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Update: An interview with AJ Masthay, releasing ‘Mockingbird’, a Limited Edition poster

Update 3/13: Final details from Phish.net, including images of limited edition variances. The prints will go on sale this Friday, March 15 at 12 noon EDT (9am PDT) on AJ’s website. This limited edition of 150 prints on navy blue paper is a six-color linoleum block print, and costs $40. There is a limit of one print per customer.

Update 3/11:  Check out this beauty of print!

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Update 3/9: Read on Phish.net an update on further sales of AJ’s poster.

AJ Masthay was recently commissioned to make a limited edition print (150) to celebrate the quickly approaching release of The Phish Companion, 3rd Edition. This limited edition art print celebrates the book’s forthcoming release. The print will be on navy blue paper with six-colors from this linoleum block print. You can expect to see the Famous Mockingbird clutching the just-liberated book of knowledge, while evil King Wilson’s troops rally on the horizon. Some process pictures from AJ are seen below, the final image due Monday.

This is the original drawing and gives a fair approximation of how the final image will appear.

This is the original drawing and gives a fair approximation of how the final image will appear.

You can pick this poster up in the Phish.net store for $40 starting Friday 3/8 at 3pm EST/Noon PST.

AJ talked with Pete Mason today about the print and a little insight into his recent artistic endeavors.

Pete Mason: How did this poster for Mockingbird come about? What led to making the print?

AJ Masthay: The good people at The Mockingbird Foundation contacted me quite some time ago about the book cover for the next (Phish) Companion. I gave a couple quick concept sketches to them to present to the publisher, who went in a different direction. When the cover didn’t pan out, they asked if I’d do a special print to help commemorate the new book. Honestly, I couldn’t have been happier.

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Pete: Have you wanted to do a poster tying together elements of Gamehendge? Was it a natural choice to make a print with a Mockingbird, given that The Mockingbird Foundation is connected with Phish net?

AJ: I can’t recall if the Mockingbird was requested or was just a “given” but we knew it was going to be a Gamehendge theme from the get go. The imagery of Gamehendge is ripe for artistic interpretation. I’ve pretty much avoided it in the past, but this project opened the floodgates and gave a green light to dive into all that Gamehendge goodness. Who knows, perhaps a series in the future? (ed. note – YES!)

Pete: With six colors, how labor intensive was the print, compared to other prints?

AJ: As of writing this I’m only 3 colors into it so I’ll tell ya when it’s done lol. Seriously though, I really feel like I pushed myself on this one, both conceptually and artistically. I’ve really hit a groove blending both traditional carving tools and super fine detail with the Dremel. It allows me to basically draw on the linoleum, creating a draftsman-like quality that you just can’t get with gouges alone.

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Pete: You’ve been doing a great deal of official prints lately: Furthur, Umphrey’s McGee, Yonder Mountain, among others. How has the transition been, from making fan prints to official prints? Its been quite a rapid ascent for you.

AJ: I’m honored whenever a band asks me to create a piece for them, the fact that these are the same bands that I love is icing on the cake. The transition itself was pretty painless as my process is the same whether its a gig poster, pop culture piece or an art print.

Pete: What artists have had the greatest influence upon your art, both traditional and non-traditional?

AJ: It’s hard not to be influenced by fellow artists in the field like David Welker and Jeff Wood, but I’ve never been shy about my love of both their styles. I started out collecting posters before I was making them so you’ll see Pollocks, Emeks, and tons of other gig posters on my walls, all influencing my work. When it comes down to it though, I’ve come to realize that nature is my biggest influence. Whenever I find myself in that nasty “creative block” mindset where nothing is working, I’ll grab the dogs and head out to the woods. Nine times out of 10 it’ll get the creative juices flowing and things start to jive.

 


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