🎙️ Helvetica Blanc

An interview with artist Helvetica Blanc about how they discover, consume, and interact with media and entertainment.

🎙️ Helvetica Blanc
Consumption Gumption

Helvetica Blanc, artist

Watches movies, listens to music, and reads comics and books

To start off, can you introduce yourself?

Hi, I'm Helvetica! I'm a visual artist exploring mysticism, the subconscious, and mythopoeia. You can find me on my website, helveticablanc.com

Before we dive in, can you give us a little sense of your tastes?

For movies I tend to really like slow-burn horror, period pieces, and fantasy/sci-fi. Some recent faves include the new Dune movies, Emma, Ammonite, D&D: Honor Among Thieves, Nope, and the 2018 Suspiria.

My music taste is pretty much "dad", so lately I've been playing a lot of old faves from Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf, and the Talking Heads, alongside a bunch of Lilith Fair faves like Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Merchant. I also put on a fair amount of early emo, drum n bass, breakcore, and black metal, depending on mood or what helps me get into the drawing zone.

I've never been big into superhero stuff, but I'm game for quite a bit outside of it. I've always unironically loved Peanuts and Garfield, and was a regular Penny Arcade reader for ages. I have a weakness for "prestige" comics like Persepolis, and get a lot from Scott McCloud's work. But what really gets me these days is the indie stuff that my cartoonist friends and colleagues put out: Fanlee & Spätzle, Real Hero Shit, 3rd Voice — the list goes on.

I tend toward horror or art books. A friend got me Out There Screaming, and it has some great scares. I've also picked up Dune again for like the fifth time. I adored the appendices as a kid, but could never get through the actual book. Maybe this time!

I recently discovered 3rd Voice myself. Any other indie comics with long sprawling stories or newer ones without the long back catalog that you could recommend?

Oh, definitely trawl through Evan Dahm's books. He works with mostly huge, epic stories, but I think my favorite is The Harrowing of Hell. It's an excellent interpretation of what happened between Jesus' death and resurrection in Christianity. As a person who spent the first 20-something years as deeply religious, it hits a very particular intersection of Christianity and anarchism.

Since TV wasn’t one of the first things you mentioned, I’m curious what your relationship is with TV?

There's definitely a lot of TV I enjoy, but I don't seek it out as often these days. I tend toward shorter, more self-contained media, simply because I don't have the time to commit to longer stuff.

How do you tend to discover new things?

It's almost always word of mouth these days, which includes social media. If my friends are yelling about it, I'll probably check it out once the hype dies down. I'm so slow to catch up to stuff unless it's a comic artist putting stuff right in front of my eyeballs.

Do you ever get the sense there’s too much out there and you’re falling behind or do you just go with the flow?

I used to, but I think one nice thing about getting older is I no longer feel the need to keep up with it all. Honestly, I think divesting from a lot of pop culture has given me a lot of space to nurture my voice as an artist. Now I can find my own weird niche.

How does the entertainment you take in influence your art practice, if at all?

It used to be hugely influential. I'd see something cool and say "wow, I wanna make something like THAT!" At this point I've just seen so many cool things that I wanna emulate that it all kinda blends together. I manage to sneak references into my work sometimes, but I keep it real quiet.

Are there any specific influences you can put us on that have directly influenced your art style? I love the minimal, mystical, flowy vibe of your art and am curious what the biggest influences were as you developed your style.

Oh, I have a whole page of influences! I think the biggest influences are Medieval artists, early abstract art, and UPA cartoons, though.

As an artist who reads comics, have you ever tried drawing sequential art? What are your thoughts around the mainstream perception of comics being “childish”?

I've taken a few shots at comics over the years in private, and have finally begun incorporating it into my work with Wormsong. It's more like illustrated prose than a proper comic, but has a bit of sequential art in there!

Thankfully, I never listened to anyone who thought comics were "childish", but that's also because I was reading comics that definitely weren't for kids. So the whole argument just kinda missed me!

What’s something you’ve loved that other people didn’t seem to get? And vice versa?

I played in bands for a while back in the early 00s, and to this day it's SO rare to find another fan of The White Octave. Go check out the album Style No. 6312 for some of my absolute favorite old emo, back before the genre had really gotten big.

As for stuff I didn't vibe with? This is probably common, but a lot of Marvel movies. I watched like 20 of them and I think only a couple of them really stood out as being fun. I don't wanna be a hater, though. If it's not for me, it's not for me!

What's one Marvel movie you thought was actually worth your time?

Honestly? I can't think of one. I haven't bothered with Marvel for ages, and there's so much out there more keenly attuned to my interests.

Are there any directors, writers, artists, etc. that you'd consider yourself a superfan of or done a deep dive into their discography?

Oh, easily. I adore pretty much any film that Benson and Moorhead make. Same with albums from MewithoutYou. Every now and then I'll start listening to an artist that I've only known casually, like David Byrne, and then spend a month just listening to every album.

What's the thing you are most fond of from your childhood?

Haha, oh no, I don't know if I can think of one thing! If we're gonna go back to childhood, it's probably the UPA cartoons, Hanna-Barbera, and stuff like that. They ways they broke down characters into shapes was endlessly fascinating to me. Magical, even!

Any last words about your media consumption or the state of entertainment?

Get weirder, folks!

Anyone you think has good taste we should interview next?

Mm, I'd say Trevor Henderson. The man has impeccable horror taste, and loves to give recommendations!


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