He who does to words, what Rubik’s does to cubes. TEKSTartist.
Jason Markow (known around the web as 'TEKSTartist') has been slinging designs from his southern California studio since 2011. His techniques often combine digital and traditional mediums to create visual representations of powerful quotes.
His work hangs proudly in the homes and offices of The Late Show host Stephen Colbert, Musician Jason Mraz, Author of Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, Gary Vaynerchuk, and fans across all 50 US States and 34 countries around the globe.
We are delighted to be working with TEKST to offer a collection of limited edition prints, all made by hand using a vintage 1957 Vandercook Letterpress. Check out the collection here.
Here is our interview with the man himself.
H: Where does your interest in art come from?
TEKST: My favourite thing in the world is making things. Specifically making art and/or cooking. There is a special sort of alchemy that happens in both mediums where the end result, when done well, leaves you with a finished product that is somehow leaps and bounds greater than the sum of its parts. Even at a young age the notion that you could just rearrange bits of pigment (be it from pencils, paints, whatever) onto a blank sheet of paper somehow transforming it into its own, valuable, thing was fascinating to me.
H: Do you remember your first ever experience of ‘art’.
TEKST: First memory creating art was sitting at my grandma's kitchen table. It was around the holidays I could not have been older than 4 and I was drawing my house on an endless stack of continuous-feed-computer-paper with crayola markers.
I figured out (all by myself) that I could alternate placing dots from all the coloured markers along the lines of the house and it would look like Christmas lights. Feeling proud of myself I showed my mom and grandma. Their showers of praise inflated my ego like nothing I had ever experienced. Looking back I know they were hamming it up, telling me I was so talented, but I think that really stuck with me. (Side note- Kevin Smith's notes on Encouraging an Artist resonates with this sentiment)
First memory experiencing art was this old tv show where some artist would do a different tutorial each episode. There was one episode where he made this moon-base with cliffs and walkways and tunnels. Just simple black ink on white paper. I remember seeing it come to life, bewildered that just a few lines like this or scribbles like that suddenly tricked the brain into a hillside. I wish I could find the show.
H: What inspires you?
TEKST: Hard work. People pursuing crazy ideas. People diving head first into whatever weird thing they are passionate about. I'm inspired by big audacious goals, dreamers, people trying to leave the world a little better than they found it.
H: Tell us a little about your process.
TEKST: It's a mess. Well, I guess it used to be.... but I'm getting better. I used to be so damn impatient. I would think of something, take a crack at a design, and be done. These days I like to take my time a bit more. I'm pickier about what I'm comfortable sharing with the world. I hold myself to a bit of a higher standard than I used to. I think that's all a bit of a roundabout answer so I'll take another swing at it:
So much of my work focuses around quotes or powerful words, but the starting point seems to be a 50/50 split between starting with the quote, or starting with a design. I feel like the time spent sitting and thinking about a design is as important as when you finally push pigment to paper. I've heard other artists remark that the piece comes to life while they are working on it, but that doesn't seem to be the case for me. I feel like all the early iterations take place in my head, and then once I “see it” it's just transferring from idea to paper.
H: What would be your dream commission?
TEKST: I'd like to work with Tesla or SpaceX in some way. A giant piece on the side of a space bound rocket... that would be hard to top.
H: How do you deal with creative block?
TEKST: I force my way through by setting self imposed deadlines. With the exception of 2016 (where I took a year off to pursue other projects) I have released at least one new design every week since November 2011. More times than I can count I would be a few hours from my deadline and have nothing. I would sit and stare at the blank canvas with my stomach in a knot. And then I would just go for it. Chase whatever idea I had the faintest notion of attention. It almost always works out.
H: If you could make a list of your favourite contemporary artists, who would you pick?
TEKST: Some artists that truly inspire me are James Bullough, Carne Griffiths, Ben Tour, Alec Huxley, Sophie Roach, EtamCru and Its A Living. At the same time I'm equally captivated by web comics like The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman and XKCD by Randall Munroe.
H: Banksy…..any thoughts?
TEKST: I think what he has done to the art world is great. He brought attention to street art in a way that few before him can lay claim to. Specifically to people outside the art scene which I feel was critical to it thriving. He has made art accessible to people who may not have appreciated it otherwise. He blurred the lines from street art to fine art. I'm not saying I agree with all he stands for or speaks up against, but there is no denying that he has had a significant impact both in and out of the art world.
H: What projects are coming up?
TEKST: I'm all over the place. Far too many things at once. Two new book projects, collaborations with Storied Hats and David Kind Eyewear, and a number of murals across California.
- My family. My wife Alli is my best friend, we've been together now 15 years. We spend most of our time chasing two tiny tornadoes of chaos (aka... our kiddos.)
- Good food. My obsession with art is easily matched by my obsession with good food. Cooking it, consuming it, sharing it.
H: We are bombarded everyday by bad news, what one thing would you change in the world if you could?
TEKST: If I could change one thing it would be to find a way to instil a healthy amount of empathy in everyone. So many issues, so many arguments, so many heartless actions could be avoided if everyone could stop being jerks to each other for like five minutes and recognise that we're all in this thing together.
H: If you were to tag yourself on HATCH, what 3 words would you use?
TEKST: Wordsmith, quotes, love.
H: Ok last one......tell us a secret?
I've seen Jurassic Park so many times I could recite the movie line by line.
Quote used for the creation of ALI - by the man himself.
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Quote used for the creation of ROCKET - Anthony Robbins
“Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don't try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.”
Quote used for the creation of TURNTABLE - Beethoven
"To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable.”
Quote used for the creation of ACOUSTIC - Plato
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."
Quote used for the creation of FILL IT - Tim Minchin
"There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it. Not fillet. Fill. It. And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already. It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours."