Hardcore. NYHC. 80’s. Artwork. First name that comes to mind? Sean Taggart right? I thought it was interesting to see what he’s up to these days and look back with the man himself. Hey ho, let’s go.
Hey Sean, how are you doing? What’s on your mind at the moment?
I just saw Napalm Death last night and they had the tour shirt I did for them @ the merch table. It came out incredibly well. They were an absolute dream to work for.
Nice! Good show too?
Yeah! They crushed it!
To be honest, aside from your awesome drawings I know absolutely nothing about you. Nothing whatsoever. So could you tell a bit about yourself (and tell me I should do the research myself).
5’10”, 165 lbs, hazel eyes, balding, on the ugly side of 40.
Haha, not exactly the answer I expected, but should I tell interested ladies (or guys?) to get in touch, or are you spoken for?
Unless they can change the time space continuum -then I’m spoken for.
Considering my lack of go-getting and schmoozing I’ve been very fortunate in the kinds of work I’ve done over the years.
So, if you are reading this, interested and you can change the time space continuum. Get in touch. We’ll forward your info to Sean. Serious replies only please.
What are you up to these days? I’ve found a site of yours, but it seems a bit outdated (aside from the fact you’re using Flash on it hehe). But it shows you did stuff for Cartoon Network? That’s pretty awesome!
God! I just threw that up there in like ‘04/‘05? Yeah, so anyways I’m kind of lazy (actually REALLY lazy!). I intended to keep the site updated and y’know bla bla bla… I’ve worked for CN, Nick, Marvel, DC, etc… considering my lack of go-getting and schmoozing I’ve been very fortunate in the kinds of work I’ve done over the years. These days it’s been a grab bag of stuff, kinda like when I started out in my 20’s. So pretty much anything that floats my way. I haven’t done much work in animation lately. That’s about the only thing that seems to have fallen off really (although @ one time that was 100% source of my living). You know, just tryin’ to keep my head above water like everybody else.
Wow, that’s quite the list of companies you worked for. Did anything on Batman haha?
For a while I was the trading cards editor @ DC Comics so I oversaw a number of Batman projects. I find superheroes in general to be distasteful though -they’re not honest about their homo-erotic nature. Obviously @ DC I had to keep these opinions to myself. Otherwise the deeply closeted man-boys that I worked with would weep into their Krypto (“superdog”) plush toys.
Hahaha. But Bruce Wayne is always surrounded by woman. Do you think that’s just a front to make up for the fact he’s running around with (little) boys in tights? There’s also the dark cave… You might be on to something…
Yeah he’s surrounded by fag hags like Karl Lagerfeld.
Hahaha, anyway… While at DC you also did some issues of “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” & “Gross Point”. I never heard about those, but that doesn’t say much (I’m mainly reading Donald Duck / Batman / G.I. Joe comics). What were they about and how do you feel about them?
Well not a lot actually. Carmen Sandiego was a licensed property so no-one cares (which in the case of DC is a good thing, better to be under the radar than having the “experts” making things “better”) and the writing was pretty awful. I did the best I could, but like I said no-one cares. As for Gross Point it was put together by one of those “experts” that I mentioned above.That’s all I can say. I firmly believe that no matter what you do you should do the best possible job that you can, even if the job is not a “dream job”. That said I still fart shit out from time to time, I always regret it when I do.
You said animation was once most of your income, but now it’s getting less. Why? Recession? Other techniques, new talent?
All of the above. But mainly due to the fact I could give a flying-fuck about providing “content” to sell ad space. To do animation you have to be extremely enthusiastic and have a passion for that bilge. Evidently I don’t. Not that there isn’t great stuff being done out there, there is. It’s just too few and far between for me.
I firmly believe that no matter what you do you should do the best possible job that you can, even if the job is not a “dream job”. That said I still fart shit out from time to time, I always regret it when I do.
Yeah I can imagine, guess it’s going to be more and more like that. In the end it’s all about the money. Could you give some examples of the animation out there you do like?
It always has been and always will be about the money that’s the world we live in and you can’t wish it away (I’ve tried, believe me). I still don’t see why quality, heart and intelligence are anathema to commercial success. I guess I’m naive.
The BEST animation ever was the silent era Felix the Cat, Fleischer Cartoons from the 30’s (Popeye among them), and Warner Brothers from the 30’s through the 40’s. That’s it.
So let’s go back in time. How did you get in touch with hardcore?
Well. I started going to punk/new-wave shows @ Max’s Kansas’ City in late ‘79. So it pretty much grew up around me. I went to an all-city HS called Art & Design and there were a few like minded kids. Some went on to play in bands like Armed Citizens, Cro-Mags, Shok, Luscious Jackson, the Raunch Hands etc.
Now you mentioned Shok, you used to play in that band right?
I used to scream & yell, all out of time for those guys! Excluding me they were a great noisy dirty sloppy hardcore band. But alcohol flakiness and “real” jobs kind of got the better of us.
Like with most (non-straightedge) bands hehe. Aside from the Big City – One Big Crowd compilation, did you guys put out anything else?
Nah. New Yorkers are very provincial we don’t really care about getting our shit “out there”. Not a big priority. That’s why so many great New York bands are lost to obscurity. We’re not some rinky-dink second rate town like Seattle, Boston, or DC. We don’t need any “outside” validation of who we are. We just don’t give a shit about you.
Did any other bands after that? Or before that?
Oh yeah a bunch, but nothing really came of them. They never made it out of the rehearsal space.
People always love to read stories from those days. I know I do. Care to share some?
It doesn’t live up to the hype.
Aah that’s too easy. But if that’s the case, what’s the worst thing happened to you in those days?
Getting sucker punched by a drug dealer and losing a tooth. Also the couple of times I almost drowned on my puke, but I wasn’t really conscious during those. Seeing lots of kids die before their time that really sucked.
I can imagine… Let’s talk about something more inspirational. When the did drawing start? What made you start?
I didn’t start. I just didn’t stop. All children draw, it’s the ones who don’t stop that become artists.
Never thought of it like that. Great answer. What was the first hardcore related drawing you did?
In my life drawing class in HS I converted these two kids posing into punks in the middle of an imaginary scene at A7. My teacher’s only criticism was the kid I put in the foreground “he’s too small”. “Whattya talkin’ about man? That’s little Steve he’s only like ten or twelve years old.” Needless to say my teacher was kind of shocked that there were kids that young going to shows (not a matinee). By the way, that kid was Steve Poss a NYHC stalwart.
Seeing lots of kids die before their time that really sucked.
Haha. I can imagine his response though. Young kid in a seemingly violent scene, something like that. How did your parents react to you getting involved with that kinda stuff? Did they understand?
Yeah they were cool about it. It wasn’t to their tastes but they were bohemians themselves so there wasn’t any friction with that.
How about your first paid drawing job? When did that happen?
Years and years after that drawing I just mentioned. The “Cause For Alarm” cover for AF.
Now that you mention it, I love that story about the Agnostic Front cover artwork you did twice. Could you tell our readers about that? I can imagine it was a bit less fun for you at the time by the way?
Well briefly. Originally when I submitted the cover it was rejected for not being shocking enough. So I did a way more shocking cover, which they couldn’t get in stores… duh! Don’t fuck with an artist on that kind of shit is all I’ve got to say.
If you could pick the cover and wouldn’t have to worry about the distros carrying it. What version would you have picked?
I think the more shocking one fits the overall tone of AF best, so I’d have gone with that. Personally I prefer the one they did end up using, and it looks better as a tattoo.
Must be pretty cool to know there are people out there walking around with your drawings on their skin?
Yeah! The highest compliment in the world!
What or who influenced you in your drawings back in those days? And how about these days? Did it change?
Don Martin (out of Mad Magazine) is the sole reason I’m a cartoonist his influence is in every cell of my being. That was at age nine by the time of hardcore I’d say Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe, Bernie Wrightson, Vaughn Bode & Jack Davis. These days pretty much everything. Today George Grosz comes to mind, tomorrow it might be Ivan Albright or Kathe Kollwitz or even Cindy Sherman. Really I like a lot of stuff. The whole breadth of art history is deeply important and inspiring to me.
History in general is pretty inspiring to me. It’s good to know what came before us. What’s your favorite drawing? Or the one you’re the most proud of? And don’t say you can’t pick one.
I can’t, but my favorite comic strip is the one that I accidentally used to win the hand of my wife Bronwyn.
You made a comic to ask her to marry you? That’s great! Did she reply with a comic too haha?
No – just a date.
Good enough. How about drawings you would like to re-do?
All of them!
Not easily satisfied huh? Are you a perfectionist?
The easy answer would be yes, but that implies a crazy work ethic. A more accurate answer would be that I keep getting better as I grow as an artist.
Everyone who I talked to who did stuff (artwork, websites or whatever) for bands has some horror stories, I luckily kept those a minimum, but how about you? Any terrible experiences?
Most of my terrible experiences were of my own making. Either I’d have insane expectations or such thin skin that I’d explode and ruin it for everyone.
Haha. Knowing that is the first step I guess hehe.
Yes, there are eleven more.
My favorite comic strip is the one that I accidentally used to win the hand of my wife Bronwyn.
Any advice for starting artists out there?
Put it out there! People already love what you do, don’t keep them waiting.
What’s on your playlist at the moment? Do you still listen to (current?) hardcore?
Well, the new stuff sounds great, but is very generic to me. The old stuff, I listen to occasionally, but mainly I listen to weird sounding stuff from all over the world.
I like Balkan guitar music. Middle Eastern music that features the Oud -especially with female singers. Polka, Klezmer, anything “square”. Stoner Metal from Japan like Sonic Flower. A wide range of Jazz too long a list to go into. But Mingus is way up there, as well as Art Ensemble of Chicago. Old Timey stuff and Country Western. Pretty much anyone banging on anything to make a joyful noise!
So what’s left on your todo list? Aside from getting groceries haha?
A daily comic-strip (I know I might as well say Vaudeville at this point) or some other regular forum for my work. And a Fiat 500.
I had to Google “Vaudeville” (oh the wonders of modern technology), you mean you want to do a daily comic strip without reoccurring characters / story line, or did you mean something else?
I meant that daily strips are an outmoded form of entertainment like Vaudeville which was basically wiped out by the movie industry. New technologies destroy the old.
If (starting) hardcore bands are reading this, should they contact you about doing design work for them?
Absolutely! I still believe in the underground. I price fairly for indie-bands but sometimes I get cranky and it doesn’t work out too well. Usually because they’ll have an attitude that I’m just a pair of hands to execute their lame ideas. If your NYHC heroes didn’t boss me around what makes you think that YOU can?! Twerp! Respect your elders.
Haha I couldn’t think of a better way to close off this interview. If you have any final words, or would like to get back at anything, now’s your chance, either way I have to thank you for the time!
Don’t take yourself too seriously. That shit will kill you.