Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview with Brian C. Williams and Stephanie Hamlin

Tin Universe #17 And The Covers Of The Tin Universe

     To start things I just wanted to say these questions where asked to me and also directed to the photographer/model through me by email, DM, and private messages after I started releasing ads for the cover. I also want to say if anyone has any other questions we would be glade to try and answer as many as possible in the comments. But no promises. Schedules and such :)

Question: First Brian, could you tell me a little about the thinking behind the covers for the main Tin Universe Monthly issues?

Brian: When I decided to prelaunch the monthly series one of my personal rules for doing it was I needed to make the covers more fulfilling for the viewer and myself. I’ve always loved fake propaganda stuff for movies and books so I researched a lot of real propaganda posters, ads, and flyers as well as just paying attention to stupid mouthing off on the news.With there being a very political slant to the Tin Universe stories as events effect the world and world events effect the stories I thought propaganda cover would be a good theme for this year. I also think it works good to foster more creative ads in the fact that the ads for each release are posters posted at different places to hint even further at the political climate of the world of the stories. I created almost all of the covers over a four day period last year, the exception being the cover for Tin Universe Monthly #17. I had a cover and created this one as an alternate cover a few months ago getting the chance to work with a friend but loved it so much I trashed the other one.

Question: With recent violence did you ever think about using a different cover for Tin Universe Monthly #17 or using this cover for another issue since the covers aren’t directly connected to the story inside?

Brian: No. If I ever believed this message was needed then I would be doing a disservice by delaying it. I would ask when aren’t women being told by some rich fucking white guy what’s best for their lives? What day would be best so these men aren’t made uncomfortable?

Question: You have to admit, it could be triggering?

Brian: I’m not dismissing it might make people uncomfortable. A friend told me the other day she thinks “triggering” is now being used to censor things that need to be talked about like violence against women, breast cancer, and war crimes. I’ve seen that some but personally I look at it like watching some documentaries. I’ve been shook pretty hard by some documentaries that brought back up some fucked up stuff that happen to me but I honestly, I ask tagging things triggering, isn’t that shielding things you want to be exposed? I read the book Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers and there is a scene in that book that triggered a memory I had from high school and I was basically crying for days because it. I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack when originally reading that scene. It shook me so hard my nerves were shot and I couldn’t focus on anything, including breathing, but personally I would never want any kind of label on that to “protect” me.

Question: Will the propaganda covers for Tin Universe Monthly continue past this year?

Brian: I don’t even know if the series will continue or not. Around Oct. I will look at download stats, response, and what my life is like at the time to see if it will continue. I do want to say I’ve never before had this much fun writing and creating in my whole life. But as to the covers, right now my thinking is for each year to have its own theme. I have some ideas about next year’s theme but its all pretty much up in the air.

Question: Stephanie, if people are here they probably know a little about Brian. Do you want to tell us a little about yourself and how you got into modeling and photography?

Stephanie: Modeling and photography are fairly new hobbies for me. Several years ago, a friend of mine who is a photographer, approached me about doing a few head shots. I thought I was savvy enough to take very glamorous, professional photos. They came out well but I needed a lot of prompting. I enjoy it because most people assume its not really a skill- you look at the camera and the photo happens. Completely opposite. It requires lots of talent on both ends of the lens.

Question: How did you two end up working together on this cover?

Stephanie: Brian and I corresponded months ago about the cover. He was interested in some photos I had taken of myself and I was thrilled! He's always been a good friend so it wasn't even a question.

Question: I’ll ask this of both of you starting with Stephanie. I’ve seen a couple people comment that this cover glorifies violence against women, what do you think about that notion?

Stephanie: Social visibility of issues such as domestic violence are integral to eliminating it. I want to believe that our society has a propensity towards less domestic abuse but the truth is social tolerance of these issues is a parallel disease. Domestic violence and violence against women is an "iceberg phenomenon" - what we see is only the tip and the majority lies below the water line.

Brian: I think sometimes we fall into a trap that is a whitewashing redirection of an issue under the trip of it being too harsh to shine a light on. Don’t you just find it questioning that torture porn movies aren’t glorifying violence against women but if a movie or a piece of art that tackles the issue in a real way IT’S TOO MUCH TO HANDLE. That redirection is done with forethought and planning.

Question: With violence against women so much in the media’s attention right now, where do you think art exists in the fight to keep this subject burning in people’s minds?

Brian: Art is a weapon. People hate when I say that but it is and should be used as such. The media is paying attention now because it’s trending and that’s the sum and total of how much the mainstream media truly cares about the societal approval of women being constant targets of violence. If CNN really cared about tackling this issue they wouldn’t be so much of the problem. It would be a focus every day for them, but now it’s just a blip, but those who do really care and this must include artists must listen to the voices speaking, learn, and use their own voices to make a stand. Art as a pill works wonders, art as a blunt weapon wakes people up.

Stephanie: Art is valuable because its an important medium to everyone in some way. The goal is to inform and sensitize the public to the seriousness of violence towards women and in family situations, promote knowledge and understanding, and eliminate the norms that perpetuate violence in our society. Its terrifying to the degree we allow this to happen to women and blame them for it later.

Question: Some would say art and entertainment is part of the problem?

Brian: It is and that’s why it should also be part of the fight to end this mindset. It’s like when people say men are part of the problem. Yes. We are the major part of the problem and that’s why we need to first shut the fuck up, second listen and learn, and then third be a part of fight to change things.

Stephanie: Absolutely. Its fighting fire with fire. Our culture is inherently sexist and in order to reverse that; men can be feminists but its difficult work. They're so afraid of being emasculated by the word so they say " human rights" instead. Sorry guys, we can just say "Let's talk about making things better for the human race" when women are the ones losing their rights. It has to be about women.

Question: Do you think there is going too far when it comes to subject matter like this on the cover?

Brian: Yes but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tackle the subject matter. When did artists get to be such cowards? You might make a mistake? You might get yelled at? You might end up being wrong? Well, ok, I guess you should just sit on your hands then? That’s why nothing gets done in the world, people use the excuse of but, but, but. I’m sorry but if you’re not tackling diversity or violence against women in you art because you might make mistakes then your real fear is you might have to rethink things and learn something and look at the world in a different way.

Stephanie: I interviewed for a job once and a phrase the hiring manager used has resonated with me: "Feelings are okay, actions are not." So fuck it. The topic is difficult to digest so the artists shouldn't be all daisies and ponies and glittery hearts when addressing it?

Question: Do you think there’s a difference from a woman doing this type of art and a man?

Brian: Yea, that’s kind of… well, should go without saying. It goes back to the whole educating thing. When you tackle any subject matter you educate yourself but your education continues also after the art is done. Sometimes intent fails so be open to seeing that. Be open to listening. If you aren’t open to further education then you are truly only doing it for shock reasons.

Stephanie: Some Nancy Grace will always be around to criticize it though. I think educating is key. This is where societies have traditionally failed in this arena.

Question: Should we expect more covers like this in the future?

Brian: The propaganda covers will continue until the end of the year. As I’ve said I think this cover is my favorite. It has a lot to do with working with a talented friend but also because it was just a good pairing of a really good in your face photo that inspired what I put with the image.

Question: Any projects we should be looking for upcoming from either of you?

Brian: I’m just one delusion of grandeur after the other.

Stephanie: That's why my hair is so big. Its full of secrets.

     I want to end by saying thanks to everyone who had concerns and expressed them through questions to me and Stephanie. Also a big thanks to Stephanie for taking part in this project and also being a ear there when I need one for anything artistic or personal.

     Introducing The Grandfather Pipes Of Odin in a story with blood all over it as you are shown a very dark side of the Tin Universe. "In many circles trying to do anything about them would be a poking of a bees nest they would rather not get involved with."


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