Visualized: Brad Rohloff
We’ve been long time admirers of the artwork of Brad Rohloff (Brohloff for short) and the way that he manages to fuse the cartoonish with the macabre, creating his own distinct style. Brad has some close ties with us here at PORTALS so we figured it was high time we highlight the exciting stuff that this guy has been up to. We got Brad to spare some time for a short interview before he left the country for Italy, so read on to see what he had to say:
Brad, can you sorta introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself as an artist?
Hey! I am Brad Rohloff. I am a printmaker and animator born and raised midwest and currently living and studying in Chicago. I was mostly interested in just animation up until a few years ago, when I really started to get into printmaking and just recently making comics as well! I like working with my hands, whether it be screenprinting something or doing some hand-drawn animation. I also have an unhealthy obsession with ghosts, and I really love to pet dogs.
It’s pretty obvious that you have a distinct style (at least when it comes to your drawings). How did you get into art and then develop that interest into the Brohloff style?
Thank you! I started drawing in middle school and high school mostly to deal with extreme boredom, and to occupy my time in a way I found much more interesting. I find when you doodle there is a lot less pressure to make something good or interesting, so I had plenty of time to work out a lot of different ideas and really nail down an approach to rendering that was unique and interesting to me. If you make something fun for yourself, your work becomes much freer and you allow yourself to approach things in a much less structured way. Since then I’ve been slowly accumulating my own weird visual language based off of other artists I like and some perspectives of my own (What’s that quote? Bad artists copy, great artists steal?). I mentioned earlier an obsession with ghosts, and I make no apologies for how that reflects in my work. I’m pretty sure I wear my influences on my sleeve. I like a lot of ethereal, goopy, dark, creepy, weird occult-ish shit. At the same time though it’s not explicitly sinister, you know? I like to treat these really intense or extraordinary elements with a calm, slow understanding, and I guess that shows in how meticulous a lot of my drawings can look or feel.
I’ve also noticed that you like photographing dead things, weird things, smoke, water, etc. What interests you about that kind of stuff?
I think my photography practice is to me much more about collecting imagery from which to draw from, be it in my print practice or in drawing. As such, I see the same interests appearing there as well. I like to take things from my life, or imagery that I encounter often, and share it with people who may not get a chance to see that sort of thing often. I’m from Northern Wisconsin, and I go home as often as I can, especially in the Winter and Summer. My family hunts, and we live on acreage that’s been in my family for 4-5 generations. We process our own deer, and I find myself encountering wildlife in a way that a lot of people probably don’t. I love it up there, and I find nothing more inspiring than being up there in the middle of the forest. It’s nothing but respect from me, and although some of my photography won’t suggest it, I work really hard to preserve our land. It’s always really jarring to come from there back to such a busy place like Chicago. Wisconsin is my home and my escape. I think I’m getting off track here. I like to take pictures of things I find interesting, and work with imagery that I think is to my printmaking practice too. A make all of my image prints from photographs I’ve taken while being up north. It’s hard to explain how some other interests come about. My room at my last apartment had everything leak. I swear to god, if I left something in one place for too long it got wet. My window leaked, the central air unit through the wall leaked into my room, there was a leak down one of the walls once. I guess that shows up in my work too. Everything will eventually get wet, become damp, decay in some way. It just became the way I expected things to be for a while. And smoke is mysterious to me, smoke is dangerous. There’s something about all of it that really interests me. I like to see how it translates in my print practice as well.
As much as we love the visual arts, PORTALS is primarily a music website. Visualized is our attempt at highlighting the intersections between those two worlds. Now you’ve done artwork for numerous artists (Galapagos, Dreampeter, Mister Lies), how do those collaborations come about?
Of course! I love PORTALS and I love the music that comes out of this kind of community. Before I came to where I am now I didn’t much find artists like this. Then I met Anthony Engelhardt (Ra Cailum) and we became really good friends. From him I was introduced to a much wider group of artists that I really enjoyed. the accessibility of the community is really great, it felt like everybody knew everybody else, and everyone was excited about what everyone was doing. It just seemed like a really nice and supportive community. Around this time I also met Tyler Andere, who runs Flashlight Tag and of course writes for PORTALS too. Being involved with these people made it easy to find people who I was interested in and were interested in my work. Jacob McNaughton (Galapagos) wanted me to do work for him and I was really excited! I made an album cover for him and a sticker design, and from there it kept building and building. I’ve done a lot of sticker work for different artists and labels, and now whenever someone approaches me about doing work for them I try my best to help them out. I’m quite a bit busier than I was then, but I’m always totally open and willing to talk and discuss with the artists about what kind of work they like and if I can help. It goes back to what got me into the community, the accessibility and the openness with each other. It’s something that’s really inspiring to me. People like Nick Zanca (Mister Lies) who approach me to do work are incredible haha, I’m so glad to be working with them. Here’s someone I had been psyched on for a while and was really interested in, so when he asked me I was totally down. It’s working really well. I think collaborations that come out of a mutual respect of each other’s craft are the most rewarding, by far.
So what kind of stuff can we expect from you in the future? Anything cool you’re working on now?
Of course! A lot more comics based work I think. I’m very excited with that, but it’s so time consuming. What isn’t though? I feel like I’m always so busy. I’m constantly working on new print work too. I’ve got Mister Lies‘ album cover almost finished up and we’re both seriously excited about it. I’m contributing to a few different clothing lines (I can’t say who yet, but they are both really dope) for tees and hats, plus my own line of shirts once I can get good wholesale shirts (I have t shirt press just sitting in my kitchen hahaha). I’m working on a big comic about a war between bats and ghosts that I’m really excited about. That idea sounds kind of dumb but it’ll be more than just that, I promise. I’ve always got something coming down the line. Been sticking much more to personal projects or projects I get paid for, though hahahaahah. I’m always working on somethin’, though : )
(curated by Cactus-Mouth)