100 Creatives

100 Creatives: Shelby Hohl

What he does: Those of the concert-going sort have likely seen the tall and slender, oft-bespectacled young man who sports a baseball cap with its brim flipped up proudly. If it was a Weird Party show, then he would've been hopping about wildly as he summoned forth bass riffs. In addition to being a familiar face about town, Shelby Hohl is a mastermind graphic designer, and chances are good that you've seen several pieces of his work - even if you were unaware it was his. The fact is, Hohl has generated hundreds of concert posters at this point, and his work is consistently among our favorite designs.

He's designed hundreds of posters for both local and national touring artists both for Houston shows and out-of-state shows.

Hohl is also hired four or five times a year to work on video projects ranging from traditional hand-drawn 2D animation to 3D motion graphics and video editing, but his work hardly stops there. Hohl is also an assistant animator on the MAD cartoon show (yes, MAD as in the magazine), which airs on Cartoon Network.

He's been with Free Press Houston since it's inception and has provided artwork and art direction for every major event they've hosted, from Westheimer Block Party to the Free Press Summer Fest. Oh yeah, and he regularly provides illustrations and cover art for FPH's print product.

To top it all off, four years ago Hohl and Mark Armes started their own art group called Funwunce, which he describes as "a loose, ever-growing collective of Houston's and Los Angeles' premier artists and film makers." The common goal of the group is making video and product design for fun.

"We believe that talent does not exist," Hohl explains. "Only hard work and enthusiasm - both traits all humans are inherently born with - and we, to the best of our ability, try to keep everyone in our community involved on video and interactive art projects."

Why he likes it: "Ryan Ottea is solely responsible for exposing me to graphic design programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator," Hohl says as he describes his beginnings in the graphic design world. In high school, he was convinced "that the only place the artwork I was drawing would fit in would be the tattoo world, so I focused a lot of efforts into hanging out in the music scene and downtown because that's where I knew all the people I wanted to learn from would be."

Dropping out of high school led to Hohl crashing on Ottea's couch for a few years.

"I would kind of eavesdrop on his interactions with bands and clients hiring him for merchandise and poster artwork, and take mental notes on how to operate as an artist inside the music industry and how to translate the art I already knew how to do into formats that were suited for output into print, web, video, et cetera."

Shelby Hohl - 2010 Animation Reel from shelby hohl on Vimeo.

It's his more recent dive into animation that really gets his gears going. "Motion and animation right now is what I consider to be the new Renaissance," says Hohl. "For years, I drew static images of crazy shit that I could always visualize an even more crazy back-story behind. Once I started making flip books and watching those still moments come to life in whatever way I wanted them to was like some Big-Bang shit for me.

"Everything around you is essentially animated, and when you start observing life on levels of how you would re-create it, given all the laws of physics and nature involved, you start seeing everything very differently and all other forms of art kind of seem tame."

What inspires him: "Inspiration comes from everywhere," he says. "I don't usually get what I consider to be genuine inspiration from staring at other's art for hours or surfing the web but rather from lying in a park with a bunch of friends smoking and listening to Lightning Bolt.

There's also a political or social edge to some of his work.

"Occasionally, social injustices and global politics creep their way onto my radar and, as a result of how corrupt the leaders of the world are, and how uneven the distribution of mental wealth is for lower income families, I like to focus work and art concepts on empowering those less fortunate individuals by visually exposing universal truths," he says.

Hohl also cites his Funwunce partner Armes, his girlfriend Robin Jordan, Free Press editor Omar Afra, and his close friend Ryan Ottea by name, but the list continues. "Any of my friends who have children and those children," Hohl states, before finishing: "I'm sure some of my friends will read this and be like 'why am I not an inspiration?' Well, truth is, everyone is (an inspiration), even the people you don't know, so thank you reader!"

If not this, then what? "If I couldn't produce art, I'd probably focus my efforts on working with people that do produce art to expand the furthest reaches of their craft. Either that or I'd try and ride BMX professionally, or both."

What's next? "I've got a pretty full plate most of the time, so what's next for me is typically what's happening right now," Hohl admits.

Currently, he is working on a few music videos, including one for Female Demand's single "Eat Who I Eat" off their upcoming album which will be released this summer. "Half of Funwunce lives in Los Angeles now so we've had a lot more opportunities to jump on some commercial gigs through being out there," replies Hohl. In addition to Hohl's graphic and animated work, Weird Party will be putting out a pair of releases soon, with an 7-inch planned for the end of the summer and an EP out in the fall.

More Creatives (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Timothy Dorsey, writer and illustrator Lucas Gorham, musician Tracy Manford Carlson, photographer Lauren Rottet, architect and designer John Robertson, visual artist John Adelman, visual artist Chandos Dodson, interior designer Cliff Franks, painter Kim Hartz, photographer Katy Heinlein, visual artist Robert Shimko, dramaturg Galina Kurlat, photographer Wayne Slaten, filmmaker Jane Weiner, dancer and choreographer El Franco Lee II, visual artist Chris McKay, photographer Jason Ransom, visual artist Mr. SINched, fashion desiger "Uncle" Charlie Hardwick, poster designer Avital Stolar, playwright and educator Katherine Houston, visual artist Christopher Olivier, visual artist Dennis Lee Harper, sculptor David A. Brown, photographer Rachel Harmeyer, visual artist Kia Neill, installation artist Stacy Davidson, filmmaker Jennifer Wood, choreographer GONZO247 Kevin DeVil, filmmaker Kerry Beyer, photographer and filmmaker Robert Ellis, musician Davie Graves, musician and visual artist Robert Hodge, multimedia Mary Magsamen, photo and video artist John Harvey, theater Bret Harmeyer, visual artist Joel Orr, puppet master Rodney Waters, photographer and pianist Jeremy Choate, lighting designer Chuck Ivy, visual artist Tra'Slaughter, visual artist Jen Chen - visual art, designer Howard Sherman - Painter Nancy Hendrick - Founder of Dance Salad Misha Penton - Opera Singer and Theater Artist Ben Tecumseh DeSoto - Photojournalist Tracy Robertson aka Batty - Goth Fashion Designer Tierney Malone - Creative Type Dolan Smith - Painter Jenny Schlief - Mixed-Media Artist David Eagleman - Writer Anna Sprage - Painter Philip Lehl - Actor Andy Noble - Choreographer David McGee - Painter

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Marc Brubaker
Contact: Marc Brubaker