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Faye Orlove: Behind the Gifs

Downtown Boys’ “Wave of History” Video dir. by Faye Orlove

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Conversation with the LA artist about making political imagery and her new book "Shrine"

/ November 19, 2015

Faye Orlove is an illustrator and animator living in Los Angeles, CA. She’s the co-creator of Fvck the Media, an online platform that covers alternative arts, culture, music, news, and grassroots activism. This year she published her first book, “Shrine,” through Don Giovanni Records. She is the creator, director, and producer of animated music videos for artists like Mitski (see below) and Downtown Boys. Her work has been featured NPR, Stereogum, Fox, MTV, Spark Mag (check our Facebook banner) and up and coming blogs and twitters of artists and culture creators throughout the world. We wanted to hear more from the woman behind the images taking over the internet.

 

 

You illustrate so many things! From portraits of Nicki Minaj to riffs off Taco Bell to independent music videos, where do you draw inspiration from?

I guess in the absolute simplest terms, I am inspired by the things I like! I find it really counter-productive to wax poetic about all the things I hate (plenty) and all the stuff that sucks (lots). Cos like, isn’t it more fun to enjoy stuff? Like obviously there’s a lot of bullshit in the world (see: Fiona Apple 1997) and there’s a lot of crap I hate (see: Donald Trump) and there are important cultural commentaries to be made (see: Downtown Boys: Full Communism) and there are a million things that need to be burned to the ground (see: patriarchy, capitalism, Chris Brown). But at the end of the day I would rather help build one thing up than tear ten things down. I guess all I’m trying to say is that I illustrate a lot of things because I like a lot of things! I think the stuff I make is less cohesive in content and more cohesive in aesthetic and ethos. Whether I’m making a portrait of Malala Yousafzai or Kylie Jenner, everything has a strong feminist leaning because it’s refracted through my own radical lens.

What is it like to work with musicians on illustrating videos?

Usually amazing and supportive! I RARELY make videos for people who aren’t my friends so working together is just an opportunity to collaborate and Gchat a lot. I usually get a lot of freedom because I think people come to me because they like my established body of work. So no one asks something of me that isn’t in line with my aesthetic/ethos, otherwise, like, go to someone else. Right? Basically, I only say yes to projects that I know will be a good representation of my work, will further the feminist agenda, and give recognition to artists/activists I think are important. I have a full time job so I can afford to be choosy. And I do say no a lot. It’s like when you’re interviewing for a job and you kinda have to interview them back. It should be a good fit for everyone or the end result probably won’t be all that good.

 

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You recently published a book on Don Giovanni titled, “Shrine,” and it is described as focused on ideas of worship, idolatry, and pop culture, please please tell us how the themes and drawings came together?

Yeah! “Shrine” started three years ago when Joe Steinhardt (of Don Gio) told me he wanted to put out a book of my illustrations and at the time I was like HAHA LOL NO I SUCK. But then over the next year I gained a lot of confidence in my work and kinda found my voice along the way and started collecting pieces that might work together. I tried to find a cohesive theme between scattered drawings of Kim Kardashian and Emma Sulkowicz, and the idea of idol worship came to mind. I spent a year collecting work and creating new pieces and Joe worked really hard with me trying to get the look  just right. I’m really proud of the final result! And honored that anyone besides my mom bought it.

A lot of your drawings are musicians, why are musicians so lucky to be a focus of yours?

I love music and it’s my own way of feeling connected to a scene I’m not a part of. Music has a beautiful way of creating a community, and since I’m terrible at playing music, my drawings are my own way of feeling close to my rock and roll icons.

What publications and platforms do you work for or contribute to?

I’ve made work for MTV and Perrier and Google and kinda bigger names to throw around like that, but my pride and joy is my own publication “The Media” that I work on with Liz Pelly. I generally accept bigger jobs to get paid. That way I can sustain working for free on “The Media” and other passion projects that don’t necessarily pay in MONEY but pay in FUN AND FRIENDSHIP, which is a currency my dad would say not to accept haha.

I really loved your Mitski music video, what got you into music videos?

It’s kinda the perfect marriage between my two loves, film and music! I remember the first music video I made was in 2007 as my application to college. It was to a Head Automatica song which I’m literally laughing about right now. I think I’ve showed it to maybe four people because it’s so embarrassing now. But it’s also interesting to go back and watch because it represents kinda the same themes as my work now. It’s about a girl that doesn’t live up to self-imposed and societal expectations so she breaks down and finds solace in solitude.

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You seem to be very down to draw and engage in political images, people, and ideas. What are your thoughts on political art?

Political art is, personally, the only way I can be political. I’m not a poignant writer like Liz or a powerful speaker like you. I have the thing I’m good at, the thing that I enjoy

, and I kinda contort it fit an agenda. I’m definitely political, I have a lot of ideas and opinions and think the most powerful way for ME PERSONALLY to engage, is through artwork. I’m really proud of work I’ve done for the Across Women’s Lives and #HerRights series for Public Radio International. I’m proud of my work for the Girls Rock Campaign and for your Downtown Boys music video. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done that has served a purpose. I don’t want to just take up space in the universe. I want to contribute.

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done that has served a purpose. I don’t want to just take up space in the universe. I want to contribute.