**UPDATE: Nick and Nadine are currently raising money over on Kickstarter to fund their first book, Warp and Weft: Poster Construction by Sonnenzimmer. They have until July 9 to reach their goal - and you can support them with a pledge that rewards you with a copy. We have absolutely no doubt that the integrity of their characteristic method, contemporary practice and meta-theory will result in an important publication - help them out!**
Nadine: I have never taken part at the Austin Flatstock before as an artist. I did help Nick out at Flatstock at SXSW in 2005 - that was before Sonnenzimmer. We sell posters here, we are part of promoting poster culture with all the other artists. We are also, in some ways, an entertainment backdrop - a walking popular gallery for people to see some American art up close and personal.
Nick: We hang out with 100's of other poster dorks. It's wonderful. These people are a special breed of insane.
Nadine: I can tell you that Throbbing Gristle was a hit! We get hate, love and indifference. It really varies. Some people open up to our work over a long time. Revisit our stuff. It's funny to see our mode of visual language becoming part of the bigger visual discourse. When we did posters in 2004 and 2005, nobody felt abstract imagery could work on rock posters. That in itself should make you understand how conservative the expectations are for rock posters. This is what we usually face. However, the scene is the most progressive support system and community we've ever experienced. So while some of the poster artists think we are total wimps, they still admire our gusto. Same to some of the viewers, while they don't like our stuff, they can appreciate we are part of making the poster world fun and whimsical. But that's speaking from an internal perspective.
Nick: We have a very, very small but extremely supportive fan base. I think people respond best to the same works that we respond too.... Sometimes you just hit the mark with color, composition, concept, execution... It's hard to break down to a formula, but there is a magic in creating powerful images and it's impossible to distill. I guess that's what is so utterly frustrating and compelling about doing all this... That search.
Nadine: I studied graphic design and typography and Nick studied graphic design - but he really just did print making. Our style probably derives from our personalities clashing, but ironically often envisioning images in a similar way. We have similar interests in the weird and the cultural that manifests in different ways.
Nick: Our style emerged as a real collaborative effort. When we first met, I was making paintings and painterly posters, but with a deep interest in modern European design, for its shear simplicity and impact. Formalism at its finest. Nadine had just finished her education in typography from Switzerland, but was sick of type. Long story short, she wanted to try out painting and I wanted to try out clean European-influenced design. This was a role reversal that we each fostered one another through. Our work is a visual result of those impulses.
Nadine: In general, current cultural notions around image making. But mostly our artist friends - who are mostly image makers but are living off of their practices. There's also a simple side to being influenced namely, working through volume to pay your rent. This informs ideas and techniques, and those then fuel back into collaborations - how you read an article, how you see a new exhibit. Here in Chicago, we are very lucky to be around many multi-talented people that merge theater, music, writing, photography, painting, applied art and also various forms of activism. It's a very fertile city to be in, especially if you want to be deeply involved in cultural production. So, perhaps the city of Chicago would be a good answer!
Nick: I think initially, we were both extremely influenced by the self-starting punk/hardcore movements, as well as skateboarding/youth culture and all the associated imagery. We are also influenced by a wide range of fine artists, graphic designers and craftsmen. Especially those in punk that carried that streak of strong headedness and single mindedness - that really appealed to us. Also some of my heroes... Robert Ryman, Andrew Wyeth, Ornette Coleman.... But really, Chicago is the biggest influence to keep us going. The city is the manifestation of an amazing work ethic and no attitude.
Nadine: We like to call our style graphic abstractionism. We are starting to own that terminology. It gives the image more importance than anything else. Text, information and function all submit to it.
Nick: Someone once said we 'made space for quietness'. I like that.
Nadine: We can recommend Landland they are burning!
Nick: Yes, Landland are a great pair.
Nadine: Also, Nick's label mates, Adam and Sara from Hometapes are amazing. Sara has been an artist in her own right, but together they run a kick-ass integer music label that really pushes art and design.
Photography property of Sonnenzimmer.
The referrals began with Leah Jackson who referred Stephanie Downey who referred Chris Hill who referred Jonathan Wallace who referred Dominic Hofstede, who referred Paul Fuog, who referred Ben Edwards and Juliet Moore, who referred Ryan Russel and Byron George, who referred Dianna Snape, who finished the stream with Jessica Brent. We also introduced Matt Hinkley who referred Warren Taylor who referred Yanni Florence, who referred Liv Barrett, who referred Fayen d'Evie, who referred Masato Takasaka, who referred Madeline Kidd, who referred Meredith Turnbull, who referred Nella Themelios.
In May 2012, we began a new Melbourne stream with Oslo Davis. He then referred Alexander Stitt, who referred Mimmo Cozzolino, who referred Fysh Rutherford, who referred Simon and Jenna Hipgrave.
In March 2012, we went to Austin for SXSW, where the daily referrals began with Sonnenzimmer who referred Landland and Hometapes who referred Zorch, who referred Brian Maclaskey, who referred Bobby Dixon, who referred Brian Phillips, who, through some auspicious coincidence, turned the SXSW referral interview project into a perfect circle, by referring us back to Sonnenzimmer. Then there was a giveaway to celebrate.