Interview: Sonny Gerasimowicz, A Change In Thinking For Our Generation
by: Xena Blair
October 1, 2012
Who: Sonny Gerasimowicz
Where: Los Angeles
What are you up to today?
I just got back from NY and returning home is horrifying. I feel great there. I don’t feel depressed, bored and insane. A friend of mine said when he goes to New York he finds himself tucking his thumbs into his hands from the fear of germs. I do it in my own home here in LA for the fear of dust and dog hair. I feel like a snow dog in Downtown LA whenever I’m back home. I kinda hate my home life right now. I love my friends but I hate my lifestyle. At this exact moment I am panicking about turning 40 and wondering how I got stuck in a 1927 Winchester-like semi-mansion that is beyond TLC.
Even more specifically, I am sitting in my 5th relocated office within the same house, avoiding work and wondering why I don’t care about any of the projects I’m working on. Also having no idea what to do even If I could do whatever I want. I may draw a cat toy for a friend.
What do you do?
I take illustration and graphic assignments of all types. I can draw and I’m a photoshop wiz, so thats a deadly combo for random unfocused jobs. I help visualize things you can’t Google. Like monsters or custom costumes. My last project was helping design a futuristic device for a Spike Jonze film with Joaquin Phoenix. Spike gets my opinion on many aesthetic things for film, and even the script sometimes. For that I am grateful. For cash flow I work on movie marketing design (film posters). A note about movie advertising: it’s not really design when people that have final say are more into making money for the film than the actual deign of a poster. I completely support Hollywood making tons of money because I love films. Just saying.
Why are you an illustrator?
I was obsessed early on with images and visual things. Reading… not so much. Reading was like being knee deep in wet cement and trying to walk. Math too. I’m brain dead on that side. I’m thinking right now if my parents took me to a learning facility to find out why it may have ruined my ability to draw.
What inspires you right now?
Traditional things like Calligraphy, etchings, master paintings like Rembrandt, and things I know I would have to work hard for to get to that level. Always film and documentaries. I’ve watched “Note by Note: the making of Steinway L1037.” I think its the Love that the workers have for their job that is moving. Also, The Universe and The Teacup. It freaking blows my mind.
What projects are you currently working on?
A children’s book for a friend, film poster campaigns, and a pile of side projects that I never do.
What’s up with your children’s book?
Fuck that thing. It’s my first children’s book, so Maurice Sendak was helping me a bit with it. I woke one morning groggy and saw a push alert from the New York Times that said “Author Maurice Sendak dies at 83.” I felt like some kind of weird G-Force began to crush me in my bed. I knew him from working on Where The Wild Things Are, but more than that I could feel how much he changed my life and how many other people’s lives he affected.
How much of a role did Maurice play in mentoring you on that project?
The first set of drawings I did, he called me right after and asked me a bunch of questions. Basically “Who the fuck are you and why do you draw?”. Then we had a two hour conversation and it was incredible. We talked about movies and what he didn’t like about Castaway (Tom Hanks was a producer on WTWTA). He said Tom Hanks asked him what he thought of Castaway and asked “Why did he go behind a bush to take a shit?” Then I fell in love with him. Also, he told me that some of my drawings were “not right at all.” He also said some were “So beautiful.” His honesty was priceless.
Tell me about the mini movie you made with Maurice Sendak.
Spike made it on my S80 Canon. I think it lives somewhere. Maybe on the Wild Things DVD. I play Maurice’s creative demon that lives in his belly. I was nervous and excited to do it. We did it while taking a break from our first meeting about the movie. For the first meeting Spike drove me up to Maurice’s house and put me near him to alter the drawings we had done so far and to get closer to his vision of creatures in his book.
What would you like to leave to future generations?
A change of thinking about creative process. It’s all fucked up right now, all over the world. If you can draw, you can have an art show. Its like calling anyone who has been videotaped giving a blow job a “porn star.” Either you make somebody feel something with what you create or you don’t. I get dragged out of the house and across town way too often to see a gallery show that I could have perfectly enjoyed on Instagram.
I’m off track a little but the current creative process is heavily fogged by guilt, productivity levels and money. The secret is to block it all out 100% and push your comfort levels. Show your embarrassing sides, your stupidity and ignorance. Then, your brilliance will poke its little shy head out of hibernation. My generation is all about putting up the biggest front that you are profound and above the rest by acting the role.
What do you predict will be the next big thing?
I wish it was an overhead straight-shot bike path from Downtown to The Beach To the Valley. Like a monorail. A magnetic tube from LA to NY. Working from home (everyone). A Paperless world (bills and mail). A computer that tells you exactly what to do after you pick what you want to do.
What is your WILD Wish?
A high up and wide open Apartment in NYC that uses no power, is dust free, and full of windows (double paned for energy). To draw all day, everyday. Huge drawings. Small drawings. Just for fun and not for commerce. I could make as much noise as I wanted. It would have a huge bed and media center. Basically, like Bill Pullman in “The Zero Effect.” Of course, a couple of beautiful women loafing around that I could just spoon and snuggle with. Perhaps models with PHD’s or Cate Blanchett as my wife. Also, two hours a day to read.
Check out one of Sonny’s recent projects here.