Sketchy Tank has been 'disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed' for quite some time now, and we find his work quite comforting. Drawing inspiration from a mix of dicks, tattoos, 80s skateboarding imagery, and the strange things that happen in his brain, Sketchy Tank is defying the conventional. His work makes us laugh, question the bullshit, and maybe even cry. I've been following his work for some time now, and after I saw some of his shirts in (the only) local skate shop on the island of Montreal, I knew I had to hear what makes him tick. His work is so influential in people's lives/art brains that tons of 'em are even getting tattoos of his designs--his work certainly leaves a lasting impression, and we're stoked to give you an inside perspective on the masked man.
GB: What’s the origin story for Sketchy Tank? How did you come up with the idea to start the company?
In 2007, Sketchy Tank started as a folder name on my computer where I would put "sketchy" photos and imagery I found on the Internet. I worked as a graphic designer at the time so I was constantly on blogs and tumblrs trying to find inspiration. I would come across photos of disturbing things, but not porn or gore, more like tattoos of dicks, people causing mischief, clever vandalism etc. The folder was filled with dark art and good design. The folder got to be 1GB in size and I didn't know what I was doing with it so I thought I would create a website and post all the pictures from the giant folder. I branded the website, gave it a logo and vibe and named it Sketchy Tank. Within a year I was getting a lot of traffic and I thought it was a good idea to start sliding my artwork in there so people can see it. I eventually created a little online store where I would sell a couple shirts at a time. The sales grew and I kept making new stuff. At this time I was a product designer working for an action sports company flying back and forth to China and doing Sketchy Tank on the side. I was persistent and passionate about ST and I made sure to work every day at it, even if I lost sleep, I am still this way 8 years later! My sales finally got to the point where I was making more money than my day job, and I was having my son right at that time too, so the writing was on the wall to quit. The rest is history... One thing is I never planned on making a brand, it all just kind of happened.
How would you describe Sketchy Tank? What exactly are the different things you do in your company?
It's low brow, but clever; it's dark-natured, but has humor ; it's not for everyone. Disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed! ST is very different because it's just me and a sales force. I work out of my garage converted to my studio. There are no CEOs, no CFOs, no HR department haha! It's just me and I have a distribution partner for wholesale. Sketchy Tank is real.
What's your creative process like? How do you come up with an idea and ultimately see it through?
It all depends, but sometimes I will hear a common phrase in a song or read it somewhere, and then I picture how I would illustrate that involving dark nature and humor. I smoke a ton of weed and drink loads of coffee, I think that combo gets me right in the Zone along with music. I sketch up the idea really rough in red pencil, then I redraw it till it's right. Then I ink it, scan it, vector it, and that's it. Sometimes it takes me a long time to ink it right, I'm constantly learning and trying to challenge myself.
Could you describe the general mood/attitude/idea that informs your work? Is there a message that you are trying to send through your art and products?
I want to make people laugh, and not take everything so seriously, and think and question everything.
Do you skate? What's your involvement like in the skate community?
I grew up skateboarding and it's always been very influential on my life. I was always drawn to the art and culture, 80s skate graphics are so nostalgic to me and I know that is a major reason why my style is the way it is. I will still go push around but I stay on the ground these days.
What is the craziest reaction you have received from someone about your artwork? What do take from reactions like that?
I had a guy threaten me over my melting pope illustration and have got some hate mail. Over all the reaction is good so I always try to look at the positive, you can't please them all.
Will you ever show your face to the public? or will you be hidden behind that mask forever?
I do show my face but no one knows what I look like ️️. I like being anonymous; it gives me more freedom to express myself because no one really knows who I am.