In Studio with Punchgut

My ongoing art addiction can be directly traced to one man: Fargo artist Punchgut.

Punchgut made his name creating screenprinted gigposters for artists like Lucinda Williams, Queens of the Stone Age and Drive-By Truckers and his work got him into the pages of “The Art of Modern Rock: The Poster Explosion”, a who’s-who of gigposter masterminds.

He’s since expanded to other media, including sketches, stickers, T-shirts, spray paint, salvaged wood and tin and even the occasional dumpster as part of a public art experiment as well.


Punchgut’s perspective is compelling in any form. His work is equal parts innocence and darkness.

So much of his art is vivid, colorful, witty and teeming with frenetic energy. But his quieter pieces — especially his landscapes — resonate with a haunting stillness that perfectly captures the feeling of a silent prairie night.

And he’s quite possibly the best interview ever. So now I’ll shut up and let him talk.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold, the man behind the curtain — Punchgut.


How do you describe your work to someone who has never seen it before?
“I like to think that my style jumps around because I did concert posters for a few years and had to switch up ‘styles’ for different music types.

But really, it probably comes from having a short attention span and being overly caffeinated.”

How long have you been creating?
“Always — finger painting in the womb.”


What inspires you?
“Inspiration can come from everything and anything. A clip from a movie, a line from a song, a shadow on a passing train or a middle finger from a passing car….anything can spark an image.

I try and take notes on my phone as soon as they pop into my head because they can quickly be replaced by taco daydreams.”

What’s your favorite project?
“My favorite project is always the one i am working on. I know that sounds like complete bullshit but I’m always grateful to be creating.”


What’s your creative process like?
“Everything starts with a rough sketch and progresses from there. Every project, from logos to super large photo-based originals, all start with a pencil scribble.”

How would you describe your current customers?
“They are all very handsome or eye-meltingly beautiful.”

What kind of customers are you looking for?
“That is a ridiculous question. The day I am particular about customers/clients is the day I cut my hands off.”


What projects are you most excited about in 2014?
“I am most excited about the next one — whatever that is.

I am a participating artist in Albino Buffalo’s inaugural series of designer stickers. The stickers will be limited edition and in refurbished old cig machines, so keep your eyes open and don’t be pissed when a pack of Virginia Slims doesn’t flop out.”

What’s your favorite part of what you do?
“If my wife or kids say a new piece is ‘cool’ or ‘doesn’t suck’.”

What’s necessary to live a creative life?
“Keep other creative and unique people close, have an excellent partner and tackle projects that are out of your comfort zone. A challenge can expand your style and widen your skill set.

And if you fuck it up, sign someone else’s name.”

Tweet: “If you f*$k it up, sign someone else’s name.” Punchgut on how to be a successful artist


How do you balance your work with the rest of your life?
“Making sleep optional helps. I like to think I have improved with my balance of work and life, but I will probably be filled with regret when I am on my death bed or death spaceship. (I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.)”

What’s your definition of the good life?
“I always try and break things down to the basics, have more good times than bad times with people you love. That’s really all it is.

We all have crappy, gray days and you have to balance that out by erasing the gray with one of the good people in your life. Enjoy what you do with people you enjoy….I’m a simpleton.”


Why do you think it’s important to support local artists?
“I love finding an original from a local artist…I mean, it’s like finding my own little treasure. We have our house filled with great local pieces that brighten my day.

People seem amazed that good art is made in North Dakota. It’s like telling them you are the 4’ft 2” white guy that plays with the Harlem Globetrotters. So it’s important to support local artists so you can show your out-of-state friends they are not sooooo cool and we do not buy art from gas stations.”

All images in this post are courtesy of Punchgut.

Learn more about the shops, people, events, art, parties and food that make the Upper Midwest unique; Follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, on Twitter @PrairieStylFile or subscribe via email on the right side of this page.

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