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Tatiana Kartomten interview

If you’re into Ty Segall than you’ve likely noticed the eye exploding awesomeness that graced the covers of the Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse and Fuzz’s self-titled albums, what you might not know is that they’re done by the same person.  Tatiana Kartomten has been making some serious waves in the rock art community lately, devastating the competition with some of the sickest covers I’ve ever seen in my life!  The new Chad And The Meatbodies album cover is just ridiculous.  Kartomten seems to be able to channel the OCD nature of hallucinogenic psychedelia onto the page like few other people on the planet.  Her lysergic symmetry and frantic eye for detail both define her style, drawing your eye into ever tightening spirals until your standing smack-dead against the picture in a stunned stupor.  Kartomten’s also somewhat of an anomaly.  In an industry overrun vying for attention, Kartomten seemingly just sauntered into her current position, providing covers for some of the heaviest hitters in the independent scene out there right now.  If you haven’t checked out her stuff before, you’re in for a real treat.  This is unarguably psychedelic artwork, and I don’t know how often you really get to say that.  The twisted demonic, monkey like figure that graces the eye-sizzling Fuzz cover is as perfect an image conjured from the depths of the human mind as I’ve ever seen in a museum or fine art exhibit.  Kartomten’ imagery and use of color, or lack thereof depending, are both hypnotizing and intoxicating leaving the viewer in a disarmed state of euphoria, a little more open to the strange experiences they might be confronted with throughout the day.  I’m not going to get into trying to draw a lot of parallels or waste a lot of time talking about her stuff, I’ll let the following images speak for themselves.  Just keep in mind that I’ve included plenty of links in case you feel the overwhelming urge to pick up prints at anytime reading this and remember what Kuato says, “Open your mind!  Open your mind!!  Open your mind!!!”
Look at some pretty pictures: 
instagram @taticompton for recent images

How old are you and where are you originally from?

I’m twenty six, from the Bay Area.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows or get very involved?  Do you feel like it played a large or pivotal role in getting you interested in or working in the graphic design/illustration fields?

I don’t really know, I was a loner and just listened to CDs on repeat.  I only started going to shows that I enjoyed after high school.

What about your home when you were a child?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives artists or musicians or just extremely interested in art/music?

My dad introduced me to some of my favorite musical artists when I was a kid: Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, and Black Sabbath.  He has amazing drawings he did when he was young and is a great guitar player and a very creative person.  My mom was a makeup artist.

What do you consider your first real exposure to art to be?

Travelling through Europe on trains when I was a kid with my dad.

How did you originally get into art?  Was there a moment, or maybe a particular image that you saw, where you thought, “Yeah I can do that; in fact, I’m going to do that”?

I’ve always drawn and created things since I was little, I don’t think of art as a separate entity from us.  I draw so I don’t crazy.

Can you tell us about some of your major artistic influences?  I’ve seen articles where you cited R. Crumb who’s obviously an extremely influential artist that people are finally catching on to all these years later.  How big of a role does his work play in your art and who are some of the other major influences?

Music has always had the biggest influence on me.  I admire Robert Crumb because he’s always been doing his thing-always had his style/, like he’s just doing it for himself and would always be doing it, no matter if people liked it or not.  To be honest I don’t really have influences that I can point out, because if they have influenced me, it’s become something personal and in turn their role is lost because it becomes my role.  Like I said though, just listening to music has huge influences on me, same with mushrooms and marijuana.

Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the conception or creation processes for your art?  I don’t mean this in a negative respect at all, people have been tapping into the altered states that drugs create for the purposes of creating art for thousand of years and it’s intrinsically linked to certain types of art, psychedelic music and imagery being the major ones, and I’m always curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consume?

They play a large part in my perception, which in turn affects what I create.  I don’t take them to tap into states for creating art.  I take them to tap into the inner and outer life force.

When did you decide that you were actually going to start working in the graphic design/Lowbrow medium and what brought that decision about for you?

I never did decide.

What was your first professional job in the rock art or ”Lowbrow” medium?  Was that a fun thing for you, or was it more of a difficult nerve wracking proposition for you at that point?

It was when Ty asked me to do the Slaughterhouse cover, it was super fun and I was very flattered.

Are you self-taught, or do you have a formal education in art?

Self-taught, mostly through traveling.  I was a misfit in school, couldn’t wait to get away.

Do you do a lot of preliminary layouts and thumbnails, or do you just get an idea in your head and then try to get it down on paper as quickly as you can to preserve the integrity of that image’s translation brain to page?

I guess it depends on what I’m doing, but usually there’s a lot of sketching going on beforehand, unless I get lucky.  

What mediums do you prefer when you’re doing your illustrations?  Are you a pen and pencil type of person or do you employ anything else when you’re doing your layouts and stuff?  I was reading a piece about some of your work a while back and you were talking about using a type of colored pencil that evades me right now.  A lot of people do their colors on the computer these days which I would assume cuts down on the time involved quite a bit.  How much is a computer involved, or not involved for that matter, for your work?

The computer only gets involved when I scan in it and the colors may get fiddled with on the other end, but I keep it pretty simple, I don’t even own a ruler.  I just use a pencil and .005 micron pen, maybe some pound store paints.

Can you walk us through the typical creation process for a piece of art?  Are there any specials tricks that you use to conjure images up or anything like that?  How long does it usually take for you to do a full color piece?

Takes a long time.  I usually do a sketch until I get everything in that needs to be, let it sit, come back to it until I’m confident, or indifferent, enough to put ink on it and then it’s just a matter of putting in the time.  The images are just in my brain, but they usually come from feeling feelings.

I hear the term Lowbrow Art attached to the illustrative and graphic design fields that happen to operate inside the confines of the music industry or display certain types of imagery but I don’t necessarily agree with or appreciate the idea that term can conjure to mind.  How do you feel about the term and how would you label or describe the type of art that you make?

I’ve never heard that term to be honest.  It’s all just linguistic semantics to me, which I find boring.  Labeling stuff is boring too, it’s much more fun to do something and not care what it’s called or who calls what, what.  I don’t even like the term art.  In the art world, or music world, or fashion world people do a lot of talking, labeling and putting things in boxes, it’s not for me.  I like worlds where words don’t mean much, easy action.

As well as your Lowbrow art I know you also make what I would consider to be fine art prints as well.  Do you do a lot of outsider/psychedelic art or do you just kind of work on that kind of stuff between commissions and paying jobs?  Actually, do you even accept commissions?  I know that both the Slaughterhouse and Fuzz album covers kind of came out of nowhere for you and you hadn’t done a lot of work in the industry before that and I don’t know how involved you are in the graphic design/illustration fields or if you just work with bands that you feel like you want to at this point? 

Dunno, I just do stuff for my friends.  I’ve done, and do, commissions.  I’m pretty indifferent towards it, if you wanna get in touch, get in touch.  Obviously, I love my friends so it’s different.

If you do accept commissions, what’s the best way for interested parties to get in touch with you?

You’ve done two covers for Ty Segall’s bands in the past, Slaughterhouse and Fuzz, and I know that you did the mind bending cover art for the upcoming Chad And The Meatbodies LP on In The Red Records.  It just so happens that I think that The Ty Segall Band and Fuzz are like Ty on steroids and those albums have been on non-stop rotation since their release at my home.  Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to work with so far?

Fuzz rules, and Culture Kids too.  I would love to do something for Sleep.

Do you have a lot of work lined up?  I love your stuff and I’m always stoked to see it, so I’m curious to hear what all you have lined up in those regards.

I’m doing tattoos now and working on embroidery pieces and I’ll always be drawing.

Where’s the best place for interested readers to pick up copies of your stuff?  I know you’ve got an Etsy page and I’ve looked through your Facebook page as well but with shipping rates the way they are I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking stuff up as I can!  I know I’d already have several of your pieces hanging in the living room if it wasn’t so crazy in fact…

Yea Etsy’s the best unless you live in London.

Are there any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the last of 2014 or 2015?

Find somewhere to live more in nature and hang out with more animals.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about your artwork.  I’ve been absolutely entranced with your stuff ever since I saw the cover to Slaughterhouse.  There’s this incredible usage of negative space and colors that I thought it was done on scratchboard at first!  I’m really stoked to see what you do in the future as you continue to evolve as an artist and I’d like to open the floor up to you for a moment here.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about at this point?

Long Live Psychedelics!!!

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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