MIXTAPE: ATX VIBES
WNW Member #4743 Brian Gossett is a Designer + Drawer + Director + Dad based in Austin. An ADC Young Gun who has worked with top clients like Nike, Apple, and W+K, Brian also once ran a successful music mixblog. So it only made sense for Brian to take our WNW Mixtape series for a spin while we featured him and his work: "I love sharing music and art with everyone; it’s what makes our age of information so great!"
The city of Austin influences much of Brian's work and creative style. It also drives this mixtape, titled ATX Vibes, so hit the "Play" button before you read our interview below and bask in his eclectic work. Click here to listen to "ATX Vibes" on Spotify.
Tell us a little bit about the concept behind "ATX Vibes."
I wanted to create a mix that captured the thing that makes Austin so great, the mix of old and new. A lot of people in Austin are pushing back from the progression the city is heading in. While while I do think it’s important to maintain the authenticity of Austin and what makes it great, I do think the direction the city is going is awesome. The mix itself is an eclectic mix of of the old and new, all with a timeless quality. Artists from the 50s and 60s that sound as relevant today as ever as well as current artists who are tapping into a sound that evokes nostalgia. I wanted the mix to feel southern yet progressive. Good vibes and energetic. I also decided to end the mix with a couple songs based around the word river. Austin’s heart is the Colorado River, or as we call it, Lady Bird Lake. I love Leon Bridges "River" so much it’s practically on every mix I make these days.
Who is Brian Gossett and how did he get here? How did you become an "illustrator"?
I wouldn’t necessarily say I am an illustrator—and honestly labels are starting to become a bit hard to nail down for me. When people ask me what I do it’s hard to put a singular label on it. I’m more a maker of things. A tinkerer. Or reluctantly, yet the most accurate, a commercial artist. When I think of illustrators, I think of someone who is honed in on one singular style. While I feel more that there is a voice, or a taste behind the images I make or the stories I try to tell. My background began in a loose exploration at fine art, drawing, painting, realism to abstraction. I discovered graphic design while attending the University of Houston. I spent some time doing print design, then web design, and then parlayed that experience to moving to Los Angeles. Eventually I found my love for the moving image within the motion graphics industry. I love the motion graphics and animation industry as it allows me to be more illustrative. I began with a more generalist mentality and approach to client briefs but over the last 7 or 8 years I’ve begun to take on projects that I feel appropriate to my taste and voice as a commercial artist. I love solving creative problems while also honing my craft and continuing to develop my style.
How would you describe your creative style?
Currently I am mixing my love of mid-century illustration with the influence of my city, Austin. I am bringing in a lot of Southwestern themes into my personal work and putting them into a graphic context. I have been trying to build a style around a graphic and illustrative mix that is a bit rough around the edges but also calculated in geometry. I also love printmaking such as silk-screening, gocco, woodblock, linocut, and bringing that simplicity or reduction of color and texture into my personal work. My commercial client work is a bit broader as I do find flexibility to offer my clients a wider range of creative solutions. Sometimes my clients want me to bring more of my personal work style into a project but I do love tackling new challenges and exploring different image making techniques to tell their story.
You used to run a successful mixblog. What was that like?
The blogging scene blew up in 2006/2007 and I jumped into it around that time. My first blog was sort of a catch all for things I thought were cool, be it products, art, design, whatever. I also occasionally posted a mix I made up onto the blog. I have always loved compiling compilations for as long as I can remember. I used to put mix tapes together on a dual cassette boom box I had, where I had to literally let the track play off one cassette or cd as the tape live recorded it. It’s crazy how far the technology has come when I think of it. But like a lot of dudes, I made mix tapes for girls I was dating. I also made mix tapes for friends as I was sort of the tastemaker or our group. Getting back to the blog, I noticed a lot of the people who were visiting my blog were responding to the mixes so I dropped the general blog and built a new site in Cargo to focus on the mixes. It took off immediately and I was getting a lot of press from all over the net. I loved making thematic or conceptual mixes as well as seasonal or holiday related mixes. For example, I loved this book called Take Ivy that was originally published in the 60s. These Japanese dudes came to the US and soaked up all of the Ivy League school style and published a book documenting the style of clothing in that specific context and called it “Ivy Style.” I was also really getting into Vampire Weekend at the time which I felt encapsulated the vibe of the book so I built a series of mixes around the idea and piggy backed on the "Take Ivy” name. Word got out and eventually the mixes were posted on the official Yale and Harvard school blogs. There were other great series and concepts that I still hold dear that conjure up memories or movies in my mind. I like to sort of make soundtracks to my life as music is a great memory signifier for me.
You mentioned that a lot of your mixtapes are “fake soundtracks to movies that don’t exist.” What real soundtrack to a movie that does exist is your favorite?
I would say hands down David Holmes’ scores for the Ocean's Eleven films. He not only created a timeless score to the films but acted as the music supervisor sourcing songs he loved that seem to perfectly capture the vibe of the films. I was so into them that they inspired a series I had on my blog called The Heist Mixes. I built fake heist movies in my mind and sourced a lot of music that captured this retro cool vibe and then found exotic settings to place them in. I used a lot of my own photography for the covers of the mixes too with a template of clean white typography over them. The mixes became very popular and got a lot of circulation around the internet. A couple years later I met David Holmes at a screening of Vertigo at Cinespia in the Hollywood Cemetery. He was spinning before and after the film and I got all of my Ocean’s films autographed. I think I was the only one there who knew who he was but he was super cool and appreciated my love for his scores and told him how influential they were for me. My taste in music owes a lot to David Holmes.
What musical artists do you listen to for inspiration while drawing? What musical artist stifles all of your creativity?
I am all over the place, from Prince to Willie Nelson to A Tribe Called Quest to Johnny Cash to Shuggie Otis to Kendrick Lamar to Stereolab to The Rolling Stones and everything in between. I love to try it all out and put things either together stylistically musically or find something amazing about taking different genres of music and making a cohesive mix work together through a concept. While my personal work has a very southern vibe to it, I am not all that big into country music, at least modern. I am more into the classic legends of country. I love Willie, Hank Sr., Cash, but also love Townes Van Zandt, Beck, Kurt Vile, or Ween who bring blues and country into their sound but don’t let it dictate them stylistically. I also love soul and hip hop and honestly can get really heavy into 90s R&B and listen to TLC for an entire day!
What’s one album cover that you wish you had designed?
Wow, not sure where to begin. I wouldn’t say there is a singular album cover but I do love the work of Reid Miles who defined the look of Jazz with all of his Blue Note record sleeves. He was a master of type and image and composition. Still a huge influence on my work today.
What’s the creative scene in Austin like?
I am honestly in this bubble at my home studio and being a father of two little boys keeps me occupied to the point that I don’t really get out to enjoy the creative scene, which I am sure is thriving. I am excited that my buddy Justin Cone, who runs Motionographer, moved back to Texas. He and I hang out quite a bit and he has a son who is the age of my older boy. The cool thing about Austin is that everyone seems to be making stuff, whether its music, art, design, illustration, craft beer, coffee, pottery, crafts—really everyone is. It’s nice going to Radio, my favorite brew and brew, and striking up a conversation with someone and eventually finding out they are in this amazing band or have a line of jewelry.
What are you working on these days?
I love doing commercial work for the quick turnaround. Recently I finished up a series of short informative films for Makani with Giant Ant that explains the technology of their energy kites which is a Google-funded program. I also just helped Oddfellows out with some really short 6 second spots for Twitter that details some of the reach of video content on Twitter and how it helps brands build business.
What do you do when Not Working?
I first find as much time to spend with my wife and two boys, River and Sage. When I am not doing that I am typically making personal art for my new Instagram account which you can follow @brianmichaelgossett (shameless plug). I wanted to challenge myself to make more images for myself and to help hone my craft and personal style. If I am not doing that I am making mixes on Spotify or listening to records. I also enjoy working in our garden, going for hikes, exploring Austin, and indulging in guilty pleasures such as watching football or playing some old Nintendo games.
Tell us a few dad jokes.
Oh boy, well I should mention a goal of mine this year is to put together a strong 5 minute set to try out at open mic comedy venues here in town. Ok, here it goes.
I hope I die at the age of 86, so people can say “he was 86’d.”
When I see an old couple biking together I think, “they must be on their way to shoot a Cialis ad.”
Why aren’t “California Pizza Kitchen” restaurants just called “Pizza Kitchens” in California?
The worst sound you can hear in a public bathroom is the iPhone shutter sound effect.
Ok, that’s four!
Who are some WNW members you admire and why?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to say thanks for bringing me on to share the mix. I love sharing music and art with everyone; it’s what makes our age of information so great!
If you're a fan of Brian's musical soundscapes, check out another one of his recent mixtapes. The music is outshined only by his description of it: "It's called 'The Sexual Behavior of Young People.' With Spring and the birds and the bees on the way I figured it was a topical mix. It’s a really fun mix of swoopy strings, downtempo, sex jams. Imagine it as a soundtrack to a soft core film from the 70s and with the mix pressed on crackly vinyl. It has a Euro vibe to it as well which makes it all the more exotic and erotic. I tend to make fake soundtracks to movies that don’t exist to really conjure up images in my mind. This one would star Jennifer Lawrence as the engenue and she’d have a love affair with a young married man in France when she visits on holiday played by Gaspard Ulliel. It’d take place in the year 1974 and they’d drive along the French Riviera in his 356 Spyder smoking cigarettes and making love in lavender fields."