To my unfocused eyes and deranged mind, this flyer wasn't just a paper advertisement for some inevitably awesome show. At the time, it looked like the symbological key to a psychedelic netherworld. Those three goth-y faces, the double snakes, and that triangular gloam getting sucked into a squiggly vortex ... It all spoke of satan, poison snacks, and fuzz tone.
Long story short: I locked myself in a dark closet with eight black candles, a Ouija board, and a ceremonial steak knife. The plan was raising the dead, making friends, then partying with them. But instead I fell asleep.
When I woke up a few hours later, I felt dumb. So I texted Johnny Saraiva, the conjurer of this design and lead singer for Lil Daggers
, to see whether there was any reality to my irrational interpretation of his art.
New Times: Are there secret symbols and subliminal messages hidden in the supertextured surface of this thing?
Johnny Saraiva: There are not. If there were though, I don't believe I'd reveal them.
No, probably not.
I do enjoy that sort of thing. Inside jokes especially.
In any case, I think my mind's just reading smudges and artifacts as something more meaningful.
It's probably the most valuable evolutionary advantage we have ... Giving things meanings.
Is there a tight concept behind this flyer design? Or are we just looking into a chaotic mind?
Most of the time, the end product is not even close to what I intend to make when I start. And in all honesty, I can't even remember what the original concept was. I start putting things together, keeping what I like and discarding what I don't, till I feel I have something interesting. That process pretty much applies to all my creative projects.
Who are these three face-painted freaks? They all look vaguely familiar.
Well, the man on each side is the same individual. It's a mirrored image of a young Elvis Presley. The woman in the middle is a young Celia Cruz. The King of Rock 'n' Roll and the Queen of Salsa.
Did you go to art school?
Nah, fuck art school. The way I see it, art school is nothing more than another financial institution out for a profit. There's nothing you learn there that you can't learn on your own.
So do you make much art outside of Lil Daggers promo materials? Like prints, photos, zines?
I used to be a lot more dedicated to that sort of thing. I have worked with photography, shot a lot of bands in the hardcore and punk scene between 2001 and 2004. I worked on a few zines throughout the years. And I've done a lot of design work for a lot of bands, including a few of my own.
What I was really into was street art, as much as I hate the term. I did a lot of stencils and wheat paste.
And what made you lose interest in that stuff?
I wouldn't say I lost interest, but lost the amount of free time necessary. And I guess I'm not as bold and brave as I was. The justice system isn't as lenient toward 26-year-old vandals, compared to some high school punk.
Did you ever get busted for painting and pasting in the streets?
Lucky, I have not. Plenty of close calls. Thank goodness for dark alleyways.
A dark alley can be a safe zone.