19-year-old illustrator and designer Jonah Mousis-Iriart aka Skum Sucks spends his days as a bank teller. After hours, the "dreamer of dreams" crafts minimal, brightly colored illustrations, often transforming into hats and pins down the road. His current focus is on primary colors that pack a playful punch. With an inventive and inspiring website as well as an energized internet presence, I decided to reach out to the young creative about his craft, his vision down the road, and the origin behind the alliteration of Skum Sucks.
To kickstart the interview, let's pretend you're at summer camp and you have to tell the room three interesting things about yourself, go!
I'm a pretty open person on social media and stuff like that so I feel like a lot of people already know too much about me but here's a little handful of stuff: I'm 19, I live in a studio behind a high school in my hometown, I work full time as a bank teller, and I try to drink a Jamba Juice every single day.
Creatively and emotionally, how has 2017 been treating you?
2017 has been crazy! I moved into my own solo place, made some amazing friends, really figured out some directional focus with my art, and have been working mentally and physically harder than ever. It's been the most difficult year for me thusfar due to all that but also probably the most exciting year thusfar for all the same reasons.
What's a day in the life like?
If it's a weekday, I get up at about 7:30, get ready, and go to work from about 8:30 to 5:30. I don't drive so I'll either have a friend drive me, grab a Lyft, or walk or cycle. On my lunch breaks I go to this Jamba Juice down the street and just draw for as many minutes as I can. After I get off work I'll run whatever errands I need to and then the rest of the night is spent with my friends, usually working on commissions, graphics, or personal projects, or just dicking around. We get a lot of work done but we also bullshit a lot, it's a pretty good balance. If it's a weekend, it's just more time to work on art! Sunday nights are dedicated to Rick & Morty. I try not to sleep in too much on the weekends; take a few walks and shit. If I don't make specific plans I'll sit in my apartment all day just drawing or watching movies or reading.
A great deal of your pieces are minimal and effective through simplicity. Has this always been your style?
I actually used to be super heavily into intricate, black & white illustration, like John Meisse or Dolan Stearns' earlier illustrations. That stuff inspired me heavily. I would do these pages of puzzle-like illustrations with a bunch of pointillism and shit that would take me weeks. I still love doing that stuff but it's a lot more personal to me now, it's like private therapy. I started getting into the Instagram art scene through my friend Nate, and found guys like Holden Mesk, Aidan Ryan, and Luke Day. Ever since I was little I loved cartoons and the feelings they held. I started messing around with a more cartoon-based style while still keeping elements of my original work like facial features and abstract influence; and this whole new thing started to develop. I just fell in love with it, with playing around with color too, I've found out for myself at least that I can portray a more concise feeling with this. It's much more controlled in that way. It's just the most fun thing in the world to see it come to life.
How long have you been turning your visual art into hats/pins? Do you have plans for future clothing down the line?
Pins have been pretty recent, this last drop of pins for PRIMARY was actually my first run of pins. Shout out Nate again! I've been doing shirts for a while, I started a skate company in early high school with a friend of mine that we ran for a couple years; did tons of shirts, hoodies, hats, and all that. It's just so damn fun to do! I've got a lot more stuff coming very soon actually, there's gonna be some clothes coming out to finish off the PRIMARY project. Stay tuned.
What's the origin story of the name Skum Sucks?
So I used to do a little graffiti in high school, and I always did it under the pseudonym Skum. So when I started branching into all forms of art I just kind of umbrella'd it, by talking shit about myself. Skum sucks you know? Once I put it out there it stuck so that was that
What are some studio essentials?
Some good music, I'm not skilled at watching TV when I work so I just like some nice tunes playing. Gotta have a guitar on hand and a fingerboard to play around with whenever I'm stuck on something. A good book. A few beers. Snacks; I can't eat a full meal if I'm really enveloped in something so I just snack super heavily. Probably some other stuff I'm not thinking of at the moment because it's such a part of my routine.
What do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
Just trying to make it through, keep putting out better and more creative product, keep advancing. After the PRIMARY project I'll be redoing the website for the next project I dive into. I've got some photo-based work I want to play around with. More clothes, more knick knacks. Whatever comes to mind you know. Working on a project with Nate but I'm not sure if that'll be tangible this year or the next, we'll have to see.
Are you currently focused exclusively on one-off pieces, or do you have larger concepts in mind as well?
Right now mainly one-off stuff as I progress and get a feel for what I'm doing, what I want to continue doing, etc. But the big ideas are always there, always being worked on, just behind the curtains for now.
Do you have any advice for visual artists working on their craft?
Do your thing! Have fun. I know that's like the most stereotypical thing to say, but have fun with it; it's all you can do you know. Love every second of it, even the ones that hurt. Get stoked on your friends' work, buy shit, make shit. Do exactly what you want to do exactly when you want to do it.
Any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
Thank you for the opportunity man! And thank you to whoever is reading this! Super stoked on what's to come, been feeling a lot of love this year. You just gotta trust the process.