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Home FEATURES Christopher Norris/Steak Mtn. Interview

Christopher Norris/Steak Mtn. Interview
Written by Trippe   
Monday, 21 April 2008 05:30
A self professed "dried out, bespectacled art nerd in a massive drawing, painting and designing ocean of dried out, bespectacled art nerds."

Intelligent quirky sense of humor with heavy leanings towards horror films and slight references to phrases and words which carries historical weight in his memory... Horribly printed newspaper advertisement he tears apart, collage with something else and redraws with reckless abandon. Christofer is a self professed "dried out, bespectacled art nerd in a massive drawing, painting and designing ocean of dried out, bespectacled art nerds." He lives in NYC and besides running his design company, Steak Mtn., he also participates in many shows around the world and currently is showing in solo show at Threadless in Chicago. It's easy to see references in his work to the great Raymond Pettibon but also very unique and totally his own. We completely dig it.

Age? Location? Artistic education?

I am 31. I live alongside all the other idiot children in Brooklyn, New York. My artistic education is just a diploma from a performing arts high school in Florida, similar to Fame minus the dancing extras, group sweating and Janet Jackson.

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

More times than not I will start building a drawing that references a phrase that I overheard and cataloged or hyperbole from an old movie trailer that struck me as hilarious or maybe an obscure slice of my own shit talking that actually has some historical weight in my memory. It is actually the easiest and most satisfying way for me to work. If I have the title or the literary texture of the drawing outright, finding the right visual alliance for is fun and painless. The opposite can be said if I happen upon an off putting photo or an awkward still from a movie or a blown out, horribly printed newspaper advertisement that I know I can tear apart, collage with something else and redraw into reckless abandon....because then it will sit around forever until I can find the right dialogue I want it to convey. There are is a small mountain of ideas & half started pieces around here that may never get finished because they haven't continuously made me laugh. If it's not funny, then it doesn't matter, making it make no sense for me to start and/or finish them.

What materials do you normally work in?

Well, for about ten years of graphic designing I was using lots of xerox machines, india ink, tracing paper, computers, scanners and pounds of stolen, found or creatively generated images. In all seriousness, it was only like...last year that I found out what I wanted to do with my personal work. 31 years of drawing (or stealing) stupid pictures and it took 30 of them to really fall into what I felt was a comfortable creative reaction to my personal likes, dislikes and what I enjoy about the process and aesthetics of picture making. So, with that said, I have been using lots of watercolors, inks and SUPER recently I have started to go ankle deep in pencil drawings, which I am super excited about. That work is exactly where I want to be or at least a strong starting point for what I think is my next wave of art making.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

For my personal work I would say : Pencil & ink drawings that hinge abjectly on transgressive statements, haunted house imagery & thick seeming minimalism, hopefully projecting an awkward but propelling narrative. For my design work I would say : rent.

What kind of design work to you find yourself doing for $$$? Clients? Do you work for yourself or a collective/ company?

I commercially design & personally draw with the handle Steak Mtn., an admittedly stupid appellation that has the visual projection that Christopher Norris just can't supply. And while I white flag to a hilariously monikered life of carpal tunnel servitude, I am sure even Brian Schroeder is occasionally annoyed that he has to draw that skull under the name Pushead. 89% of my design work is music related : bands, record labels, show promoters, blah. But I am ALWAYS down for doing anything for anyone, especially if massive armies of money are involved. I have no polite political agenda when it comes to the Steak design work & quickly reveal a very riveted attitude to every dollar holder that shows minor interest in wanting me to draw up something goofy for them. Clients in the past and/or present are : Against Me!, MTV/Viacom, Virtue Worldwide, Atom and his Package, Earache Records, Warner Bros. Records, Scholastic, Combatwoundedveteran, Esther Creative Group, Threadless Select, Rome Snowboards, Epitaph Records, Vice/Atlantic, etc.

How long have you lived in NYC and what brought you there?

I have been here for almost five years, which is pretty weird, because the city moves so fast it feels like thirteen years. It's like time measurement figured in fragmented glass. Weird. But originally, I was transplanted to New York for romantic reasons that ultimately fizzled out, leaving me to lean heavy on artistic career building in order to trick myself into staying in the city for a little while longer.

What do love most about living there?

A.) The ability to find and watch almost every movie I have ever read about.
B.) Having a front row seat in seeing what is new and cool, so that I can be one of the first people to make fun of all new & exciting things, publicly.
C.) Being just another dried out, bespectacled art nerd in a massive drawing, painting and designing ocean of dried out, bespectacled art nerds.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

For the "do", I would suggest we watch Escape From New York for inspiration & general atmosphere. For the "take", we could go to any bar where Williamsburg Central Casting has set up shop and spend our night making fun of the mutants, twits and tweakers that energize Northern Brooklyn's nightlife.

What are you really excited about right now?

I am always super stoked on other artists....I am like a fan mail machine. Most if not all of these people have gotten adjectively juiced emails from me at some point in the past few years: Gary Panter, Mark McCoy, Aurel Schmidt, Stan Doll/CSDIV, Wes Lang, Horsebites, Elizabeth Huey, Dan Mumford, Brent Wadden, Seripop, Bongout, Erik Beltz, Greedy Hen, UPSO, Derek Ballard, Cody Hoyt, Alex Bec, Tara McPherson, Maya Hayuk, Mike Giant, Dan Rossiter, Jason T. Miles...man, the list can go on forever. I also am ALWAYS excited about movies....anything, doesn't really matter : if it moves on a 2D screen....I want to watch it, unless of course I have already and I thought it was awful.

When are you the most productive?

Whenever I can find the time in between being romantically involved, having a full time job and movie watching.

Favorite trip taken?

The horrible 6 and half weeks in 2000 that I "played" guitar throughout Europe with the hardcore band, Reversal of Man. It was the last truly youthful summer I spent goofing off with best friends, breaking expensive instruments and offending well meaning punks. For the record,"Earth First, Intelligence Second." is not something you should say to eco-punx in Italy.

Music?

I get really excited about any music that sounds primitive, cinematic and/or broken. A big top statement that gives great leniency to listening to just about anything if I am good with my selective reasoning.....but sometimes I just like the way something is recorded rather than getting pumped on if it's cool or rad or young. Heavy rotation in the past two months : The Very Best of Donna Loren, Goatmoon "Death Before Dishonour", Playin' Hard to Get compilation, any of the Pocahaunted recordings I can get my hands on, Leviathan "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life", Skream "Skreamism Volume 4", Them "The Story of Them", the new Sportsday Megaphone LP that is coming out on Sunday's Best, N E L L, Bone Awl.......

What were you like in high school?

Mean. Really mean. At arm's length with everyone. Not too far from what I am like now, except that I might be friendlier, a tiny bit funnier & totally feel like hate is more of a sport than a personality feature these days.

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc...?

I am working on an illustration zine with Mark McCoy called Teen Blood, I have a solo show in Atlanta at the Vacation Gallery in June, I am doing some more design work for Against Me!, I am in the early stages of creating a Steak Mtn. clothing and ephemera imprint called EXORCISE!. Other than those things, I am down for anything else that comes my way that is some combination of awesome, fun or lucrative.

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reaxmusic.com/articles/view/steak_mtn-392
nopaininpop.com/lets-raise-theeran-article-about-steak.html
latenightwallflower.com/interview-with-steak-mtn/

Christofer's blogs:
http://steakmtn.blogspot.com/
http://theliquorice.blogspot.com/
http://www.steakmtn.com {moscomment}

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