Brand me, Baby! One more time

Let’s put on our corpse handling gloves and dig out the “sell out” decaying, stinking body of the “artist” which Peter and I have hastily hid in a shallow grave behind our studio.

Peter decided to do a dead James Fanco for this piece. I think James Franco would have a sense of humour about being our dead pretentious artist!

Peter decided to do a dead James Fanco for this piece. I think James Franco would have a sense of humour about being our dead pretentious artist!

Perfect. Here is the dead artist now. Now let’s talk branding!

Branding and marketing are dirty words in the art world. I think it’s especially true for young people who have yet to really give some thought to selling and producing a viable product that consumers will buy. I’m not here to convert anyone. Peter and I will be the first to admit that we are here to sell, sell, sell. We love art. We love the product that we produce and put out into the world. We are proud of it. We think there is a place for it. There are people who are looking to dialogue with pop culture, enjoy and consume it in the same monstrous way that we do, and we are looking to sell to these wonderful individuals. Our motto remains: Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. So yeah, we think about selling ALL.THE.TIME. That grave in the backyard? That’s where the soul of the fine artist is buried. We buried it a long time ago. Granted, I dug it out to show you but it’s now stinking up our studio so I’m just going to chuck him back in his grave, if I can.

 So What EXACTLY is the Cimpoe Gallery Brand?

The brand we have today is the one you see on the website. It's a light-hearted, tongue in cheek look at the things we love. We are fans of comics. We are fans of film and we are fans of our wonderful mother, television. It's a brand that reflects who are as siblings and business partners. We aren’t interested in producing and selling something that we aren’t passionate about. Peter spent a great deal of his younger, formative years, in the practice of a “fine artist” but there was a lot the fine art world that left him cold and disinterested. I wavered back and forth as a writer, dipping my toes in “serious” literary writing only to discover that I don’t really care to be a serious literary writer. I’ll just write about whatever I want to write about. I’ll do a bit of writing when it suits me, submit where iy suits me, and get behind Cimpoe Gallery more fully which (lets be honest) is way more fun at this junction in my life.

The working of a brand is something that takes time to establish. We aren’t Louis Vuitton (yet) but we are cultivating the niche market we are looking to engage with. Branding is about telling stories. This is the most useful way I have learned to think of marketing and branding. What is the story that Peter and I are trying to tell with Cimpoe Gallery? What is the story we are trying to sell? At the center of any good brand, there should be love. Hardcore love for the work you are producing and for the people that you hope will buy your product. People can tell when you fake it. We can smell  disingenuous “art” from a mile away and it smells like that corpse we buried in the backyard. The brand should be something that is built on passion. Before we got to where we are today with Cimpoe Gallery, the studio, the site and licenses, we tinkered with other ideas. I don’t always realize it but it took a good 5 YEARS for us to get to this point; 5 YEARS of tinkering and playing with thr formula. Peter has been the Dr. Frankenstein of our little enterprise. He’s been the one who left University at the top of his game (quite literary at the top of his classes), pursued realist art at a realist atelier, spent some time at a tattoo apprenticeship, worked his way into becoming an expert at pinup art, moved to landscapes for a while before finally settling to what we have here. It’s been more than 5 years of Peter working out what exactly he wanted to do. It’s been endless discussions about what sort of company we wanted to create and what exactly was the product we wanted to sell. It continues to be an ongoing and endless conversations about the direction of the work. Is it on brand? Is it telling a story? Does it mean something to us and more importantly, to the audience? We are continuously tinkering with the ideas. We are working with more light heartened and fun mediums. Peter is playing with more fun subject matter, more original work, and a wider array of colours. We are learning that our audience cares about colour! The work needs to be fun! It needs to remind them more fully about why they love pop culture. It should make them smile. And that’s important. In fact, it is the MOST IMPORTANT thing about our brand. It makes our audience smile. At the end of the day, this is what you need to remember when you think about branding. What does your audience leave with? Maybe you don’t your audience to smile when they leave. That’s fine. Procation/discomfort/anger can be your brand but it is important that you ensure your audience leave with a very specific, especially catered taste in their mouth (regardless if they like it) because that is all they leave with; the taste. And God forbid, they leave with the stinking taste of pretentious, dead artist corpse in their mouth!

-Ileanna Cimpoe

Better Call Saul - Layers Upon Layers

Peter is a few layers away from completing this illustration. It has taken him a bit longer than usual to finish but it is not from lack of trying! He’s been busy with another painting (portrait). He’ll fill us in on what he has been working on :) It’s an exciting new piece and features a certain predominant “goo” face we’ll get into a bit later (what is “goo” face you ask? Good question! Stay tuned…)

Better Call Saul / In progress /  Cimpoe Gallery

Now, to the matter at hand. Let’s talk Better Call Saul! Peter has put down all of his darkest darks and dimmer tones. The next layers are all about the specifics. We see more of the details in the face and expressions. We notice the nuances along the back wall (including some texture). The varied mug shots over Mike and Jimmy’s heads have all been  mostly completed. I love how the criminal faces takes up an overwhelming and expansive bulk of space. These criminals are some of the individuals that Mike and Jimmy will use to build and grow their respective reputations. The dye has been cast. It is the seedy element that is bearing down on the two of them, whether they realize it or not (Mike must be aware but Jimmy…not so sure about Jimmy). Season three of the show is set to start April (if I am not mistaken). Peter and I are certainly looking forward to the new season. Although Breaking Bad was favorite in its time, we’ve both concluded that Better Call Saul has done finer point of ironing out the characters that inhabit this universe. We get more of the people, more of the stuff that makes all these people tick. The fleshing out of the characters has been endlessly fascinating and further complicated by a climax we know, as viewers, is inevitable. The pacing is slowed. The tone is brighter (but no less dramatic). I love the introduction of Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). She balances Jimmy out with her no nonsense approach to “lawyering” (lawyers be lawyering) but she isn’t the straight man to his funny man. She’s ten folds more complicated. She isn’t the nag. She’s isn’t the girlfriend. She’s her own complicated individual and seeing how hard she works…well, we can only hope to work that hard in order the get what we want out of life (and boy does she WORK).

I think the work and consideration Peter has put into this illustration speaks to the attention the show deserves. We want to celebrate these wonderful little moments between characters, friends and foes, and we get so much out of this image which aligns exactly with some of the things we have been talking about. We’ll post the final variation of this illustration sometime in the next few days. Peter thinks he’ll be done by the end of the week. 

We'll touch base soon !

-Ileanna Cimpoe


In Progress: Better Call Saul

Let's talk about something tangible. No more website housekeeping trivialities. These are not so interesting. The devil is in the details. Let's talk details.

Better Call Saul / Draft one / Cimpoe Gallery


Peter has begun work on an illustration for the show Better Call Saul (airing on AMC). In this particular illustration (still in progress) we see the different thought processes between the characters of Mike Ehrmantraut and Jimmy McGill (soon to become Saul Goodman). The expressions on their faces can be attributed to fantastic performances by Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk but there is also something to be said for the way the camera captures the moment between these two complicated men. We get a good feel for the overall mood and textures that are being evoked through the image. It is easy to see why Peter chose to translate this particular still as an illustration.

Drilling further down...

We have these two characters positioned relatively near each other but respectfully apart. They are both seated, which is a passive activity, yet the full weight of their characters is amplified by their unique body language in a moment of formal passivity. We have the ever stoic Mike - rigid, unmoving - staring right at us, seeing right through our bullshit and disinterested in any further discussion. Both his hands are neatly folded in front of him. He is a closed book. We have the formal break down of light and dark going across his face and through the folds of his shirt and pant legs. Peter is laying down specific colours to use as a base so that he can then go over and bring out the details during future paint layers.  His pallet will become brighter and more varied as he moves forward. Some of the general brightness has already been laid down (watered down greens, yellows, red). These are often trademark colours of the show and the New Mexico setting. The show is wonderfully colourful in general and it is something of a relief compared to the bleaker television landscape. The production team is clearly aware of what they are trying to achieve with the use of colour. People tend to be afraid of colour. It is nice to see a show use colour as a medium to fully embody the sensory elements of the environment and the people that inhabit it. Even during our darkest moments in life, we are rarely bathed in dark shadows or a dull gray palette. We often experience deep and profound moments in our lives while standing in the harsh light of the sun or in the middle of a busy and bright office space. We'll discuss the subject of colour at further lengths during a future posting.

Getting back to this particular image, we have Mike - rigid and unmoving- and then Jimmy McGill seated on the other side of the bench, tick, tick, ticking. Jimmy's head is turned away from a primary light source (unseen, perhaps a window?). Jimmy is a man turning away from the "light" of trajectory thinking and turning ever more inward as he struggles between following a clear moral path and something more ambiguous. We have movement in the face of Jimmy McGill. his lips pursed at a certain angle, his eyes fixed on a greater goal, one we can't quite make out. Jimmy will consider all the angle while Mike seems more at ease with some unknown resolution or inevitable outcome. There is even something slightly relaxed about Mike, in the folds of sweater and slightly hunched down shoulders. Peter has illustrated the softer aspect of the clothing and it juxtaposes nicely with the hardness of Mike's expression and the lines on his face. With Jimmy we have the full force of his unease, frustration and maybe even anger. He is a man ever in search of a plan. This is the sort of still we want to produce for our collection and for our audience. There is something powerful in this image and it will become more powerful as Peter lays down additional layers of paint. We'll get into this illustration a bit more in the future as Peter progresses with the image. It will be interesting to see how he chooses to interpret the still  in his dreamscape style. It is indeed quite striking.

-Ileanna Cimpoe