An Interview with Neil Krug

This guy! Full disclosure here – he’s possibly one of my biggest creative muses and when I found out I was getting a chance to interview him . . .  well lets just say it was an adrenalin high, 2 breaths short of a panic attack. Neil Krug’s world leaves me weak at the knees and spawns some kind of vigilante alter ego. I find myself with mad girl crushes and an impetus to chase the summer with an old school record player,  a getaway ride, a Stetson and a pipe dream. This interview took place last year for our December Issue 011. You can find the article and own some of these incredible prints in the flesh by purchasing the Issue here.  One of the worst things about finally getting to meet your idol is finding out that they ain’t so grand in real life. In this case, I was lucky as hell. Neil Krug was generous, inspiring, witty and engaging. I told myself to be cool like Fonzie and here’s how it all played out . . .

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BB: Neil for this conversation I’ve picked us a virtual location. We’re at the Door to Hell in Turkmenistan. We’re sitting on 2 beaten up, fold out directors chairs with Dunwich Radio playing a UFO POP set from the car radio. We’re drinking moonshine and there may or may not have been a botched up heist that has occurred directly before this conversation. I’ve kicked off my huaraches and I’m diving in with the big guns . . . 

Work evolves, styles change, inspirations come and go but for most artists there always seems to be some kind of obsessive constant that lies underneath. Something – often abstract – we’re always chasing and it keeps us producing work. For some it’s death, others sex, meaning, memory? What is the thing you’re always chasing? What are the questions keeping you awake at night?

NK: Chasing the inexplicable.  I don’t have an exact picture of what it is for the most part – the idea or image reveals itself in some sort of imaginary form before I pickup anything to try and make it. Simply put: the idea comes from the dream-space/non-space chamber Ha!  My days are fairly busy so the moment I decide to sleep I become the comatose patient.

BB: Okay – a little loathe to ask this but . . . Your female protagonists (it feels more appropriate than “subjects”) are often badass, idiosyncratic and independent. I feel like I want to be them and also find myself with major girl-crushes on them. In no way do they seem objectified. I don’t think this is at all contrived in your work but I’m curious about how you’ve come to representing women this way? Tell me more?

NK: Well I greatly appreciate that impression – it’s definitely what I’m going for.  With the exception of the Pulp books, I’m not consciously aware of trying to inject some sort of boldness with female portraits etc.  Whatever you’re seeing or feeling is just part of the whole ball of wax I suppose. The last thing I want is some insolent deprived perspective of humans. To be activated and terrified is the happy balance if I’ve done my job well.

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BB: I’m setting you up for a year in a bio-dome in the Cañon de la Huasteca. I’ll pay you loads and you can produce any body of personal work you like with no limits on budget. However, there’s no internet and I’m only allowing you 5 things to sustain your creative mojo for the whole year. What do you choose?

NK: A bit of a Silent Running dome atop a mountain huh? Doing without the internet for a year would be a blessing.
Right off the top:

  1. year supply of killer food and coffee
  2. a salt water pool
  3. a dozen carrier pigeons
  4. 3D printer that could generate any object I require
  5. a monk or guru on standby for the moment I loose my mind
BB: Developing a strong style seems to be a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s a beast that can take you to incredible heights but can sometimes keep you tied there. There’s definitely a “Neil Krug World”. Have you tamed the beast of style? How do you keep evolving?

NK: I know what you mean.  Friends of mine will chat about Neil Krug in a possessive third person conversation with me sitting there – it’s fucking weird.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing though.  I’ve built this world based on the things I love, and the beast is always changing and shedding skin.  He’s getting older all the time.

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BB: For your next shoot I’m giving you a time machine to go back to any place and time you like. You can also pick up any subject along the way. Where are you and who are you shooting?

NK: Dinosaurs. The End.

BB: I think our location is overwhelming me. Where do you find magic?

NK: Me too.  Going underwater might help.

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BB:  Your work marries with music so well. I feel like your images are like split second films. How do you approach creating the right images for sound? Do you ever have some backstage narratives behind the work that only you know? 

NK:  Always yes.  Almost everything comes from sound fragments, songs, or atmosphere.  I don’t think anything has more impact than this.  Once I make the image I’ve usually forgotten about the sound that inspired it. In so many words, the horses have gotten away from the carriage.

BB: The moonshine is helping to sustain my devil-may-care bluff but to confess – you’re pretty much my version of a God. If you were to ask Katsuhiro Otomo, [a creative muse for Neil], a single question what would it be?

NK: I’d ask him: how do you make the character immortal?

You can find your daily escapisms on Neil’s facebook, instagram and tumblr.

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