Beach Meets : Jason G. Strugill
Whilst he was in London for ELCAF, Jason popped into Beach to drop in some of his rad products (some of which you can pick up below), his clever, funny work is always a joy to see so we thought it was high time we caught up with JGS and got the lowdown on what he’s been up to.
You share a studio space with lots of other awesome artists, including Will Bryant and Alex Despain, do you enjoy sharing with others and how does that influence your work? Do you guys collaborate on projects?
Sharing a studio, aka See Saw Club, has made a big impression on my work. It was really what gave me the courage to put myself out there as an illustrator having come from a design and advertising background. It really helps to be around people that are not only super prolific in commercial work but also with their own self initiated projects. Unfortunately, Will Bryant is leaving us to move back to Austin, Texas to be closer to his family. He’s been a huge source of positivity for both our studio and the Portland creative community, we will be missing him bunches. Kate Bingaman Burt has enough positive energy to power the entire city though so she will always keep us smiling. Alex DeSpain was one of our students at Portland State University and it’s been super inspiring to watch him enter the wild world of freelance illustration running with a full schedule of work. Alex and I recently collaborated on a gallery show here in Portland which was super fun. Right now the four of us are all drawing for a commercial project with Faber-Castell where we are posting drawing tips to our Instagram accounts. Recently we’ve added a couple new members to the See Saw Club, Andy Luce & Taryn Cowart.
What’s a typical Portland day for you like?
The great thing about being a freelance illustrator is I don’t have a typical day. Somedays I’m teaching illustration and graphic design at Portland State University alongside my studio mate Kate Bingaman Burt. Even on the teaching days I’ll usually find time to make it by the studio to work on projects. My wife and I have a 5 year old that I usually pick up from school and pal around with until Sarah gets home from her day job as a Senior Producer at Instrument. I’m pretty active in the creative community here in Portland, either organizing events like Homebrewed by Design for Design Week Portland or getting out to events that are constantly going on in the city. I wrote an article for Juxtapoz Magazine that highlights all of my favorite places in PDX.
Reaching way back we remember the amazing shows you put on as The Wurst Gallery, looking through you site you can see that you’ve worked in lots of different areas. Can you tell us a little bit about your design background, how did settle on the the sort of work you do now?
The road to get to where I am now has been a long and winding one. My undergrad degree is in Marketing, but I always say my real education during that time happened outside of the classroom. I worked for the University putting on all the entertainment events for the school which gave me a sizable budget to bring in bands and artists from around the country. I was also a DJ at the college radio station, these experiences led me to the idea of starting my own record label after finding out I could get college credit by starting a business. It was 1997 when I put out my first release, a 7” with the band Modest Mouse who were relatively unknown at the time. This is when I started to teach myself design by working with the drummer on the packaging, which was created on a PC using Freehand. After graduating I moved to Portland, OR and began working in advertising eventually landing at Wieden + Kennedy where I worked for 5 years. While at Wieden I started The Wurst Gallery, which was basically an excuse to reach out and work with all of my favorite illustrators. I had been working as an interactive producer and strategic planner on the Nike account at Wieden but I was more interested in doing creative work. In 2004 I was diagnosed with cancer. After beating it I became more focused on making creative work, which resulted in me leaving Wieden, and I went to a local community college for design to augment my self taught design skills. While I was taking classes I also worked as a freelance designer at Dark Horse Comics on toy packaging and brand design. I was continually creating shows with The Wurst Gallery which was expanding my network of artists that I worked with, this led to a consulting position with Laika where I signed artists to be represented by Laika for commercial animation work. After freelancing around town for a couple years I was contacted by a friend from my Wieden days who was now working for Nike Skateboarding and I started working with them. I worked on both branding and product at Nike and had the opportunity to frequently hire illustrators I had met through Wurst Gallery shows. I realized after 4 years with Nike that corporate culture wasn’t for me and left to start a studio with a friend which lasted about a year and then I got the opportunity to go back to grad school and study with Harrell Fletcher and Jen Delos Reyes. After finishing grad school in 2012 I joined the aforementioned studio crew and have been steadily working on illustration ever since.
More recently, you guest curated an issue of Snacks Quarterly, tell us how that came about and did you enjoy the process?
I’ve known Brad Simon, 1/2 of Snacks Quarterly, for a long time and he had asked me if I’d be interested in guest curating. I had stopped doing The Wurst Gallery in 2007 after putting together a massive show with 154 artists from all over the world which left me a bit burned out on curating, but enough time had passed that I was excited to work with some new artists I’d discovered through Instagram and had met at ELCAF over the summer.
You’re also a member of the Outcrowd Collective, can you tell us a little bit about the collective and the sort of projects you guys do together?
I was super honored to be asked by Simon Peplow to join the Outcrowd Collective this year, it’s an amazing crew to be counted among…many of whom I’ve looked up to for years. There’s not any sort of formalized activity per se, but anyone in the group can propose to do something collectively. My trip to London this past summer wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for being in the group, it motivated me to see if the group would want to get a table at ELCAF which was rad.
What’s are you working on at the moment? What can we look forward to seeing from you soon?
I’ve been continuing to work on graphics for the likes of Poler and The Quiet Life, and teaching illustration and design at Portland State University is always happening. Editorial illustrations is becoming a steadier avenue of work which I really enjoy. I’ve got some other things in the works that’s a bit early days to announce. I’d really like to work on a skate deck at some point, one of the things I haven’t done yet.
Shop Jason’s Killroy clip and other awesome stuff in our Christmas Wish list here
Check out more of Jason’s ace output here