As long as the heart keeps on beating, for us all to foresee the empowering peace we all bear, that keeps on feeding the communal bright lights we are all invited to share, to let it shine out ablaze and free.
About the Artist
Red Buffalo Illustration
I’m very honored to introduce you to the utterly talented and socially engaged artist Joe Mruk, with whom I’ve had the wonderful privilege to collaborate for the creation of all the visual elements for this year’s SFCC Club theme.
I’ve been wanting to work with Joe for quite some time now, as back in 2015, I was entertaining the prospect of having different silkscreen posters for every city we would visit on a European tour with Your Favorite Enemies, but the timing wasn’t aligned with his workload. I always kept him in mind, as I knew that an opportunity to give life to something singular and significant such as this one would most definitely come around.
It’s funny because even though I like to collaborate with others, I never really had the occasion to do it as much as I would have liked to over Your Favorite Enemies’ 12 active years. Several reasons probably explain that, the first one being how tight I was with my record label Hopeful Tragedy in-house graphic designer and also because every single project I’ve been involved in over the years was truly personal and intimate, therefore difficult for me to explain to someone who wasn’t in my tight circle of friends.
But since I came back from Tangier in 2018 and decided to get back into the light through the release of my first musical solo project, the conceptual nature of collaborations became the center of my creative endeavors from both a sonic and visual standpoint. From The Long Shadows' musicians, up to French video director Jessy Nottola, all are important figures of the communal vision I have for my artistic voyage, which is now also defined by the tremendously talented American illustrator Joe Mruk.
As I shared about the meaning of Windows in the Sky, my time in Tangier, my new life as a countryman living in the Highlands of Virginia, how I see people at the center of my art and just how important for me it is to let every individual define the meaning of my creations rather than me telling them what it is, how they should feel about it, or what they should make out of it.
We exchanged a few ideas, but I didn’t want to pigeon hole his perspectives. In fact, what always prevails for me when it comes to collaborations is to give all the creative freedom necessary to spark any inspirational visions in the people I team up with. By doing so, not only does it honor my creative partner’s special talents and ability to bring my ideas beyond my own instinctive foresight, but it’s also an incredible way to prevent myself from falling under the illusive deception that control over collaborators’ perspectives is a way to protect the integrity of my creations. Because it isn’t. It is only insecurities. And that challenging sensation always awaits to unfold itself, willingly aligning all sorts of reasons to explain its presence, which ultimately nullifies any real artistic uniqueness conception, all while ruining any potentially distinctive achievement in the future.
The whole motion of just how he has been not only able to capture the spiritual essence of what I shared with him over a zoom talk, but how he has been able to bring that whole concept in a deeper way through the visual still puzzles me to this day. The connection happened almost immediately between Joe and me, which is very rare for me, as I’m more of an introverted type of person.
Therefore, that’s why I always favor the intangible impact of human connection over any form of past achievement, reputation, or fancy craft techniques. For me, relational chemistry is always the key element in a collaborative project. I believe that since Joe and I went through similar life experiences, it inspired a more profound sense of understanding between us, which has undeniably contributed to giving Joe’s amazing illustrative piece of art a much more significant imprint in its emotional implications.
That’s how I received the visual identity of As Long as the Heart that Joe has crafted; a true incarnation of life rather than a beautiful depiction of what we may want life to be seen as…
And again, thanks to Joe’s total dedication to the project, I still have the blessing to discover some elements I hadn’t perceived before and find much more depth in details I might have overlooked at first. It feels like healing over redemption. Forgiveness over restitution. Peace over reclamation. Or it might be everything that I need to see as I am going through our present distressing time.
What about you? What do you see? How do you feel immersing yourself in that lifestream?