Lukas Geronimas and Niall McClelland, who collectively make up the visual art team Fighting, recently sat down to talk concepts, obsessions, and dream projects with XLR8R. Below are extras from that interview, in which the duo chats inspirations, musical choices and more.
To read the full article on Fighting from XLR8R 114, download a pdf of the issue.
XLR8R: How did you meet?
Lukas: Niall and I met on our first day of high school. We went to a special art high school in the sticks (just outside Toronto; not really the sticks). Our mothers knew each other from the aerobics class they both participated in at the local community center, and so when they found out both their sons were starting out at the same special school, they figured Niall and I ought to be friends. My father would drive me to school in the mornings (being self-employed as a real estate agent, it was his way of getting out of the house at a decent hour), so Niall's mum arranged for Niall to get a ride with us (we lived like 30 seconds away from each other, so it was the logical thing). At first I thought Niall was a bit of a chump, and I think he thought the same of me, but then we bonded over Star Wars; now we bond over other retarded things.
What is something from your childhood that you think has had a great deal of effect on you as an artist?
Lukas: Monsters and reckless abandon.
Did you go to art school? If so, what is the most important thing you learned there?
Niall: I went to an art school. I studied Communication Design. I enjoyed the cross-pollination of art into design and vice-versa through the various programs and all that diverse interest. A frustrating part was that you didn't choose who your classmates were; like, I didn't necessarily want or need a critique from certain people or teachers, and the critiques I sought after were maybe outside of that class structure. It seemed the bureaucracy of the programs kinda hindered the learning. So yeah, I had a good experience for the most part, but it wasn't without frustrations.
Do you conceptualize a t-shirt design differently from a piece of art?
Lukas: Yes. It's awful different. People wear t-shirts, so they need to work in a way that will make people feel good about wearing them and looking at them on the street or the subway or folded on the shelf, or hanging nicely on a rack. That’s what I should be thinking about when I'm doing a t-shirt.
Any tips on making collages?
Lukas: Be confident, like you were with the glue stick and construction paper in kindergarten. Don't cut yourself with your knife or scissors.
Name some things you always have to have by your side when you're working.
Lukas: I need to have a lot of stuff by my side when I'm working. Mostly water, coffee, and, uh, I don't know...everything? The internet? A stack of cash so I don't have to think about making the work commercially viable? That's not something I need, but I'm sure Niall and I would both like it.
Niall: I usually have coffee, water, or beer and there is usually a TV, radio, or the stereo on in the background–sometimes a healthy combo of any of these things.
What do you do when you're feeling uninspired?
Niall: Complain, probably. Usually it’s just a lack of recreation or whatever, so I go explore something, get out of the city, or just straight up go out and party with friends. Watching documentaries and reading always help those bare patches too.
What music do you listen to while you work?
Lukas: I listen to books and podcasts or people talking on the radio more than anything else while I work; a lot of the time while working my ears aren't all that busy, and neither is my brain, so I'm able to learn something while producing. I'm a bore with music at the moment–it all sounds fine to me, as long as it's old.
Niall: At the moment you could almost guarantee hearing The Constantines, Bison, Early Man, or Bruce Springsteen. I listen to the same things over and over and over again, and they rotate slowly cause I don't LIKE like a lot of music. I'm picky and it’s hard to break into the “favorites” ranks as a newbie.
Lukas, where do you live in New York? When did you move there and why?
Lukas: I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in what they used to call a “cold-water flat.” [We have a water heater but our landlord's a cheapskate and won't hire an electrician to come fix the electricity. He just comes in and futzes about every once in a while and waits for us to holler at him again.] I've only been here for five months, but they have been very full months. That's why I moved here–to get my fill.
Niall, you have an interesting entry on your blog about the drug-addled graffiti of your neighborhood. Tell us more about where you live.
Niall: Vancouver has a fairly intense drug problem, a lot of that takes place in the Downtown Eastside, generally within a neighborhood named Strathcona, and more specifically along East Hastings. There is a lot of heroin, meth, crack, etcetera going on all day, every day. So there's the drugs, and don’t forget the booze to compliment the drugs, and then there are other things like prostitution and theft that go along with the drug situation. Plus, you start adding in the amount of people running the gauntlet that is East Hastings Street that are mentally ill or suffering from some transmittable disease... Anyways, so I live around there, and it’s crazy too ’cause it’s beautiful! It’s a really amazing place full of interesting people, great parks, neat buildings–it just happens to co-exist with all of those other problems. Basically I watch a crackhead suck some business guy off once a day in my backyard, but it’s worth it ’cause it nearly feels like living in a small town just outside of downtown.
Who is your favorite author?
Lukas: Tom Robbins. He's a modern master.
Who is your favorite dead artist?
Niall: I have too many favorites... Goya?
What are you working on right now?
Lukas: A lot of things. Not my tan.
What band would you have liked to have been in when you were a teenager?
Lukas: I was in a sweet band called Project Charlie, although I would have rather been in Operation Ivy.
Niall: The Bouncing Souls?
Do you collect anything?
Niall: I collect things in spurts. This summer the subjects of my interest have been bones, wooden boxes, and rusted metal whatevers. My collecting is usually restricted to salvaged objects, though; I can't be bothered really to go shopping for anything!
What was the last revelation that you had?
Lukas: It's alright to abject. Also, being deep turns you into a real a-hole.