Rob Perrin has been in touch with Nate Duval, the artist for The Barracks poster and has kindly sent this interview for us to publish.
Nate did visit us a couple of times around the reveal of the poster, but I'm impressed that in the interview he is quoting comments from one of our regular contributors.
RobPerrin: Nate Duval, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview with lostargs.com. The Lost Underground Art Project delivered weekly shots of adrenaline into the hearts of thousands of Lost fans in 2009, and they are eager to learn more about each of the artists who took part. Let's dive directly into your involvement with LUAP, then talk a little about Lost, and end with a set of more general questions about you and your art.
Lost Underground Art Project
RobPerrin: Who approached you to participate in this project? Was it something you had already heard about "on the grapevine", or did it come as a surprise?
Nate Duval: I was approached, "out of the blue", as they say, by Jensen Karp, owner and Head Hancho of Gallery 1988 (nineteeneightyeight.com). I was familiar with Jensen, his clothing line (clandestineindustries.com) and his two wonderful galleries in LA and SF, respectfully. He gave me a call on a summer afternoon, told me about the project, asked me if I was interested (of course, I was!) and gave me a quick brief of the project.
RP: Were you assigned the subject matter (i.e. the Barracks) or were you provided with a list of subjects from which to choose?
ND: I cannot speak for anyone else, but I personally was assigned a "moment" and it was up to me to depict that moment in any way I deemed fit. My moment was described to me as "the moment where we all find out that the others lived on the island in their own community and had homes!"
RP: Aside from the subject matter, did you have carte blanche? Or were there any restrictions on what you could depict? Or requests to specifically include something?
ND: The entire process was painless, professional and exciting. From start to finish, artists were given their moment and the rest was left up to us. The only restrictions were production specs (had to be prepared for 18" x 24" screenprint for consistency and be less than 8 ink colors.)
RP: At the risk of being a tad open-ended, can you walk us through some of the highlights of creating The Barracks, from its initial conception to the physical production of the 300 prints. Were there any major hiccups? Funny anecdotes?
ND: Unlike most of my other work that I hand-print myself (process pics of which can be seen here) all of these posters were printed by the ultra skilled D&L Screenprinting (dlscreenprinting.com) based in beautiful Ballard, WA. I have worked with the guys at D&L several times in the past on the printing of some of my own work, and their work, attention to detail and overall skill level are second to none. Once I knew that D&L would be printing this and that it would print exactly as I envisioned it, I simply had to focus on creating the art and color separations on this print. All the "fun" of hand-printing art was left to them, so unfortunately, I don't have much to offer in this answer :)
RP: The hills and sky seems to be depicted in a very naturalistic style, whereas the dwelling and the grass around it are not. Was this intentional, and if so what feeling or message did you intend to convey? (For me, it speaks to the superficiality of the Dharma Initiative and the futility of its attempts to understand and harness the Island's power.)
ND: You are very close in your assumption! I did use a slightly "mixed-media" approach to my illustration, indeed. To me, in all of the craziness that happens on the show, (physical phenomena's, scientific "impossibilities", human emotion/reaction etc.) the island is the one, constant, "real" character. It's funny, I was reading through some of the comments on your site and charter321 was shockingly close to describing the thought process behind the print when he/she said "see how 'real' the island is compared to how 'fake' Ben's little world he set up? The Barracks were suppose to be a second home to the Others. The Barracks in fact were a fake little world set up by Ben to try and keep the people he recruited there for good. He lulled them into a sense of false security. That whole world was built upon lies and the DHARMA folk that built the place were killed by Ben. It is suppose to look fake."
RP: To my eye, the object in the upper left is a cloud, whereas the upper right features smoke from the 815 crash as it drifts above the hilltop. Have I got that right?
ND: The long trail of smoke on the left side is supposed to be the subtle, billowing cloud of the recently crashed Flight 815. Throughout the piece I tried to casually depict things (like the plane crash, to the laundry on the line, etc.) to match the casual, "lazy afternoon" style/ feeling that (to me) the intro of Season 3 was so brilliantly shot in.
RP: Did you deliberately include any "hidden messages" in your poster (that you are willing to divulge)?
ND: Aside from the subtle reference to the crash in the distance, I didn't add any "hidden" gems. Instead, I took a more scholarly approach to this piece, knowing the MASSIVE, detail-oriented following that the show has. I knew it would be important to me (and many others) to make all of my images "official and accurate.” I used an actual photo of the island for the mountains, as well as referencing various photos of the barracks in my illustration.
RP: I read that you use house paint for your screen prints. Was this the case for The Barracks, and if so what brand and colours of paint were used? (Yes, this is the obligatory obsessive detail question!)
ND: I did not print this, but all of my work that my friend Journe and I print ourselves is printed with Sherwin Williams Interior House paint.
RP: Did you have any alternate concepts for the poster? If so, how were they different from the version that we see today?
ND: To me, there was really only one way to go with this moment (some of the other moments were a bit more "open to interpretation", in my opinion) and I essentially ended up making the image I thought that I would make all along.
RP: Other than those already covered in the 16 LUAP posters, are there other "water cooler" moment from Lost that you would love to capture in a screen print.
ND: Great question! Not really a water-cooler moment at all, but considering my background in band merchandise/gigposter creating, I always thought it would have been fun to make a "faux" tour poster or other merchandise for DriveShaft's spring tour or something like that. :)
RP: Did you have a chance to visit Gallery 1988 and/or see some of the other art online?
ND: I watched and played along throughout the entire project. Although it was very hard to keep the "secret" alive behind the entire project and my participation in it, it was very exciting to see many of my poster making friends' prints be revealed and all of the conversation they created online. I do plan on stopping into the LA shop in May on my West coast "tour" of both LA and SF Renegade shows. (renegadecraft.com)
RP: How did your experience with this project compare with other commissions you've had in the past, particularly in terms of the scope of fan interest?
ND: I was honored, pleased beyond belief and still am excited to have been a part of this project. It was a surreal experience working with this fine folks behind this project for one of my favorite shows ever. I am especially thankful to the many folks who have connected with me because of this project and our common love of the show, as well as having my work introduced to a new set of folks who may have never discovered me otherwise. I have done work for a number of very popular music acts and have almost gotten used to that, but when I found out I would be working for LOST, it was a bit intimidating for sure.
RP: On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a Lost fan were you before becoming involved in LUAP?
ND: 7. I wouldn't feel right giving myself a higher number than that, as I am SURE my LOST knowledge is pretty weak compared to some folks out there, especially since I didn't start watching the show until a little over a year and a half ago. If LOST were a professional baseball team, I would say that I would be the shortstop on its Single A farm team.
RP: Why do you like Lost?
- It is visually beautiful & stimulating.
- Fast-paced, well-written, constantly shifting, layered and detail driven storylines
- I also think the sound production is incredible. Especially how the "sounds of the island/storyline" are a character on the show.
- To me, there isn't really a more exciting and intense 44 minutes on TV, than "the next episode" of LOST while you are watching it.
RP: Let's play Lost favourites, speed round!
- Favourite character? ND: Jin or Ben. It's a toss up. Two complete opposites, I know.
- Favourite season? ND: Too tough to say, although I guess Season 2 would be my least favorite maybe? Probably due to the speed of the story telling and number of "big events" that happened in comparison to where the story lies on the eve of the Season 6 premiere.
- Favourite episode? ND: The Constant
- Favourite scene? ND: The opening sequence of the first episode. IT really set the tone for everything to come and was extremely well shot/directed.
- Favourite visual image? ND: When Juliet detonated the bomb at the end of Season 5, causing the screen to go white and having the LOST logo knocked out in black type. That subtle change in the way an episode ended, to me was brilliant and said so much while saying so little.
- Favourite Dharma station? ND: The Orchid
- Favourite catchphrase? ND: Any one of Sawyer's wise-ass comments/"nicknames."
- Favourite Dharma foodstuff? ND: Either the mysterious Apollo Bar, or the mind-boggling shelf-life of the Dharma Ranch Dressing.
RP: You posted on lostargs.com when The Barracks was released. Do you frequent any other Lost sites?
ND: Nope, not really. I try to stay away from the Lostpedia type sites as well, as I know once I get digging around, I will never stop. :)
RP: What are you most looking forward to in season 6?
ND: Seeing how this amazing journey will be tied together and come to a conclusion. So many shows on television have an "obvious" ending that you see from three seasons in advance, with LOST, I just love how I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what will happen and that is very exciting.
RP: Where did you grow up? Are there geographical aspects of your youth that influence your art?
ND: I have lived most of my life in Massachusetts. Seeing the many styles of architecture and homes that this area is home to, has definitely influenced me and my work, especially when drawing buildings/imaginary cityscapes/lands. (which I often do.)
RP: When did you create your first screen print? How were you introduced to this form of art?
ND: I have been making screen-printed art for 4.5 years. I have always had a huge interest in art, design and music. Once I figured out a way to combine all three of my loves into a career, the rest was history. My desire combined with my friend Journe's background in apparel printing drive to try new things, we got together, did some research and built the very vacuum table that we print with to this day.
RP: Which artists (any media, any time period) do you most admire?
ND: Klimt, Vaserely, Cuban and Polish poster art, Jay Ryan, Tyler Stout, all things letterpress, psychedelic rock art and a slew of other folks and styles.
RP: Describe your typical work environment. For example, do you often play music while creating your art? Do you usually work at night?
ND: I would say the ideas often come at night, but as far as the production or illustration goes, I find I work more efficiently during the daytime hours. And yes, Music is a must for all projects. Sometimes out loud, sometimes through headphones, but always present!
RP: Many of your works are bright, colourful, whimsical. Is this a fair statement? Do you think your art reflects your own personality?
ND: Very fair, indeed. I wouldn't say I am a "bright, colorful, whimsical person" per se, but I certainly enjoy surrounding myself with colorful, happy things, as it helps keep me in that type of mood. You won't find too many skulls, or dark imagery hanging in my home so to some degree, I guess it does match my personality/interests.
RP: Out of your entire catalogue of art, is there one which you are most happy with or proud of? (I particularly like sausalito and birdhouse.)
ND: I am most proud of my Phish at Fenway Park poster. It was a high point in my career for sure. Working with a giant band, who I have listened to for years, for a historic show at Fenway Park. (especially being a life-long red sox fan.) There have been prints that I have made that I liked the art for, or broke new ground conceptually or technique wise, but the feeling of being hired for that one particular gig (along with the LOST ARG series) were the best "feelings I have gotten from opening an email in my inbox" for sure.
RP: Do you also collect art? If so, what kind of art do you collect?
ND: I do, I have hundreds of prints/pieces that I have collected or traded with talented friends along the way. Screenprints by Jay Ryan, Tyler Stout, Jesse LeDoux, Dan McCarthy, Eduardo Munoz Bachs and many others. An Amy Ruppel original, a bunch of Tiny Showcase Letterpress Prints
RP: Aside from art & music, what else turns you on?
ND: I like traveling, cooking, eating at highly rated places I find on Yelp and have never been to before, photography, and getting the chance to work with my fiancé everyday who is also an illustrator and very talented -- JenSkelley.etsy.com. I also SOMETIMES like our cat, Mugatu, who is mostly annoying, but extremely good looking and sweet once in a great while. :)
RP: What is it about the number 8 that you find appealing?
ND: It's geometric form, its "infinite" shaping its roundness and the fact it rhymes with my name.
RP: You have a comprehensive Internet presence (Twitter -- @nateduval, Facebook --, nateduval.com, etc.) and actively promote your work (e.g. your recent deal-of-the-day and free shipping promotions). Do you also enjoy this commercial aspect of the art biz?
ND: Very much so. I am just as much focused on the marketing of and selling of my work/brand as I am the creation of it. The internet has made the world so much smaller, and I am thankful I live in a time where I market myself all over the world and sell my work to people all over the globe.
The drive behind my "comprehensive Internet Presence" probably leads back to my Advertising Degree that I earned from Syracuse University. Immediately after graduating , I knew that I was not going to like working at an Advertising or Design firm. Something about it always felt a bit odd, working so hard to help someone ELSE sell their product. So it was a natural progression to make and sell my own work/art and the internet (combined with a pretty heavy, summer travel schedule showing and selling works at various shows/events) made all of this possible.
RP: What are you most looking forward to in 2010 (other than Lost season 6, natch)?
ND: To continue to do what I love for a living while constantly pushing to take it to the next level (both artistically and business-wise.)
RP: Once again, thank you for dedicating some of your valuable time to this interview. Speaking as the proud owner of The Barracks 219/300, thank you for your wonderful contribution to the Lost Underground Art Project.
ND: Thank YOU!