HunterGatherer and Green Lady have been big favourites of mine for quite awhile now so I’m very pleased that the man behind HUGA, Todd St. John was cool to take a few minutes and have a little chat. His work has always been super nice and his style is quite distinct with it’s natural feel so take a look and enjoy both the pictures and the words.
TSG :: Hi, care to introduce yourself?
TSJ :: Todd St. John, dba HunterGatherer
TSG :: Having lived on both sides of the US has either influenced your style more?
I still think of myself as more of a west coast / Hawaiian person, even though I’ve lived in New York for over a decade now. My formative years were out there, so I guess I identify a little more with that side of the country.
TSG :: I’ve been into your work for a long while now, but first through printed work from and publications like Arkitip and Scrawl, you seem to be developing your animation even more now though, is that just the way things have worked out?
I did a lot more clothing and what I guess you’d call streetwear type things in the 90s, and the early 00′s. After a certain point, I started to do less clothing-related graphics. I had done some video and animation growing up, and started to get back into it about 10 or 12 years ago. For the last five years, that’s definitely taken up more of my time. It’s hard to just dabble in that world. You have to be pretty committed.
TSG :: You seem pretty handy with the tools too though huh? Is the sculpting a nice break from looking at a screen?
I always grew up with a shop in the house. My dad built a lot our furniture, and he’s an engineer, and I’ve got that kind of brain, for better or worse… It’s a satisfying way for me to work.
TSG :: Even many of your graphics are wood pattern based, any particular reason? You also seem to like shapes in nature and waves/surfing. Do you get out a lot in the sea?
I don’t get out as much as I’d like these days. As far as wood, I think there’s a connection there, insofar as 2 different kinds of work reflecting back on each other. Without droning on, I’ll say that there’s things about working with wood as a medium that seem to be endlessly interesting to me.
TSG :: Is your look the reasoning for the Hunter Gather moniker too?
On the one hand it was just the name that was settled on, but there’s also things I believe about sustainability and human nature that made it a good fit. And that fits in with the work to some degree, too.
TSG :: Your other project Green Lady, has always been pretty sick, is it still on going?
Not so much. It’s in a hibernation of indeterminate length. Gary Benzel and I have a grab bag of random ideas waiting for a home. We haven’t resolved on exactly how to put them out yet, whether its as a resuscitated Green Lady, or as something else.
TSG :: I know your shadow puppets site is still up, it’s nice, was it difficult to create?
We worked with a guy named Justin Marr who is great. He did all the flash work. Gary was heavily involved in that too. I know it was a ton of work, but I didn’t personally do much of it.
TSG :: It seems you get to work for a pretty varied but large client base, any people you’ve been super excited to have worked for, not that I’m taking away from anyone, but there must be someone you’ve so hyped to get to work with?
I did a project for David Byrne’s label about 7 years ago. I had a pretty major Talking Heads moment in high school. I’m not a star-struck kind of person at all, but when he walked into the meeting, I had to fight the urge to nerd out on the guy.
TSG :: Is there anyone out there you’d love to work with?
Sesame street has called once or twice, but they haven’t hired me for anything yet.
TSG :: Anything upcoming you can share or is it on on the downlow?
Upcoming, I guess the next thing is a show at 222 in Philadelphia later this fall.
TSG :: Sounds good. Outside of creating you also teach at Yale University, was teaching something you had always had an interest in?
Not at all. It was completely by accident. I’d gone up there a handful of times, and then they asked me to teach a class. It’s great to be in that world for a day a week. Although, I still feel like somebody’s going to tap on my shoulder and say, “We made a mistake, and just realized you don’t actually know what you’re talking about…”
TSG :: Do you ever come across any students whose work you’ve seen and thought, awww I wish I’d thought that up?
Of course, that’s one of the fun parts of teaching. And those are the best kinds of ideas…
TSG :: How do you think the US and European design styles differ? Do you think the internet has merged any global divides in styles?
I guess I see similarities determined more by genre & scene than by where you live. It would be awesome to go to a country and everything looked completely different. Seems like those days are fading though…
TSG :: Are there any studios you’d wish to have been involved with if HUGA wasn’t around?
I don’t really know. If I didn’t work for myself, maybe I’d go the completely opposite route and work in a giant place with great resources, like Pixar or Vitra. Something like that.
TSG :: That’s cool Todd. Well cheers for taking the time out for this, I’m stoked.
The works of Todd St. John/HUGA can be viewed here.