Interview with Marcos Siref
For more than five years now, Marcos Siref has been contributing his badass art to Razorcake, one of the most legit magazines around. Lucky for us, he’s also appeared in two-thirds of the As You Were comix anthologies, most recently as our personal astrological adviser.
Keep reading to discover more about the man behind your punk rock horoscope and his immense love for oil painting, bright colors, and Tumblr.
Interview by Natalye for Silver Sprocket
Of all the punk psychics in the world, how did they decide upon you for As You Were?
Mitch Clem sent me an e-mail following the release of AYW #1, told me the theme surrounding the next installment, and asked if I’d want to contribute. Since we both do illustrative work for Razorcake, I figured he’d seen a chunk of what I do and didn’t hate it.
I’m also way cheaper than punkrockpsychic.com
How did you first get into drawing and making art and comics? Would you say there are particular artists who were influential in inspiring you?
I’ve been drawing longer than I can remember. Most of my childhood was spent at a small desk with a pad of paper while Nickelodeon played on the television, and it was amazing. I just wanted to draw every cartoon that popped up. I remember really getting into Keith Haring; he had such a pleasing and recognizable style. My dad had a bunch of the old underground comix, the weird druggy Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton comics I was way too young for. Mad Magazine was a game changer for sure. William Kentridge, Antonio Prohías, Art Speigelman, Rob Schrab were my biggest influences soon after.
How would you describe your artistic voice?
It’s probably really bratty and snarky? I know it relies heavily on puns.
What did you study at CalArts? How would you say that going to college helped you refine your craft? What do you think were the benefits of that as opposed to if you’d not decided to go to school?
I studied Fine Arts during my time at CalArts. Since the program is heavily centered around theory and conceptualism, rather than teaching a technical trade, I didn’t have too many classes where I was actually drawing. So I learned about post-structuralism and relational aesthetics rather than how to oil paint or the right way draw a figure model. Oil painting is fucking infuriating anyway. Looking back now, I was probably way too young to really appreciate and fully utilize those years. Art school is its own bubble. College itself is a complete break from reality. I did make some of my closest friends as a result. One of which is fellow AYW contributor and wondrous being, Adrian Chi! So hey, there you go.
Your work is varied, and it involves drawing, making show fliers, creating art over existing photos, etc. What techniques/mediums do you enjoy working with the most, and why? Are there other ways of making art that you want to get into?
Drawing will always play a strong role in my practice. Anything to keep the hands busy, so to speak. My favorite mediums usually hold an element of immediacy. I don’t have the patience to wait for photos to develop or paint to dry. Again, oil painting is the worst. I like to finish pieces in a single session. It’s nice not to overthink things, get frustrated, and give up halfway. This is why lengthy comics are so fucking difficult for me. They take far longer than you initially plan for. By the time you’re finally inking the damn thing, you’re already tired of the script, you notice all the technical flaws or inconsistencies, maybe you drew a character poorly in the first frame compared to the last. Sky’s the limit with self-doubt. And it’s incredible how quickly the reader can just plow through it when it’s finally printed. Nothing but respect to all the cartoonists of the world.
I’d like to learn the art of legitimate tattooing one of these days. Though I’ve scarred so many loved ones already.
When you use color in your art, your palate seems to be limited to a certain part of the spectrum, or a minimal combination. What is this technique? Can you explain why you use it (if there is a reason to it)?
Yeah, I try not to overdo it with color. The most I’ll use on a piece is, like, three separate colors, along with the shades and tints they produce. It’s definitely a comfort-zone-based decision. I feel most of my work is pretty minimal to begin with. Most of my favorite illustrators growing up worked almost entirely in black and white. Looking at the etchings from Goya's Disasters of War series, to Raymond Pettibon’s early ink drawings, you see they didn’t need a wide spectrum to make immensely important work. The message holds its own.
In AYW #3, you provide readers with punk horoscopes. Was this your first foray into this? What was your inspiration for it?
Originally, I though it would be a fun idea to assign astrological signs to various subcultures in the punk movement based on the traits they’re known for. I consulted my celestial advisor, Melody, about attempting such a thing. Some groups matched nicely; others were a real stretch. Cancer consists of pop-punk kids apparently? I scrapped that idea and wrote a bunch of dumb jokes about reunion tours, hipsters, and communal living spaces. I was pleased with the outcome.
You work for Razorcake. How did you get that job? What does your workload consist of?
I’ve been friends with the numerous organizers and volunteers at Razorcake for a while now, even before they asked for my talents. Without giving too many company secrets away, they needed some columns illustrated, and I said “sure.” The workload fluctuates based on what projects are going on. One month they’ll need something visual to accompany an article, the next maybe a slip mat design. I probably do the least amount of work possible compared to the others, bless their hearts. If you’re itching to do some volunteer work and live in Los Angeles area, their HQ is super cool.
You’ve said that “Tumblr is the devil’s scrapbook.” Can you elaborate on this? From an artist’s perspective, what are the pros and cons of a platform like Tumblr?
One of my main concerns with websites like Tumblr, or even the Internet in general, is how easy it [is] to cruise by so much information without actually processing it. You have the ability to consume what one person created in a lifetime in less than a day, which is both amazing and frightening. You really take these things for granted and just assume it’ll always be there. It’s like when a TV show gets canceled, and people petition for it only so they can pirate the new episodes later on. It shows how little value we give people working in the creative field. These works and projects don’t just fall from the sky; people fucking work themselves to the bone, not to mention the years it takes to learn the craft. I’m tired of seeing so many artists having their ideas plucked, rewritten, reposted without context, or otherwise transformed as a common occurrence. I guess people are getting better now and taking more responsibility when relocating other people’s work. Most of the stuff I make belongs on a lonely WordPress website. My little island where you have to type in a different URL to get there. I had a friend create a Tumblr for me many moons ago, and it was weird seeing my drawings void of all context on some stranger’s hodgepodge of a website. Not my scene I guess.
Whew, OK, sorry about that. I’m not as old as I just made myself sound, I swear.
What does success mean to you?
The ability to receive at least eight hugs a day, which is actually recommended by many in the medical field.
Stoked on Marcos’ work but don’t wanna sell your soul to Tumblr? Check out his art at Up Tha Meex and God Bless S'miracles, subscribe to Razorcake, and, of course, pick up the latest As You Were.