ABOUT JERMAINE ROGERS: BIO | FAQs | INTERVIEWS | CONTACT  

INTERVIEWS / ARTICLES:

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- I Paint My Mind - Part 1 (2010)
- I Paint My Mind - Part 2 (2010)


- The Gazette, Colorado Springs (August 2008)
- CSINDY (June 2008)
- CSINDY (March 2007)
- Rock SmART
- PINUP GUY Houston Press (January 2003)
- 3RD WHEEL Magazine (March 2002)
- RANT Magazine (December 2002)
- INTRAVENOUS SCENE Magazine (Spring 2001)

 
 
Rock SmART
By Stacey Brook

Artist Jermaine Rogers designs rock posters with a message. If you have heard Radiohead's latest album, "Hail to the Thief," you are sure to have noticed Thom Yorke's prophetic voice belting out an eerie warning on the very first track. "Pay attention!" he repeats over and over again, as if the act of singing the words is the only thing keeping him from drowning in a world of complete chaos. This haunting phrase, "Pay attention!" is what struck poster artist Jermaine Rogers when he was commissioned to create one of his signature concert posters for Radiohead's most recent tour date at the C.W. Mitchell Pavilion in Houston.

To look at this poster is to immerse yourself in a circus of imagery. Misshapen figures... take the forms of prominent personae in American life: A crooked priest, a drooling television executive, and businessmen with dollar-sign faces are just some of the characters who inhabit this creepy landscape. It is also dotted with images of a ghostly university, planes zooming overhead, and smoking twin towers. Lurching out from the center of this mayhem is a daunting creature with a drooling third eye who is labeled "protektor." In one hand he holds a young mutant child, while the other arm reaches to engulf a sea of people who stand helpless, covering their eyes. In the very center of the group, one acutely animated face emerges, pointing at the "protektor" and the surrounding scene, emphatically urging us, pleading with us to "Pay attention!"

This sort of imagery may seem a bit scathing for a concert promotions poster, and it is. But that of course, is the point. Rogers is a man who refuses to pass up the opportunity to make powerful art. Poster artists and fans alike have speculated about this particular poster's social and political implications, but Rogers insists there are none. "I basically looked at the world circa 2003 and drew what I saw" he says.

You would expect a man whose artistic translation of the world is so fraught with...imagery to be a pessimist at his core. Rogers, however, is a self-made man who truly believes that "you are only so much hard work and sacrifice away from anything you want." There was no neatly drawn map to success for this African-American, rock and roll poster artist from the South. A Texas native, Rogers grew up in Houston where he discovered early in his childhood he had an artistic gift. He attended art school briefly when he was twelve, but realized, even at this young age, that he did not agree with the concept of grading artwork. Rogers received no other formal training in the arts. Instead, he drew inspiration from various forms of popular culture including comic books and his mother's old concert posters from the 1960's.

According to Rogers, "I used to create little psychedelic-style posters for bands that I liked. I must have been about fourteen and I created this flyer, and it was real psychedelic and trippy. It was a show for like ten of my favorite artists so it was like, Run DMC, LL Cool J, U2, Rush and Jimi Hendrix. And I just made this flyer."

Rogers had been a music fan since first listening to records with his mother in the 70s. When it came to exercising his drawing skills, the marriage of art and music just seemed to make sense. Strangely enough, around the same time Rogers was experimenting with trippy concert fliers for imaginary festivals, another Texas resident, Frank Kozik, was distributing little black and white promotional fliers around the city of Austin.

Kozik, who over the years has become known as the "father of modern poster art," began making black and white fliers for rock shows in Houston and Austin in the late 70's, early 80's. Kozik's fliers, and later his posters and multicolored silkscreens differed dramatically from the simple-lettered, boxing-style posters of the 1950's and the psychedelic concert art of the 60's. (Silkscreens are very sophisticated, extremely high resolution prints that are created using a process that separates images by color layers. A poster is run through the press one time for every color in the design.) His bold, cartoony illustrations and high contrast imagery complemented the loud and rebellious image of the developing punk scene. Like many music fans at the time, Rogers was drawn to Kozik's artwork and started a collection.

"I remember friends of mine had tons of Kozik posters. I was here in the town where most of those shows happened. I mean, I was there. I pulled my poster off the wall," notes Rogers. Hording posters he tore from the walls of concert venues all through high school, he did not immediately recognize concert poster art as an professional avenue. He was working in the Department of Astronomy at the Museum of Natural Science, a job he simply fell into, ("I know a little about a lot of things," he explains.) when the epiphany hit. The source of Rogers' inspiration was a commercial for none other than the U.S. Army. Rogers recalls the ad's tagline with perfect clarity: "The narrator said, 'All your life, you've read the stories of other people's lives. Now start writing your own.' And it sounds corny, but I was like, I need to start writing my life. Pick up the pencil and go."

Rogers promptly gave notice on his job and started living what he calls "a hardcore, starving artist kind of life." Times were tough for him. He spent his days in a little 10 by 10 efficiency apartment, "eating once a day sometimes."

But Rogers was beginning to carve a niche for himself in the underground rock and punk scene. He started to make fliers for shows around Houston, and in 1995 he created posters for bands like Fishbone, The Cramps, Belly, and The Skit Militia Rave Crew. He also designed a poster for KMFDM, a print that marked the first appearance of Rogers' signature teddy bear, the image that would become his trademark.

His teddy bears are no soft and cuddly creatures. The bears tower over humans in posters. Some have bright red eyes and cavernous mouths full of... teeth, while some have round, sad eyes that reflect a sense of melancholy and foreboding. Others still with crossed and vacant eyes that suggest brainwashing, exhaustion. Rogers cites the old McDonalds commercials "with people dressed up in big suits in a world where everything was alive," as his inspiration for these creatures. And, as with much of his imagery, a provocative and slightly cynical intent underlies these mutant forms. He explains that, "the bear thing started from the idea of taking something that most people had already been socially taught represented security and safety and innocence, and warping it."

Rogers saw an increasing response to his bears and began to incorporate them in more of his posters. Ever the science fiction fanatic, Rogers penned a history of the bears, known as "Dero." He began unveiling their story in the imagery and text of his poster art.

A Weezer poster for a gig from their 2000 tour, features an extreme close-up of a pink bear with bulbous red eyes that look in opposite directions, and the number 72 scrawled into his forehead (the number 72 is incorporated into many of Jermaine's designs, the meaning of which Jermaine prefers to keep a mystery.) The bear looms over a young blond man, imploring him in a speech bubble that reads, "You have no idea what they are planning. You must come." Scrawled white text at the top of the poster serves as narration: "I'd seen the bears many times during my childhood. Now, 20 years later, one of them has appeared to me again. He is more haggard than I remember. His eyes are full of fear."

It is clear when examining the story behind the Dero, the entirety of which can be found on Rogers' website, that this artist is an exceptional writer and well-read. Although he never attended college, he needs a great deal of philosophical and cultural stimulation. Art Chantry, colleague and poster design legend, describes Rogers as "an intense, complex individual with the worldview of an intellectual." His posters reveal his cerebral nature, and he often gives nods to those whose words and ideas have influenced him.

For example, Rogers drew Oscar Wilde, Tolouse Lautrec, and Felix Feneon into a 2002 Morrissey poster. He justifies the sentimentally poetic inclusion of these three figures at the very bottom of the poster writing, "voices from another age implore me to see between the lines." He explains, "Lautrec, Wilde, Feneon...along with others from history...they speak to us from across the years, I believe. They beg us to LIVE and THINK!"

Although he weaves complex and provocative messages into his work, he is adamant about creating art for the common man. His love of pop culture and resultant inclusion of nostalgic and iconographic imagery in his work, bring his posters back into the heart of the streets. It is not uncommon to find allusions to early television shows and science fiction movies lurking in the colorful prints.

In a 2001 poster for Ugly Casanova, Rogers depicts a profound conversation between Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch and Grover. Oscar, cynical as ever, provokes his furry friend saying, "but isn't the entire concept of 'God' just a little out-dated?" Grover, starry-eyed and stamped with the ominous "72" replies, "Not at all! There's so much evidence in all of nature that you just can't ignore." Far from the squeaky clean, politically correct exchanges about friendship and the alphabet, this poster puts Rogers' scathing wit on display. Not even Sesame Street is safe from the artist's warped looking glass.

Rogers continually challenges himself to forge links between popular culture and higher levels of thinking; between art and the intricacies of love and life. It is his unique illustration style, however, that initially piques curiosity and rocks the senses of the viewer. His posters are ferociously bold, colorful and creative; the embodiment of both the artist's passion, and the music he seeks to represent. Most people have never seen anything like it before.

From the start of his career, Rogers embraced the linework-heavy style. His style maintains a similar cartoon and comic feel, but a soft sense of nuance and humanity inhabits the lines. Unlike the tightly-drawn, angular characters of Kozik, and the shiny, plastic women of Coop, (both of which bear a resemblance to the work of illustrator-genius Robert Crumb) his images are created in perfect looseness with emphasis on the thick curvaceous lining of shapes. It is a style that few other artists have the courage to pull off. There is something lush and obese about these illustrations, which are often defined by bold, yet slightly relaxed line work.

And Rogers' artistic talents do not end at illustration. Never content to rest within the confines of past achievements, he began experimenting with new media in concert poster production about two years ago. A lover of the fine arts, and a lifetime admirer of Vincent Van Gogh, Rogers decided to picked up the paintbrush and extend the boundaries of his artform. The result of this leap into an unfamiliar medium has been a revolutionary body of work that stretches Rogers' creative resources across a succession of prints. Like Van Gogh, he rarely adheres to the textbook rules of technique. The posters feature painted images comprised of an array of overlapping colors and brush textures. His paintings emanate a warmth not previously explored in his line work. The painted posters feel more personal, as if after all these years, he has finally invited us in.

Rogers' assessment of his own progress is modest, as one would expect. His slightly cynical nature keeps the artist grounded, while his overwhelming belief in the value of hard work and sacrifice catapults him forward. It is difficult for him to distinguish specific works as being personal landmarks, sentimentally or nostalgically important pieces, unprecedented accomplishments. He views his work as indigenous to his being. "There's so many, and yet none of them are really important, cause the way I view art is literally, sort of like breathing. You breathe in, and the air goes into your lungs, and your lungs keep everything that's beneficial, and when all the processes have been done, then you exhale. And to me that's what the artwork is. It's exhaling all the things you've taken in." "I mean there are certain prints I have little memories about and funny little stories behind, but none so important where I can be like, 'now THIS print is one that's so special because, ' It would be like me singling out a breath. Like 'the third breath I took on August 15, 1982 was such a good breath and here's why. '"

Only Jermaine Rogers' body of work will tell the story. From the black and white punk fliers to the large screenprints, the warped teddy bears and pop icons to the dramatic line work and experimental paintings, Rogers is trying to tell you something. And you might just get something out of it, if you're willing to pay attention.

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Pinup Guy
Poster artist Jermaine Rogers isn't always in concert with critics
BY MARY SPECHT
Houston Press, January 2003

Poster art poster boy: Jermaine Rogers.

Jermaine Rogers had no formal art training, but in 1995 the Houston poster artist made the bold move of quitting a menial day job to hawk his bills around town, mostly for shows at Numbers. Work was so hard to come by that he had to sell the originals of those early concert posters just to pay for groceries.

"When I first started…nobody knew who Jermaine was," says the artist. But today Rogers is a big-name concert poster innovator who has worked with such major acts as Radiohead, Tool, the Chemical Brothers and Tori Amos. He's also created artwork for magazines and newspapers (including the Houston Press), CD covers, video games and movie sets. And there even are rumors that Tom Green may use some of Rogers's work in an upcoming film.

One of the reasons for Rogers's success is that his posters have a distinctive look. He pushes the boundaries of traditional poster art, discarding the flaming hot rods and big-breasted devil-girls in favor of fresher images. Influenced by '50s comic book artist Graham Ingels, Rogers uses a bold-line technique to evoke emotion, from the haunting eyes of his human characters to the sinister expressions of his lifelike teddy bears.

While Rogers recognizes the disposability of concert posters, he believes his art will last because the music itself will stand the test of time. "I just don't want to use it as a throwaway art, which I believe some artists have done in the past -- to them, it's all sex, drugs and rock and roll," he says. "We are the first art that en masse has attached itself to these bands. Can you imagine Mozart event posters with abstract artwork that reflected what the people of the day were all about?"
Recently, Rogers has started to cross over into the more traditional medium of painting. During the last year, he did a series of acrylics depicting historical figures like Oscar Wilde and Leo Tolstoy. After selling the works, he realized the drawback of one-of-a-kind art: Once it's sold, it's gone.

So he's started using parts of his paintings in some of his concert posters, a controversial move. Critics say the posters promote art exhibits rather than the rock and roll shows. Even so, Rogers's recent Coldplay concert poster, which uses the partial image of a face from one of his paintings, sold out long before the band got to town.

"What I'm trying to do is join the two together," he says. "Whoever wants to buy the painting has the painting, but everyone else can at least enjoy the image on a poster."

What may be most enjoyable, though, is the sense of humor that pops up in Rogers's posters. In a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion bill, a T-shirt reads, "I gave 10 years of my life to Enron and all I got was this T-shirt." And in a poster for a Strokes concert, the artist pokes fun at himself. "This message has been brought to you by AACP 'Artists Against Concert Posters' cuz this stuff ain't art!" As Rogers well knows, many people would disagree.

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Interview: 3RD WHEEL Magazine, March 2002
A Great mag out of the U.K. requested an interview with Jermaine during SxSW. Unfortunately, truckloads of work kept Jermaine stuck at home in Houston, far away from SxSW (about 3 hours away). But everyone was able to adjust, and Clive Barens and his cute little friend Wendy Allistre were able to make the short trip down to Houston and hang out with Jermaine for a day. Sometime during that hectic day, the following interview happened. - from JermaineRogers.com circa 2002.

'JERMAINE ROGERS: Unplugged'
'The Straight Dope On One Of The Hottest Poster Artists In The Biz'
Interview by C. Barens / Photos by W. Allistre

Rock-and-Roll poster artist Jermaine Rogers lives with all the trappings of the 'alternative-artist' lifestyle: an apartment in the bohemian area of Houston, Texas where he first established his 'poster artist' reputation. The walls of his apartment are covered with vintage travel and propaganda posters from the 1930s, as well as original Charlie Chan and Sherlock Holmes film posters. Several rooms are littered with art supplies, computer equipment, stacks of posters, old toys, tons of cd's, and literally piles of books. The subjects of these books range from that of 16th century art-theory to the illustrated exploits of 'Calvin & Hobbes'. 'Jen says we have too much stuff in here,' says Jermaine, speaking of his wife of one year. Then there are the comic books. Stacks of them. Boxes of them. 'They're all old comics. I don't think there's anything newer than 1993 in there,' he says while looking at the boxes of comics in a hallway closet. 'I might start reading new stuff, soon. Maybe there's some new art style I can steal.'

One wonders if that will ever be necessary. Jermaine Rogers is doing quite well using his own 'style'. Although he began his career as an artist to 'address some real issues' he was dealing with in life, he was lured into the world of concert poster production by the 'freedom of expression, ambition, and money'. Rogers explains, 'I was looking around and watching people literally killing themselves to pay the bills. You know, I watched my parents really work hard just so we could be reasonably comfortable...and I didn't want to do that. Im like, if I can just draw whatever I want and just let my mind go on things important or trivial...whatever. If I can do that AND get paid enough to just cover the bills, then that's the way for me. And seriously, man...THAT'S what it's been about for me. As long as the bills are paid, Im satisfied. Anything past that is extra. And that in itself is really cool.'

Rogers has created posters for literally hundreds of concerts and bands, including such acts as The Melvins, Radiohead, Built To Spill, and Tool. He's also done work on over 25 CD covers, dozens of t-shirt designs, and has taken on an equally impressive amount of corporate commissions. 'That stuff is no fun, but it pays. It funds that stuff that is so cool to do but pays nothing.'

His posters are notable examples of the genre. His work has been called 'thinking man's art', and the topics addressed in many of his posters make bold statements in a very ambiguous manner. 'Im all about tackling issues in a way that totally throws you off. I want people to see between the lines, so to speak. Really bring something of themselves to my work. You know, the artwork...the actual illustrations are only half of it. I pride myself on creating text that compliments the imagery. The way you use words can be what gets a problematic or mediocre illustration over the hump, you know? And if you can do both, a really tight illustration and text that makes people stop and think...man, that's what it's all about. Many times, you mention my posters and people are like, 'Oh, cool..' You know. Like, whatever. But then you mention a particular image, like the Tool poster from 1998, or the Radiohead thing from last year, and they're like, 'Wow! YOU did that one!?'

Did you do anything this year for SxSW?: Yea. I did a couple of things. One thing was a shirt design for this really cool electronic band called Sway. I think they sold the shirts during their performance at SxSW. I also did a poster for a line-up at EMO's that featured The Promise Ring, Schatzi, Luna and Seaworthy. That's it. I didn't accept many SxSW jobs this year. I was so busy with stuff I already had accepted.

Do you still make it out to a lot of shows these days?: Unfortunately, no. The sad fact is that I just get so busy, and sometimes I just don't know when to stop and take a break. Back in the day, I used to go to every show I did a poster for locally...at least most of them. But, I guess Im just getting old. I mean, sometimes I just don't have the motivation anymore, you know? I still love music and all that, but I can really zone out by just grabbing a CD and riding around in my truck listening to it. But, I do make it out to some good shows occasionally. I've just got so many things on my plate, and my mind is a lot more 'leased out' to different ideas and activities.

You speak about the old days: how did you really get started in the business?: Well, after I left my old job to pursue a career in this, I realized that I was gonna have to lose a lot of my expenses real fast. I had done roughly 30 or 40 posters 'on the side' before then, but it was just like a hobby at that point. My 'day job' was paying the bills. I don't suggest that anyone with bills and rent and stuff just drop their jobs to 'be an artist' without first really thinking it through. I was working a pretty sweet little job, as far as pay goes. So, I had to sell my Mustang, which still hurts all these many years later. I really had to start pinching pennies, you know? Because I had to jumpstart the whole deal out of my own pocket. I started calling venues that I had worked with in the past, like Number's, here in Houston. I got shows that way, early on. It paid very little, but when grouped together, you had just enough to get by. The Houston market was sort of dead at this point, so I moved to Seattle.

That must've been really cool. Seattle was quite the music mecca, I guess?: Well, when I went up there the whole 'grunge' thing had died. Things were really stagnant up there, too. But there was this kind of 'indie' thing happening...like a new folk music movement. I really started to get into bands like Quasi, Built To Spill, Elliot Smith, etc. You know, that whole 'sound'. Doing flyers for bands like this was great, too. The music lent itself to various interpretations. A band like Quasi makes music that is very melodious and beautiful and very, very dark at the same time. That leaves a whole lot of space to play with when you're coming up with an image.

So, Seattle is a pretty good set of memories?: Dude, I guess. In some ways, it was the worst of times. I mean, I was living in a hole of an apartment, eating a couple times a day, and doing a lot of walking and bus-riding all over that city. When you cant find work, it's very depressing. And when you're dealing with a lot of personal stuff on top of that, life can really suck. Seattle was good for me, though. I originally went up there with what I thought was a pretty solid 'job' waiting for me at a printing shop, which went hand in hand with my poster plans. As soon as I got there, that fell through. A lot of things fell through, and I ended up in places I didnt want to be in. So, it was sink or swim at that point. The time alone was good. Up in the dark and rainy northwest, I was able to kind of corral my life back in, you know. Things had REALLY gotten out of hand over the previous years, and it was my fault. When I moved back to Texas from Seattle, dude...I was hardcore focused on all levels: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Some of the guys I worked with when I got back in town were rubbed a little bit the wrong way by this, I think. But, I was just really focused and was all about business and no bull. I didn't have time to 'play the game', and that helped me in my career as an artist.

How so?: Well, when you're well-known enough for them to be interested but still 'small' enough for them to jack you around, then you have to be all about business. You've got to know what you're doing. You have to be honest with yourself and evaluate your abilities. And then you have to charge people what you're worth. You also can't be starstruck when you deal with these rock bands. Some of those guys will use that, you know? They'll expect you to be doing tons of work for them for nothing. Or, for tickets...or some crap like that. So, you've got to look at it as a business, to some degree. Your prices should be paid, but they should be in reasonable proximity of your talent. Your talent is your asset. So, you have to work at it. Learn different printing methods. Ask other artists or printers what works for them. Read, read, read. And I mean not just reading the technical 'how to' stuff, but books on art history and different artists. Get books on the history of posters, on the early modern-art movements, and on the artists you've always heard about but never really studied. All of this helps you to really understand what has worked in the past. People don't change. The same things that have touched people in the past will still do so today. You just have to put your own 'stink' on it, you know?

So, you did all of this on your own? No 'agency representation'?: No. All by myself. Maybe some sort of agent would've helped things happen a lot faster. I didn't want to be paying some guy to do something I could do on my own. Its all about just not being lazy. Hit the streets and hit the phones. Mail out packages. You're going to learn so much by just 'doing it' over time. Years give experience. I remember my mindset early on, years ago. And I was so, so idealistic about a lot of things...and I learned the awful truth about people in the business and how the business works and how you have to adjust in many ways if you're going to be someone who is visible. Above all, I learned to shut my moth and LISTEN to people. Too many artists have this pride thing, you know. You can't tell them anything. But talking to people who have done it is priceless. Anyone that you think could help you toward your goal, sit down with them and talk about it. These days, that is super easy for younger artists to do. With the Internet, you can communicate personally with so many people. The ability to talk with poster artists who have been doing work for years is a real privilege. There's this website called Gigposters.com (http://www.gigposters.com/), for instance. It's like a hub for concert poster artists and fans. On any given day, you might get a chance to speak with Emek or Mark Arminski or Jeff Kleinslith. Tons of great artists. Forbes, Jeff Wood, Art Chantry...just a huge list of talent that stops by this site regularly to talk about really heavy stuff and really trivial stuff. I've gone on there and had really great conversations with 'known' and 'unknown' artists...and it's cool, because in that forum, 'known' and 'unknown' isn't a factor. If you produce, you're an artist. Period. A young artist just starting out these days has an amazing, invaluable tool in that website. The entire internet is a valuable tool for a 'starving artist'. Use it!

Yes, I've been to the GIGPOSTERS website myself. Very interesting conversations. I've seen a few choice skirmishes there, also... : Yea. Artists are feisty, you know. People submit their poster art there and sometimes don't realize that if you put it in a public forum, you're asking for criticism. And sadly, many people don't understand the term 'constructive criticism', so you get a lot of hurt feelings. I personally don't believe in publicly destroying someone's artwork, but if you put yourself out there don't be pissed when people are ready to stick a knife in your work, you know. I've been told that my stuff sucks, that my 'line-art' technique sucks, that my color selection sucks, etc, etc. Whatever. You have to ask yourself why you're doing this and who for. For other artists? For the 'poster community'? The only folks Im really into pleasing is the client, myself, and that strange circle of poor individuals who get off on my stuff. That's it. If you take the time to wince and moan everytime someone throws a jab at you, you're going to wear out fast. That's really important to remember, I think. If you're getting into any field of art which will be available to the public, grow a tough skin. People WILL take shots as your rep grows. Learn to see where the shots are coming from and realize the real motives. Many times, it's jealousy...pure and simple. It's like I've had people say that when I create imagery of famous people, like Lennon or Cobain, that Im 'cashing in' on pop personalities. Like, 'its not REAL art if you don't create it on your own'. So, when I use the teddy bear characters, something I created, then I get flack for that. So, you know...it's a battle you'll never win. Do your artwork for YOU. I always feel that if people 'get' what you do, that's just like a bonus..

Sounds like you've grown that thick 'skin' that other artists I've spoken with always develop. I interviewed Stan Trejean and he said, 'The insults make me stronger,'...: Yea, it's totally like that. If someone takes the time to tell me or to post on some internet board how much I really suck, it just sticks me back out there into the light. And, straight up, when I do a poster and offer it for sale, it still sells. And it usually sells out, eventually. Chalk it up to people stupid enough to like my stuff, or whatever. If that's how you feel, leave us stupid people alone in our little corner and go support somebody else's thing...you know? More of my 'critics' would have much more peaceful, stress-free lives if they realized that I really do not care what they think of me or my artwork. Dude, there's a lot of jealousy among some of these artists. It's so stupid. You can try and live in this little bubble, or whatever, but you realistically MUST come in contact with others in the industry. You've got to make sure that your work is still somewhat relative, you know? That means getting out in the water from time to time. But, you don't know how close I've come to just hanging it all up in the last year. Just selling all the backstock, moving to some little town, getting a regular little job and just totally disappearing from the 'art scene'.

That's going to come as a shock to many people who are fans of your work. : It might. Maybe not. You know, it just gets old. And the business aspects of this thing are really tiring for me to deal with, but I'd never turn my deal over lock-stock-&-barrel to some agent. I've got to control my own thing, you know. And then, the petty stuff that you encounter in this business...you have no idea. I guess it's that way in any field. But a lot of what I deal with is all gloss, you know? It's not real. And people are only about the dollars. Bottom line, that's all the majority of these people care about. It's the one thing they are genuinely interested in. The art? Whatever. They could care less about the art on any other level than a financial one. Does it sell? That's it. That's why, seriously, the only people I really, really care about in this work, other than myself, are the people who buy these posters I do. You know, THAT'S such a gracious act to me. Spending their hard-earned, real-world jack on my stuff. There are so many really great styles out there, and they voluntarily choose mine as one of a few that they'll give their money to. Like Degas said, when people do that for your work...THAT'S substantial. That is a 'trust'.

Speaking of 'styles', how would you define your 'style'?: I go through phases, like many other artists. You do something for a while, and then you start to get restless and look for something new. As I continue to live, I guess the artwork or the 'style' is just a reflection of that. There was a period when I had gotten a rep for doing really weird, dark imagery. Much of that wasn't because of content, but because of my inking style: very heavy on the blacks. So, that was really inadvertent. And, honestly, I guess some of it WAS content. When you're depressed all of the time, you won't be drawing puppies and flowers, you know? As I got to be a better artist, I think I started to be known more as one of the solid 'illustrators' in this field. Studying what others are doing really helps. I can't deny that comic book artwork was the foundation of my 'technique', but as you learn about other artists, you branch out. Your 'style' mixes with something else, and all of a sudden there's this new look. Through all of this, I think the ideology in my posters remains a focal point. I like to say things with words, so it's no big deal for me to write a paragraph and include it on the poster with the image. They work together.

And now you've gotten more into painting, according to your website?: Yes. I've always painted a bit on the side, but I've really started painting a lot, lately.

Which mediums do you prefer?: Right now, literally everything but oils. I'm just not set up to deal with all the chemicals...the turpentine and all that. I can use acrylics and watercolors and all that pretty easily with not much of a mess. All of the pieces I've sold have been acrylics. That's just one of the reasons Im looking for a new place to move to that is big enough to have a workspace on site with all that I'd need to really get into some heavy, large-scale painting.

Your CLUTCH poster was simply stunning. The painting you used was a very beautiful one.: Thanks. That was an acrylic painting, actually. I called it 'Red', because of the woman's overpowering hair, you know? I want to do more of that, but in screenprinted form. That poster was an offset thing, and right now Im talking with different people about an easy way to screenprint the paintings.

How would you describe your painting 'style'?: I don't know. Dude, I just paint. You know. I guess I'm really into the whole 'symbolist' thing. Vincent Van Gogh talked about painting what you feel and not always what you see, and I tend to adopt that ethic. I think most people have seen enough of my sketches and linework and even a few of my paintings, enough to know that I could illustrate and paint very realistically if I wanted to. I really like that stuff, too. I look at the work of Drew Struzan, for instance (Struzan has painted many of the official Star Wars film posters). That stuff is so beautiful and amazing. I like looking at it, but I don't think I could paint that way. I really can connect with someone like Van Gogh and his method. I've painted some amazing things in a day. One day. Really complicated things that just flowed out of me. I want to put very little thought into my paintings. That sounds bad, but I want it to flow naturally, not just in technique but also in concept. I get a basic idea, rough it out with charcoal on the artboard or canvas, and just start throwing down paint.

Have your paintings attracted any new fans?: Yea. That's the great thing. I hung a few of my things in a gallery here in town, and all but 2 of them sold. And, they sold to these very...well, they weren't 'poster people'. You know what I mean? The people that bought these had like no idea who I was. They were like the 60 year old, new-agers who thought that the stuff was beautiful. All of the paintings are things I just do for myself. There's something about them. Maybe it's the 'symbolist' quality or whatever. Obviously, they're more acceptable to that 'fine art' crowd. For one thing, when you look at them they are obviously NOT illustrations, and illustrations are really looked down on in the 'fine art' world. There's still the perception among the older 'fine art' crowd that concert poster-art is NOT adult material. It's slowly changing, but it's going to be very gradual.

So, you're now taking on the label of 'painter'. What else do you want to do?: I really don't want the label of 'painter'. I don't really want the label of 'poster artist'. I'm an artist. That implies so much. There's so much that I want to do. Im not going to front with you: posters and concert stuff...all that...it's just an avenue to get to places I really want to be. I've sort of jumped a ride on this train and use posters to get people's attention, so they'll know I'm here. And, I'm using the reputation of these bands along with the artwork to further my ambitions. I shamelessly say that, because no one is getting the raw end in this deal. Everyone wins. I've actually heard some critics saying that it isn't fair to the bands we do posters for...you know, the fact that we artists do these posters and sell them and all that. And that is the biggest load of crap in the world. Anyone who'll tell you with a straight face that the bands don't benefit as much as we do oughta be a politician. They benefit big-time. Not only by promotion of whatever event the poster is promoting, but in 'street-cred' and all of that. It's why a big band like PEARL JAM will spend the dollars to create concert posters for sold out shows. They're smart. And to date, the record labels obviously don't mind, because they LET concert poster artists exist. If they wanted to crush this genre out of existence...I mean, on paper, they could. Then EVERYTHING would be underground. But, they know better. That's why me and every other poster artist who's worked a while will tell you that these guys KNOW who we are and what we do. THEY give us jobs. I've been hired by labels to do posters, and they've got 'unofficial' posters that I've done framed and hanging on the walls of their offices. It's a big game, and you play at your own risk. I do see the whole concert poster thing becoming much more privatized, though.
Why do you think that?: Because people are making too much money on it. And I don't mean the artists. I'm talking about cats out there in the 'public market' after-selling tons of product every month. Primarily on EBAY. EBAY is a blessing and a curse, dude. It helped raise this industry to new heights, but I think it's going to kill this industry, to. There's too much inferior, quality-free product out there. It's representing these bands, you know? Can you imagine what it would be like to be in a band and see a really poor knock-off-job of a poster advertising you...and like, selling everyday on EBAY for weeks at a time? EBAY is so much of a great thing, but irresponsible people will use it to really hurt this industry. I mean, it already has.

How so?: Well, personally I've had values on some of my posters pummeled into the ground by relentless EBAY posting. Certain people just don't care. It's all about the dollars to them. And, they don't mind over-exposing your once 'valuable' poster and milking it for all it's worth. That pisses me off. And all of those EBAY dealers should know that because of the stupid actions of the few, all of them will suffer. Because ALL of the poster artists I've talked with about EBAY feel the same way. I think that dealers should communicate with the artists and really find out their opinions on how they should sell. That sounds unreasonable to some people, but it's how I believe things should be done. Then, everyone is on the same page.

How are you dealing with it?: Over the course of this year, you'll see. I've got things planned. A lot of my posters won't even be available to those dealers. Slowly, I've already been able to isolate some of the 'problems'. And, I'm doing more selling from my website (http://www.JermaineRogers.com). Later this Spring, we're also going to establish a presence on EBAY. We will be doing the majority of the selling of my rare stuff. Original proofs, uncuts, art, paintings, all of it. Last year, I sold a LOT of original artwork through a friend of mine on EBAY.That will be great.

Speaking of your website, I was browsing it weeks ago and came upon some disturbing news. What's this I hear of you killing off your beloved Teddy Bear characters?: (rolling his eyes) Man, it always comes back to teddy bears. Yea, Im slowly going to phase them out and introduce these new characters that will take their places. It's rough though, because people really like that stuff and it's made me a lot of dough. So, I guess it's kind of a stupid move, too.

Those bears are absolutely the hot thing back home (in the U.K.). When you did the 'StripMined' promotion and used the bears in the promo materials, everyone was absolutely thrilled.: Yea. That thing was fun to do. The bears go over really well all over. It's nuts in Japan. Every poster I do with the bears, literally 50% of the run ends up with collectors in Japan. Seriously. Even here at home, I was recently hired by the Houston Press to do all of the artwork for their Music Awards this summer. It's a really big deal here in Texas, and a lot of visibility and all that. So, I'm geeked at having the opportunity to show off some new things and all that. Well, what do you think THEY wanted? So, teddy bears will be all over that. But, these new characters are really sweet. They will have something to do with the bears. I'm waaay too into this, huh?

Yes, you are! What do the new characters look like?: Well, they're these little, dwarfish guys. They've got really big heads and weird eyes and are really mongoloid in appearance. They all have a little thing like a micro-chip implanted right on their heads. They really look weird. You'll see one soon.

Well, it's good to keep changing.: Exactly. I have to keep moving. I think some very well-known artists in this field have fallen into ruts and can't get out. There are some really talented guys that are like 'one trick ponies', you know? They do ONE thing and they do it well. But, that's it. So, Im really trying to avoid that. You know, I've already got people out there who think my work really sucks, anyway. Maybe changing is a good thing.

Well, those folks are absolutely in the minority, because you are one of the hottest artists in the field.: Yea. That's really nice. But, so what...you know? Tomorrow it'll be someone else. You just have to do what makes you happy and hope that someone else will 'get it'. Im fortunate that other folks 'get it'. Like Sam Coomes (singer of the U.S. band QUASI) once said in a song, 'No it won't last...it never does. But it's better to be a has-been than to be a never-was.'

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RANT Magazine, Dec. 2002

'JERMAINE ROGERS: The RANT Interview'
Interview by Michael Foglia

Poster art has been around for years. When it really started to flourish in the 60's with the psychedelic movement, artists and venues created posters that defined a musical era, marrying music with art for bands like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix playing at the Fillmore or the Palladium... the golden age of "rock art". Then it seemed to all but die out during the 80's. Until (it seems) about the time that CD's began replacing vinyl, and the album artwork became smaller. I believe it was about this time that the 'poster artist' was reborn... or better yet, re-awakened. More sarcastic and straight-forward then their subtle predecessors, artists like Kozik, Coop and Derek Hess, drawing from what shaped their views of the world, started putting out vivid images, mocking late 60's-early 70's pop culture to promote their favorite bands. This handful of pioneers created quite an underground scene that re-paved the way for a slew of new and talented artists. Now the poster art 'movement' if you will, is back in full swing - and not just limited to independent bands - or even music for that matter. I'm sure you've all seen the "Coop Devils" or "Kozik Chicks" on stickers, shirts... hell, even Altoids ads, all born from small time artists, doing what they love for the music they love.

I've followed poster art for quite some time, collecting my favorite artists and getting turned on to new ones. Of the new artists, a few rise to the top, the "crème de le crème" if you will. At the top of the list is poster artist Jermaine Rogers. One of the more desirable artists working in his field today, Jermaine has helped set the curve in which all other poster artists are graded. Drawing more from the weird and ironic late 70's and early 80's, Jermaine warps and mutates images and icons that we're all familiar with, showing us all what the "True Hollywood Stories" for Sesame Street or Happy Days might be like - or what it might look like if Han Solo told Luke who was really the coolest.

Jermaine allowed us here at RANT the opportunity to ask him a few questions about what he's trying to create with his art, where he's going next and why it's important that the audience 'gets it'.

RANT: I can't help but notice your 70's and 80's pop culture influence and parody, which is what I find, draws others and me to your work the most. It seems that music fans of the genres you create art for, relate to the same influences you draw from. Is that what you are striving for? What other influences do you draw from when conceptualizing your work?

Jermaine: In many ways, I'm striving to do posters that people who are NOT artists would do if they were artists. Know what I'm saying? It's like; when I was a kid there were certain things I always wanted to see. Like on cartoons, I always wanted to see that cat Tom finally catch Jerry and like... eat him or something. Or, I always wanted to see a scene in Star Wars where Han Solo and Boba Fett just throw down. You know what I'm saying? But, NO ONE ever gave any of my friends or me what we WANTED to see... mostly because the confines of the 'story' or 'franchise' prohibit it. Conversely, the 'concert poster' as a vehicle for artistic expression is SO wide open. You can do ANYTHING... and almost EVERYTHING gets done. I attempt to try and put myself in the position of the average 'Joe' on the streets. Someone with little or no artistic ability, what do they think would be 'cool' to see promoting their favorite bands? A lot of the content is born through this process. And it's not really as 'calculated' or 'planned' as it might seem. It just happens. I do what I want, and as I've said before, I'm fortunate that other people 'get it'.
There are some ideas that have been in my head for years and just haven't been put on paper yet. Sooner or later they will... I guess. The SUPERCHUNK poster a while back was like that... the one with the scene of PACMAN being gang-attacked by the 'ghosts'. I've had that scene in my head since I was like 10 years old. Literally, when I played PACMAN, every time PACMAN got 'caught' I wondered, 'what exactly did the ghosts DO to PACMAN?' It's weird, but little things like that stay with you, and all that you need is an opportunity to let that stuff out. Poster art is my outlet.

RANT: Ahh, I totally see what you mean. Like if the computer in War Games hadn't figured out there is NO winner in Nuclear Warfare and stopped the game before the Russians fired back? Or, what if Azriel actually DID eat the Smurfs? Or maybe I'm going a bit too far. What if KITT actually came to the realization that he didn't need Michael? Feel free to use these Ideas...

Jermaine: KITT not needing Michael? Get serious. But yeah, those are good examples. Right now, the 'stage' of poster-art offers an artist the opportunity to play with such 'copyright-protected' subjects and get away with it... most of the time.
In addition to all of that, I just keep my eyes open. The NEWS is important. I watch and read lots of it. To me, the secret is elevating the viewers of your artwork to a level of control over the art. You've got to put your artwork in a context where the viewer can 'own' it, mentally and emotionally. The average person wants to feel like they 'get it', you know? I think that's where some artists make a big mistake in this field. They try to out-think their audience. Why would you do that? It's suicide, professionally speaking. No one cares about how smart you are. I prefer to sort of lead them along by a familiar thread to the 'idea' I'm trying to get across. Give them some familiar ground to tread... so the poster feels 'close'. They 'get it'. Social commentary always does that. Like, you could do a poster where you explore all of the ins and outs of Kirshner's 'alternative reality' and 'connected event' theories and try to force your audience to wrap their brains around THAT, OR you could do a poster image asking, 'What if Kurt Cobain had never married, and therefore, Kurt never died prematurely? Where would he end up?' Like, you've covered the exact same themes... but you've given your audience the power to 'own' your poster through familiar content: Kurt. They 'get it'.

RANT: Is there significance in the re-occurring numeral 72, the Bears or the Aliens?

Jermaine: Yes, yes and yes. Keep up with the DERO storyline that pops up from time to time in my posters, and you'll see. '72' is a tragic number, the 'Bears' are NOT 'bears' and there are no aliens.

RANT: The DERO storyline? What is that? I've seen the '72' and have my own conceptions of what it might signify, but it's best to let each come to their own conclusions, right? Does DERO stand for something? And should we watch for more installments in the DERO storyline?

Jermaine: The story of the DERO is a tragic one. I don't want to reveal too much, but basically, the 'bears' are not what they seem to be. There are malevolent and benevolent bears, as many people have now noticed. The malevolent 'bears' are actually 'breeders'... but more than that. They are ancient. They have affected much of human history. They have caused wars. They have prevented wars. And a few times, the veil has been lifted, and some of the 'surface folk' have become aware of their existence.
They've bred a race of beings much like themselves, but with a unique difference, that I wont go into here. These bred beings have appeared as the pink, 'friendly-looking' bears. There are things going on in their communities down below... beneath the surface of the earth... and when the entire thing is revealed, then the answer to what the bears 'are' will be evident.And there are NO aliens. There will be more installments. At first, I wanted to rush it... but I'm taking my time. They'll be popping up in the regular rotation of my poster jobs.

RANT: What kind of training do you have in your craft?

Jermaine: I'm fairly self-taught... and there are some who would say that that's obvious. I learned most of what I know by looking and copying and a whole lot of trial and error. In some ways, I realize that I am very rough around the 'technical' edges. There are many things that I don't do by the 'book'. It's funny, but there's a fellow artist in the western USA who told me that my fundamentals were flawed: from line-art style to layout skills. Then, I showed them my early work, most of which is not up on my website (I'm lazy) and they were shocked. I did most of the work from 97-99 with a brush. I adhered closely to the 'rules'. Nowadays, I just don't care. I certainly am still learning constantly. I talk with EMEK, and I learn something about better linework. I examine Hampton's originals, and I learn about better layout. Frank Kozik recently gave me a chastising over the phone about 'color'. I study Kleinsmith, FACTOR 27, and Aesthetic Apparatus and learn more about 'design' and the finer points of 'text' usage. The cool part is that you never stop learning, and you're never expected to. To me, the final test is whether it works in the minds of the people. If I do everything 'wrong', and there's an overwhelming positive reaction from the public and the client, why should I change... unless I personally wanted to? Who determines what's 'wrong'?

RANT: You say you talk with EMEK and Kozik, are you close with the other poster artist out there? Which artists that are out there right now do you think are putting out good work, or maybe there are some artist that are out there that we haven't seen yet that you know about. Anyone you think we should be on the lookout for in the future?

Jermaine: Yea, I'm pretty tight with a few people out there. Justin Hampton and EMEK are pretty close friends. We recently did a major show ('Post Neo Explosionism') in Seattle and it was a huge success. POST NEO EXPLOSIONISM 2 will be held this coming year in a very cool city, but it's still in planning.

I'm also good friends with Frank Kozik. In the loosest sense of the word, he's been sort of a mentor to me. I've spent hours in 'one-on-ones' with him. A lot of real knowledge about this business: he's 'done it'. He also 'gets it'. I mean that, it's not about this being some 'career'... it's about doing what you love. 'Getting paid' is like a bonus.

I'm also really tight with Jeff Wood and Judy over at Drowning Creek. Same deal: they 'get it'. Rob Schwager, also known by the name 'Trucker', under which he designed a slew of good posters.

Really, there are several people that I've become friends with. Brian Ewing, Mike Fisher, Mike Murphy, the Factor 27 guys, Kleinsmith... I could go on. There are lots of really good guys doing this work. I think right now, there are so many different looks and styles, so there are so many people to watch. The California guys who've started in the last couple of years are all talented. Ewing, Fisher, and Murphy are all honing their style. They'll get there, and fast. The Factor 27 guys, along with Aesthetic Apparatus and Methane Studios are really doing revolutionary things. They've sort of come full circle, I think... and it will be interesting to see if they can now step into something completely new. That's what will equate into longevity, obviously.
And there are tons of other folks. Tyler Stout, Leia Bell, the amazing Print Mafia... and guys like Mike King and Kleinsmith who just continue to evolve that 'northwestern' look.

Then, you've got www.Gigposters.com, which is like a 'base station' for this entire movement right now. There's never been another time in this field where massive interaction was so easy. It's an exciting time.

RANT: What artist have influenced you that say, don't do poster art, but work in other mediums?

Jermaine: Most folks know my usual list. Vincent  Van Gogh, Gustav Dore, Graham Ingels, and Harrison Fisher lead the list. Many comic book artists from the golden age of comics (late 40s-50s) influence me. Obvious direct influences like Frank Kozik and also the 60's guys (Griffin, Mouse, Wilson, etc.). There are so many. I'm forgetting a lot. That guy who did Subhumans covers in the 80s. Mark Dancy. Arthur Triedler. More. Also, Wieslaw Walkuski. He's an amazing polish poster artist and usually does work for high-end stage productions and film. He is, in my opinion, the best poster artist working today. Period.

RANT: Do you create art for anybody who approaches you? Or do you limit your work to bands and venues that you enjoy yourself?

Jermaine: Obviously, we all need the occasional dollars to keep mind and body in harmony. Thankfully, I've been fortunate enough to not HAVE to do anything I don't want to. I've turned stuff down before. Stuff I don't respect or that I just find boring. And, unfortunately, I turn down some really sweet stuff that I just don't have the time to do.

RANT: Do you take on projects other than poster art, like album covers or fine art?

Jermaine: Yes. I've done several covers. T-shirts. Magazine covers and artwork. And yes, I paint. I've sold more than a few pieces in the last year or so. My latest significant sale was in Amsterdam last month. Before that, there was a sale of an acrylic piece called 'Tolstoi's Pain'. It was a painting of Tolstoi seated in a chair sobbing while looking through a telescope at death. I reread his diaries recently, and he always seemed to 'see' death coming... like, right on the horizon. I'm slowly making the shift to painting the majority of the concert posters I do. Recently, I used painted imagery for both BRAD and COLDPLAY posters. They were paintings that were done very quickly, in a Wulverton sort of method: very fast, muddied stokes, corresponding color tones. Some folks loved them. Some folks hated them.

RANT: Being familiar with your work, I know that you work with a broad range of artists from indie acts like Zeke all the way to your arena rock acts like Radiohead and Weezer. Do these bands come to you and ask you if you'd like to work with them, or do you approach the bands you yourself would like to work with?

Jermaine: It happens a variety of ways. Sometimes bands approach me. More often, it's by promoters or labels. Then there are times when I see something I want and make a few calls to get it.

RANT: Do clients come to you with pre-conceived ideas about what they'd like to have you do for them, like themes and colors? Or, does the client usually leave it up to you?

Jermaine: Again, it happens both ways. I've had bands approach me with their whole thing 'mapped-out'. I try to compromise when and where I can, but they usually end up giving me the control I need. I can understand the bands being that way. It's their 'face', so they are genuinely interested in the process and want to ensure that they don't come off looking like dorks. I get it. But, they soon see that I know what's up. Fortunately, 90% of the bands I deal with know my work. They approach me because they like what they see. They are glad to let me run with it. These days, most of the 'requests' I get from bands are along the line of, 'Can you put one of those tripped out bears in the poster?'

RANT: What are you working on right now that we need to watch out for?

Jermaine: More paintings. More DERO. More posters. SCREENPRINTS of my paintings. That one's coming soon. Toys. Yes, teddy bears, Jigris, and MERB's (these are new characters yet to come). You know, just whatever I feel like doing. That's the cool part. Half of the time, 'I' don't even know. I've been accused of 'shameless self-promotion': so there will be more of that. I'm pathetic.

RANT: Are there any acts or venues you haven't worked with but would like to?

Jermaine: Johnny Marr and Morrissey need to reunite and do something so I can do the poster. Wouldn't a big SMITHS poster be sweet? I'd really like to do something for Richard James (APHEX TWIN). I would love a Bowie poster. I also would like to do a poster for Pete Seeger or Leonard Cohen, two legends. I never got to do anything for The Subhumans a few years ago when they toured again, and I hate that.

Check out Jermaine's site at www.jermainerogers.com, you're bound to see something you like or that jars a memory of your past. Make sure you check out the "links" page on Jermaine's site... it might open doors to a vast world of art you didn't even know existed (or maybe you did). Thanks again for everything Jermaine!

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Interview With INTRAVANEOUS SCENE Magazine, Spring 2001

"For the very few of you who care about what is actually going on in Jermaine's head before he does those posters, check out this interview with him in the current Spring issue of INTRAVANEOUS SCENE, a great art/music/skate mag you all should be reading. We'd like to thank Nick Myers for putting up with all the delays and stuff. We hope the wait was worth it. We've been given kind permission to reproduce the interview for you here in it's entirety, sans 2 photographs of Jermaine: one, standing with some of his posters surrounding him and the other of some sketch-work. Believe us, you don't want to see those pix anyway: the HORROR! If you do want to see them, get up and go drop 4.95 for the mag...SLACKER!" - from JermaineRogers.com circa 2001.

THE NEW STANDARD IN CONCERT POSTER ART

Meet the Concert Poster Artist who knows what you want to see...and draws the opposite.
Nick Myers Goes One-On-One With Artist Jermaine Rogers

 I saw my first Jermaine Rogers concert poster about 2 years ago in a San Francisco poster shop. It was for a FLAMING LIPS show and sported a comic-booky image of John Lennon and Paul Mcartney engaged in ferocious battle. Surreal and hilarious at the same time, it was a poster that I couldn't walk away from. Rogers' illustrated how far the 'grudge match' had gone...in HIS world, at least. Since then, I've collected many of Jermaine's posters, some of which are framed on the walls of my home, alongside posters by Frank Kozik, Robert Williams, and Coop.

  So, you can imagine my absolute glee when I got a chance to corner Rogers for a one-on-one rap session. Rogers is very much a 'hot thing' in the world of concert poster art these days. Thanks to a visually arresting line-art style, bright and bold colors, and imagery often brimming over with wit, Rogers' posters are some of the most sought after in the field. It doesn't hurt that he insists on very low print runs: the average signed and numbered production amount is about 200 copies. And, his website (www.JermaineRogers.com) is a hit among poster browsers and buyers alike.

   Jermaine is among a handful of poster artists that have recently stolen the limelight from 1990's low-brow main-stays like Frank Kozik, Coop, and Derek Hess. Along with artists like EMEK, Marco Almera, and Alan Forbes, Jermaine has started to test the boundaries of what a concert poster 'should' look like. Where this poster evolution will go in the next decade is uncertain, but Jermaine says, 'It's exciting! People are starting to realize that you don't need to do the same stuff over and over again to make people take notice. Really, thats the attitude that guys like Kozik and Hess had when they started. Doing their own thing. And that feeling is out there right now. You can see it in some of the artwork by these 18 and 19 year old kids who are doing little bxw flyers. There's some really good stuff that's so unlike ANYTHING else that's out there.'

  It wasn't so long ago that Rogers was one of those bxw flyer artists. 'Poster were really a side thing for me and they weren't even 'posters'. They were flyers. Just stuff that I did when I had the time. My day-job was working in a planetarium at a museum in Houston, believe it or not. It was enjoyable work but it wasn't what I really wanted to do. So, I had real low morale at work, and I think that many of the people at the planetarium mistook my apathy for un-intelligence. THAT wasn't cool. THAT is when I knew I needed to do something else.'

(IS) So you just left your job at the museum and started making posters?
JR- Yeah, to make a long story short. I just had this epiphany one evening after work. I can draw. Ive always been able to draw. It's almost like I had this gift that I was wasting. I would go online or look through poster catalogs and see stuff by other poster-artists and think, 'Man, I can DO that!'

(IS) And you had no professional art-schooling, right?
JR- Right. I really never thought art-school was all that cool. I mean, I know there are some benefits, but I learned more from looking at and copying the techniques of artists that I liked.

(IS) Who are some of your favorite artists?
JR- Well, many different guys in different fields. I mean, as far as hardcore classic artwork goes, Gustav Dore was amazing. His drawings for Dante's INFERNO were so complex. He conveyed a real sense of dread in some of those illustrations. Then, the very next illustration he'd do would be full of religious fervor. As far as the classic poster artists, of courseI like the Mucha stuff. That guy was unbelievable. I recently saw an original copy of his poster for Medee (the late 19th century Sarah Bernhardt play) and the eyes of the woman on the poster were so chilling. He had an amazing grasp of femininity in form. His line-work is beautiful.

(IS) Mucha's style very much influenced the concert poster artists of the 1960s...
JR- Exactly. You can see why. His stuff is very psychadelic in a way. Other than that, comic book art was the stuff that I really learned from. All of those EC guys like Ingels, Craig, Davis, Wood, etc. Those men were MASTERS of their craft. Their artwork told stories. It was very powerful. I think that art has to have that  power to evoke strong positive or negative emotion, not just be pretty to look at. That's why I'm not into certain poster art that is out there. It's mindless. It's very pretty to see and the technique and line-art is wonderful. But it's 'dead' art. It says and 'feels' nothing.

(IS) Give me an example.
JR- Yeah, you wish! No way! I keep those things safe in my head. I dont want to be on someone's 'death-wish' list. You know what I mean, though. Just mindless art. I guess it has a place. I just don't do it. I mean, some guys do poster after poster of really grisly looking monsters. I mean, they draw great monsters, but that's all they do. It's like they can't generate any other ideas, so they go with what works. That's cool with some people. I just like to push myself more. It's a challenge to get a really good idea.

(IS) Exactly where do the ideas for the posters you do come from?
JR- Everywhere. Things I see and hear. The music of the band. Stuff I read. I watch the news a lot. The best ideas come from the news. I've still got lots of ideas and pictures that have been in my head for years, since I was a kid. The 70s was such a great time to be young. There were so many weird things on children's TV, PBS and all that stuff. A lot of it has stuck with me. The ironies. What they were telling kids about the world and how open-minded and gentle the world was going to be for us. HIPPIES turned 'educators'. Ain't that something?

(IS) Yes, unrealized promises from the 'Baby Boomer' elite.
JR- You got it. That post-60's stuff was great, though. I mean, the 70's were just straight-up cool.

(IS) Its very telling that poster artists of the late 80's and early 90's seemed very fascinated with imagery from the 60's. For instance, the Manson/Kennedy stuff that KOZIK did, the Jayne Mansfield stuff, etc. You, though, seem to be more into the 1970's.
JR- Well, those guys are like 5 to 10 years older than I am. They are just identifying with the stuff that shaped their childhood memories. That's all Im doing when I refer to 1970's culture, even early 80's culture. It's the stuff that built my perceptions of the world early on. Even stuff from my early teens, like certain cartoons. I just finished a poster with Lion-O from the THUNDERCATS and Gandhi on it. It was just an imaginary story I made up where both of them were great leaders during the non-violence civil rights movement in 1940's India. Lion-O was such a gallant, heroic guy on TV, and it just made sense that, if he were real, he'd be fighting civil injustice. Its a real goofy idea, but it sorta' makes real sense.

(IS) From the sublime to the ridiculous: explain the teddy bears!
JR- (LOL) The teddy bears. Well, I didn't really plan on the big teddy bears being a regular thing. They just sort of show up when they feel like it. No, it's all about childhood memories, again. I was always into the SID & MARTY KROFFT shows when I was a kid. They came on Saturday mornings, but I really saw most of them when they went into syndication during weekday afternoons. It was just weird to see all of these grown people dancing around in these big suits. Like the PUFF-N-STUFF guy: THAT was weird. And those old McDonald's commercials. A friend of mine lent me a videotape recently with all of those old McDonalds commercials from the 70's. That stuff was awesome, but really creepy. These weird worlds where everything was a life-size puppet. Trees, plants, everything. And these people in these big suits dancing around, singing songs. Man, the Krofft brothers HAD to be 'on' SOMETHING while they wrote that stuff.

(IS) I remember watching Bannana Splits with my sister and wishing I could go into that world.
JR- Same here. Yeah, so the teddy bears come from that. They're big and funny looking, and just a bit creepy.

(IS) What's the best poster you think you've done?
JR- I really can't answer that. I mean, Ive done some stuff I liked andsome stuff I hate...but I can't pick a favorite. I mean, there are some that Im really proud of.

(IS) OK. Which ones?
JR- I did a xerox flyer for SLEATER KINNEY a few years ago. It was an image of an old man's face. Just a close-up shot. It was very arresting and I actually drew and re-drew that face over and over until I got just the right look. Um, as far as screenprints go, I like the AT THE DRIVE IN poster. I really like what it's saying, actually. The thing about the kid realizing that he had been lied to about all these holidays and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And, in his childhood innocence, he realizes that there is NEVER any excuse for someone who claims to love you to lie to you. Only when people grow up are they taught that there are times when lying is 'justified'. There's a lot of other things I like. NEIL YOUNG was a good one. That CHEMICAL BROTHERS one with the weird drawing of The Beatles...that was a good one.

(IS) You mentioned that there are some that you hate. Examples?
JR- Aw, man. I can't tell on myself that way. I mean, let's see. This might surprise you, but the latest WEEZER poster I did:I hate that one. I chose the wrong colors. The line-work is too thick. It's just not that good.

(IS) You mean the poster with the little kids and the Lightsaber?
JR- Yeah.

(IS) Man, that poster rocks! You're definitely hard on yourself.
JR- Yeah, I know. Man, I've always been that way. I've thrown away so much artwork. It's sad. Even when I was a kid, my Mom used to get old sketches out of the trash-can and save them. I throw too many sketches away. Thats a bad habit. I feel so dumb when I check out COOP'S website and he's got all of his sketches posted, even the ones he messes up on. I feel so amateurish when I see that. He displays his stuff and I throw mine away! (LOL)

(IS) Send them to me!
JR- (LOL) Yeah, that's what lots of people tell me. I don't know. I think you've gotta be hard on yourself that way. You can't slack up for any reason. Your artwork has to be GOOD. Some guys seem to rise to the challenge when they're doing a poster for a big act like RADIOHEAD, but they sort of slack off when it's someone smaller like THE VUE or THE BLACK HALOS. You've got to do every poster like you're doing it for your favorite band.

(IS) That's a good way to look at it. By the way, who are your favorite bands?
JR- Well, my tastes really go all over. I'm a big Bowie fan. That guy put out a string of albums from 1972 through 1980 that are just untouchable. Of course, Hendrix. The Kennedy's, The Ruts, Minor Threat, The Germs, The Subhumans: they're all good. Make fun of me if you want, but MORRISSEY is the man! That old Smiths stuff and his solo work is awesome. I love Morrissey music.

(IS) You've just ruined your image. Did he ever see your poster for his show in 1999?
JR- I heard that he did. I know that lots of other folks saw it and there was NO middle ground. They either HATED it or LOVED it. That's what I like. Even if you hated it, at least you LOOKED.

(IS) It sells for good money nowadays.
JR- Yeah. I guess that's something to be proud of.

(IS) As far as more recent bands, who are your favorites?
JR- Oh yeah. I wasn't finished. Um, I really like At The Drive-In. They just are so talented. The albums that they've done in the past were good, especially VAYA. RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND, though, was awesome. They progressedso much between VAYA and COMMAND that it's scary. I also really like Quasi, Modest Mouse, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai, and a lot of the good Indie bands out there. Oh, and ANYTHING by Richard James (APHEX TWIN) is required buying.

(IS) Would you ever do a poster for a band you didn't like?
JR- I have done posters for bands I didn't particularly like. It depends. I mean, I can listen to something and get some sort of a vibe. If that vibe can be illustrated in ANY reasonable way, then I'll do it. I do think you have to know what the vibe of a certain band is if you're going to do a really good poster for them. Some guys just don't seem to get that when they do a poster for a band. I once saw a poster for BUILT TO SPILL with a half-naked girl smoking a joint on it and hot-rod flames and 8-balls around her. Now, if you have ever heard anything by BUILT TO SPILL, then you know that is not even close to what they're all about. This person was obviously more into putting out the 'standard' concert poster rather than doing what he was hired to do: promote this band's show.

(IS) What do you mean by the 'standard' concert poster?
JR- Oh, that's the poster that all young guys think that they have to repeatedly crank out to get 'noticed'. Naked girls with huge breasts, some sort of drug activity going on, hot-rods, flames, skulls, pentegrams, monsters...you know. And Im not going to front: that stuff will get you a following. As long as GUYS exist, naked girls and fast cars will be eaten up 'en masse'. I just wanna see some different things EVERY once in a while. I mean...it gets old. I even think that there are 'standard' bands that many poster-artists believe that they MUST do a poster, or several posters, for. For instance, how many NASHVILLE PUSSY posters do we need? Especially when you can count the number of At The Drive-In or PROPAGANDHI posters on one hand! That's just my opinion, though. I'm just saying that we need to spread out as artists, you know? THAT'S the real challenge: adapting your style to a band whose music may not match it completely. Sometimes, THOSE are the posters that really are remembered. Actually, the MORRISSEY poster was like that.

(IS) Has there been a poster where you feel you didn't quite peg the vibe of the band?
JR- Oh yeah. Of course. But, there again, you've taken me into areas which are MINE alone. I'm friends with some of those bands! I'll give you one: The RADIOHEAD poster from early 1998. I wish so badly that I had that one back. I was rushed and stressed out...yeah, these are excuses. I just didn't do my best on that one, and it's a shame. I'm glad it's hard to find.

(IS) More professional regrets, huh?
JR- (LOL) Man, you just don't know.

(IS) Well, is there any advice that youd give to a younger artist? Maybe something that you did that you'd hate to see someone else do? Something that slowed down your pace?
JR- Yeah. Several things. First of all, don't sell your artwork or the rights to your artwork to anyone, without knowing exactly what it will be used for. I sold off a bunch of artwork a few years ago. I was so glad to be getting paid REAL money for my artwork. When someone hands you decent money for some stuff you've drawn, you sometimes lose all common sense. It's like, 'Ive been doing this all of my life for FREE! You're paying me for drawings!?' Well, the promoter that bought those sketches has used them for EVERY ridiculous event under the sun, including many bands that I hate and don't respect at all. He's thrown text on the posters that completely change the meaning of the artwork. I've had friends that approach me and say that they saw some of my artwork on a poster for such-and-such and that it shocked them because they didn't know I would draw something like that or express this feeling or that feeling. And I have to explain to them that it's my artwork, but not really MY artwork. It's a real jacked-up situation. Bottom line is - never sell the rights to your artwork unless you know where it's going. I know some artists don't care or will say that it ain't impotant. I think it is.

(IS) You should pursue that matter.
JR- Man, I've tried. And you know, sometimes you just realize you did something dumb and never do it again.

(IS) It's interesting: you mentioned on your website that 1996 was a bad time for you. You only did one poster that year.
 JR- Yeah. I was still working at the museum and I did that one poster in my spare time. It was for the 96X-Fest. Yeah, those were real screwed-up times.

(IS) Care to elaborate?
JR- Well...I'll just say that you really have to make sure that you surround yourself with people that are healthy for you. They don't have to be 'bad' people. Sometimes, certain people just aren't good to mess around with, depending on where you wanna go in life. I had to change my whole scene and get my head straight. Physically, spiritually and mentally I had to do an 'about-face'. Many times, that involves realizing that your surroundings are killing you.

(IS) Right on. Well now that little mystery on your website has been explained. Speaking of which, your website is pretty amazing.
 JR- It is, ain't it? Yeah, it's all about Jeff Wood. I basically designed the entire site and then Jeff made it all happen. That guy can do anything with a computer.

(IS) He's a poster artist, too...right?
JR- Yeah. He heads up the art-collective called DROWNING CREEK. He and a couple of really cool artists crank out some great stuff.

(IS) Yeah. I bought their 311 print from an EBAY auction last year.
JR- The one with the alien on it? That's a good one. He worked with the band pretty closely. He's a great web guy, though. The website is all due to him.

(IS) Speaking of EBAY, what are your thoughts on it? Is it a good thing for the poster field?
JR- If used responsibly, I think EBAY is a great thing. It certainly gives exposure to your artwork. Some guys have literally made their careers on EBAY. I think it gets to be a bad thing, though, when certain poster dealers become very irresponsible in the way they post different items.

(IS) Like the guys who start auctions off at 5.00 for a poster that you're asking 25.00 for?
JR- I know that bothers some artists, but not me. I've got faith in the posters that I do. They ain't gonna go for 5.00 if they're in demand. No, Im talking about people who will post, repeatedy, the same poster over and over and over and milk it until it's dry. Dry for EVERYONE. It's like, I do a poster. It get's 'hot'. So someone buys 10 copies from me at a wholesale price. And then for the next 2 months they list one every week. It shatters any illusion that the poster is rare. Over-exposure is never a good thing, I think. You know, I just don't dig it. I'm not saying that the guys that do it are bad, but it's just my opinion. They drag the value of a poster down for themselves, and EVERY other dealer who bought the poster.

(IS) Yes, the beloved 'Poster Dealer'.
JR- No, it's not that way. I mean, all the guys I deal with, I like. If I didn't like them, they'd never hear from me. Seriously. Dealers can be really helpful. They've turned me on to bands, gigs, and customers that I never could've reached. But, I have to say that the EBAY thing...when people do that repeated posting for so long...I hate that kind of mentality. It's greedy and irresponsible. I won't sell to them.

(IS) That's just protecting the value of your product. I like that in you: you seem to care about the value of the poster even AFTER you've sold it and already made your money.
 JR- I do. I like for the people that get my posters to really feel that it's worth something. If there was a way I could deal directly with every kid out there who buys my stuff, I would. That's what the website is for. But, there again, the dealers can be valuable. They turn people on to your stuff...people you never could've reached.

(IS) What are you working on right now?
JR- Im getting ready to do some stuff with Interplay Games and XATRIX, again. It's artwork for a BIG videogame coming out later this year and that's all I can say. I did a poster for a game called KINGPIN that they did in 1999. Im also working on little tabloid posters for OUR LADY PEACE and 34 DRUM, this little 'emo'band that really rocks. In about a month, Ill begin a big Built To Spill poster and maybe some T-shirt designs for them. We'll see. I wanna do some comic book stuff, too. You know anybody at Marvel or DC?

(IS) Sorry, I don't. You'd be perfect for that, though.
JR- Yeah, I'd hope so. I did some real independent stuff years ago. I wanna get on a book like FANTASTIC 4 and completely revamp it. Then, move onto other dead titles and revamp them. I'll be like Todd McFarlane...making toys and everything!

(IS) THAT guy is wild!
JR- Man, he is EXACTLY where he always wanted to be, I bet. I hope he reads this article. Hey, Todd! Lemme' draw an issue of SPAWN!
 (IS) He could put you in charge of coming up with designs for his line of action figures.
 JR- Wouldn't that be cool? I mean, that guy just sits around and thinks about what figure he wants to do next, you know? It must be a great job. When that guy left Marvel Comics and started doing SPAWN, you just knew he was going to make noise.

(IS) You should seriously pursue getting into comic book illustration. The poster and comics fields would crossover well...
JR- Yes. They are very similar. Think of how an issue of X-MEN would look drawn by COOP...or how an issue of BATMAN would look by Derek Hess. It would be wild. Who's the hot artist in comics right now?

(IS) I don't know. I haven't read comics in a while.
JR- Same here. I haven't read any new comics in years.

(IS) You spoke of Hess and COOP. What do you think about the current offerings from the heavy-hitters of the 90s?
JR- Well, they're all really talented guys. I don't think COOP and KOZIK are doing much right now, are they? I haven't seen any new Hess stuff. Im out of touch, though. I don't see much of those guys' stuff anymore. I mean, I see COOP devil girl stickers all over the place. Yeah, as a matter of fact, the only place I see KOZIK, HESS or COOP stuff is on those stickers. Man, somebody's making a bunch of cash on that deal.

(IS) Are there any of the newer poster artists you like?
JR- Yes, a few. I like this guy Brian Ewing. Somebody sent an email to me a while back and asked me what I thought about this guy. I'd never heard of him, so they gave me his website URL. Man, that guy can draw. He's like COOP a little, but I like his stuff better because it's very clever. We need more poster artists who put real content into their posters. I also like the stuff that DROWNING CREEK is doing. There are so many styles coming out of there, and Jeff is coordinating the whole thing. There's also this small group of guys in Houston who run a thing called HANDS UP HOUSTON. They literally organize and bring great small shows to town. They do their own flyers. These guys really are doing some cool stuff from time to time. I think they have a website. But, they are really playing with a lot of scanned stuff, photos and that type of stuff. They remind me of THE PRINT MAFIA. I like their stuff, too. I really trip out on that GIANT stuff. It's kinda creepy. I also like the VOODOO CATBOX stuff. And the SHAG stuff is really cool. It's grown on me. I really like the stuff that guy is doing. Some of that DEADBOY stuff is pretty weird, too.

(IS) Well, I hope you realize that there are a lot of us out there who really appreciate the work you're doing.
JR- Thanks. Its weird to think that scenery that has been confined to my head for years is hanging up framed on people's walls.

(IS) One last hypothetical question: it's one year from now. Where do you want to be?
 JR- Alive and on planet earth. And I hope in a new car. My truck is falling apart...

-End-
Nick Myers

Reprinted Courtesy of INTRAVANEOUS SCENE
(COPYRIGHT April 2001)

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