Circus Fire Design – Bringing Home the Wolf
Born of a mule and a mermaid, Circus Fire Designs is radiating stubbornly sexy art from Portland. This band of gypsies has been screening some of the raddest designs in the North, and has recently entered the world of short film. They have also, coincidentally, been commissioned by Surfinginjeans to create our first ever non-amateur design, which we will screen religiously onto articles of clothing and paper bags. We thought we would have a cordial interview one of the founders and hear about their history, while posting some of the delicious items in their collection.
FYI in case you need a scary wolf poster to hang over your bed, or a bowl of pasta eyeballs for your dining room, they’re the ones to talk to, so read on.
The company started in 2008 in Portland. There are many guest artists, but the primary group is Karl Rapfogel, Jeff Pfeil, and Aya Morton. Jeff went to Tisch Film School (NYU), but right after college apprenticed to be a tattoo artist. He is currently also working at a shop called Art Work Rebels (mucho talented). Aya studied illustration at the Art Center in Pasadena (frustratingly prestigious art school) and is also currently illustrating a graphic novel to be released worldwide this year at Comicon. Karl enjoys physical objects, studied Printmaking at NYU, and is the group’s “jack of all trades”.
What’s the purpose of Circusfire and the underlying theme of the work?
We consider ourselves an artists collective for hire. None of us ever wanted to go into the world of corporate art, yet we don’t want our art to be too pretentious or inaccessible. Creating a collective among ourselves seemed to be the best of both worlds. We don’t have a specific theme that runs through our art per se. We hand draw and print every piece we make (except for the videos of course). In the age of the computer many designers/illustrators lean a bit too heavily on their digital tools. Not us!
What do you wear while creating / screening?
Mostly cammo, if anything.
Who is the most famous person you’ve done a design for?
We are currently creating posters for Anthology Film Archive in New York City. One of the posters we are making is for a Buster Keaton movie called The General. Buster wrote, directed, starred in and released all of his own movies. That poster is for him.
What is the most offensive design you’ve done?
Motorpenis. Actual band.
How do you make the designs? photoshop? by hand? do you screen them in the end, print them?
We hand draw and stencil each poster and then screen print them by hand. Its a labor of love. We do LOTS of research too…
Has anyone commissioned you for a job and then gotten pissed at the final product?
Whats the most emotional someone’s gotten about one of your designs? has anyone cried?
No one has ever cried, but Jeff’s parents were a bit off put by Mororpenis.
Whats the best screen you’ve ever made?
The wolf. Duh.
*Disclaimer: this is a false interview question; I just like The Wolf
Where can people get Circusfire art?
We do very limited runs of our posters and then have events where bands play and we sell the prints, so many of them are sold out. We display most of our posters on our website. They’re $50 a piece (if available)
Do you do custom designs?
Yes. We relish the opportunity to work with enthusiastic clients and help them realize their vision. We specialize in promotional materials, packaging, t-shirt design and pretty much anything we can screen print onto.
Would you screen the wolf onto a pair of jeans and then fly a kite in a park with no shirt on?
Absolutely. Actually Jeff will do this.