5×5: Cody Vrosh

We’re rolling out the carpet again for the third take (one and two) in our 5×5 series. Our latest instalment catches up with illustrator, painter, screen printer and independent book press owner, Cody Vrosh. The Android’s Astrological Companion, is something that has been occupying a large portion of this Bay Area artist’s life lately, but he took some time from his schedule to let us know about the force behind his creativity.

You like to experiment with different materials and surfaces in your work. Is there one you love and one you hate (but can’t resist)

My favorite art supply/fuel is coffee. I love painting on coffee tinted paper. I read that forgers used coffee to simulate the aging of documents. I dug that antique effect so I started experimenting with rubbing espresso grounds onto blank pages or just straight dipping paper into buckets of coffee. Side note: you can totally absorb caffeine through your hands. After I became more comfortable with staining, I got a little crazier with textures. I imagine the espresso probably helped that evolution too. Now I use different roasts, brewing methods, splatters & sprays to achieve the variety of tone and shape that I’m looking to work on. That’s my preferred surface right now. My last book Coffee Creatures is full of those paintings.

If you want to talk beautifully troublesome: wood. I used to paint primarily in wood, water, & fire. That’s watercolor on wood panel, then blowtorched. I hand cut and routed most of the wood myself, which allowed for complete control over canvas shape, which in nice. It’s a really fun process but using watercolor on wood is horribly finicky and unpredictable. I’ve got a stack of custom cut white pine that keeps calling to me, though.

What’s coming up in your world? What are you really excited about doing?

We’re currently running a Kickstarter for our next book, The Android’s Astrological Companion. It’s a hybrid art book and short fiction anthology featuring illustrations and stories about android girls inspired by the zodiac. I’m really excited about it, we’ve got an amazing group of authors creating storied based on my paintings. On my drawing table right now is a series of Teeth Creatures we’re putting together as a stretch reward, a mini-book entitled The Zodiac of Teeth. You can check it all out at CodyVrosh.com/Kickstarter.

Who initially inspired you to create and is there anyone now that makes your heart race?

My earliest artistic memory is of staring at a charcoal rendering of a Labrador that my mom had on the wall. It blew my tiny mind that someone could create such beauty out of a burnt stick on a dog portrait. I have no idea who the artist was. I would have to credit Ray Harryhausen for making me realize what you could do with one person’s crazy ideas. I have early memories of Mucha and Beardsley too. It’s interesting the people you grab onto while you progress as an artist. I was obsessed with Edweard Muybridge for a while. He pretty much invented film and has a library of motion capture photography that I love to pour over. Frank Frazetta, Enki Bilal, Patrick Nagel, Gustave Dore, and Mike Mignola have all been my heavies at different times.

Currently there’s a lot to be inspired by. I follow a lot of comic artists like Eric Canete, Fiona Staples, Katsuya Terada, and David Petersen. I think Kim Jung Gi might be my next obsession. We’re at a comic convention almost every month, which is basically a giant gathering of artists, so it’s pretty easy to stay inspired. Having friends like Emonic and Nooligan definitely keeps you on your toes too.

Preferred Social Media platform?

My current favorite is Instagram, with Tumblr right behind. I love seeing and sharing work-in-progress shots and the almost completely visual nature of those platforms suits me perfectly. I’m easy to find on almost any network as @CodyVrosh.

What’s your painting playlist?

Way into audio books lately, just finished Dune and I’m now listening to Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. When I’m listening to music, it’s usually either Gypsy music, certain electronic stuff or the saddest songwriters I can find, I don’t know why but the sound of melancholy really puts me in the right mind frame to create. I like a lot of punk, hip hop and metal too but I usually find it hard to paint to. My current specific playlist includes…
Scott Matthew
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Lisa Hannigan
Nick Drake
Damien Rice
Emily Wells
Grizzly Bear
Nina Simone
Antony & The Johnsons
…and a never ending stream of Bowie & The Pogues

What’s the weirdest/coolest thing in your studio

An ever-growing wall of ukuleles. I love them. There’s nothing quite like an ukulele break to recharge.

Cody’s very excellent work can be found here on a variety of devices that you own.


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