Sometimes there is a thoughtfulness in a person that is immediately apparent through their approach to a conversation, and the things that they share with you. It may serve as a reminder to others of the beauty in subtlety and the strength in purpose. In this interview, we had the opportunity to talk to one of those people.
Adam Goodge is a printmaker living in Sioux Falls, that focuses primarily on screen printing, and producing clean images with somewhat politically driven messages. He welcomed us to his home to view his studio and a collection of his works. Goodge chatted with us about the importance of detail in producing a good print, how to create a powerful message with a visually pleasing piece, and what happens when you use a plasma cutter to take apart an engine. -Amy
JAM: What is the path that has led you where you are today?
Adam Goodge: I guess I’ve always been interested in artwork; our family has been very artistic. Basically, my brother and I started drawing pretty much before we left the hospital. It wasn’t necessarily anything worth keeping, but it was still something. (Laughs) Then as we grew, we did a lot of projects together. We would draw all sorts of things—make up all sorts of characters, and have background stories for them and have them compete; things like that. I think one of the big influences in my drawing style and my creativity would have to be that growing up, I watched a lot of Ren and Stimpy. That probably explains a couple of things about me as well. (Laughs) I really like that cartoony style, and the raw detail that they can provide using that medium. That influenced me a lot through grade school, and then of course at O’Gorman [High School] I kind of hung out with Mr. Siska [visual arts teacher] as frequently as I could.
Before we began the interview, you had mentioned that your dad does screen printing as well?
Yes. He used to be a screen printer back in the day. He didn’t do the artwork, but he actually met my mother through a screen printing job. She was the artist, and then my dad was the printer, the “print-jockey.” I knew that my dad used to make t-shirts, but I never really got that involved until I started taking printmaking at Augustana [College]. Scott Parsons, the professor there, he really awoke my love of printmaking. Even though the first screen print I did, I swore I’d never do anymore after that. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, so I was very ready to be done with printmaking. I took a semester off, and then I came right back and never missed one since then. Now I kind of help out there; I do some work in the studios. Scott lets me work there. It’s really convenient and he’s just absolutely the nicest. He is a great inspiration, and he’s always encouraging local artists and letting us use the facilities. He is still influencing me today. I’m struggling with trying to make art and trying to keep a job. Managing my free time…it’s hard.
Do you feel like your art is ever inspired by your work at your jobs? Or is that pretty separate?
Yeah. I’ve always been inspired by things around me. It kind of just depends on what scenario I’m in, but I can usually derive inspiration from it. When I was working with kids, I did a lot of cartoony artwork, and I also dabbled with the idea of doing some children’s books, which I might still do eventually. Then I worked at a bike shop and I liked the prints that were coming out of Minneapolis. They were kind of bicycle related or themed, though I haven’t really done any of those. Now I work at Dakota Lettering, and that’s really helped skyrocket my interest. I did some work for the Old Courthouse Museum, I didn’t design the artwork, but I printed them. They had really old artwork from the 50’s or possibly earlier, I don’t know.
What’s your most recent piece?
The most recent is “War is War, Nothing More.” I’ve also designed some logos. I have one called “The Stew,” which is actually a project my brother and I are working on. It’s going to involve a lot of voice acting. It’s going have a short skit or series. It’s a mock radio show, maybe like a five or ten minute deal.
How often would you say you make a new print or new design? Or do you have a lot of things in progress?
That’s tough. I’d say at least once every six months I’ll pop out two to four prints. Usually around that three mark, and then I’ll have a fourth one in the works. It really depends. Now I’m working a lot more so I don’t have as much free time to do that.
How long does it take you to get a stencil ready?
It depends. I hand draw all of my artwork. It would be a lot faster if I used a computer, but I’m terrible with computers and I kind of like the charming aspect a hand drawn print brings. It usually takes about five hours, somewhere in there. Sometimes a bit more–it depends on how big the stencil is and what all needs to be done. I just usually color on white drawing paper or something somewhat transparent, like computer paper, using a sharpie. That’s just my method for making stencils. Then I also have a pin registry plate that I use to line up all of my different colors.
So when it comes to actually forming an idea for what you want to do, how does that process work for you?
It was kind of tough when I was in school, because I always had a deadline, so I was constantly having to be thinking of ideas and then turning them into artwork. Now I kind of just allow things that inspire me from day to day to become the piece itself. Usually a lot of it starts or stems from what I hear or see on the news. There’s a little bit of politics in a lot of my prints and then there are some that are just for the fun of creativity. More just art for the sake of art. I like to have some that have an underlying message and then some that are more for the viewer to interpret and decide what the piece is about.
Do you feel like with the more politically focused ones that you have a message you’re trying to get across or do you still feel like it should be open to interpretation?
I always like leaving things open to interpretation, but I do secretly have underlying messages. A lot of them are about environmentalism, kind of just the things that we should be more conscious of as human beings. Like our impact on the environment and the world around us, and some anti-war stuff as well. I like to disguise it in an image that’s appealing and somewhat playful for the audience.
You were talking about your colors before, how do you choose them?
I do have some favoritism there. I do a lot of green and browns. Those are my two favorite colors. I really like earth tones and I think that sometimes it’s actually quite appropriate in my artwork because most of my work is pictures of manmade things and then the colors are somewhat representative of the earth. So it’s almost a subtle reminder of what we’re doing to ourselves and the world around us.
Do you show your work around?
Not as much as I should. Luckily I have had some friends who have been interested in booking me for doing their artwork for CD’s, there’s also some potential band posters that I’ll be doing. It’s still going to be my artwork, all inspired by my creativity, but also inspired by their music. That’s kind of the best way that I get out there at the moment, with shows. I surprisingly have not had a solo show yet, though I have quite enough artwork for it.
Is that something that you’re interested in pursuing?
Yeah, I’ve just never really put out the effort. I’m somewhat of a recluse at times; I like to just hide away and make my own artwork. Even though I would like to make money off of selling it, I don’t necessarily make it so that I can show it to people. All my stuff is on Facebook—it’s not the best place for it. I need to work on getting an actual website; it’s still in the process.
Do you still attend a lot of art shows, or try and be active in the Sioux Falls art scene?
I try to. I know I’ve missed quite a bunch that have happened around here. Normally I attend art shows at Augustana, and then Artists Against Hunger and First Fridays. So that’s about the extent of it, and then if people that I know, or other fellow artists are having shows and they invite me specifically, I’ll go to those.
Did you attend Augustana for printmaking?
I went to Augie because it was close. I went there not really knowing what I was going to do… I kind of wanted to do everything. I wanted to be a musician, I wanted to be an environmental scientist—I wanted to be a marine biologist for a while. I’m sure that’s a pretty common goal for most freshmen coming into college. It got to the point where I was really starting to get nervous about what my major was going to be, and then my mom suggested that I go for art because I had already been taking some art classes. I was against the idea at first; I thought “how was I ever going to make it out in the real world as an artist?” Both of my parents have been really encouraging every step of the way, and it’s really helped. I don’t think I could have done it without all of their help and inspiration.
Are you drawn to other types of art, like painting or sculpture?
Yeah, I did some sculptures—they’re actually in the backyard. We can check them out.
(Goodge takes us out to his backyard where an intriguing figure is nestled on the edge of the property, sprigs of green poking out along open creases and gaps in the structure).
I’m not entirely sure what some of it is; we have a lot of old metal in the basement. I’m thinking it might have something to do with boats. It’s just a wild guess. I also cut up an old rusty workout bench and welded it together. The tail was the hardest part. That was one piece of pipe and I just cut it in sections and welded it all together. There’s also part of an ice shovel.
Do you have a name for it?
His name is Igor, and then I have Lester as well. Lester’s full name is Lester the Alcoholic. When he was originally made he was laid on his back, but luckily we were able to prop him up on a rock and it looks a lot better this way. This was made out of a milk can from the 50’s. I just cut that up into sections—there’s also some more of the workout bench that I used for the legs. I believe there’s a fan, or some type of space heater. I just took out the engine, or whatever that’s called. Funny story, actually. When I was taking it out I was using the plasma cutter, and I didn’t realize there were still wires in there, and it basically burst into flames. I had to put it out with a fire extinguisher and then I opened up this really wide door that opens out of the sculpture studio and there were all these people playing tennis about 100 yards away. I come running out coughing and dusting off my clothes with this plume of smoke following me. They were probably like… “Damn artists.”
Have you done any more sculpture work since these?
I’d like to do more… I really like welding but I don’t have a welder.
Do you have any advice for people starting out with printmaking?
Definitely don’t give up. Try as many different types of prints that you can. I don’t just do screen printing. I’ve also done intaglio, lithography and woodcuts. I don’t know if I like them as much as my screen prints, but I think that it’s important to have a couple different interests as far as printmaking goes. It’s such a great process, and a lot of the art is in the process itself. It just takes some time to realize that and appreciate it. Really, it just takes time. There’s no fast way to get to appreciating it. You have to go to the struggle, and if you can understand that, it will help you a lot more in the long run.
It seems like a temperamental medium to work with. Are there any struggles that you find that you consistently have to deal with?
Registration is always a struggle I’ve been dealing with. No matter if the colors line up when I’m drawing them, I get them on the screen and then any slight variations in the printing process can make it hard to line up the next color after that. That’s something I’m always struggling with—I’ll try and do as much as I can to prevent those situations like that while I’m drawing the artwork, but it’s still something I struggle with.
Is that something you feel like you get stuck on, or do you work with it and adapt with what you’re doing?
It definitely makes me mad, but I think that a lot of printmaking just makes you mad… but once you’re done it makes you happy. It’s frustrating. I’ve been printing for a while, and I’m kind of a perfectionist. I like my stuff to be as clean as possible and when it doesn’t happen I get a little disappointed, but you just get back on the horse. If you don’t like a print you just finish it up and move onto the next one. I’ve found that a little bit of time and separation from my artwork helps me to like it better. Whenever I look at a fresh print, all I see are the problems I had to deal with while I was printing it. Even if no one else can see it, it still bugs me because I know it’s there.
What artists have influenced your work the most?
I would say Ralph Steadman, Otto Dix, and Goya. It took me quite a while to discover each of these artists. Usually through art classes and teachers, however, I discovered Ralph Steadman completely on my own. He did all the illustrations for the book “Fear and Loathing” which has always been hands down one of my favorite books. They are all linked in my mind because I am inspired by them for the same reasons. The first thing that drew me to these artists were their artistic style. I could relate to it because it was ugly and revealing, which I always found intriguing. Another big reason they influence my artwork is because they use their work to educate and speak for those who didn’t have a strong voice. Ever since I was little I always had one dream, to change the world even if only a little, and these artists have done it with their talents. That’s how I want my work to be viewed.
Anything you just want to say?
Well, I’m always looking to meet other artists. Trying to get more involved in the art community, and if there’s anyone that appreciate my artwork I’d love to meet them and mingle. I just like to be more involved in the art community. I dig that you guys came here and did this.