no need for an editor’s intro…
let’s get to know this DIY design folk hero whose been friends with the Lab since the early days.
can you give us your career path all the way from your first job?
Here you go, im really bad with exact dates and all that but here’s the
1987-1988: Pizza Popper, Kenosha, WI
the highlight was getting the tip of my finger caught in the dough roller a week
after dropping a parking block on it
1989-1991: Piggly Wiggly, Kenosha, WI
held shit down at the pig, worked up to head utility clerk, was a card carrying
member of the UFCW local 1473, would take naps in the break room if I stayed out
too late the night before.
1991-1992: Happenings Magazine, Kenosha, WI
laying out a weekly coupon magazine that was given out free at grocery stores.
Duties include getting shocks from an old ass stat camera, working 24+ hour shifts,
waxing and pasting up a 80 page weekly magazine by hand on boards that would get
sent out to have film made from them.
1992: 43d Studios
Took out a loan for $5000 to buy a Centris 610 computer. start doing freelance
design for rave flyers under the name 43d studios. Quickly realized most promoters
don’t give me back my $45 44meg syquest discs and I would pretty much loose
money on a lot of the jobs. Learned how CMYK and spot colors actually work from
Pete D in Milwaukee.
1993-1995: the Weber Group, Racine, WI
learn how the computer really works, did tons of type lock ups (called violaters)
for brands like Toilet Duck and Drano stating that they now have “33% more
active incredients”. start to realize this design stuff is actually a real
job. Meet Allen Benedict who claims he is going to start a graf magazine called
12oz prophet someday. Struggle inc is born. Respect to Tony Weber for making learn
how to use all the programs.
1995-1996: JDK, Burlington,VT
the school I would have never had the money to go to. Met so many great designers
and creatives. Life changing type of shit. respect to Michael Jager and David
Covell and all the other greats I met there who put me on the right path. By the
time I leave I end up art directing the snowboard line for Burton Snowboards.
come to figure out that 16 hours days are the norm in graphic design. Start painting
and drawing again, although mainly robots and drippy stuff.
1996: 12oz Prophet, Miami, FL
move down to Miami (Kendall to be exact – “on the ave”), loose
my first apartment within minutes of driving into the city because my dog is too
big. Stay in the warehouse for awhile (with a hundred pound dog). Help Allen out
with daily design duties on “12oz Prophet” magazine, “Straight
from the Bottom” mailorder and eventually “The Vapors Project”
1997: Struggle Inc.
move back to Chicago to do Struggle inc full time. Realize that shit is hard.
Am broke quite a bit. Start drinking too much. Meet Seven from Chocolate Industries
and slowly start to do most of the design work for his label.
1998: JDK, Burlington,VT
after doing a lot of freelance design for JDK, I eventually go back for a year
to work on some projects. I sleep on Jared Eberhardts loft floor in Winooski,
VT for too long until I finally just move in to the place above his. once again
I get to work with a lot of talented peoples (byron oneil, malcom buick, howard
brown, ruby lee).
1999-2001: Ecko Unltd
move to New Brunswick, New Jersey to try and get out of debt (across from the
Lamp Post strip club). Basement apartment is completely full of roaches when I
move in. Get to work with old JDK homie Jim “Jersey” Anfuso again.
Start in the marketing graphics dept but get offered to go on a trip to Hong Kong
with Marc Ecko to learn about garment design and jump on the chance. Eventually
end up running the mens product graphics dept and along the way meeting many great
people (PK, Dre Day, Dust La Rock, Pel, Kimou, Seph, Funderburgh).
2001-present: Struggle inc
move back to Chicago to get my life back together. Wake up one of the first few
days in my new apartment to phone calls from friends in NY/NJ telling me to turn
the tv on (I don’t have one yet, but turn NPR on). Its 9/11. eventually
I build up some good freelance clients. start painting more as well. start working
with bigger clients (including Burton, Stussy, Nike). For the first time in my
life can actually make a living off just doing “my own shit”. As things
in my design career settle a bit I start to focus on painting and doing installation
based work more. End up doing a lot of public found object installations with
Juan Angel Chavez and Mike Genovese. Also join forces again with Allen from 12oz
to art direct his new publication “Also Known As”. In Dec of 2007
had a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA). In
2008 released my new book “Save
what was it like doing the early issue of 12oz. Prophet? how did you organize
the mag before the internet?
I was always more on the design side and really I was more behind the scenes.
But Allen had this great network of writers who would constantly send in big envelopes
of flicks to the office. It was great in those days as if you got a photo in 12oz
it was kind of a big deal so everyone was basically sending in photos. Now people
can just look at blogs and the internet to see whats out there but in 1993 people
really payed attention to the magazines. Also at the time I think we were doing
some cool stuff and trying to bring a little more of a graphic design sense to
the magazine. We also ran one of the first major interviews with Twist (Barry
Mcgee) as well as giving the first US exposure to Os Gemeos with the Brasil issue.
what do you like about not working a typical desk job?
Not having to wake up at a certain time, freedom to be away from the office for
long periods of time, being able to take naps, drinking on the job during my night
shifts. Being my own boss is great but also way more stressful. What I don’t
like so much is really all the pressure as its pretty much all on me.
how do you handle clients with too many revisions and changes?
I usually just stop working with them after the project is done. If a project
is a real hassle then it’s really not worth it. Although I’m in a
lucky position where I have a few select clients and have pretty good relationships
with most of them so it’s usually not bad.
what do you miss about a typical desk job?
Human interaction & weekly paychecks
who are your design + work + life influences?
I tend to look back at the older guys for design. I was definitely influenced
early on by the likes of Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Bruno Munari, Josef Muller-Brockmann,
& Milton Glaser. also all the Archigram architecture based stuff influenced
me quite a bit.
what are some cool things that you have found or bought that have influenced your
I used to collect a lot of old design books but they seem to be getting harder
to find these days. Im not trying to get them on ebay so you have to dig a bit
QUICK HITTERS… five favorite albums, son.
Hard to narrow it down, as so many records have certain meaning to me, but just
for the sake of keeping it quick, ill list a few that have made a difference
in my life.
After The Goldrush – Neil Young
Take It From The Man – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Boy With The Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian
Follow the Leader – Eric B & Rakim
Complete discography – Minor Threat
Criminal Minded – BDP
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco
a girl you hate to admit that you have crush on
top 5 favorite foods
Char dog from Hot Dougs
BLT from Café Lula (had one for lunch today)
Pastrami sandwich from Mannys
Metallica burger from Kumas
Queso Fundido at Uncle Julios
the things that matter most in this mortal life.
Being true to yourself and your family while trying to be a good person and
trying to stay happy
get Cody’s book here, first batched is signed. new exclusivo prints also available!
check Cody’s new show at New Image Art In LA with Sean Cassidy, opening tommorrow July 18th
studio photos: Joe Wigdahl