'A collaboration is always a journey'

Brian Roettinger.

Brian Roettinger.

L.A based graphic designer and artist Brian Roettinger has some pretty swag achievements to his name, including record covers for bands like Beach House, Rolling Stone magazine's designer of the year in 2009 and with Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent) on visual art for the label. Roettinger will be speaking about collaboration and creativity at the Semi-Permanent festival and will appear on stage with his regular collaborator, film and art-director Aaron Rose.

What inspires you? And how do you maintain that feeling?

I find inspiration everywhere, it's never something I search for, it's just something thats there. It's a way at looking and finding and understudying. From music, art, design, film, architecture, literature, nature, people, texture, material, color, sound.  I never stop looking. I'll run out of time before I run out of ideas.

What’s your proudest achievement in your career so far?

That I am just as excited now as I was when I was say 10 or 15 years ago before I made anything that really mattered. I have a lot of friends that get burnt out, and end up losing that spark. 

What was it like to collaborate with Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent? How did that come about?

A friend of mine showed him [Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent] some paintings that I made and he liked them. We met and I showed him a few more as well as some other things. He really liked the paintings and asked if he could use some of them for shirts and if the runway invitation could be a book of them. I always enjoyed his vision and visual aesthetic so it was exciting for me.

Collaboration seems to be an important part of the way you work? How do you approach it? And what has been your favourite collaboration?

My approach is simply that from the beginning it's known that it's  "going to be a collaboration". A process that will involve the sharing of ideas, tasks, and a level of disagreement and agreement, but in the end the ideas and feelings are identical. A collaboration is always a journey.

It's been great working with [experimental punk group] No Age. Not only are we friends but we always seem to have the same agenda on whatever we are working on. We challenge each other argue, agree, disagree, change our minds, play contrarian but end up with something we all seem to be happy with. 

Can you tell me a little more about the book that you worked on with Aaron Rose, Collage Culture: Examining the 21st Century Identity Crisis? What is our identity crisis and is there a way out?

The book really is a question. What the book is calling an Identity Crisis is one in which asks "are we no longer in search for "something new"? Has the current media overload killed the idea of an underground or outsider culture where so much originality has been formed. The blending and mixing of generations of visual culture and the remixing of existing ideas once deemed progressive or inventive (ie: punk, hippy culture) have worked us into a collage culture. 

How did you come to be sharing a stage with Aaron Rose? Do you draw inspiration from each other? 

We have worked on a handful of projects together. Aaron is really good at asking, "Why did you make this …?"

Any hints about what you will be talking at Semi-permanent? And what do you hope attendees will get out of your talk?

The theme is loosely based on "collaboration" and how it as a designer, artist, and filmmaker has influenced our process. It should be fun. We also plan to start with a Q&A so hopefully people have some questions ready. I hope the attendees come away feeling inspired, curious, and anxious.

Semi-permanent will be held in Sydney May 24-25. For more information go here.

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