Instagram: @gramzirk Website: www.graemezirk.com
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I live and work in Vancouver, but I grew up in the prairies. It’s winter for like 8 months out of the year. So I did a lot of drawing and playing inside as a kid. I didn’t get serious about creative stuff it until my late 20’s. I dabbled with a bunch of stuff before it became clear to me that my hobbies and natural inclinations were an actual job.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.Minimal, sparse, hasty, unrefined but totally over thought.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?I try to not be too picky about that stuff. My best ideas usually come to me when I’m stuck with a napkin and some freebie ballpoint pen. But I love to think and ideate in big shapes and broad strokes on paper. So I try to always have fat nibbed paint markers and one of those massive pencils on me. It prevents me from getting stuck in the details too early.
4. What is your artistic process like?I do a lot of collecting and observing. It’s not a conscious thing, I’m just kind of always “on” when it comes to that. I do a lot of stream of consciousness thinking and drawing in my sketchbook. A lot of my refinement happens digitally, so I try to spend as little time in front of a computer as I can leading up to that. I try to draw every day, even if what I’m doing sucks.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?I like all the illustrators you’d expect someone of my age and background to like. Tomi Ungerer, Cor Blok, Shel Silverstein, Tove Jansson. People like that. But I really get excited by functional, rule-based stuff that wasn’t made to exist in an art context. I love cold war era cartoons. I love modernism. I love Japanese commercial art. I love the Polish poster movement. I love skate graphics. I love candy packaging and ephemera from other countries. I love stand up comedy. I also love people watching. The characters that frequent the 7-11 by my apartment after 2am never fail to blow my mind. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so those fundamentals play a big part in what I do. I’m more interested in making stuff that communicates an idea all in one go as opposed to dragging the audience through the weeds. I’m a big fan of clarity.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?It's kind of always what I’ve been about, so it’s an excuse to stay in touch with 12 year old me. It’s a means to stay sharp mentally and existentially simple.
7. Where did you study?I took an applied art and design program at a small college in Alberta. I had to complete 2 summer internships to graduate, so it was all about learning a little bit of everything and focusing on hard skills over theory.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?Same thing as today, just more independent, focused and in demand.
9. What about in ten?By that point, I’ll be in my 40s, which is terrifying. If I still have all my hair and haven’t blown my life savings on a boat I’ll be stoked. All I can hope for is to not be jaded and wondering "what if”. If I’m still eager and naive enough to continue trying new stuff I’ll have done something right.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?I was that kid in grade school who got bored and passed notes to crack my friends up. I hope to elicit that kind of response in a less annoying, attention seeking the way.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?If I could eat Shawarma all day I would. If it wasn’t a logistical nightmare I’d install one of those rotating spits in my kitchen.
12. Favourite book?I wish I could get into reading fiction but I’m only capable of caring about stuff that actually happened. It’s all news, op-ed and autobiographies for me.
13. Favourite genre of music?A good catch-all would be “Rock and Roll” but there are obviously some exceptions to that. I’m often accused of adding stuff to playlists that “ruins the vibe”. I like fuzzy guitars and singers that can’t sing.
14. What are your hobbies?My hobby became my profession, so I’ve had to get new ones. I love to ride my bike around town, I love to get out of said town and see new cities. I play a lot of guitar. I collect old weird junk. I make a point to learn new skills that have nothing to do with art/design.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?I’d have to keep my hands and mind busy. I did a bit of stand up comedy before school, so maybe I’d give that another shot. Cutting hair always looked cool, but the social component of that would probably suck the life out of me. I honestly don’t know if I have an answer for this question. Can I just say “pass”?