Hailing from small towns in Ohio, Mark McDevitt & Robert Lee bonded over their common love of music & art. In 1998 they formed the multi award winning design company 'Methane Studios', since then this amazing tag-team has been creating a bounty of unique & beautiful poster artwork.
Methane Studios has been established for over a decade. How did it all start? What's your origin story.
I suppose it started when we met in college in a way. Mark was introduced to printmaking in college (CCAD) & we both shared a love of music and art. Methane as a business began with Mark screen printing posters for my (Robert) band "KIng Lear Jet." After creating some posters we met a local club owner, Janet Ridgeway. Janet was getting ready to open a venue in Atlanta that would cater to Indie rock. She Was looking for screen printed posters for the shows there. A perfect match. We created posters for her club for 5 years until the clubs closing.
Your design & artwork seem to compliment each other so well, explain the advantages of working in a partnership and how it has helped your longevity in the poster game.
Both of us are music and art fans and we are constantly turning each other onto new music and design. We push each other to explore design and illustration. Four eyes are better than two.
Methane have an enormous catalog of poster art, how do you keep inspired & generate so many new ideas week to week & year to year?
It is a challenge for sure and we don't always succeed but we keep fresh by mixing things up with our design and illustration solutions. We have a few styles so we don't get bored. We like to adapt the style to the band instead of forcing the band to fit the style. This keeps things fresh.
What movies/music/artists inspire you?
We are inspired by all things pop culture. We might be watching Escape from New York one night and watching The Royal Tenenbaums the next. We might be listening to Dave Brubeck one day and The Black Keys the next. Variety is the key to our madness.
Your designs have a fantastic tactile look to them, looking far more traditional than a lot of digital art today. How much time is spent between pencil & computer? And has this been a conscious decision to move away from a more 'computerized' look?
We went to College before desktop publishing existed so we learned things in a traditional manner. We love to draw and the computer has become a tool as a pencil would. We don't use the computer to get a "computer" aesthetic. Although our work ends up on the computer it usually starts with sketching on a pad of paper. We often ink our illustrations and scan into the computer. The computer has been a great tool. I'm not sure if it's conscious that our work is so tactile or just how we naturally approach design and illustration.
Do you approach a movie poster differently to a gig poster? If so what are the major differences & challenges?
The two are similar in the fact that they both advertise an event. The main difference would be one depicts the vibe of the music and the other the story told in the movie. We tend to be narrative either way. It's all about telling a story and to give the viewer a hint of what the event is about.
Methane is given the job of creating a movie poster for Easy Rider/Taxi driver what is the process? How do you go about creating the artwork?
We are huge fans of these movies. They are very iconic so it can be a dangerous road if you become too cliche and predictable. The biggest challenge is to retain the iconic feel of the movie but to do so in a fresh or at least less predictable manner.
You guys have a great way of really nailing the theme and overall feel of a movie or an idea in a single image on a poster. Explain the difficulty in doing that or is it something that comes easily?
Since we normally design for screen print we have become accustom to utilizing a limited color pallet. This forces us to think directly and simply. To convey as much as we can without overwhelming the viewer. Our goal is always to cause intrigue without giving it all away. Challenging the viewer with imagery. We create movie posters for movies that are already well known so it is very important not to create predictable designs. Always a challenge!
You have created posters for two movies that changed the cinematic
landscape at their respective times - the seminal counterculture road movie Easy Rider (1969) & the
powerful dark noir claustrophobia of Taxi Driver (1976) what do these films mean to Methane?
We are both children of the 60's and 70's . The music and movies of those times helped form us into the artist that we are. Sex , drugs, rock and roll, and Deniro! Both these movies were very original with challenging subject matter. They were done with no apologies. We try to infuse a little of the same attitude in a lot of our work. Sometimes successful and sometimes not but we are always driven by opportunity to create iconic and memorable poser designs. I was able to draw a pot leaf ,a naked girl and a motorcycle in the same poster-Awesome!