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2005 12 11
Poster Art in the Streets: An Interview With Jack Dylan-From Reading Montreal
Interview by T. Jeffrey Malecki


Telephone poles are staple objects of the modern cityscape: practically innumerable, often sculptures in themselves, holding up modernity’s favourite means of communication. Jack Dylan’s posters communicate in a different way, and can seen be on poles throughout the city announcing the shows of (and often representing) Montreal’s hipsterati. Characterized by simple and haphazard line-drawings, either absent or baroque backgrounds, child TV stars, his friends, quirk and irony, these posters can by turns be arresting and inane, funny and incomprehensible. We had a brief email correspondence about art, Saddam Hussein and his mother.

Jeffrey Malecki: Do you believe in art?
Jack Dylan: Yeah, sure. Wait. I mean no.

JM: In what way do you see your posters as contributing to the aesthetics of the city? Does their function (as ads) conflict with their aesthetic potential?
JD: No not at all I think. In fact, without the functionality, there is no aesthetic potential, the images wouldn't exist and the pole would be bare. Who's going to go around slapping up pictures on telephone polls just for the hell of it? And pictures of the Olsen twins no less! Posters are a very special medium because that [sic] makes room for artwork where art work would otherwise not be [sic].

JM: What is your creative/production processes?
JD: Whatever image I decide on, there always has to be a concept to it, at least one that I can understand. I really don't like operating without some kind of idea or gimmick behind what I'm doing, and sometimes the brainstorming process can take a long time. The foundation is always more conceptually based than visual, which is to say that I think, not doodle. The criteria for a successful idea are usually based on one question: Is it funny?

JM: One of the more interesting features of your recent work is your incorporation of text. In one respect, the text is a crucial means of conveying important and specific information, but the overall design arguably has more importance. In the street-fight of text vs. image, who wins?
JD: When text is done really well, it becomes an image. There are some poster artists who are excellent at making that transformation, but I've never really been one of them. That's when I slap on a picture of my naked roommate or the Olsen twins, and call it a day.


JM: Do you think there is a problem between your incommensurability between content and form? I mean, many of your images are interchangeable, and could contain the details for any show. Is there a problem with this?
JD: Actually, there is usually a link between the event and the image, but the explanation is often only understood by an elite few. And that's not done to be elitist, it's just that I can't help myself from using/abusing inside jokes in my work. Many of my posters are filled with images of my own friends, and I think I've even begun to succeed in making small-time celebrities out of some of these people. It's all really self-centered I suppose, but those who are involved love it, and it is of course a cheap thrill to watch others stare at a poster on the street and ask themselves “Who the hell is that guy? Am I supposed to know him?”

JM: You have a couple of recent posters of women with exaggerated figures. Tell me about your mother.
JD: She's a psychotherapist actually, and she's diagnosed me as a pervert.

JM: Saddam’s disheveled mug is perhaps one of the most striking images of the past year. Do you think you are just adding to the trend that faces are becoming brands and logos? Do we really need to see this face on a poster for an ‘indie-rock’ show?
JD: I guess I believe that I'm commenting on that trend more so than contributing to it. Although I'll admit that I'm not entirely sure what that comment is supposed to be: “No nukes” perhaps? I think the real point of all that was to take these icons, and to ridicule them simply through a means of exploitation [sic]. I didn't exaggerate their features and try to mock them the way most political cartoonists do. Instead, I trivialize them by subjecting them to advertise [sic] for my own crappy rock show. It was gratifying, really. I'm not sure if the public got that same satisfaction from it, but I would hope that they did.


Images courtesy of Jack Dylan. More of his images are available here.
[email this story] Posted by Emily Raine on 12/11 at 01:33 PM

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