December 14, 2016
Interview With Charlie Coatney
Charlie Coatney is a designer, illustrator, and fine artist producing fantastic pieces that run the gamut of work and play; His layouts are inspiring, relaxing and refreshing as each composition embodies unique rhythms, textures, and colors motivated by jazz throughout the ages; Please enjoy these interview questions and work samples below
More of Charlie Coatney’s work can be found online here
How did you land your first job in art or design?
My first job ever job doing art /design was pretty much because of skateboarding and luck. i was just at the right place, right time. I happened to run into a friend of mine who i haven’t seen in nearly ten years, we used to skateboard together and were sponsored by the same company. We talked briefly about the past and what each other are up to these days. He explained how he now is a marketing manager at an apparel brand, and was always super busy dealing with artist’s, designers, photographers, and involved in production. I told him i had just been taking a lot of art classes at Los Angeles Community College, so most of my time was spent painting and drawing. He liked what i was doing and asked me if i could get him some pictures of my work. Next thing i know i got a call from the owner of the brand, that was my introduction to freelance design work. Not long after i was creating pieces, sending over scans and in some cases original artwork. When i saw the Final products with my artwork on it, i was super excited. In my Teens being involved in skateboarding, i was introduced to a lot of things art, design, and photography related by Ed Templeton. He would show me ads he was working on, skateboard graphics, and zines he was making. Every time he would show me these things, i would think to myself , How did he make these drawings and paintings into an actual design or product. Just seeing the process , it made me want to pursue art/design as a career.
Where do you look for daily inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from the past, I’m a very nostalgic person. I find inpiration by sometimes picking up children books, jazz record covers, old magazines, Photography books, visiting our local museums, sometimes i just walk in the city snapping photos, so i can soak up some good information. If I’m stuck and can’t get inspired to make something, sometimes i’ll just put on a record and paint, cut, or design to certain tones of music, very improvised.
Do you take on commissions?
I have done quite a few commissioned projects in the past, it actually is really refreshing to create a piece of art/design that is going to someone that enjoys your work. I really enjoy painting on a larger scale outdoors, so commissioned murals are really fun. It deffinetely has been quite a while since I’ve gotten out and worked on one, it is something I’ve been wanting to get back into my rotation.
What does a typical day like for you Charlie Coatney?
My day starts around 6am, we first start off by getting the kids up, getting them off to school and daycare. After that ill usually grab some breakfast, meet up with some friends and go skateboarding for a bit, usually go shoot some photos, check out some record shops. Mid day i consider work time, so i usually start writing down some ideas/concepts, then start working on some art, or design projects. By the time the kids are home from school and daycare, i have already covered all my bases. Usually after dinner the rest of the family starts getting settled in and ready for bed, and i go back in the studio and start on projects again. My days are very routine.
What’s is your favorite project/composition thus far?
There has been so many over the years, its really hard to say which has been my favorite design project thus far. I will say recently it has been my collaboration with Stereo Skateboards. Being that i was an everyday skateboarder throughout the nineties, Stereo Skateboards was a favorite brand of mine, and also had a major impact on the way i design. So when the opportunity to work on this collaboration was presented to me, it was something i wanted to do. I felt like my style would work well with the Stereo aesthetic, I am very pleased with the final results. Jason, Chris, and Ron rule…..
As for my favorite composition, i have been working on a lot of smaller pieces recently. My favorite definitely has been the collage series titled “Sextet”. It consists of six prominent jazz artists who each play a different instruments. Im my mind i was putting together, what i would consider my dream band. The series concists of Thelonious Monk (piano), Miles Davis (trumpet), Eric Dolphi (bass clarinet), Elvin Jones (drums), Paul Chambers (bass), and Wayne Shorter (saxophone). I sampled colors for every piece, Based on Record Cover art color Schemes by each artist. To some it may be a bit minimal, but thats where i have been headed with my work for a long time.
If you could have anything for lunch today, what would it be?
I try to eat as healthy as i possibly can. But i love food of all sorts, especially street food. if i could eat anything for lunch today, it would have to be pizza. My choice would have to be L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. For me there is not a better tasting pie than Spumoni gardens Sicilian Square pie.
Sometimes you reference Jazz, how does this influence your work?
The genre of jazz music as a whole is one of my Major sources of inspiration. Whether it be The design on The covers of records, the story behind each musician’s lifestyle, or the music itself. There are so many great jazz record labels from the past , that have put out amazing music. As i started to buy jazz records in the mid 90’s, i started to realize that i like these records for much more than just the music. I started to take note of the covers and how each label had a different styles of design. I noticed Blue Note used great black and white photography of Francis Wolff and art direction of Reid Miles, minimal color combinations, and in my opinion some of the greatest typography. I started to look at David Stone Martin’s illustrative works on Clef Records, Paul Fujita paintings and design on Columbia Records, the work of Burt Goldblatt on Bethlehem Records, Different textures on the silk screened covers of ESP Disc label, And color schemes on Atlantic Records. Each label had a pool of really great designers and photographers. Picking up these records really made me look into these labels, and artists and designers who were involved. When i Learned about who was behind the artworks of all these labels, it quickly became a major draw of inspiration. Now the music itself inspires me while I’m working on the fly. If i don’t have a concept or idea while I’m creating a painting or collage, i will often just put on a record and design, cut paper, paint to a beat of a song. I found that this is my favorite method of designing.
Are you currently freelance?
At the moment i am freelancing. I started out freelancing and moved onto working many in-house positions over the years, at various levels. I feel at this point in my career, working freelance has given me time to be more creative, get out collect ideas and inspiration. I also believe having a great work life balance is important.