Meet the Makers – James from Basement Graphics

Basement Graphics

Tell us about yourself.
I am a collage artist from Wauwatosa and I have been creating for about 15 years. Even though I took art classes in college, I never got the knack of illustration. To scratch that creative itch, I turned to collage, a form that (mostly) uses existing text and images. Recently I’ve begun leveraging my body of work into images for greeting cards. These can be found on Etsy and in several area retailers.

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I’m showing my line of cards and I’ll be explaining my creative method.
I’ll also have several large, decorative and some smaller original pieces on display so people can see and touch the results of my work.

I’ll have visitors participate in making several collaborative (or crowd-sourced) works of paper on wood. I’ll supply a stack of magazines and glue/water solution and people will be able to apply images and text to complement what other have done before. I’m hoping for a strange results.

Basement Graphics

What inspires you to make?
You might say that I hack the worthless words and images that commercial media throws at us everyday. I want to scoop up fragments of that trash and make something beautiful, macabre, sensual or ironic out of it and I want the viewer to share in the wonder elicited by this re-contextualization of everyday media garbage. I work only with found material like scrap plywood and old magazines.

Why do you consider yourself a Maker?
I am executing my vision and offering it to the world to inspire, to mock or to tease meaning out of the inherently meaningless. I do what I do for it’s own sake. I am the boss of my time and my energy. I don’t have remarkable skills or technical know-how but I think that simple tearing, cutting and gluing elevates humble or toxic junk to ingredients of communication. I also want other people to see what is possible and to maybe use my methods for different purposes.

What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
Until recently I though that the term “Maker” was reserved for people doing high tech stuff like 3d printing or building robots. At some point, maybe it was the TED talk or maybe it was an article in Wired, I got a more liberal view of the term “Maker”. So you make physical things and if you’re down on yourself like I was, don’t try to overcome through some act of will. Just use your skills again and and again and you’ll begin to want to share your work. You probably know way more than you think you do.

Basement Graphics

If you could make one thing that would improve the world, what would it be?
I worked out a system that would use carrion animals like flies, and beetles to strip the flesh from the recently deceased, leaving only the bones. The next of kin, if that person had the desire, could keep the skull or the femurs as mementos of the loved one. If possessing the bones of dead relatives seems disgusting, the skull could be engraved and stored in a crypt–just like in the old country.

Why do this? Cut down on the demand for cemetery plots. Bring us closer to the reality of death. Use natural processes to dispose of corpses. Generate complete skeletons for study. Make a non-destructive way to practice some forms of forensic medicine.

Seriously, I worked out the rate of decomposition in ideal conditions when aided by XYZ species of insect and rodent–and to leave a 100% compete, undamaged skeleton. Not many people are interested in talking about this.

For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Basement Graphics.