FIGHTING: Niall McClelland & Lukas Geronimas
Written by Matt Irving
These two Canadians are amazing! I've been emailing back and forth with them for a few years now and we've worked on a couple of projects together. They are hard workers in every sense, which I always have a soft spot for. These days most people seem fairly lazy, or they work extremely hard and are scared to admit that they actually care. I guess it just makes dedicated people that much more refreshing, because they're proud of what they create and they aren't afraid to show it. Some of you may know of them already but in my opinion the world is just discovering the tip of the iceberg that is FIGHTING... otherwise known as Niall McClelland & Lukas Geronimas.
(NIALL): Niall McClelland, pronounced Neil, it's Gaelic. Toronto born and raised, Vancouver for 6 years, now back in T.O. until January, then onto Barcelona & Valencia.
(LUKAS): Lukas Romualdas Astronimas Geronimas, and I was born at Toronto General Hospital and I'm back to the city that brought me into this world (Toronto). I'll be here through the winter, while Niall goes to Spain.
(NIALL): When we were 14, I got rides to school from his family, it was awkward cause I didn't like him and he didn't like me, his pops was cool though and still is actually. Eventually we nerded out on some sci-fi and fantasy shit and we've been tight since. Obviously.
(LUKAS): Yes well, art is a solo thing, and as far as fine art goes, we're getting into our own things. But Fighting was a way to guarantee a bilateral sort of progress. It really started when Niall and our friend Robin Cameron (rocamm.com) decided to do a Low Fashion show (just t-shirts) and we decided to make some shirts together because I had access to the printmaking studio at my school and we were down to receive mutually deplorable or agreeable feedback. We also realized that it was a good way to emphasize one another's strengths while hiding our weaknesses. For instance, I have absolutely no idea how to type (unable to distinguish between letter forms) and Niall can't speak a word of English (he just spits and drools whenever he tries, and in fact is transcribing my portion of the interview as we, well I, speak). Together, it looks like we're exceptionally literate, erudite and well versed in a variety of graphic styles.
(NIALL): All the time, everyday. But its not generally about the conflicting visions or overall concept for any project, its always about details, details, details. The small shit. So yeah, I'd say weekly there's probably a moment I want to punch the fucker, but it only lasts a second so showing some restraint is a good course of action. I'm sure that goes both ways.
(LUKAS): Fighting wasn't really about violence so much as it was about struggle. It's an admission to the fact that anything that anyone wants to do graphically will be scrutinized and ultimately compromised, and it's the artist's responsibility to step up and convince their audience, or their patrons, or the companies that employ them, to trust the artist's vision. So that the product remains integral. It's a little old-fashioned to preach product-based marketing (the artist being the product), but we're confident about our ability to produce. That being said, we do end up compromising often enough when time and money govern the project, and it's justified because we understand what's up. And also we're decent people (equal parts real/ideal and moderate like any good Canadian) that work to understand the politics involved in our industry, which makes us a little more subversive than the name suggests, even though a fire still burns in our bellies.
(NIALL): Well...the main reason was that we were looking for a unique URL, something humourous, we thought it'd be funny to have something annoying to type out, a little awkward to remember. The name itself came about from a note I found that Lukas had written me drunkenly one night in jest about a girl who used to dig me tons until I was an ass to her and now wouldn't even be in the same room as me, we thought the whole situation was pretty amusing, I guess. So when we were putting the initial site together I found the note and thought fuck it, let's just run with this. Maybe the URL should go a little more like "shedoesntloveyouanymorehahahaha.com"?
(LUKAS): Oh man Japan, my heart has a tidy little place 4 ever with no shoes allowed! Reserved for the land of the rising sun. The efficiency, understanding, and level of context with which the Japanese culture conducts itself is part of my guiding light (like 15-20%!), and although there are plenty of problems, like the fact that the country's construction budget has yet to decrease (it's increased significantly, in fact, even with regards to GDP growth and inflation) since Japan set forth along the path to repairing its devastated infrastructure after the second world war - and as a little note; if you think what the Allies did to Dresden and Hamburg other parts of 'Evil' Europe was gnarly, America's retribution for Pearl Harbor was nastier than Vancouver's Downtown East side x 3rd stage syphilis: pretty much 75% of the COUNTRY - not just Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but the entire COUNTRY, was razed. Japan's cities were made out of sticks - the whole place became a space-scale campfire in the early 1940s. Central Tokyo is built on the ashes of its recent past, and it is fucking ridiculous what they've done in a half-century. I got to live downtown, in a small box with two big men, for almost a year, and it ruled to the max. Sorry; I never finished my problem point - because the construction budget has yet to shrink since the country began rebuilding three quarters of it's property, and pretty much they finished RE-building some thirty or so years ago, there's been an enormous glut of senseless concrete pouring which has led to all but three of Japan's hundred-and-something major rivers receiving a concrete bed treatment, and vast portions of Japan's coastline covered with scores of concrete tetrapods for no reason other than to spend the budgets allotted to construction companies in order to receive just as much or more money in the coming year. Blah blah blah, I still think it's one of the most amazing places ever. Extremely detailed.
(NIALL): I actually studied communication design out west; art is something I've just always done. But yeah, Vancouver... that's a special city, I really dig it there, its a beautiful spot, but now that the Olympics are coming through in 2010 the city is bulldozing through a lot of its most interesting areas, closing anything with character, building condos, putting on the clean face for the world. Things are getting more expensive, the good neighbourhoods are getting gentrified; basically the city is losing some of its charm. But really, the city is still awesome; it feels like a small town, some really tight knit communities that foster creative pursuits and not just chasing the almighty buck. Toronto on the other hand... well I grew up here so there is always a place in my heart for this city, but... I dunno, its not nearly as inspiring, its kinda a middle of the road city, lots of marketing people... which sometimes makes you want to puke a little on the inside, but hey, at least here I'm not starving just to do what I want to do. Good food, good industry, good neighbourhoods, boring art. Still though, its large and fairly dense, so its great to bike around and explore all the different areas which are divided culturally, like little Portugal, Greek town, little India, etc, that part is dope.
(LUKAS): The west coast is the best coast, no doubt. The weather and the geography and the proximity to Mexico, these are all the best. But the west coast ain't got the hustle like the east coast does (that doesn't mean you individually, reader, but as far as an unbiased truism goes, it's true). And New York is the world's cultural anchor. I'm digging on being close to the family and close to the big smoke, but I miss clean pacific groundswell and no regard for fashion. Toronto's not forever, but I'm happy here; they've got a good public library system.
(LUKAS): I eat out as often as I've got money.
(NIALL): Exactly, whenever I have the dough.
(NIALL): Roti is a dish of stewed or curried ingredients wrapped in a 'Roti Skin' primarily made from wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and water. The dish resembles a large Enchilada. Popular variants include chicken, conch, beef and vegetables. Shrimp and goat are also often available. Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and covered with hot gravy, usually brown gravy, and sometimes other additional ingredients. The curds' freshness is important as it makes them soft in the warm fries, without completely melting.
(LUKAS): Hmmm... that's a tough one, but I gotta run with Roti. Next time you're in Toronto Matt, we'll go grab some from this dope spot I know in Parkdale; shit is mouthwatering.
(LUKAS): We're all part of the stew, but you'll always know a carrot from a potato, and I think that's why the melting-pot can create a big mess when you forget that there are cultural differences that are clear-as-day and ingrained deep into the fabric of the space and time of our age, and that shit, it won't fade man. I think cultures need a place where they can feel comfortable being themselves, because we don't want that kind of chaff-age, municipally or nationally. A neighbourhood's a rad place when it's got a sense of community - whether that communal vibe is a result of race, religion, socio-economic status or liking your nuts sucked by a chick or a dude is of little importance, so long as pride doesn't speed ahead all devil-may-care and crash into a racist ditch, which is easier to do than some people think, as pride is a narrow road and the ditch isn't really that much of a bitch to navigate, and this means some folk don't even know they're off the shoulder and out of bounds. But they are. Geographic segregation isn't all that good unless it's organic, which makes developing a very tricky profession, but when it works well, you get happy residents and happy tourists and no one's jealous, and that's some sweet candy.
(NIALL): Fuck the Canucks, bunch of pussies. Leafs 100%. This is the hockey capital of the world my man.
(LUKAS): The Raps for making terrific drafting decisions. It's not the organization's fault the big shots don't want to hang out in Toronto once their rookie contracts expire (I'll bite my tongue a bit for Bosh, he's some good crack yes'sir). Vince Carter is an Ass-shit, and it's sad to say but he really fucked with Toronto's emotions, and we haven't gotten over the hurt because we're not that strong. The Griz' were over before they started, and should have been a baseball team. Somebody forgot to poll the Pacific Rim sports fans.
(LUKAS): I have yet to drink from Niall's can, all references aside you dirty sleuth, and I wouldn't tell anyone if I had, all references aside. Kokanee is glacier mountain fresh, so of course I drink it; I'd be a fool not to.
(NIALL): Yeah, that was nice, too bad they didn't sell 'em out east so I only got to drink the free ones they hooked me up with, still though. As far a Lukas is concerned, well he's on this tennis tip at the moment so I'm thinking a Wilson racket, the kind Roger Federer uses. Classic backhand, no grunting. That would be right up his alley, either that or a bottle of Bushmills whiskey, cause bro is more into the hard stuff than the beer, and Bushmills is some tasty shit.
(LUKAS): I wish I knew more good music coming out of these cities. Man, the Deadly Snakes just played their last show, so you'll not see them again but you could have a listen; Pride Tiger is from Vancouver so they don't count; Jon Rae and the River, they are amazing and frighteningly uplifting; Great Lakes Swimmers, Akron/Family and Regina Spektor are all pretty good; we're going to Pop Montreal (http://www.popmontreal.com) in October, which is this sweet music festival and you're invited to come, in fact, everyone is invited.
(NIALL): Well... I'm pretty bummed on music these days, but some local stuff that I dig is Rammer, a little bit of metal heaven, and The Brutal Knights, some good ol' asshole punk rock. I dig Vancouver music better though, Destroyer, S.T.R.E.E.T.S., Book of Lists.
(NIALL): Bailing while riding your busted deck, luckily not busting your mickey but then unluckily slipping on a puddle of your own blood while throwing the deck off the nearest roof through the window across the street, laughing the whole way through and taking a nice big swig. Ahhh! Refreshing! Check it
(LUKAS): Umm, Double F's like a nice guy with bad acne and this really messy fake-tan looking complexion (too many carrots and olives in his diet), and he's got a magnetic personality, I guess, but no one can come near him, not even to shake his begrimed hand, because he lives in this woven sac of high-tensile gossamer that you can hardly see, even if you look close, and he kind of just hangs out and let's other people big him up, but he's always got his beady little eyes open and he's got all these brothers that tell him about all sorts of shit, and he's like Rain-Man with his remembering (not his stuttering so much), so pretty much he spends most of his time talking about all this shit his buddies have told him about, and gambling, and it usually pays off. He usually gets his bros to go out and bomb for him, so his style's pretty eclectic. I think his latest tag looks a little like the splash page on this site used to look, although it might not even be a tag, it might be more like a picture. But he's cool. Oh, and here's a little something I rocked for him a while back. Check it
(LUKAS): I've spouted enough to turn a tea kettle green already; but I'll do my best to impart some righteous final words: Chill the fuck out whenever you can (which is different than doing nothing though); and don't worry about cliché; and no pretending, because some people, not all, but some people have got more in those two eyes just above and to either side of their nose than the limited ability to take in a small part of light's vast spectrum, and not only can they see the heat radiating from your loins, they'll also know if you're pretending. It could be your mom, or it could be your girlfriend or boyfriend, or even some random hustler from across the way, or the postman, but they'll see you're pretending, and the look they'll give you, it'll be worse than the firestorms of Tokyo in 1944, because you'll know that they know, and you'll see your dream's curtain come down, so dreadfully slow, and the corporeal lights of an undeniable place and time will come up, just as dreadfully slow, and reality's merciless ambiance will turn your tummy into a pernicious pile of little knots, and you'll get sick, yes'sir, sick as you've ever been, and there ain't no pills you can take, no method of purging that pain, and that feeling will stay with you for a long, long time. So no Pretending. Thanks Matt and John and everyone else for taking some time out of your day. Oh, and don't play video games; they are stupid and terribly useless.
(NIALL): Lately I've been having some trouble with folks and their digital cameras, people trying to document every moment, these flashing bulbs all over the place and LCD screens shoved in my face showing me what I just saw through my own eyes. It's getting to be that we can't even consider a moment worth having unless someone is there to capture it, it's depressing. We were hanging out in Central Park the other day, a bunch of us, just relaxing on the rocks, sleeves up, bags of tall boys, some sandwiches, just enjoying the company, the weather, the view, it was a really picturesque scene and I got to thinking how awesome it was that nobody had a digital camera on them to try to "capture the moment" and ruin my whole vibe. Some shit is better off just left undocumented by anything but your memory. Also, just for good measure, here are a few friends and peers that I think are worth taking a peak at cause they pretty much just slay:
Nick Pittman (blanketgallery.com/Admin%20Files/artists.htm)
Charlie Roberts (blanketgallery.com/Admin%20Files/artists.htm)
Ryan Foerster (ryanfoerster.com)
Marco Cibola (novestudio.com)
Alister Lee (enterthealist.com)
Color Magazine! (colormagazine.ca)
Thanks Matt and John! Peace!
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