Artist Interviews 2023
Jim (T.A.Z.) Evans
By Johnny Otto
I remember when I first started promoting rock shows and art openings back in the 80’s, I’d create everything by hand and then just go to the copy shop, make copies and hand those out to people or post them on walls. Now everything is digital, how has it changed, helped your art, or are you still old school doing most of the work by hand?
I still draw a lot of the rough sketches, I enjoy drawing and painting by hand, but all my production work is done using various digital techniques because it is so much faster and easier to make changes. Working digitally also allows me to optimize the final output for whatever printing technique is being used - silkscreen, pigment print, or offset lithograph.
Do you remember the first rock poster you designed and how you got the gig?
Strangely, the first real rock poster I did was when I lived in Hawaii. It was for the Crater Celebration, a huge event held in Diamond Head Crater. I wanted to do the poster, had just moved to Hawaii and no one knew me. I went to the promoters and told them I could get Little Feet and Santana for the event, if they let me do the poster. I knew Lowell George, the leader of Little Feet, called him, and bang, I was in the rock poster business. Before that, I had done a lot of comic art for underground publications, stuff for Surfer magazine (including Tales From The Tube), and an album sleeve for Alice Coltrane.
When did it dawn on you that art was something that you just had to do and was going to be your career? Was there one project that you did that changed everything for you?
I was always a good artist, even as a kid, but never considered it a possible career. It was something that seemed distant and out of reach. I started a rock band in high school and saw the potential of a career as a musician. I was making money, and really enjoyed the mini-rock star lifestyle. Several life choices that were forced on me led to Chouinard Art School, meeting a couple famous artists (Rick Griffin and Ron Cobb) who gave me some great breaks. I was soon buried in work, and I never looked back. I did however continue to fill in with bands, but my career trajectory toward art was set.
You’ve collaborated with RISK on some things and shown at Compound Contemporary. What was that like? And how did you two meet and get things started?
I first met RISK when he invited me to do a show at his Buckshot Gallery. We sat down and talked about the show, and like musicians riffing, we synced up, and started doing collaborations for the show. We are so in tune that I’m not sure we ever even discussed it. We just started working together, and it was magic. We’ve continued to collaborate, and recently worked together on the Beyond the Stage event flyer.
Any other artists you’d like to collaborate with and haven’t had the chance yet?
Probably Futura or OG Slick. Futura’s work is cosmic and beautiful, I’ve never seen anything he has done that does not seem perfect in terms of commanding the visual space. OG Slick evokes the kinetic rhythm of the cartoon gods. His line is like the sword slash of a master samurai, he’s an art assassin of extraordinary power.
What music do you listen to when you are creating to get you in the creative mood?
When I’m thinking, Dub, Reggae, Blue Note Jazz, or Electronica. When I’m rendering, rock, hip hop, rap, or various permutations of African music (Fela Kuti, etc.). Beyond that I am still enamored by 60s, 70s, and 80s stuff, Hendrix, Yardbirds, Stones, Kinks, Cream, Beatles, Zeppelin, Bowie, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Doors, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Pistols, The Jam, and tons of others – I listen to music every waking hour, unless I’m watching a movie.
What is coming up for you?
I’m currently doing some stuff for the Mr. Ampersand show being presented by Known Gallery. I’ve got a few collaborations planned and various gallery shows coming up that I will be part of. I’m represented by CAA and have an original futuristic world that will be platformed into a book, show, and other media, it is all based on characters I created. I also try to carve out plenty of time to go surfing.
Advice for artists who are just starting off and perhaps want to get into poster design?
Poster design in general is a pretty specific category, and there are many kinds. I’d say a young artist needs to be flexible. I’ve done film and rock posters, as well as a lot of promotional posters for practically anything you can think of. To do posters, an artist needs to be a designer, and someone who loves letterforms. I’d say an artist should learn classic design and layout for posters. The fact is, one can slap almost any piece of art on a 18x24 format, and with the correct placement of type, it becomes a poster. Powerful propaganda posters that Shepard Fairey does are another matter – and that kind of agit-prop approach is where I have always taken my cue. A powerful poster uses art and design as a weapon of seduction and change.