Talk with Steven Rodriguez about leftism, Jon-Kyle, philosophy study experience, Cuban poster desiner Alfredo Rostgaard, movies (especially horror movies) and the most important thing: Horchata.
MFA candidate, Yale School of Art.
Ok, so let’s start. Um..when did you started to be interested in the leftist stuff?
Um… I guess it’s sort of hard to pinpoint. Um.. uh… I guess growing up…um… maybe being like half Mexican and my dad is an immigrant, so there was even when I was a kid, some sort of like understanding about… I didn’t grow up with like tons of money, so I kind of had like an understanding of I feel like the sort of, yeah, like being those sorts of experiences when I was younger, sort of like laid the foundation for like how I think about the world.
Um, but, yeah, I definitely remember like being in junior high maybe and kind of like, getting into like, getting interested in political stuff like kind of like bio, like hip hop or punk or uh…skateboarding I guess.
I guess I’ve gotten a lot of trouble growing up so, uh, just like in junior high getting in trouble or like… um… also like being half white kind of realizing, because I grew up in like, a really, like Latino neighborhood, realizing that like some of my friends were treated like shittier than I was, like I feel like that helped kind of build the political framework in my head. But then in high school I got super into like kind of like situationist and like anarchism and stuff like that, and had the Internet, and then in college I guess was really when I started like working with other anarchists and stuff like that.
Hm. So how was your interview with the guy from interference archive?
Uh, I didn’t, I didn’t interview him.
No, I interviewed this, this, uh, this Guy, Jon-Kyle actually.
He, he’s like, uh, he makes the p2p browsers, he works in the p2p sort of stuff that Laurel showed us.
OK. So for your, like the graphic design history project. So you didn’t use the interview?
Oh yeah, yeah, I interviewed my friend Josh. Yeah.
How was that?
How was it?
Like uh.. what did you discuss?
Oh, we just talked about, um, that Cuban poster designer, Alfredo Rostgaard.
And uh, can you just, uh, introduce that Cuban poster designer a bit?
Um, yeah, so I guess Cuba’s like a very specific context, sort of like post war Cuba and that they were sort of ultra leftists, sort of interested in everything else that say in the late 19 sixties that people around the world that we’re kind of doing sort of like radical, or political graphics we’re into. but specifically in Cuba, it wasn’t like a subcultural or transgressive, like they weren’t exactly like fighting the government. They were like operating as this like official, a sort of propaganda arm for like the Cuban communist government. And so they were making like graphics that spoke to some sort of what I guess in the US would be things like sub cultural, but it was, it’s like…
In there it’s from the government.
Yeah, in a way. Yeah.
So how was your experience or studying philosophy?
Um..yeah. I don’t know. I guess I decided really young when I was going to study and I decided to study philosophy. I don’t know if I would have decided if I was a little older, maybe I wouldn’t have picked that. But, but uh, it was… I think like in school it wasn’t that interesting, like in the US, I think for the most part the most like undergraduate philosophy programs are pretty terrible. I was lucky because we have like a really cool professor who was really into like animal studies, but he sort of pushed like a lot of crazy, like uh, I guess like ultra left political theory on to us. And it was during this time where there was this like student occupation movement in California because it was like, right around the time that the budget cuts had happened. So there was like a group of people at my school who are studying philosophy with me that were all just kind of like into our own shit and we’re just kind of… we were reading our own stuff like outside of school and kind of working on these political projects together with people there, but also like people in other places in California.
Um-hm. So, uh, how did that experience influenced you as a graphic designer? Do you think there is any..
Yeah, yeah. Um, yeah, I actually think that’s like maybe one of the more uh.. like public facing graphic design things I was doing up until that point. Like before that I would make kind of like, I would do like graffiti and I would do like, I would make like kind of screen print like tee shirt graphics, I made a couple of websites like when I was in high school, but it was all like very kind of random. Um, and just like stuff I was making for my friends to look at it I guess. But I made a bunch of like posters and flyers during the student occupation thing while I was in college, uh, for like dance parties and stuff like that. Um, I feel like that was like one of the first times I was people were like responding to my work, like sort of a bigger audience than just my friends. Like people were like interested in me making stuff. So. But I kind of like, even after that graphic design wasn’t something I was like thinking about.
So you mean that’s not the time you decided to move to Graphic Design?
So when did you decide to? and why?
I don’t know, I haven’t really been thinking about like graphic design as like a practice or something until like fairly recently, like a couple years ago.
And even now like I’m not like, It’s…I don’t know…I guess like professionally or something like I had been like doing kind of graphic design for like five years, but it’s still just like sort of by an accident kind of comes out of like diy stuff. Um, and I think, uh, yeah.
like… like during that experience, you feel like you really need these kind of skills to do that or?
I don’t know, for a long time I kind of like have an art practice and was thinking more about like..ah..sort of like doing weird political art, I guess. That’s what I was thinking about for a while. Uh, and then, I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of, like really terrible experiences I think, with like the art scene, and I’ve had friends who’ve had terrible experiences with it and it just also like personally isn’t something I’m that interested in like forging my career, like personal identity around. So I feel like graphic design, there’s some sort of distance there. You can, uh… make things, but it doesn’t always have to be like political things or doesn’t always have to like look the same every single time. And there’s also like a kind of professional distance.
So how did you started to be interested in horror movies. And what do they mean to you?
Um, yeah, I guess I’ve also been… it’s hard for me to sort of like pinpoint the, like origin of that, but it’s definitely something I’ve been interested in for as long as I can remember. Uh, I don’t know. I grew up Catholic, and Catholics have like a very kind of like… fantastic way of thinking about the world or something. Like there’s a lot of like, like they entertain, like the idea of like exorcisms like vampires, like hell, is very, like real and kind of like a very illustrative. And so as a kid, I would be in like catechism class and just like asking question after question about like how demons, like satan and like all of these things, and adults would be like, yeah, like explained it all to… I don’t know, there’s something about having that experience as a kid that I feel like, uh…it was really exciting to think that there’s this like dark underground that adults take very seriously.
So, you’re from a Catholic family or school or?
Well, when I was a kid, my parents like uh, we would go to church and stuff like my family was like pretty Catholic.
Yeah. So do you have some favorite movie directors?
Well it doesn’t have to be horror movies. Just..
Yeah, I think what’s interesting about four actually is that like one thing that I like about it is just like how incomplete it is. Like as a genre.
Like, very DIY or something?
Yeah. Like there are certainly like, you know, like excellent horror movies that are like excellent on many different levels. But I think like for the most part, like there’s horror movies with like good lighting and terrible everything else or movies with like a few good scenes that just make the whole film what it is or like just good music or something. I sort of enjoyed that aspect of it.
But do you like any other, like, like not horror movie (directors), but other movie directors.
Hmm, yeah, there’s like certain directors who I’ll like watch all their stuff or whatever. I really liked that Guy Michael Mann, do you know who that is?
He’s like an American director who made a lot of kind of funny movies. Um.. yeah. I really like movies from the seventies, like kind of like the old school, like American, like directors from the seventies.
Is that the reason why you like The Dope.
What is it?
The Dope, the movie Scott gave us…
Ah! because I was the only one who likes that movie.
Haha! Is it a similar kind of, uh…
No, I think that movie’s maybe like taking from the eighties more than seventies. But uh, no. I just don’t know if I really liked that movie, but it’s not terrible.
Hmm…Yeah… The Last and the most important question is, do you know where can I find some Mexican horchata near New Haven?
Haha, Uh..I think at the food trucks, by the wharf.
Where is that?
Um, it’s like when you first come into new haven, there’s like the big bay?
Where the ocean is.
Oh, I’m not sure. Like close to the union station.
Yeah. Yeah. Not too far from there. There’s some food trucks with..Horchata
Ah..maybe I should try to explore that area.
Cool. So it’s a food truck like selling Horchata and some Mexican food.
There’s like 10 of them or something.
10 of them?!
Cool!!! I should explore it.
OK, thank you!