Tumblr artists, fingers off the reblog button. Joshua Davis, graphic designer and judge of Heineken’s Future Bottle Design Challenge, pretty much invented Internet art.
Okay, the guy’s not Tim Berners-Lee, but the ex-New York club kid was one of the first people to realise the artistic potential of technology, cracking programmes like Flash to generate coding to spit out random art and challenging the pre-2000s (remember them?) idea of what websites were with projects like Dreamless.org.
Now, the granddaddy of Tumblr art is judging Heineken’s Future Bottle Design Challenge, and there’s a month left for net art wannabes to impress. Davis tells Wonderland how to crack the competition.
You started out as a painter; do you still paint at all?
I sort of lost faith in fine art, so I switched my major to commercial design and really gravitated towards illustration. I fell in love with computers, so I taught myself to program. I’m doing a show in Toronto, and what I’m doing is writing programmes that generates a composition, and then I look at that composition, and then I paint them by hand. There was a 15 year spell where I hadn’t painted at all, and literally have just picked it up in the last few months.
How did you get involved with the Heineken experience design competition? What appeals to you about the brief?
It’s in line with work that I’m constantly doing, which is this idea of remix, writing software that changes the composition of things infinitely, so it seemed like the perfect fit.
What kind of things would you like to see in the winning entry?
Usually the winning work is the one that all of the judges wish they’d done. If I look at something and go “CRAP! I wish I had done that”. If it’s something that you can look at and wish that you were the one that created it, that’s the one that is the winner.
You collaborate frequently with deadmau5 and you just designed a pair of his headphones – how did you guys meet?
I’ve known Joel for about 11 years. I taught a workshop in Toronto and that’s we’re we first met. We’d play video games together: spend the night, shooting one another then he’ll be like, “Hey I’ve got this project…” Over this past year, we’ve engaged on a number of projects together; when he goes on tour I do his concert posters and I do a lot of branding for him. But first and foremost we are friends and avid gamers.
Were you always interested in art as a kid?
I went to Catholic school and the nuns spoke to my parents and said I had a natural knack for working with colours and that they should nurture it. There are no artists in my family; my mum was a secretary and my dad was an aerospace engineer, so art definitely wasn’t on the horizon. By second grade I had my first set of watercolours, and was painting birds and landscapes. I had this knack and desire to create images, and that went through everything, I got into skateboarding, I had to draw the bottom of my skateboard, I had to draw the t-shirts that I wore. So when I say it’s an obsession, it’s an obsession across all levels.
For more information on the Future Bottle Design Challenge, click here. Competition closes 1 March 2013.
Words: Siobhan Frew