Fuck Up Your First Friday | Q&A

by Bryce Wergin

Whether an intricately-designed display of layered colors or a simple depiction of something unrelated to a concert, the artists making gig posters are as much a working gear in the music community as the musicians themselves — often, they're wearing both hats. Help support and celebrate these artists at tonight’s First Friday event Fuck Up 2011, hosted by local design group Doe Eyed Design at Screen Ink in Lincoln. Check out the Facebook event here.

Eric Nyffeler (who plays in Masses) and Michael Neilsen are Doe Eyed Design, a screen-print art duo in Lincoln who have designed event posters for a ridiculously diverse catalogue of bands that includes Mogwai, Iron & Wine, GWAR, The Roots and Yeasayer, among many others.

Tonight's event runs from 6-11:30 p.m. and will include test print displays by screen print artists from all over the world, as well as free Lucky Bucket beer and music from Neil Jung and Bad Speler (Darren Keen).

Nyffeler and Neilsen filled us in on the event and why what they’re doing is important and relevant to our Nebraskan music community.

Hear Nebraska: Can you give the readers a run-down of the event, and let them know why it's so bad-ass?

Eric Nyffeler: Fuck Up features screen-printed "test prints" from over two-dozen different artists from five different countries and four different continents. Test prints are hidden relics that rarely make it out of a studio, so this is a one-of-a-kind look into the minds and studios of some of the world's most cutting-edge screen printers.

Michael Neilsen: It's a screen print show, but even more specific it's an exhibition of test prints. Test prints are something normally disregarded by screen printers, but we started to discover beauty in our own test prints years ago and wondered what others test prints would look like. And that's basically how Fuck Up came about.

HN: There's a massive list of artists from all over the place listed on the Facebook event. Are these artists whose test prints were used to create these pieces or are they themselves the collaborators behind some of the works? How did you get so many artists to participate?

EN: The show consists both of the artists' own test prints, produced entirely in their own shops, as well as one collaborative print that features art from every featured artist. Through the concert poster work that we do at Doe Eyed, we've been able to meet and befriend a large number of fellow poster artists throughout the world. When we were planning the show, we wrote out a wish list of contributors, including both close friends as well as other artists that we both admire but didn't know personally. Both through word-of-mouth and the success of last year's show, we were booking almost everyone on our list.

MN: We just began to approach artists whose work we really admired — dudes we'd met at gigposters.comFlatstock or other poster-geek arenas. Each artist sent us anywhere from one to eight of their test prints and named their own prices. We've made Fuck Up the sort of show that everyone can enjoy. The public enjoys it because of the rad, one-of-a-kind artwork from all over the place, in real life, in Lincoln. The artists love to participate because, unlike most art shows these artists are involved in, we don't take half of their asking price — they get it all, plus some other show schwag that others would have to pay to have.

HN: How does your event tie in with Nebraskan music?

EN: Our event has several ties to Nebraska music. The first and most visible connection is that the event is being DJd by Darren Keen and Jim Schroeder. Jim and Darren are two of the most inventive and rule-breaking musicians I've ever meet and both produce music that is perfectly-complimentary to the Fuck Up aesthetic. The other significant tie to Nebraska music comes from the local poster artists (including ourselves, Bennett Holzworth, Ben Swift and Pat Oakes) who frequently create art for Nebraska band and Nebraska concerts.

MN: Most, if not all, of these artists are creating artwork primarily for shows. So these test prints contain layers of artwork from a multitude of bands' show posters. Since these are artists from all over the place, it's unlikely there are many Nebraskan bands in their test prints. But we've got locals Ben Swift, Pat Oakes, Bennett Holzworth and Doe Eyed (Eric & I) involved in the show, so there is bound to be some local bands in there somewhere, but given the crazy amount of layers on these prints they will likely be difficult to discover, or you'll get dizzy trying.

HN: Why is it important for music and art communities to work together in events like this?

EN: Events like this prove that Nebraska isn't in the middle of nowhere but is actually in the middle of EVERYWHERE. If you work hard and make friends, it's possible to put together a world-class event in our little city.

MN: You know, it's the same crowd. Lincoln is a small city where artists of all types can get together and just have fun at these sort of things. We've never taken this event too seriously — it's all art on accident and we're just here to celebrate it. Neil Jung and Bad Speler will be there ready to please your ears, and I honestly can't think of a better fit.

HN: How long have you been doing this, and how has it been received so far?

EN: This is the second year that we've curated the Fuck Up exhibition. So far we've gotten a great reaction from the contributing artists as well as the general public. We sold roughly 80 percent of the prints at the opening night last year, so we're hoping for a similar reaction this year. I feel like this show is a great event for people who don't usually go to art shows or don't usually purchase art. The prices are outrageously low for one of a kind pieces, and the off-beat, nonchalant nature of the art definitely swings everything toward more of a party mood rather than a stoic, stuffy art gallery.

MN: This is the second year. Attendance and excitement was really surprising last year. Sometimes I think Eric and I are the only ones geeking out about this stuff, so it felt really good to see so many people enjoyed themselves last year. This year is last year but on crack. More artists from more places, more prints, more beer equals more fun.

HN: Anything else you want the readers to know about Fuck Up 2011?

EN: If people miss this show, they will regret it for the rest of their lives. We are absolutely not responsible for any post-Fuck Up depression that may occur. 

MN: Fuck Up is the only group test print show in the entire universe. So I would just like to say thank you to all the cool kids in Lincoln and around, for supporting this show and making it a special event unique to Nebraska. Make sure you ride your bike to the show, you'll get a cookie.

Bryce Wergin is an intern at Hear Nebraska and will be Fucking Up his First Friday. Contact him at brycewergin@hearnebraska.org.