Ian Asbjornsen has been making movies his whole life. The level of his commitment to approaching life through his chosen medium is staggering and pretty exemplary.

He was also my prospective student during my freshman year of college and my scary roommates and I managed to freak him out by accident his first night on campus. He decided to attend the following year anyway. He has balls of steel, brains to match, and a beautiful girlfriend named Amy Reed. He is currently a grad student at USC.

Ian is one of the great people: a good-hearted, multi-talented, passionate person that deserves lots of attention. I got to chat him up earlier this summer and the fruits of my procrastinatory efforts can be seen below. Google him immediately if you want to learn.

Or make it easy on yourself:


being real: what are you working on tonite?

ian asbjornsen: well, i usually read and write at a book store.
read magazines
look at pictures
write stream of consciousness nonsense

but tonight i'm going to see the new viking movie SEVERED WAYS

br: cool. sounds like some hard work. do you consider going out to films or reading, even if it's casual or fun, to always be in some way research for your own work?

ia: yes, totally, i'm completely obsessed with analyzing every visual thing I see, whether it's film, magazine ads, or real world stuff
i really never stop thinking about how to make a new film

br: how does writing figure into that?

ia: film is such a team effort, i HATE SITTING DOWN and writing, but it is a necessary evil with film, at least for the types of films i want to make now.
in the past i NEVER wrote
but i think i was just being lazy
although great stuff comes out of free-form shooting/directing
i'm still trying to find a medium between chaos and form

i like taking photos more than writing too
so sometimes i do that to make myself feel productive
and as an excuse to not be writing
i just always feel like i have to be doing something
and shitty digital photos and writing are the cheapest things to do

br: very true. as a small aside, i would say that your recent short film Shatter comes across as more tightly structured than previous work. would you chalk that up mostly to the sort of preparation that writing and photo-taking involves?

ia: totally. Shatter was the first time I did real directorial "pre-production." It's a skill I'm learning at USC
I did a ton of prep
like 10 drafts of the script
20 hours of casting
2 drafts of storyboards
1 rehearsal with actresses
lots of meetings with my producer and production designers
it was fun
the effort is really worth it

br: yeah it shows. how was shooting the finished product? did it feel more mechanical or less interesting because of all the prep work or not?

ia: well, because of all the previous prep work, in a way i felt way more pressure than normally to preform well. It's not really more "mechanical," it's just that there was a path I set for myself to accomplish, but it was still full of randomness and chaos.
the thing I love about filmmaking is that is it SO CHAOTIC
it is completely impossible to really plan for anything, to know your future
I try to embrace it, although usually directing is extremely exhausting and stressful
I operated the camera on Shatter, and I honestly didn't do much on-set directing of the acting
my actresses, Ericka Clevenger, and Ela Brumm, were both amazing to work with
Ericka is super young but already extremely knowledgeable and talented at film acting, like she plays for the camera angles perfectly
and Ela (Soldier) was just TOTALLY natural. It was the first acting of any kind she had ever done

br: hard to believe. how did you find them...describe the audition process a little bit and their backgrounds

ia: my producer and I put up online casting notices on various sites (nowcasting, lacasting, etc)
we just got a bunch of girls to come in, and they were perfect
Ela is from Berlin
She manages and is the chef of a restaurant in Santa Barbara, i think its called Brummis
this is Ericka's blog: http://erickapedia.blogspot.com
they are both super hard working and really smart people
casting is the thing I'm most proud about for Shatter
and I shouldn't forget to mention Alexander Aquino (Soldier), he is amazing too

br: do you plan on working with either of the girls again, or would you rather totally move on or what?

ia: I'd love to work with them again
i do want to meet lots of young actresses and actors

br: what's the next project as of now?

ia: an all POV murder mystery with a rig i made where I attach a tiny video camera to a hat that I (or the actor) is wearing. I will film some of this in Maui in a bamboo forest near Amy's dad's house
and a rap video with Charley Hood
Amy is writing a feature film that I might film all of or part of for my USC thesis
who knows what of those things i'll actually do

br: how was Severed Ways?

ia: really great
it will make any black metal fan explode

br: into how many pieces?

ia: a double billion

br: double billion, haha
two of them huh
wow, that sounds messy

ia: the movie made the vikings seem like really natural humans, like just regular guys
its very doc like

br: cool. so can you like break it down for us, like how did you sort of assimilate and work on it in your brain and start forming ideas towards your own work?

ia: i don't personally want to make films that are much like New Wave or Werner Herzog (as Severed Ways is), i feel like i already did that with LA Inferno and I want to do more linear stuff
but what i'm sure i'll draw from is the awesome long-lens, high shutter speed close ups in the thick woods
amazing natural lighting

br: huh. my technical knowledge of shooting fades daily (much like my grasp of Spanish) so can you kinda describe what that effect looks like visually?

ia: i don't know, it looks super frenetic and very edgy/stylized
contrasty, but not too much, and the movement is exaggerated because of the shutter stuff
and it looks very flat because of the long lenses (think opposite of Terry Gilliam's visual style)
i want to film part of my thesis in the snow
in the wilderness

br: is that definitely going to be a project that Amy writes are do you have a bunch of ideas floating around?

ia: well, if i want to start shooting my thesis next summer, then i have to start raising at least $40,000 (if i want to do a feature), and Amy has a great script already that i'm really into, so there's a good chance
but at this point it could be anything i guess
and i don't know how to raise film money by the way
it might be a WAY cheaper if i do a short instead of a feature
i dont want to think about it

br: well i would think so. is that the norm though, $40,000 for a grad project?

ia: 30,000-50,000 is a bit normal

br: i'm throwing up and crying. let's move on

ia: yes, PLEASE

br: okay, so one thing i've always been curious about with your work is there seems to be a very distinctly pop sensibility, like a kind of tone that rewards an open, hopeful and fun-loving mindset.

ia: yea, i think growing up on the west coast there is a lot of exposure to BOTH pop/industry "art" as well as "high art"
maybe that has influenced me, i dont know
maybe it's just my personality.

br: it seems like a lot of LA shit is like there is a glitzy 'positive' veneer that is glamorous and fun and it obscures a shitty underbelly and your work seems to kind of be like: 'i like the veneer, sorry it is cool and fun!'

ia: hahaha
what is the "shitty underbelly"?
i definitely strive to make my movies "entertaining"
it may just be my personality
i am really optimistic in my thinking and i'm quite hyper

br: i'm sure it is. why do you think you approach things that way? i mean, do you ever consider not doing it that way, or is that just always your default?

ia: i never watched MTV when i was little or anything
i always try to do things differently, but i think part of it is that I see ALL art, AND life as superficial, but other times extremely spiritually, and maybe there is no difference at all
i don't know what my own style is, because i never have really thought about it and i'm probably the worst person in the world to figure it out
i loved fast-paced cartoons as a kid, but so did a ton of young filmmakers that now make super-slow, boring ass vids
and i don't actually consider my films to be especially fast paced or hyper actually

br: haha, hmm. what for you would be an interesting like downer ending to a film that you would make. or would it just not cross your mind?

ia: wasn't the ending of Shatter a downer? and LA Inferno? Everyone always dies in my movies.

br: but not before experiencing transcendent love (as in shatter)
it's a freeing death i think

ia: haha i could see that
maybe it is just sad to me
i like nostalgic stuff. sad movies are my favorite, the first part of The Decalogue is one of my favorite films and its so heartbreaking

br: remind me what happens in that one

ia: a kid and his dad use the dad's computer to use mathematics to see if the frozen lake is safe, it says it's safe, and then the kid goes onto the lake and dies
Heavenly Creatures is my favorite movie right now and its super sad and disturbing
i really only like tragedy

br: i don't mean to imply that there isn't a range of motion and sensitivity in your films, but there is certainly a shell of fun, adventure, humor and a kind of airyness. you don't seem to be questioning that kind of positivity even as you add depth.

ia: haha
yea i agree

br: haha, maybe i'm being vague. i'll use more of these ? things

ia: yea, i try to make dark and mysterious videos, but maybe they come out as too playful

br: they're clearly both, i just find it interesting that you don't seem to express a lot of tension between being dark and being playful. i guess that's a better way of phrasing what i observe that like violence and technological destruction can exist as a humorous event without like a critique behind it. do you think that's a fair estimate and if so, is that something that is a conscious decision as you kind of implied above or is that just you being you?

ia: oh yea, i totally agree
i think it's both
i'm very neutral about issues
i don't like to think that there are essential truths in anything, so the last thing i want to do in a movie is teach the audience my individual views:::: i'd rather construct a cinematic environment, a virtual reality world where people can enjoy an exciting scenario, and watch hot and/or cool actresses and actors do things they wish they could do
i'd rather make creepy things fun, and fun things creepy

br: i like that, like you kind of make something so fun about something so fucked up that the audience is kind of split across was that gross or was that funny and probably they (hopefully) don't resolve it for themselves, they just say Whoa!

ia: yea, i think that's right
not everything has to be resolved
nothing should be

br: well very little can be
hey, let's write poetry together!

ia: i would rhyme with together but i suck at rhyming

br: don't worry son, it's all about timing

ia: asdkfhjasdkjfha

br: FUCK IT ---------------> (0)

ia: you need to say in the blog that I was your prospy at CC!

br: i really am running out of the ability to be serious and coherent. i'm also drinking budweiser mixed with clamato, so really
were you scared when you visited college?
be 4 real.

ia: yes of course!
that was my first trip to a college!
and the first thing your roommates say is "we need coke" or something hahaha

br: i would have been really scared too. more scared probably. i mean i was scared then.

ia: HAHA

br: okay like where did you start? like can you think of one or several formative experiences that convinced you to be like i am Ian Asbjornsen and i will make really good movies and help the world and not be a dick?

ia: I always wanted to be a director. I said I was going to be one in my 5th grade year book. obviously I was just copying my only male role model, my dad.
i think i made my first movie when i was like 8 or 9

br: wow

ia: it was all one shot, very complicated, of a dinosaur theme park with toys (this may have been post-Jurassic Park)
but i forgot to press record, so when i tried to show it to my parents, i cried
but it's the process that counts so it doesn't matter

br: that is such an amazing story.
tell me a quick story about something cool happening that you are really into like relating to robots or whatever
like just make up some silly shit
related to current thoughts about film or not. up to you!

ia: haters luv to hate
i think robots should be treated with respect & i'm not joking

br: becuz they are gay. this is interviewy again but have you ever gotten any hate for your movies or attitude or anything
[oh, good point. i really agree. i think the same thing about even less sentient objects like paintings and walls and shit. like it is all alive, so respect.]

ia: true
okay your question:

my music video with Adam Cahan (rapper Zero Reference + Amy) was super embarrassing
the kids at college didn't understand it
and the sound got out of sync
but that wasn't really hate
lots of people thought my video was sexist because of all the suggestive shots of Amy
and i guess they didn't understand Adam's lyrics (regarding organ harvesting, etc.)

br: because asking beautiful people to be beautiful is always demeaning

ia: its true
i was messing with expectations of what a hip hop video is, and i was trying to blur the lines between sexiness and non-sense
they just thought i was showing off my girlfriend i think
which was only partly true, but even if i was, who cares?
in high school, drama kids always hated on my films, saying things like "the dramatic arc sucks"

br: exactly. Amy is fucking ideal and hot and smart. FUCK. those kids were so fucking lame and retarded. i liked that video a lot. anyone who had ever touched a vagina has no right in feeling jealous or stupid and resentful. deal.
fuck arcs

ia: thanks, yea, i like it, its just hard to explain to people sometimes.
it was really fun working with Adam of course
we had a blast
and i remember he ate a semi-frozen quesadilla that had been sitting out and then he rapped for the camera and then got sick
i hope we make another video someday
he is a rapper
god i CANNOT SPELL or i CANNOT TELL if i am spelling correctly

br: hahahah that is a good story. did you see him throw up at all?
raped? (lol)

ia: no, he survived
we live on like opposite ends of LA

br: i would love to watch Adam throw up. i bet it would be hilarious.

ia: I've been out to shows like 5-10 times with Adam here in LA, and literally EVERY TIME random girls come up to him, or dance, or chat
i have NO idea how he does it

br: he is nice. being a nice guy is one of the best ways to get laid

ia: it's like, we are just STANDING there, and some girls would come over and talk to Adam
it's not fair
i think it's because he has remained a musician
and i have resorted to unsexy visual media

br: let's talk about Werner Herzog and Lindsay Lohan

ia: Herzog is like super nice, but Lyndsay ran away because Amy and i like turned a corner abruptly and scared her with our loud talking. we felt betrayed, because in a weird way, i feel like i would get along fine with her hahaha, i mean, she likes to be social and party and her ex-girlfriend is a DJ who likes anime. But she is way too skinny and has like massive lion mane hair.
and with Werner Herzog, i just got a book signed from him and saw him.
kind of met him as in, i stood next to him

br: talked?

ia: no, i just waited in line for an hour and he signed it
i didn't try to talk to him
it was cool anyway

br: what was his demeanor like? or posture or anything?

ia: he was really friendly and happy or whatever, not acting serious at all
he seemed healthy

br: of course, he's probably a good person
and on a smoothie diet or something

ia: exzctly
that spelling was an accident but rad
by the way, Amy is obsessed with Harry Potter and keeps showing me pictures like these: http://media.photobucket.com/image/draco%20and%20harry/owl4ever/male_models/HarryPotterGay.jpg

br: okay, if you died tomorrow how would you like your legacy described?
(good one)

ia: ooohh that's the type of thing I love thinking about, as if anyone would really care, but i guess
i would want to be known as one of the best in my field
and i would want to add something to art/film/philosophy whatever
i'd also like to save an endangered species
i answer all your questions like i'm a 3rd grader
i have no idea why

br: a perfect 3rd grader
okay, i'm giving your eulogy. what do i say that you've added to visual culture/contemporary thought?

ia: it sounds super cliche, but i really want to make movies seem as REAL as possible, like create tear-inducing terror and pure physical pleasure
maybe i could invent a new kind of movie theater

br: sounds good. why are you so into such authentic-seeming illusion. like what do you think is the positive effect on your audience?

ia: usually when i'm in theaters i hate them
i don't really know why good stories (cinematic environments or otherwise) are important, but the more drawn-in and immersed in the world of the story the audience is, the more effective it is at convincing the audience of something, good or bad
for me it's not really about giving a positive message
it's just an illusion or story and it has to real to really confuse people's brains into understanding an idea

sometimes i think video games are better at what i'm trying to do, but real actors give something very different than multiplayer games (which r also awesome)

br: i agree

ia: also sometimes i get sad when i make movies because when i'm editing them i feel like i'm looking at death. it's all in the past, it's all gone forever and the camera captures such a microscopic nothing of what was really there

and i suck at being in the present (which is the best time)
i feel most relaxed when i'm drawing or playing piano, something solo and immediate
i try to bring the positive aspects of painting and drawing and music into filming and editing
but there is so much pre-planning that it is very difficult
directing is like the ultimate balance between structure and chaos
it can be a nightmarish imbalance or it can be perfect

br: great. thanks Ian. good luck with the busy week

ia: thnx, say hi to your kitten and roommate

br: will do
much love

ia: laterrrrrrr



even if he weren't my best friend, blaise larmee would still be my favorite artist in the world. not just a fantastic cartoonist and master of panel narrative, well-observed characters, and magical environments, blaise is a real artist in the best sense of the word, a restless craftsman and an open, honest, adventurous person. i talked with him over the course of 3 weekend nites which means a lot of drunken nonsense had to be left out (some is still intact! like the ridiculous, but brief, CAPS section). please enjoy and excuse the fact that we are self-indulgent dorks and good friends and that this is the longest interview that you will never finish and that blaise really knows comix and i don't in any way.
thanks for reading!!!!!

SATURDAY, 6-13-2009

10:25 PM blaise larmee: Hello my name is blaise larmee.

being real: nice to meet you.
please describe yourself in any fashion you like in 2 or 3 lines

bl: Ok
10:26 PM I make comics and they usually take the form of zines and blog entries.
10:27 PM that's about it

br: how would you say you approach the printed medium differently than posting online? what changes in your approach or your selection of images and why?

bl: the printed thing is to give to friends and people i admire - it's an easy way to show someone something, by sending it in the mail or handing it to them
10:31 PM the blog is all about process. you can see where i came from, which is really different than where i am now
the zine is like a thing, an object
it exists independently
10:32 PM oh also my parents read my blog
so i don't put some stuff there

br: haha, of course.
10:33 PM so for you, the zines are very much a finished statement and the blog is more of a naked kind of exposure of the behind-the-scenes?

bl: sort of
10:34 PM really a lot of extremely personal and things i'm very proud of are on the blog and it's just an economic decision
for the last zine i got free access to color printers so i went nuts with them

10:35 PM br: this is the architecture zine?

bl: no this is wigwam

br: can you give me a brief description?

bl: it's mainly images.
10:37 PM some of the images rhyme with each other and some pages have some sequences in them

10:38 PM br: sequences, as in kind of narrative panels?

10:39 PM bl: yeah in a basic sense
10:40 PM i guess all the images are pretty narrative, but work better in a sequence than alone
*but some work better
10:41 PM like they look like they go together
10:42 PM if you show them on a page next to each other you'd think that one followed the next

br: but they were originally created independently?

10:44 PM bl: sometimes.
10:45 PM like i'll just be using the same pens that i used to do one drawing and then draw another drawing on the next page and the two just make sense next to each other
sort of accidental diptychs

10:46 PM br: very cool. i like that. what are you working on now, or planning for the near future?

10:47 PM bl: well today was funny
i went to the art store in this sort of frenzy and bought these traditional materials
(ink, brush, etc)
to make a million dollar graphic novel
and ... results are mixed
i've done a few attempts at the first panel
10:48 PM they're all wonky
the only hope is if i can calibrate my system to work with this new kind of project
which may or may not happen
10:50 PM tweak it so that i can make "beautiful images" AND have them go together in a satisfactorily traditional order

10:51 PM br: sounds like the ultimate challenge. what's the plot line thus far (in your head, if not on the page)?

10:52 PM bl: one of the funny things is the first scene's this incredibly action-based scene and i am so limited in that realm
10:53 PM this older sister runs away from home and we follow the younger sister who's left behind

11:00 PM br: okay. one of the things i always find to be the strongest in your work is how you capture posture. you seem like a very good observer of how people present themselves down to the specifics of gesture, sitting position, etc. can you talk a little about that and how maybe that might relate to the way you (visually) describe action and movement?

bl: i think part of it - something i realized the other day - is i am an observer of observers. it's sort of narcissistic. i like the observer and i think it's worthwhile watching him/her. so a lot of my characters are not really participating in any action - they're on the sidelines, content with enjoying everything cathartically. i did this whole drawing zine where each page i drew my body as it was positioned at that moment. i was in this phase where i was drawing naked on the floor a lot, and i liked the way i looked in that action. i'm not a very action-oriented person - all my energy i channel inward. so i guess it's those moments where things happen for me - when i'm sitting or standing or lying down - that real things happen. so when i capture these physical acts, they're often lacking in any external force. when i did those salvia comics, i loved the idea of showing someone's physical state while they're going through this intense internal change. it's also funny because in comics the tendency is to show all that subjective stuff, but by leaving it out you can shift the focus to its absence.


SUNDAY, 6-14-09 (technically monday but who cares)

12:25 AM being real: ready, boyee?

12:42 AM blaise larmee: heyyyeah!
sort of internet's still pretty shitty
12:43 AM i remember i had to constantly refresh my chats page to see what dialogue i'd missed

br: haha
well we'll make do.

bl: i'm loading this now

12:45 AM br: rad! what do you mean loading?
down loading?

12:46 AM blaise: oh i mean it's loading (even gifs take a long time here)
i'm reading

12:47 AM br: wow. holy shit, haha, yeah, i'm reading it too. pretty great except there was an ass shot in the dos and donts on the right side that just distracted me

12:48 AM bl: fuck
did you see that?
just lost internet for like 30 seconds
12:49 AM boy i really don't know about that comic
seems like a step back for cf
12:50 AM i know those dos and donts always distract me!

br: a step back how so? i'm not that familiar with cf

12:51 AM bl: no? he does powr mastrs. a fort thunder dude
he usually invests more energy in his comics

12:52 AM br: rite i know that much. i just mean, you're the comix expert, so please explain to me (the tardo) how his stuff is usually better?

12:53 AM bl: it's nothing specific, just you can see his whole being wasn't in this one
he usually has really tight and complex relationships with his characters
12:54 AM this is like him 'covering" himself

br: uh-huh. maybe it's kind of a one-off for him and he's just not as invested

bl: probably

12:55 AM br: so, not to be too 'directing' convo-wise, but how do you see your own relationship with your characters? in an ideal state and in your, let's say, least accomplished state?

12:56 AM bl: i read something that says the closer you get to knowing someone the more abstract and formless they become
12:57 AM to see them sort of objectively as an independent self you kind of have to not look too close
most everyone i draw, all the characters i see as solipsistic creations
12:58 AM that's why i can't do dialogue that well - it comes off as monologue being read aloud by two characters
if the character is someone from real life, then they are more likely to have a specific identity to me
and i'll be conscious of involving them with my life and reality
12:59 AM (reality of the drawing)

1:01 AM br: hmm, yeah, do you think in a way, you're very purposely re-creating not so much different 'versions' of yourself in your characters, but a single archetype based on yourself over and over again with each new character?

1:03 AM bl: there's definitely that
1:04 AM i like the ozu approach, like chris ware, where it's just replaying the same situation over and over and gaining density through that

1:05 AM br: rite okay, so if i can use a really shitty 'oriental' metaphor, it's like you take the same identical grain of rice each time but the process of piling it up repeatedly creates an intricate, beautiful and complex structure with its own distinctive character?

bl: ha
1:06 AM you mean like when you eat a bowl of rice grain by grain?

1:08 AM br: haha, no the opposite, like with each character you basically use the same template over and over again but because of subtle shifts in context, style etc. all of these supposedly 'identical' characters become a new powerful structure over time...?
or i don't know...explain eating a bowl of rice grain by grain

1:09 AM bl: right
1:10 AM no yeah
1:11 AM i mean using one template to describe people is just as accurate and inclusive as using different templates for each person
1:12 AM but i would love to move in that direction
to create characters that have conflicts and so on

1:13 AM br: you mean more individuated characters?

bl: yeah
but at the same time not granting them status as individual characters
1:14 AM by refusing to see them up close so their differences blur
and seeing how they are the same as you
but instead keeping that distance
between you
1:15 AM because if you can't see the other as the self
then it's a really limited view you're getting
you know?

1:17 AM br: aha, like you feel like you have a better picture of yourself and your characters if you don't describe too deeply or give too much?

bl: totally
1:18 AM the funny thing is i should be really into putting them in sequence
since it's sort of the same idea of getting multiples views of the same person
1:19 AM but really it seems like they only exist in each individual drawing
i mean sometimes i feel that
1:20 AM when i draw the character again in the second panel, it's adding another view of that character
it adds complexity
it's a different view of the same character
1:21 AM but they've changed in between those two panels
so really it's not the same character at all anymore
like i like comics where the background changes every panel and becomes its own character

br: absolutely and i think that's something i see you doing better and better
1:23 AM we can switch gears if you like. i kinda need to grab something to eat real quick, so you can regroup and we can restart.

bl: ok
i really liked what i said there
1:24 AM about the character changing in between panels

1:25 AM br: oh definitely. like, yeah, great stuff!

bl: ha
1:31 AM ok i'm going to get some water
it's been tasting really sweet lately!

1:40 AM br: boy, i'm getting kind of sleepy i think. maybe we can do a 3rd and final sesh tomorrow evening (6ish my time?)

bl: come on a little more

1:41 AM br: okay a little more i mean if you have good shit to say, don't let me get in the way...

1:42 AM blaise: haha

1:57 AM br: hey, sorry for the delay. ate a sandwich.

bl: reading this btw, it's really great
1:59 AM just change the number at the end of the url to change the page

2:01 AM br: wow, awesome. hilarious! oh there's good material for a question. your comix are a lot of things: creepy, touching, beautiful, sad, peaceful, dreamy, atmospheric, etc. etc. but they are really almost never ever funny. how come?

2:02 AM bl: yeah i used to be a funny guy
2:03 AM i went through this whole phase where i wanted to make comics like the far side
i sent them to the reader (never got a response)
i really like humor
2:04 AM i really don't know
i can't stand writing snappy dialogue

2:06 AM br: yeah, that's hard. you don't want to come across like a nerd. i think you have a terrific sense of humor, but you're no comedian. what were some of the 'far side' experiments like?

2:07 AM bl: stupid things that were shock humor (for a 16 year old boy)
like about the virgin mary or whatever. obvious jokes
but yeah i think i do do humor sometimes
2:16 AM like those salvia comics definitely have a humorous dimension to them
2:17 AM because the characters lose their reality as characters in them, they become sort of flat and you can laugh at them pretty easily
but i think most of my humor is enjoyed primarily by my characters, so there's none left for the audience to enjoy
2:24 AM but i don't want to recreate that situation in my comics
2:28 AM and i guess it's hard for me to create humor without feeling like i'm making fun of or patronizing my characters....

[ed. boring shit (my fault) that i edited out]


MONDAY, 6-15-09

6:08 PM being real: blaise

blaise larmee: hey
dad's birthday is today

br: well are you going to call him

bl: yeah
i will

[ed. more fucking nonsense]

9:52 PM br: what's the latest?

9:53 PM bl: hey
may have a limited time here
saw 4 people last night with shoes that looked like yours
except vans

9:54 PM br: well vans are a pretty different story.

bl: haha

br: what shoes are ;you wearing @ the moment?

bl: new balance

9:55 PM br: dur

bl: let's wrap up this interview
i've got like 25 minutes of battery power

9:56 PM br: let's DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!
k, what was the last thing (art/fruit/shape/etc. that directly and positively influenced your art?)

9:58 PM bl: well there was this structure
9:59 PM half finished/renovated/vacated buildings
every storefront i pass that's been stripped and for lease
10:00 PM those spaces are so beautiful and perfect and i guess it's even more poignant because you know as soon as someone starts a business there it'll go to shit
so it's this rare state of limitless potential
i like those spaces and i try to make spaces like that in my comics

10:01 PM br: beautiful

bl: oh stop

br: if i could...
10:02 PM how do you relate to or whatever your materials, your pages, your markers, etc.? tell me about your tools

10:03 PM bl: i don't relate to them that much.
10:04 PM i don't have lasting, involved relationships with my tools
i like new tools for their novelty and the way they force me out of or into patterns
10:05 PM i guess if anything i try to limit the importance of my tools
cost is a good process of selection
10:07 PM like i got this grey marker the other day and it has this unintended effect where it bleeds through these thick pages, and fucks things up on the other side
that's interesting. it intrudes on my creative process in a way i can admire
10:08 PM that's why i'm getting into the idea of collaboration
giving up control
tools never do what i want them to do
this is a constant complaint of all my friends too
10:09 PM friends whose work i admire
it's a good thing
10:10 PM it's the conflict between intention and ability
that's a vonnegut quote, i think
10:11 PM like ok here's another thing
10:12 PM when i moved to portland a month ago i didn't bring any color tools
10:13 PM so i'm only able to render things in black and white at the moment
and all i'm noticing is color now
and it's this thing i realize, where of course if i had color tools i would be obsessed with black and white stuff

10:14 PM br: where? as a phantom presence in your work or in the real world?

bl: oh no in the real world

10:17 PM br: aha gotcha.
what are the black and white materials you're using?

bl: ballpoint pen
grey marker
another grey marker
10:18 PM and i just got a thing of ink
and a brush
10:19 PM back to basics!

10:20 PM br: but at the same time, those sound very rich with possibility

bl: yeah
10:21 PM like the grey marker
is so luxurious, the way it absorbs and the way it builds up in tones
it's also a little warm, so it feels good for skin
10:22 PM some really obnoxious hot girl just walked in

br: lol
10:23 PM how was she obnoxious

bl: actually i guess she isn't
i heard this gangly voice at the same time she came in and equated the two

br: haha 'gangly voice'
10:24 PM so okay, did we already talk about what you're working on for the near future?

bl: yeah
but after talking last night
10:25 PM i really want to make a ryan trecartin-esque thing with massive formless characters
do some humour
10:26 PM over-the-top-ness
like extremely indulgent and masturbatory
10:27 PM i was thinking i really would benefit from a grandiose color palette then
10:28 PM but whatever, i need to photocopy something new

10:32 PM br: yeah okay, so for someone who seems so relatively confident in their approach it seems like you kind of have a lot of willingness to really alter what you do....do you think that's something that you actually purposefully do with each new work/book/etc. or do you think you might be grandstanding a little or what?

10:33 PM bl: i don't have a specific purpose in creation so i'm a little safe in that territory
10:34 PM i think my process is really organic and somehow it's been evolving really quickly over the last couple years
there definitely is grandstanding
10:35 PM especially in the comics scene's idea of what's right and proper
but i mean in an art sense i don't think i'm that unique or anything
10:36 PM honestly i don't think i've settled down at all and i think that's a good place for me
i don't try to create "mature work" because i know that isn't my place right now
i definitely set up my limits and know my place
10:37 PM this is the time for dicking around and cutting the grass
10:38 PM i respect the ego of young children, where the ego is so all-consuming that there is no need to be insecurely "egotistic"
10:40 PM obviously i'm not at that level - there's still a lot of insecurity in my creative process - and there's millions of things i make that never get seen - but i try to keep that in mind
10:41 PM kids also have this jesus-like sense of agency, where everything is their creation, and yet they're only puppets of their parents' desires
that's kind of like my relation to my comics (this may very well be stretching things)

10:46 PM br: well, i suppose that's possible.
10:47 PM what was your entry point to comics? what are some of your clearest influences, in the literal world of comics and elsewhere?

10:48 PM bl: i entered comics via comics culture on television - ninja turtles and x-men
10:49 PM then i made the predictable journey through "serious" comics and now into "art" comics
adrian tomine is still really visible in my characters
and i'm ripping off cf as much as anyone else these days

10:50 PM br: haha.
10:52 PM is there any one or any style that you've made conscious decisions to avoid or are embarrassed about having ever copied?

bl: yes, totally.
tomine is the perfect example of this
10:53 PM when i discovered him, i was just discovering bohemian/hipster culture and of course got overly excited about it all
i went through my embarassement phase and now i can appreciate it as what it is
very "indie", very 90's
it has its place as much as anything
10:56 PM i love how stiff his characters were!
how their hands were always in the same position

br: always exactly 3/4!

bl: yeah!
and obviously he could make hipster porn like nobody's business

10:57 PM br: metaphorically?
i mean, he never did hipster porn really?

bl: no

br: like a tit per mag at most.

bl: ha ha
you know what i mean
10:58 PM every face and haircut is extremely fetishized
you can tell how much he loved doing 360 turnarounds of each character

br: rite. not hipster porn, but like rite, got it.
10:59 PM do you ever do practice sketches or imagine your characters in 3d before (or while) you commit them to page

bl: no
i only have 2 or 3 templates anyway
11:00 PM they're like anime characters
only the hair and outfits chage
but i'm trying to get out of that

br: haha, br00tal

11:02 PM bl: what i used to think was, "i have to draw ugly people in order to expand my drawing abilities"
but now that seems so silly
i made an ultimatum to myself the other day never to draw an ugly person
11:03 PM because there are so many modes of beauty , there's no need

br: and ugly people are hard to draw

bl: no kidding
you have to cover your eyes as you're drawing them
11:04 PM i guess again, the only person i'd be comfortable drawing "ugly" would be myself
11:05 PM but even then - i like myself better when i'm pretty

br: you're always pretty
me not so much, i have this one zit, a small one, on my chin that i've popped twice daily since friday
like, go the fuck away asshole!!!

11:07 PM bl: ugh
have you seen that mad! cartoon of "the zit"?
11:08 PM http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3225/2799700014_6803a8fb9c_o.jpg
i actually own that issue

11:09 PM br: http://img84.imageshack.us/i/04305zit26pz.jpg/

bl: fuck

11:10 PM br: i know

bl: i don't like that imagery
i'm sure that's a fetish though
zit fucking

11:11 PM br: i doubt it. i mean really everything's a fetish but there might be one neanderthal that's really into fucking a zit and s/he's probably on death row.
11:12 PM the mad thing was really funny though.

bl: god looking out the window
it's like a giant tomine masterpiece

11:13 PM br: in portland?

bl: yeah everyone's in plaid

11:14 PM br: and everyone is clean and about to read something

bl: ha ha yes
ok i've got like a half hour left

br: RAD. let's make it a fun one....!

bl: yeah!
11:17 PM let's use caps and exclamation points too!

br: you have no idea what nonsense i am going to spend 3.5 hours spread over 2 nights editing this shit into!

bl: ha
i trust you
11:23 PM i love on google image search where it shows a bunch of versions of the same painting
and each image looks so vastly different


11:26 PM bl: i thought this was tuymans for a while http://www.phaidon.com/GetResource.aspx?file=9780714848860_main.jpg


11:27 PM bl: ok no more caps

11:28 PM br: HEY ACTUALLY THAT'S REALLY FUNNY. the new modern wing (so less aggro w/o caps) has tons of great 'contemporary' painters and artists: bruce naumann, mike kelly, marlene dumas, luc tuymans, felix gonzales-torres, gerheart richter, elsworth kelley, steve mcqueen, etc. etc. and yeah, no elizabeth payton
i mean, maybe she's not that great
11:29 PM or not that 'museum-worthy'

11:34 PM bl: ok well i want to do some drawing before i get kicked out here
so have a good night

br: oh bums....
11:35 PM i guess this is the interview

bl: yeah i'm excited to see how it comes out

br: okay, bye dude