freeway overpass and reading John 23 and thinking who is John? In retrospect graffiti introduced me to typography and illustration without a doubt, the Letters and the way they got there fascinated me. At that age I had no idea what I was looking at I just thought it looked fresh. My sketchbooks during high school were filled with illustrations of half naked girls and tags. I guess it took me a while to begin to appreciate illustration because it was something I always did but did not think about the actual process. It was not until about five years back did I begin to really appreciate the art of illustration. I always thought it was dope but it wasn’t until I started buying old school illustration books and studying the old timers. During the Paul Rand era illustration was utilized in an incredibly smart way. I think it would be healthier for society to encounter illustration in everyday living. I use illustration in my art and in Bloodwars online graffiti magazine much more frequently than I do as a graphic designer. I rarely have the opportunity to incorporate illustration and graphic design in my day job but when it does work, I am trilled.

IdN: How would you describe your work in words to first-time viewers?

Sfaustina: That’s a hard one. In terms of my art I would say: Raw. My work is stream of consciousness style, random, layered, a world of bazaar storytelling- movement. Graphic Design I strive for clean, simple, and experimental execution but it does not always come out that way. Bloodwars Online Magazine is current, international and underground.

IdN: Do you think that street art or graffiti would be the most appropriate media through which to express feelings about war and peace?

Sfaustina: I wouldn’t say that because I think it is vital for the one creating the piece to really understand what war and peace are. I think if someone gave paper, scissors and some glue to kids in Iraq, Sudan, or the ghettos in Washington D.C they would be able to provide a powerful authentic image. But then again it is all about what type of war and peace are we talking about? The internal war and peace each one of us goes through within ourselves during our life? We all have the potential to express war and peace if we want to actually go to that place within. In terms of the graffiti culture if a writer is in it for the long haul they will go to war with another writer or crew it is just part of the life. Anything any one does in life can result in some type of declaration of war or peace be it in the work place, home, or on the streets.

IdN: Is there any designer whose work you consider to be a perfect example of design on a war and peace theme?

Sfaustina: I cannot provide a perfect example but I do think Rodchenko, John Willett Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, and the Daddaist have created collage work that is powerful because they were in the mists of it all. During the Russian Revolution, World War I & II it seemed like the artists and designers where in the beginning obligated as an artist to take a stand for the people or the government. Whichever side they fell on.

IdN: What is your own philosophy about creating art around this theme?

Sfaustina: Whatever state of mind I am in; art, design, and graffiti are my outlets. Art permits me to have my own war against the system, I mean I could go out and try to physically destroy the system but that would most likely land me in jail (well it did land me in jail) or I can make a piece of art in the same frame of mind and preserve and expose the action. I guess it is a safer out let. I don’t think I will go to jail for a painting. But then again Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing a T-shirt saying, “2,245 Dead. How many more?” referring to the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

IdN: Has design or art on the theme of war and peace ever been used as a form of propaganda?

Sfaustina: Always, Dr. Seuss when he first started out doing illustrations worked for the U.S. government producing propaganda movies and comics during W.W. II for the soldiers. In order to have a multi billion dollar war there has to be designers and artist producing propaganda and the same helps to end the wars (plus poets and people).

IdN: What would be your most challenging project? And why?

Sfaustina: I don’t know what would be the most challenging project but as of now it is raising a two-year-old big man. He is at the age where this is his world and he knows exactly how he wants it to be. He is learning what is and what is not acceptable, I guess he is learning the way of life. He is brilliant.

IdN: What are your future plans? Are you working on any particular projects right now?

Sfaustina: Hopefully slow down a bit. I finally have a day job I love I am Senior Graphic Designer for Francis Ford Coppola. His hands are in many different directions calling for cool design projects. Working for him keeps me extra busy. I would like to have a couple of gallery shows. I am currently working on Bloodwars book Volume II and an illustration project called God, Guns, &Terrorism. But this is a just personal projects.

Big Thanks goes out to IDN Best Sfaustina

 

 

XFUNS Magazine Sfaustina Feature Interview. / 2005 Web site: http://www.holdland.com.tw

Please say hi and introduce yourself to XFUNS readers. How would you describe yourself? I’m quite impressive that you said you are a firm believer in self-education and exploration, would you like to talk more about your realization on this aspect?

In the United States we are socialized to think it is inside the institutions of schools where learning takes place. It can, if one is blessed with an enthusiastic and passionate teacher, but real learning occurs through self-education and exploration throughout a lifetime. When you self-educate, you dictate to yourself what is the most important aspects to learn about because you are relying upon your brain and heart to guide you, your interests, and instincts. In the institutions a great trust is placed in the hands of the teachers or professors to dictate what information is important to leave in, or what information to skip over. What or whom is good, or talented, and who is not. That is a lot of power. Bottom line, I just encourage people not to get discouraged in the institutions. I have noticed teachers and professors especially in art/design major’s can come across as Gods, and I have seen professors make or break students because graphic design and art are so insanely competitive, and that breaks my heart. Robert Henri in the ART SPIRIT (a beautiful book) has a great understanding on the artist and professor relationship more specifically being juried as an artist. It is on page 139.

It seems that graffiti had been some part of your blood, inside of you. Would you tell us why you’re so fond of it? What is it that you find appealing?

I first notice graffiti when I was about 9 years old I lived with my dad for a bit in Oakland, California and would have to take the yellow school bus to school. It was on route to school I would notice words written on bus benches, on walls, and such. I remember this one bus bench it had a playboy bunny character and next to it was bubble letters of a word. It was the form of each letter that made me curious. I did not know what a shadow was but I could not help but be intrigued with what made the letters pop out at me. When I turned about 15 is when a couple of things happened: (1) I saw the movie Beat Street ( haha spit ) and (2) I started to meet other graffiti writers who encouraged my development and passion for the art leading me to writing.

By the way, may I ask that do you make graffiti works on the street? (I think you do, but not very sure.) If yes, would you reveal some of your graffiti works for us, like your style, the technique you used to, the places you like to put on, the time you work on, the impressive experience?

Yes, but not much lately because of some legal matters I rarely discuss what I have done in the past in terms of graffiti. I am not trying to get fame from my work on the streets. I keep my street work completely separated from my artwork. I may use the same tools on both the streets and on canvas but please know I am not trying to recreate the streets onto canvas. But I want it to be known, I have done my fair share of getting up. And if and when I am ever over in your part of the hemisphere you know I will be doing it. However, the style I am into is straight bombing i.e. bubble letters, quick one and two color throw-ups, quick grimy and dirty.

How about your art works (on canvas?!) those mixed media creation, especially combining the graffiti and collage ones? How do you merge both in a very well balance on visual? Compared to the real street graffiti pieces, what’s the meaning of them for you?

My canvas work and graffiti are related (if not done for a job) only in as far as technique is concerned. Both are done in stream of consciousness form, quick and never planned. Thank you for the compliment regarding the balance of my pieces. I feel achieving a balance is a bit of a struggle for me. When I view my work I don’t see a balance. The design I salivate over is Swiss Design and Russian Constructivist…the super simple style. I start my pieces envisioning simplicity but I feel I always go overboard. My utopia would be having a few images and elements with Helvetica typeface, much to your surprise.

As above, what kind of visual scene do you want too express through these works?

It is difficult to express verbally what I try to convey visually through my art. But I will try. One of the artist’s I admire is Dr. Seuss. He is one of the masters of allowing others to enter into another world, to play in it. Also the movie Charley and the Chocolate Factory it has twists and turns it makes the viewer want to bite into it, to experience the bizarreness but not in a psychedelic or cartoon type of way. But more as an urban surrealist vision. When someone owns a piece of my artwork I want the owner of the piece to know they have a piece of me, a bit of my soul, a part of my mind. I would like the viewers, to step into it and be able find secrets and paths within. Usually when you start a new work, what’s your creation process? I do not feel complete each day if I do not either hit up a tag, or make a piece of art/design. It is the desire to create, the state of creating which I am addicted to, the actual work is somewhat of a mystery. At the start of a piece I usually do not know or am concerned with the end result. In a sense it is a stream of consciousness approach. But of course when my work is commissioned I am more aware of what the piece needs to look like.

Let’s talk about the collage part of your works. When did you start interested in collage creation / style? What did you get inspired for it?

Learning about the Dadaist like Hanna Hoch, Marcel Duchamp and the Russian Constructivist like Laszlo Mholy-Nagy and Rodchenko they blew my mind (Rodchenko photgraphys are super lovely). They were revolutionist and visionaries.

As for your opinion, how would you define the beauty of collage works? What’s the critical way for a good / unforgettable collage work? What’s your realization about the aesthetics of it?

I am not sure what you mean if your question is pertaining to my work or collage in general in general collage has much to do with surrealism and the aesthetics of surrealism. In my opinion an impressive collage is if these elements coexist on a surface, ( by controlled or random placement ). I find the beauty for example of a street wall; all flyered up with posters, propaganda, layers of graffiti reflecting the pulse of society. The wall is always changing, never static so many different contributors, so many storys. In my art I incorporate my passions- typography, graffiti, old photos, new photos, my photos. I am visually driven, an image-maker. For me that is a beautiful collage work for all to interact with. What makes an unforgettable college work is the viewer. A piece of artwork usually grows on me, in terms of my art. It can be a negative because most of my work is complex, ambiguous, and rather hard to digest on the initial viewing consequently it often gets over looked.

Do you have any preferred theme or subject when you collage?

No, everything is relevant. And for example, when you cut off one piece of paper or something, would you care the context of it, or just emphasize on the visual effect of it? Context helps tell the visual story. Yes its context that’s a big part. And placement is accentual. But it is also good to be random sometimes.

Generally, how do you get the inspiration? How do you collect your sources and materials? Please share with us your most interesting, precious collection.

The actual act of creating is where much of my drive and inspiration come from, but other sources of inspiration are when I see a real beautiful (graffiti) throw-up, outline, or tag on the streets that gets me pumped up. The inspiration comes from the work it self, the more I work on it the more I am inspired with it. If I think about a piece too much I will not finish it. The whole process is moment to moment, staying in the present. I have a big box of scraps, anytime I come across an image, text, photo, whatever stops me for more than one second I put it in the big box. My friends have said to me before, you view things so quickly as if you are not even taking in the image or context I am open but I also know what turns me on. Currently, I am collecting old photos from the late 1800’s early 1900’s I also collect rubber stamps, old flow master markers, old magazines & design/art books. The old photos to me are like little pieces of art the photos are usually cut with scalloped edges, the size and shape varies some are rectangular and the size of the palm of a hand others are tiny and square. To me the old photos are like a reality television shows. But your imagination is in charge of putting all the pieces together.

Your style is versatile. Some looks childlike, some are darken and cloudy; some are clean and pure, and others are crowded, heavy and bizarre. Would you like to talk about your state of creation philosophy? Does it reflect your own personality or something?

Yes, I guess it does. I am always exploring, experimenting, and seeking out my interests like most artist do. I try to follow my instincts. I don’t know if I have consciously created a philosophy on how I create my art but I do try to stay open, not to think, and just let things flow. I try in my art to portray different states of being. Consequently different styles emerge.

In all your collage works, which one is your favorite? Why? Would you like to reveal your idea behind it for us?

I don’t have a favorite piece of work. Most often the art piece I just completed is the one that is my favorite. It is my favorite because it is new; it is my newest creation. But I do have works I won’t sell and are apart of my personal collection. I am not really into giving meaning to my works because it is up to the viewer; once I complete a work I too become a viewer. I believe the process an individual goes through to define the meaning of a work of art can be as creative and powerful as when a work of art is being created.

As an artist / designer, what reason motivated you to make the on-line magazine – BloodWars? (You know, being an editor, your role would be changed into an observer.) So far, what is the biggest input for you by managing / maintaining it?

Bloodwars free on-line magazine is a response to the lack of coverage of graffiti bombing. My definition of bombing is illegal quick two colored throw ups (bubble letters), outlines, quick and dirty tagging. The key is the act is illegal and the amount of times the bomber gets his/her name up is vital. If a bomber covers a city or multiple cities the mystic is created, but the mystic is ephemeral. For the past four years or so there has been an influx of graffiti related books out on the market. Of course I would check out each one and would be disappointed most times to find that the type of bombing I was interested in was looked over. Most books show piecing (wild style, elaborate murals) which is only one style of graffiti. I believe unfortunately bombing which is another style of graffiti gets over looked. There exists a hierarchy in terms of styles in the graffiti culture and bombing is viewed as inferior to piecing. Through Bloodwars it is my mission to expose and give credit to the graffiti bombers work that appeals to my taste. I have been documenting and active in the graffiti culture now for 10 years; I have flicks from all over the world. I thought why not develop and release a free online PDF and show my view of graffiti, what I find tantalizing about the art. I art direct, design, find the contributors, do the artwork and use most of my photos I am involved at every step. Bloodwars was released once a month for a year in 2003. Starting in 2004 Bloodwars now is released every three months due to time restrictions. I just released for sale Bloodwars Volume One a 150-page book that includes some of my favorite pages from Bloodwars PDF and new pages I designed specifically for the book.

What would you want to make further progress in the near future?

I want to have international art shows anywhere in Asia, Australia, Russia, Europe, Africa, Mexico City, the Middle East let me put it this way anywhere in the world where they want to show my work. I want to apply the philosophy of graffiti bombing to my artwork having a little piece of my work everywhere. Oh yeah I also want to make some soft toy dolls and children’s books that would be fun. And to broaden my clientele.

Please introduce the interesting projects / ideas you are busy now?

I just independently released my first book Bloodwars Volume One. I am currently looking for a book publisher who will back my work so I can design a color print hard cover book. I am working on a magazine called MATA it is similar to Bloodwars but it is in print. I am also making lots of art for sell on eBay, fonts; I just finished a c.d. and album packaging design, and artwork for two music groups EL Buzzard & Pilot Balloon.

Funs File:

Hobbies: Collecting old photographs, Design and Art books, burritos and thai food Funs in life: My baby boy Motto: WE ARE SAVAGE* Conformity equals crisis. The most often way for seeking idea: Going through my big box of scraps, all I have to do is stick my hand in pull an image out and it is on The tool you use to do collage creation: Pens, ink, glue sticks, tape, poop- pop, stamps, and photos and have fun Favorite Magazine / book: Old U&LC Magazines and Subway Art Book Webs, designers, artists recommended: Website www.misprintedtype.com and www.art-aoa.com Designers Max Bill, Milton Glaser, Vignelli, Muller- Brockmann, {ths}. Artists Barry McGee, Gauguin, HEART 101

– The End –

 

TETRO Movie Titles

A featured interview about my work on the TETRO movie titles at The Art of the movie title. Read the full interview here. www.artofthetitle.com

“No sueltes la soga que me ata a tu alma.” (Don’t loosen the noose that ties me to your soul.) In huddled flight a flicker-inducing moth hotly flits between the filament and Vincent Gallo’s gaze. The spatial elegance of Stephen Faustina’s title design for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro” is to the eyes what wine is to the blood.

A Q&A with Stephen Faustina of SFAUSTINA Design.

Art of the Title: How did you first become involved with Tetro?

Stephen Faustina: I have had the honor and privilege to work for Mr. Coppola as a senior graphic designer through his company, Francis Ford Coppola Presents for five years now.

To me Mr. Coppola reminds me of a colorful painting of a Hindu deity with 6 hands, and each hand is holding something delightfully different. I say this because as a designer I am fortunate to design for so many of Mr. Coppola’s different interests and passions such as his resorts, wineries, food products, Zoetrope ALL-Story magazine and now his film.

I first became involved with TETRO when I received an email from Mr. Coppola that informed me I would receive the credit list and the rough footage for the opening credits. He wanted to see what I could do with them. Suddenly I had to switch gears from wine label design to movie titles…things rapidly progressed from here.

ATS: Describe the development process of the sequence.

SF: Well when I first started to work with the title sequence, the sequence had no sound and the final title sequence time had not yet been determined. A little/BIG side note; this was my first time designing title sequences or anything dealing with film/video, so I really did not know where to start or what software I should use. I’ve never used After Effects or Final Cut Pro and did not have time to teach myself these programs; however a program I did know is Photoshop. I quickly started to utilize Photoshop CS3 video capabilities (I was really impressed with it). This allowed me the freedom to begin showing Mr. Coppola a variety of different title sequences. I was relieved to know I did not need to execute the final polished title sequence; I just needed to develop a direction that appealed to Mr. Coppola.

The two visual components that made a profound impact on me creatively for the development of the opening titles was when the character Tetro (played by Vincent Gallo) stares contemplatively at the light bulb/moths and the shots of the blurred light cells. These images acted as my guide to determine what font and size to use for the titles. It is through the study of the light cells and the moths’ relationship to the light bulb was how the letters TETRO, with the wavering R found its form.

Roman Coppola shot the blurred light cell sequences for the opening and closing titles. I had many ideas, the best solution I thought was for the titles to have them interact and at times mimic the light cells Roman shot, while playing off the angle and the light fractals. I wanted to still have the sequence look relatively clean and elegant. Most of my favorite sequences are movies from the 1970s with simple type treatments that interacts with the sequence frames to form a beautiful composition. I really liked watching Sisters and The Changeling open credits, which you have on your site.

The font I selected was Sabon. Designed by typography master Jan Tschichold, Sabon has a classic appeal, which flowed nicely with the titles and accompanied the music.

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