Evan Cohen's work has a charm and a stillness, using comics to tell stories often of figures reconnecting or philosophical ideas.
We spoke to his about his move out of New York to the quieter midwest, and how that new start affected his creativity. He shares tips for creatives wanting to up sticks and move to a new area, talks about new comics he’s working on, and his dreams for self publishing his own works. And of course, we spoke about his inspiration and ideas behind our latest limited edition label for Batch No.5.
This label for Batch No.5 is all about pushing through the creative block to make your best work. When you have those blocks, what do you do?
There's really no solution. It happens to everyone and it can be a pivotal moment to change things up or to remind yourself that this is part of the process. There is nothing wrong with seeing an idea through to the end, from every angle, revisiting an old idea, only to make it again in a new light. When the work exists just for you, nothing matters. Use that creative block as a time to find your way without judgement or critique.
Read all about the concept behind Evan's label here
What was the label design process like for you? Where do you start?
Most of what I do is digital and has a simple aesthetic, so pairing everything down for the label was important. Luckily the prompt for this design works well with a lot of themes I use in my art, especially the utility of hands and their actions.
The label shows the character's strength in holding this the hands back. In the animation you can see that there is actually a balance and tension happening, a push and push back between them, which I think is very fitting for the theme. Work is never easy, but small moments of victory will happen and it's enough to keep going.
Which Batch No.5 jacket will you be going for?
I think I will go for Navy Blue, I don't have a lot of nice jackets so I'm excited to wear this out, maybe with a pin and a flannel. It will definitely come in handy during the colder months here when I don't want to wear a bulkier winter jacket.
We love your comic ‘Quiet’. It’s about moving out of the busy East to the quieter Midwest, how did you find adjusting to a more peaceful lifestyle having been in a city, full of creative opportunities?
I've been on my own for a while now working as an illustrator and being able to live a healthier lifestyle in an anonymous city has done a lot for focusing on work and being productive. I have a house and a yard and a lot more space to be creative. People are definitely nicer out here, and cruising through farmland is really beautiful in the summer. More and more these days I think about how to take care of myself and the people who are important to me. I realize I have the freedom to think and act on these feelings and thankfully I have art to channel them into something tangible to share with everyone else. "Quiet" was an exploration into that, obviously in a more abstract allegorical sense.
In the UK it feels like more and more creatives are seeing opportunities to move out of cities in favour of a ‘balanced’ life. Would you say this is a movement that’s happening in the US too?
It really depends on the individual. My goal is to finally make a landing and find a "home". Pretty much every place I've lived hasn't felt permanent, it's all temporary and are just steps to hopefully feeling settled. I know I prefer to be working in a quieter, more secluded setting. It makes sense to me for productivity and total immersion. I get why people share similar feelings, and I also see why that seems isolating and scary. It's just a balance, finding a healthy work/life relationship. Keep moving until it feels right.
What tips would you have for a creative moving to a new area?
Are you interested in becoming part of the creative community? If so, knock on doors, hand out business cards, wear your art around town, put up stickers and newspapers and flyers, hustle your wares into stores and shops, go out to bars and restaurants and coffee shops and meet people and engage with them, become familiar, find your local spots, reach out to people in your field, attend talks and shows and galleries.
But also remember, you can be creative anywhere. Your location doesn't need to define you. Become connected, find what you are looking for, but also be independent and hustle on your own terms.
Do you have any personal projects going on that we should know about?
I'm always working on a few comics, I have a new comic coming out soon called "Healing" that started as an accidental drawing I made last fall and ended up becoming a lifeline for me throughout this year. It's definitely my most personal comic I've made, and a culmination of a lot of different ideas I have been thinking about for years now. I have some shirts and prints to go along with the release of the book as well.
I've also been experimenting with lenticular printing, taking my animations and bringing them into the real world. I love to work digitally and see my work passed around online, but having the animation in your hands is something very powerful. I'm looking forward to pushing the boundaries of what's possible with this process.
You can stay updated at www.evanmcohen.com/subscribe.
Is there a project you've always wanted to do, but no one has ever commissioned you to do it?
I self publish most of my own work and while I advocate for most artists to try that route, I would like to work with a bigger publisher on a larger edition of my books. Sometimes there are limits to how much you can do on your own and having outside help creates more time for you to make art, which is the ultimate goal. It's just about finding the right working relationship.
If you like what you've seen, check out more of Evan's work here.