Weekend Features: Anonymous Ink & Idea (Artist Interview)

Meet The Artist: Anonymous Ink & Idea

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My first exposure to Anonymous Ink & Idea’s (Rich Knepprath) work was his “Opeth, Austin TX” gig poster back in October 2011. With cleanly calculated lines, and a wonderfully flowing image of skulls and flowers set amongst a pleasing color palette, I could tell that this artist had a clear vision. An artist’s portfolio is often a snapshot in time where we are let into their world to experience what they see and feel during those moments. In the short time that we have seen Anonymous Inks works thus far, I can tell that this artist has alot to express; looking to open new eyes to those that will see, while thoroughly giving a good pummeling of the mind at the same time. 😉

Currently, his presence in Austin, Texas’s burgeoning metal scene has been nothing short of inspired. Working with notable metal acts such as Mastodon, In Flames, and Opeth, Anonymous Ink & Idea has set his own pace and imprinted his own style in this flourishing gig poster scene.

411posters is pleased to present our debut interview article with the talented artist…

Anonymous Ink & Idea

anonymous ink the bled

411posters: Where are you from and what is your art education background?
Anonymous Ink & Idea (Anonymous): I’m from Austin, Texas. I have been here a little over ten years and I love it. Although, if anyone from the Pacific Northwest ever wants to do a summer house swap… let me know! I love rainy days, and we don’t get many of those here in Texas.

I actually don’t have an art education background, I’m completely self-taught.

anonymous ink behold the great throne

anonymous ink beyond gods and empires

411posters: So how did you get into design?
Anonymous: I rebelled against my instincts to become an artist for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed drawing characters and comic books at an early age like every one else, but when people would call attention to my talents, it made me feel very uncomfortable. I was much more interested in being in a band and playing music, until I found out this was another art form that people heavily scrutinized. Eventually, after many odd jobs, I found myself in a design position at a local newspaper, (which, after the small challenge of learning to use a computer) proved to be very satisfying for me. Setting type, balancing a page and working all hours of the night to meet a deadline was intoxicating to me. After that, I dove pretty much head first into my design career, working my way up from production artist, to lead designer, art director and eventually owner of my own little design shop. I learned by working with a wide variety of businesses and clients and learning from my inevitable mistakes. After many years, I became confident in my abilities, despite a formal education.

anonymous ink by any means necessary

411posters: How did you get started in gig poster art?
Anonymous: It happened pretty organically. I started doing album art for independent bands a little over 10 years ago, in between my corporate design work. Album covers are something I had always had a passion for growing up and once I moved to Austin, it became somewhat easy for me to meet bands and do it semi-professionally. After a while, requests to design other items like tee-shirts, press kits and gig posters became more and more common… but I didn’t truly appreciate the aert form until 4 or 5 years ago. It was around that time that I started to take notice of studios like Aesthetic Apparatus and Methane. Those guys got me thinking about the gig poster in a different way.

411posters: What bands have you worked with thus far?
Anonymous: I’ve worked with hundreds of unknown, unsigned and under-appreciated bands throughout Texas, but I didn’t get any real attention until I started to take on work for larger touring bands. My decision to work with this type of clientele was a shift in ideology for me and is when I started using the Anonymous Ink & Idea moniker. Since then, I’ve done posters for Opeth, Mastodon, In Flames, The Bled, Norma Jean, Machine Head and The Chariot.

anonymous ink gargoyle art print green

411posters: Take us through the process of your art from concept —> process —> final piece.
Anonymous: When I find out about a project, I immerse myself pretty deeply in the band’s music. I’ll listen to their entire discography, and read lyrics while sketching out thumbnails and rough ideas. Once I feel like I have a concept, or a vision for what I’m going to do, I get into the computer and start tracing over my sketch and increasing the fidelity of my design. My drawing skills are okay, but I lack the confidence to draw an entire poster from scratch…so I often combine my drawings with found images, photos or other stock vectors to construct my final piece. I tend to zoom in pretty close and work on a macro level where detail and texture are concerned, but also zoom out and see how well my design is holding up at 3 inches. I start working with type about halfway through this process, and give myself plenty of time to find the right typeface, or create one from scratch. I hardly ever use a font out of the box, it usually goes through several modifications or digital sandpaper before it ends up in my design. At some point I have to call a job “finished”…although, Josh Scogin’s quote “ A song is never finished, it’s abandoned” resonates with me quite a bit. Anyway, at that point I send a proof to my printer and make any adjustments necessary to ensure a satisfactory print…and then I try to not think about it until the prints are back in my hand.

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anonymous ink art print

411posters: What mediums do you use to create your art?
Anonymous: I’ve experimented in quite a few mediums, but I seem to thrive best in a digital environment. I’ve also used a ton of print methods, but my favorites are hand pulled silk-screening and letterpress. The DIY nature of screen-printing, and I think ultimately the ability to personally maintain your equipment and push the creative limits is exciting to me.

411posters: What aspect of this field have you found the most challenging thus far?
Anonymous: Other than figuring out the best ways to get my work printed (for which I rely heavily on the experience and advice of my printer) my biggest challenge continues to be me. I can drive myself a little mad trying to get exactly what I want out of a project, and often get in my own way.. But with lots of therapy and self-examination this process is becoming a little easier to manage. 😉

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411posters: Who are some of your art influences?
Anonymous: One of my biggest influences has always been Storm Thorgeson who designed some of my all-time favorite album covers (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, Audioslave, Muse, The Mars Volta, etc…). Don and Ryan Clark also made a huge impression on me during their Asterik Studio days and I’ve continued to follow their work with Invisible Creature. I also have a a great appreciation for Rob Sheridan and his work with NIN over the years and I also really dig the work of Digital Kitchen, who did the intros for Dexter, Six Feet under, True Blood and others. As far as the gig poster community goes, I’m a big fan of DKNG, Methane Studios, Aesthetic Apparatus, Todd Slater, John Vogl, Ken Taylor and Delicious Design League. I think I pick a little bit up from each of these guys. But I’m certainly searching for a style of my own. Oh , and I’m also really digging Graham Erwin right now, he has a really unique style and his colors are spot on.

411posters: Who are your favorite bands?
Anonymous: That’s tough, I have quite a few. I’ve been a pretty big Smashing Pumpkins fan over the years, particularly the Gish/Siamese Dream years. And the 90’s Seattle stuff was a big influence on me as a teenager. (Nirvana, Pearl Jam,Soundgarden, Alice in Chains) Bands like The Mars Volta, Tool, Muse, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, Opeth, Mastodon, Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Pelican, and Radiohead are in my regular rotation… but I have too many favorites to mention. I just recently discovered the band “Vildhjarta” a progressive metal band from Hudiksvall, Sweden. These guys put out a pretty sick record in 2011…and I’m anxious for a follow up.

anonymous ink opeth austin tx

411posters: When creating a gig poster for a band, where do you draw inspiration from, and how much of their bands music plays a part of the final piece?
Anonymous: Music plays a large role in my process. As I mentioned earlier, I spend a lot of time with a band’s music and lyrical content at the start of a project. But I might also find inspiration from band interviews or live footage from YouTube.

411posters: What projects are you currently working on and what are some of your dream projects?
Anonymous: I just finished up a poster series for all three Texas dates on Machine Head’s North American tour. I’m releasing an art print version of these as well as a color variant. I’m pretty excited to share those. After that, I’ve got a few art prints to finish leading into this year’s Flatstock event. And of course a few things I’m not at liberty to discuss quite yet. I like to surprise people.

anonymous ink machine head houston left

411posters: Dream projects?
Anonymous: I would probably push Rob Sheridan down a flight of stairs for the opportunity to work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on a project. (I’m just kidding Rob) I love everything those guys do, and only hope that someday I find myself in the middle of such a fruitful collaborative relationship. In the realm of things that might actually happen, I’d really like to do something for the Mars Volta, Portishead, or Mogwai someday. There are also a few local bands that I would love to work with like This Will Destroy You or the Clouds Are Ghosts. Also, I’m trying to get my foot in the door on a Mondo movie poster. Movies have always been a big part of my life and I think I would enjoy being a part of one. We’ll see how that turns out.

411posters: Art, like life, is an ongoing progression of evolution and change. Where do you see your art headed in the next year(s)?
Anonymous: I try not to think about it too much. My focus is on my craft, honing my skills and perfecting my process. I’m hoping this takes me the rest of my life, and that this is a long time. Other than that, things are pretty much entirely out of my control. I just want people to love what I do half as much I do, maybe not everyone…but enough to keep me doing it.

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411posters: Your presentation of skulls and humans take on a very clinical/scientific approach. How did that come about?
Anonymous: I tend to over analyze everything and examine things at a very detailed level…sometimes to a fault. So I guess there would naturally be an obsessive compulsive, clinical feel to my work as a result. But, I’m also big fan of symmetry, the golden ratio (phi) and geometry. These concepts are heavily prominent in human anatomy, particularly the human skull and the cosmos (another theme in my work). Selfishly, I think I make posters that I would want to buy…and these are themes I enjoy seeing and studying.

411posters: What words/phrases best describe your art.
Anonymous: I’ll leave that up to you readers.

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Anonymous Ink & Idea Main Page
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