DWITT reflects on life as a rock 'n' roll artist

Categories: Interview
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You may not recognize David Witt's name, but it's very likely you've seen his work plastered on street posts and bulletin boards around town -- especially if you frequent the West Bank.

Since 2002, the artist DWITT has produced over 400 gig posters, the majority for the Triple Rock Social Club, though he is commissioned for work throughout the metro and beyond. In addition, he is a founding member of the Squad 19 Design Collective, the Back Alley Gallery, and International Canned Beer Month. Other accolades include doing all six Zombie Pub Crawl posters, a number of tee shirts and album covers, and the online series DWITT Dailys. He was also recently married.

Gimme Noise caught up with DWITT to talk about the upcoming St. Paul Art Crawl and, in general, his life as a rock 'n' roll artist.

You're a full-time artist. How was the transition from a regular job?

Yes, I am a full time artist, and have been since September 2004. It was an exciting step, followed by years of struggling and squeaking by. There is definitely stress not knowing where your next job is coming from, and that stress is a little stronger now because I am married. But it was a necessary move, and I've made it this far, so I think it's all going to work out.

When did you first start looking at gig posters as art instead of just as advertising?

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From the moment I started drawing my first one almost 10 years ago. I saw it as an opportunity to do more than just catch your eye and convey information, but to make something you want to look at. That line between art/design/advertising is very thin and squiggly, and is subject to individual interpretation and presentation. I can make a painted illustration to be used for an ad, but I can also frame that painting and put it in a gallery, so then it's both art and advertising.

Do you find your inspiration from other gig posters, or do you look to more traditional mediums?

Certainly a lot of contemporary posters inspire me, and the ones I like the most are very different from my own work. Aesthetic Apparatus and Amy Jo's work, for example. I also draw heavily on comic books, cartoons, graffiti, and the world of Art History.

How often do you get to hear feedback from bands that play a show?

Not as much as I used to, because I don't go to nearly as many shows as I used to. I am also getting hired to do posters for shows out of the state, so I don't necessarily get the direct band feedback. The feedback I do get is encouraging enough so I'll keep on making posters.

Is it hard to make a poster for a band you really don't like?

No. I can deliver what they want. It's my job as a freelance artist. What makes it easy is that the bands that want my work are bands I like.

You've also done some cover art and t-shirt design. Do you approach these the same way?

Absolutely. And my aim every time is to make something that looks like the band sounds.

How much crossover is there between your fine art and your music-related work? How often do you return to themes or characters?

There is a little bit. Characters that first appeared in a poster, like my Gumbells and Beanbugs, do end up in paintings. I've also done fully-painted versions of an image I first did as a poster. I guess that in my posters is where I try out ideas, and they get refined and elaborated on in my fine art work.

What's in store for the St. Paul Art Crawl?

The Back Alley Gallery is always filled with a wide variety of works: ceramics, jewelry, mosaics, prints, drawings, paintings, zines, handmade clothing and accessories. And lots of laughs. We have a good time all the time.

This weekend at the Back Alley Gallery:
October 8: 6-10pm
October 9: 12-8pm
October 10: 12-5pm
262 E 4th St, studio #LL2, Lowertown, St. Paul

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