Volume Seven Interview

Jonny Lovering
Artist & Illustrator

Wr
itten by Jon Caruso

Self-portrait (Ink on clayboard) | Photo Credit: Jonny Lovering

Band posters and promotional graphics are works of art that embrace a variety of styles and techniques. The origins of posters trace back to the invention of Lithography in 1798 [1] and the process has evolved quite significantly over time. In the 1980s, silkscreen prints produced by artists such as Frank Kozik gained popularity and ultimately led to screen printing becoming the most prominent form of poster production [2]. In the pre-Internet era, concert posters (and flyers) were once one of the only ways for people to find out what musical acts were in town. Today, posters are more often seen as mementos and have become collector’s items – especially in the case of bands like Goose, that have had a significant rise in popularity over the last three years.

Goose has had great success in establishing a unique visual identity to separate themselves from their musical peers. “Image, when done right, is not a gimmick. It’s the physical embodiment of your music. Design, photography, fashion, video—these are vehicles to express yourself on an additional plane, amplifying what you have to say and making it travel further and resonate more powerfully with your audience [3].” This is largely in part because they’ve done a wonderful job picking talented artists that align with their overall vision and eclectic style.

Artists like Will Thresher (who we interviewed in The el Goose Times Volume 4), Jason Piperberg and Jonny Lovering’s contributions have become synonymous with the band’s visual image and overall character. In this volume, The el Goose Times had the opportunity to connect with New Hampshire-native, artist and illustrator
Jonny Lovering to talk about his childhood, history with Goose and more.

Growing up, were you always passionate about drawing and illustration in particular?

Yeah, definitely - it was always something I did from a young age. I filled sketchbooks with weird characters and creatures, always drawing in the margins of my notebooks, etc. My family always encouraged my creativity. I remember my grandmother buying me a set of oil pastels when I was really young and explaining to me that these were “grown-up” artist tools. I drew a series of animals with them: a lion, a weird snake - that’s probably my earliest art related memory. That and drawing a self portrait in first grade where I was dancing under a disco ball with sunglasses and a huge afro.

In my research, I noticed a common theme of naturalism and realism, sometimes with a surrealistic twist. Who are some of your biggest influences and what are some of your favorite art styles?

I would say that’s accurate. Working in pen and ink lends itself to highly detailed observational drawing, so that’s where the realism comes from. But there’s nothing that interesting about a purely realist interpretation of a subject to me - so I suppose that’s where the dose of surrealism comes into play. If you add a bunch of crystals growing out of a frogs back, it becomes something a little more fantastical and interesting.

The naturalism is born from the area in which I live and grew up: the woods, mountains, and seacoast of New Hampshire. There is so much natural inspiration all around me and I’m constantly taking that in, consciously and subconsciously and expressing that in my artwork. Plus that stuff is just fun to draw – mushrooms, twisting roots, lumpy forms, organic shapes – it’s forgiving!

As for Influences and art styles, I honestly admire many of the artists in the current gig poster scene. Dave Kloc is a favorite, his work shares some DNA with mine - albeit at a much higher level. Max Mahn (Twin Home prints) is an inspiration as well. Drew Millward, Leslie Herman, Dan Black, to name a few more. I’ve been following these guys for years and then to see them doing work for Goose has been a real head trip, which just speaks to the band’s rise and the trajectory they have been on.

As for more traditional influences I would throw out Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham and the portrait work of Alice Neel. I take a lot of inspiration from other visual mediums as well: animated works like Over the Garden Wall, the Studio Ghibli films and video games like The Legend of Zelda games and Hollow Knight.

Tell us about how your collaborative relationship with Goose began. What has it been like seeing their growth over the last four years?

I was introduced to Rick - and by extension Goose - through Will Thresher. Fans may be familiar with him for his directing credits with the band. Will was managing Rick’s previous band Vasudo at the time I believe. I had begun taking my artwork more seriously and was putting my stuff out there. I had just discovered the wonders of digital art and programs like photoshop, and one thing led to another.

The first project that I did for Goose was a sticker design with a white Goose in the shape of a G, I believe. Shortly after that was a poster for Goosemas 2015 at Factory Underground that was digitally printed at 11” x 17” – before I even knew what screenprinted gig posters were. There was a lot of literal Goose imagery back then! Its been truly wild seeing them explode over the last few years.

To be able to grow as an artist alongside them is a real pleasure! I’m so happy for those guys - they’ve worked their tails off and deserve all of the success that’s come to them and more. It’s also a little bit of anxiety on my end - making artwork for one of the hottest bands in the Jam scene - and the scrutiny that comes with that. I know how passionate the fanbase is and that comes with increased pressure at times. But, I just try to keep my head down, do my thing and not think too much about how big they’ve become or any of that.

A lot of your work is iconic and has become synonymous with the band’s history – walk us through the creation and process of some of your most significant contributions thus far:

Fall 2018 poster (affectionately known as the “Goose peen” online)

Goosemas 2018 and 2019 posters

Fall 2019 poster (which also became the album art of “Alive and Well”)

Shenanigans 2021 Summer Tour poster

That’s really cool to hear, thank you!

Fall Tour 2018 aka “The Goose Peen”

(Chuckles) I’m glad its looked at with affection, as it should be...There are two stories behind that print...The more interesting one probably isn’t fit for print in a respectable publication such as this. The boring version is that I drew a goose that looked like a dick and nobody noticed or said anything about it. I’ll let fans come up with their own theories though.

Goosemas 2018 - Cantiki

This poster was my first attempt at hand printing a run myself. I’m happy with the result, but the discerning eye could pick up on some imperfections. I loved the theme for this one - the concept came together really nicely and something about how that numeral V just sits in the center of the amp really works. I have this one framed on my wall.

Fall 2019 Poster (and the Alive and Well album cover)

This poster and the subsequent Alive and Well cover art was inspired by the band’s May 2019 Domefest set at Marvin’s Mountaintop.

The rock formation is actually a native West Virginia geographical formation. I remember getting briefed on the mood of that show, and how the full moon came up over the course of the night. It sounded like it was a defining and special moment for everybody there. I hope the art captured a little bit of that feeling.

Goosemas 2019 - Wall Street Theater

The Goosemas Mansion is based off of the Lockwood-Mathews mansion in Norwalk. A national historic site and museum. I pitched the idea and the band liked the vibe so we went with it. I wanted to do something a little different than previous years and the angles and architectural details presented a lot of fun challenge and opportunity. The 2 colorways have totally different moods which was fun as well.

Shenanigans 2021 Summer Tour Poster

The wave/tsunami theme was one that was very close to Rick personally. The character in the chair waiting for the impending crash of the wave was my interpretation of an old promo flyer one of Rick’s buddies had made for a show way back in his high school years I believe. So that was something they felt strongly about working into the art. This was one of my more ambitious compositions, and I had a blast with it - probably the piece I am the most proud of, if I had to choose. This was a bit of a departure from the pen and ink style I am asked to do for them often, but its fun to switch it up and do clean vector work sometimes.

Walk us through how the collaborative process has worked so far with Goose - do you pitch ideas to the band and management, or do they have specific ideas in mind when it comes to poster/promotional material?

Goose is great to work with! In the beginning, it was usually the band reaching out directly - usually Rick or Peter. More recently, it's been management, but in either case, they are really artist friendly and great to work with.

Most of the time they let me run wild and I'll pitch concepts that I think work for whatever type of project we are talking about. Often they will reference past pieces that I've done for them, and say "we want something in this style" and I'll take it from there. Sometimes they have a theme already in mind, like in the case of the Goosemas V art. That was very clearly Luau/tiki bar themed, so I worked within that criteria, but other times, like in the case of the Goosemas VI art there was no theme yet, and the concept I came up with helped them land on the haunted mansion vibe. It really depends on the project.

Are there any projects you’re currently working on that you’re passionate about? As a long-time fan, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next! Are there any more Goose collaborations in the works that you can speak about?

A few Goose related things in the works - so keep an eye out for those down the road! I’m hoping to be able to add to the live release cover series as time goes on. A tee design here and there maybe. I’m happy to be a small part of the overall Goose story. I’ll continue bringing my best to each project and hope the fans can appreciate what I put into each one.

Thank you for your time - I’m sure I speak for a lot of fans that I sincerely appreciate and admire your art in general, in addition to all of your contributions to Goose so far!


[1] “Design and Music: Evolution of Music Posters.” Savage Thrills, https://savagethrills.com/music/design-and-music-evolution-of-music-posters

[2] “CONCERT POSTERS: A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON FOR COLLECTORS.” goCollect, https://blog.gocollect.com/concert-poster-collecting-guide/the-history-of-concert-posters

[3] Crowley, Evvie. “Why Visual Identity is Important (And How to Create Yours)”. Spotify, https://artists.spotify.com/en/blog/why-visual-identity-is-important-and-how-to-create-yours

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