By Kerry Freek
Known for his metal tendencies and great fluffy chops, Oshawa’s Michal Majewski is a welcoming, down-to-earth show promoter, band member, label owner, and graphic designer, among other titles. Last week we had a conversation through email which began with the Polish word for “hi”. Ladies and gentlemen — Michal Majewski, friendly printmaker.
MONDO: Cześć Michal! Do me a favour and describe your style.
MICHAL MAJEWSKI: What is style, but a visual idea presented to a viewer, mostly generalized into a category for easy reference. Sure. However, classification has many outlets that form the overall picture. In my case, the line, image, and type make up the backbone of most designs. Photo collage, humour, the abstract, and the bizarre fill in the gaps. Awkward sensations are kindly welcome too.
MONDO: You’re kind of manic, Michal. Your prints range from very clean to very messy-but-detailed designs — you try out a lot of different media and styles. What happens inside your head when you start doing a show poster? How do you arrive at a final design idea — what’s your process? Do you take into account the bands on the bill? The type of music? The venue?
MM: The bands involved play a major role in the concept of each poster. There’s certain ideas that work with one act and won’t fit another. Lyrics, song titles, the general band image help me shape the overall piece. A good brainstorm session is key, accompanied by a pencil and a sketch book. There are always wild ideas floating around in my head, weird visions I want to bring out into the open. Medium used reflects the final scheme, but image and type usually dominate. That’s what pulls you in.
MONDO: How did you come to be making show posters?
MM: It began when I started booking shows, around 2001. To promote the gigs, I started making really poor cut and paste flyers. As time went by, my craft improved and a certain recognizable style developed. I didn’t start screen printing my posters until a year or so ago. Before, it was mainly photocopy, digital and stencil work. Fun, nonetheless.
MONDO: Tell us about your metal label. How did that come about?
MM: Music is a big part of my life. Record trading has been an avid hobby of mine that first sparked the interest of releasing music; my own band’s, as well as others’. The label became another way of reaching music enthusiasts entwined in the metal, grind, hc, punk underground around the world. For example, trading music with someone from the Canary Islands! The first record was a collaboration between two bands I really liked and knew well (Ontario vs Quebec). The result was a split 7″ that got the whole affair off the ground.
MONDO: Describe your studio/workshop.
MM: It’s a marvelous space of clutter; unfurnished with scattered tools, scraps of paper and hardened paint. Portioned on one side with the digital links, while the adjacent half is a print-friendly, hands-on kind of environment. Books, supplies and my music collection hold the middle ground. All fitted nicely into bare, white walls, looking westward onto a semi-busy residential street.
MONDO: You’re currently set up in Oshawa. I haven’t been living in town since the early days of Cuff the Duke and The Mark Inside. What’s the music scene like there now?
MM: It’s a thriving scene with filtered quality, where solid individuals work wonders under limited conditions. The lack of cheap, all-ages venues has always been a problem. Most bars, on the other hand, only cater to a certain music style. A confusing city, with an interesting music, past and present. Bands move on and move out, some choose to remain. The Velvet Elvis keeps the right spirit alive within the live forum; The Dungeon is still kicking, too.
MONDO: Got any future art-related plans? Do tell.
MM: Other than the ongoing art/design work I’m involved with, there is a plan for a small expo in the new year. A series of art prints, mixed with rock posters and some wacky t-shirt designs. I have thought about inviting other poster artists from around Ontario to participate in this event, here in Oshawa. Should be a slice!
Want to check out more of Michal’s prints?