Thursday, June 6, 2013

Interview: Artist Jim Swill

Jim Swill. Press Photo

I’ve shared stages with Jim and seen his tuff many different places but when I recently seen a video he created, it was one of those special moments… I was ‘floored’ at the twisting imagery and wordplay and how together they made a lasting Impression. Jim has an appearance at the Contemporary Art Center downtown on June 10th. It was my pleasure to gain his attention for this brief interview.

Questions by …THWART! (Shawn Abnoxious)

Answers by Jim Swill.


James, introduce your-self to THWART readers.

I'm Jim Swill, a writer / collage artist / performer and now a newfound DIY director of sorts as of the past year. I've been a vocalist for some digital hardcore projects over the last decade such as Realicide and Evolve. Travelled a lot of places, done a lot of shows, made a lot of zines, so now I'm doing videos.

Does any outright medium grab you as better over others? Which one you feel the strongest with?

It's kind of been a progressive thing in which it all stems from writing. I make visual art to communicate my writing, I perform as a vocalist to communicate lyrics, and I make videos to communicate things that sometimes transcend the totally literal. It's been a process utilizing different mediums to simply communicate writing sheerly based on the fact that people are less inclined to read, as they are to observe. So I guess I'd say my writing is the nucleus of my art in general, and I'm just using different mediums for the same ends.

What’s the difference between communication and comprehension? Is there a certain amount of your communication that you feel is not understood nor related to? Is it more important to have a level of understanding with yourself verses others? I ask this because I’m not sure about my own answer to this question myself... I would like your take.

Communication is the effort an/or success of information exchange while comprehension is the understanding of another's delivered content. I think there's always a level of things not understood. One example is I find almost all of my work to be comedic because I guess I have a dark sense of humor, but people seem to find my work overly serious. I'm ok with that tho because I'd rather be that than be considered a joke. I think it's important to have an understanding of yourself prior to making anything actually because I think have an objective is important whether it be easily communicated or not. When I'm making anything I usually always find it very funny whole being a littler dark and serious, but more so I think it's just a reflection of the reality I exist in. I don't have any soapbox mentalities going into things but many people in my audience over the years view me as a sort of activist or something. I don't view myself as that but it's hard to avoid that label when your content has any edge or serious social connotations. I'm always thinking I'm just assembling a collage out of my dream life and waking life but I'm not telling anybody what's right and wrong.

What’s one thing about yourself that you feel is misunderstood about you? Why?

Also I'm typing all this on my phone while I'm at work so pardon my grammatical and spelling errors… I think people think I'm angry and my work is angry because I look angry and talk about things that are very real an uncomfortable for most people.

How does your creativity surface? How do you determine an idea and how you will communicate it within multiple mediums you have?

The different mediums are for different things, I don't know usually I'm always writing and filming things, it all comes together over time by trial and error. I have notebooks and folders full of scraps that are mass different ways of saying the same things. I'm kind of obsessive with my work so I try to hone what I want to communicate over many different attempts. I usually stop when I am affected as in I don't just spew it out and I'm done, I try to look at it from the perspective of a person who doesn’t know me and I usually don't stop until I feel something overwhelming like chills or a lump in my throat or I get super weak with laughter,

Do you ever forget you write something and someone reminds you and you think 'wow, that’s cool. Who said that?' and they reply "You Did!"

Haha all the time!!! I get emails from people who read books of mine from years back they find in record stores an info shops and I'm like wow that's amazing I forgot I was in "blah blah" city and left those books there.

What factors have inspired you to live a creative life? How does 'it' happen with you?

I don't know any other way to be really I've always been on a weird tip, ever since I can remember like from very early I would say I wanted to be an artist when I grew up haha, I would draw comics and write stories etc endlessly. I think what really kicked me into gear was when I was in elementary school I got in trouble for writing this thing and they thought I didn't write it like I plagiarized it. I just ate books basically and constantly was writing. That made me get the confidence to believe I could do it well. Also strangely I remember my parents were super religious and extreme but they had these artist friends we visited once. Their house smelled like cat piss and incense, there were abstract sculptures and paintings everywhere and I had never seen that shit. I remember thinking about them for years like "I wanna be like them". As funny as that sounds. It's endless factors you know? Our lives are so many things leading into the present I'm sure there's so many more reasons why I am this way I don't even realize.

Is it hard to 'turn off the art' side of you? Like, in 'regular' society you instantly get weird looks or backlash because someone is so un-art minded and square?

I mean all of life is regular society. I don't really think what I'm doing is weird when I live in a world of people filled with mind altering medications and extreme contradictory belief systems, or people high on crack and crazy violent people you feel me? In comparison to many things I'm just a person doing their thing, my career is being this its not a hobby or something I do for kicks.

Where does art belong in modern society? Is there an amount of danger in Contemporary art? Or is it just 'painful freedom'?

I think there's too much emphasis on danger especially from the punk backgrounds you and I both have. There's painful freedom but that doesn’t make something 'un-suck', lame ass art is still going to be lame. I think art in modern society is just more subjective and niche. Even tho someone's work can be deep and amazing we have these Internet mediums like YouTube and tumblr that turn the work into mere glances. The attention to work is highly reduced an based more in entertainment now. This kind of fuels the desire to get publications and bigger coverage which is making this whole culture very careerist and cut throat, I think in the end in order to really do something you gotta make work that affects people instead of merely fulfilling some sort of junk food style art satiation.

Tell those reading this about your upcoming art show at the CAC

The CAC show consists of me doing live renditions of my videos "peanuts and coke" and "Screenage Angst" which have both been featured by Disinformation or / I will also be reading from my Current novel "86" which is a fictional novel about a kid working in food service in Middletown Ohio involve with a pharmaceutical drug ring. To add I'm also planning on premiering my newest video "lottery dust" and doing some q and a

Lotta pokers in the fire there. Is this CAC show a sort of Midwest Climax due to you heading to LA? Can we talk about that move? Get down to the nitty, gritty, bottom of the barrel.

I wouldn't say so it just happens to be one of the last shows I'm doing. In fact I consider this show to be more formal and less how I like shows to be, which is dark, loud, and weird. I've actually lived in various other cities and have just been back in Ohio the past few years, so me leaving here isn't climactic for me personally. I'm just moving to California in order to do the same things I do here on a more competitive larger scale. Tho my objectives are fairly cliché for most people who move to either coast, I am mainly interested in collaborative efforts that have the potential to reach wider audiences. I'm looking forward to it tho, I love driving cross-country. I will be going out there with my friends Brian Uhl (illustrator/printmaker) and Ben Fleischer (DJ / producer aka Benigma or Neti Neti) as we all have a similar cultural mission. Brian and I have been producing a graphic novel over the past year in which we plan to launch via west coast. Ben and I collaborate on music. We all together also run a blog called . This is just our time to put our grind into an area with a wider reach.

You make it sound like an invasion of art rather than location. Has previously locating to different cities then returning to this area an act of retreat or progression as a firm of comparison to what you learn and bring back with you... I ask because I figure what someone does here (in Cincinnati) isn’t that special in a bigger town like Chicago or NYC or whatever... Is the Cincinnati area really something to you and unique or just another stepping-stone to your bigger picture?

I just ended up back here for personal reasons that don't have to do with my work or retreat. I don't view any city as a stepping-stone I just think what I do doesn’t really work here as well as it does in another place. Cincinnati is just where I grew up; I'm originally from price hill. I guess I've never viewed places as special really I mean this city is beautiful in ways and I'd never dismiss it. I just want to make my life doing this work in more adapt environments than the Midwest. I still rep Midwest tho; we've got guts here. Also there's a push to make culture happen, a push to work harder to escape and prove yourself, and I think some of the limitations you're given by being born in the Midwest can be productive if properly utilized.

So Cincinnati left its mark rather strongly with you no matter where you go? This is what some people would call home. Is Cincinnati your home?

No I don't have a home right now, and I don't see myself having one until I've done what I've set out to do. Wherever is necessary for me that's where I'll be… I think just the Midwest in general is in me, but I adapt to any place I go, adaptability is the key.

In what ways is the Midwest special enough to pick the region as your designation? Can you elaborate on your statement?

Cause its strip malls and corn fields, like Kmart and obesity and just a void feeling that is a unique area of America to me that conveys a dark sense of place. It's not my place it’s just embedded in my brain

Tell readers more about your up-coming CAC show... What side of Swill will they see?

I mean mostly you'll see me being more formal than normal, but feel free to give me some shit, that always makes it more fun.

Do you have any last points or comments to make? Any Swill-isms you need to expel?

Oh no, just thanks for reading. This interview was rad. Feel free to email me to talk about shit and trade articles, videos, and interesting shit, anything really except trying to get me to listen to your band. If you got some weird images submit'em to . Also follow my feeds in the Internet, or on your phones, mainly just Instagram and YouTube those ones are actually interesting. Other than that, later.

Jim Swill on fb

Jim Swill @ CAC