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Interview with Jim Evans from T.A.Z.

[ Conducted in January 2004 ]


You have definately seen their work before - but you probably didn't know it at the time. Designing album covers, posters and t-shirts for the Beastie Boys as well as others on the old Grand Royal label, we thought we would investigate a bit more the world of TAZ...

Firstly, TAZ is an acronym I assume, so what does it stand for?

It is from a book by Hakim Bey titled The Temporary Autonomous Zone (T.A.Z.) that outlines a unique approach to creative anarchy.

How many people work under the TAZ name?

Normally three for print - more for digital work.

As an individual artist, why work relatively anonymously?

It gives you the freedom to not be stuck with your own style. Individuality can often lead to a boring body of work over a long period.

What was the initial project for the Beastie Boys? (ie when did it all start)

A poster for a show with House of Pain at the Irvine Amphitheatre.

So what Grand Royal tasks have you undertaken?

Would you be able to give us some insight into the requirements and directions you were given for the Beastie Boys projects you were involved in.

All projects with the Beastie's tend to be creatively freeform, usually starting with an idea and expanding during execution. We did covers for other Grand Royal artists, Luscious Jackson, Money Mark, etc.

When producing artwork for an album, do you get to listen to it before starting so as to get the cover etc to reflect the music?

Yes, in almost all cases I've been able to listen to the music first.

Looking at some of the work produced by you guys, there are some big name clients there along with the Beastie Boys like Aerosmith, Slayer, Beck. How much freedom do you get with the larger artists?

There is usually lots of freedom with the initial ideas and it gets tight as deadlines loom and graphic requirements become more important. Some musicians know exactly what they want others like to be shown what you can do for them.

Is there anyone you would love to do some work for?

The White Stripes

TAZ create cd artwork and limited edition prints, is there anything else you guys are currently creating or would like to get into?

Film and video production

What is Division 13?

It is the digital equivalent of T.A.Z. - we do websites for bands and films. We've done sites for The Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin, Ozzfest, Warped Tour, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Zwan among others. Also lots of big film sites like The Ring, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and we are currently doing Hellboy.

Numbered prints these days have become quite collectable, what is a usual run for a TAZ piece? Is there a reason behind this number?

The usual run was 400 - the idea being the less there are the more valuable they become.

Figures on the prints come from a whole range of sources (Jabberjaw from Warner Brothers, Krillin from Dragonball, Aliens, Jackie Chan, Che Guevara). Is copyright a major issue when using creating new artwork with sections from previous works?

It wasn't a big deal in the nineties, it is much more so now. So now we always do original artwork. The idea then was to make the entire series referential to source material, it was more a social experiment than an art style.

TAZ designed a range of Tibetan Freedom Concert prints for the 96-98 festivals. These are quite stunning as they feature Buddhist figures while still retaining a modern feel. Which of your published pieces are you most proud of?

I'd say I like the Tibetan series the best since it was for a great cause and the art had a spiritual basis.

Personally, TAZ make some of my favourite print artwork along with Frank Kozik and Justin Hampton. Who are your artistic heroes? Who do you get inspiration from?

Picasso, Dali, and Disney.

Thanks for your time.

Check out more about T.A.Z. at DeControl!

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