Ritual Spotlight - Enchanting Stranger
If you've ever spent time in our brick and mortar location, you've surely noticed that among the fixtures of gothleisure apparel and imported fashion there are peppered unsettling, greyscale illustrations and prints that often feature mutated and faceless anthropoids directly out of some Lynchian nightmare. These are the work of Jon Garaizar, a.k.a. Enchanting Stranger, and his work is enough of a fixture at Ritual that we have essentially turned ourselves into his very own occult residency. I consider Jon a friend and have enjoyed engaging him in both ridiculous conversations and outlandish projects, such as begging him to put his now semi-famous 'Demon Dick' art on anything that will stay still long enough, including, but not limited to, greeting cards, tote bags, t-shirts, cropped tank tops, necklaces, pins, my car, stickers, our fitting room walls, and tattooed on my own person. He's thrown me a bone every now and again, and agreed to an interview out of the goodness of his creepy heart. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
How long has it been now that you've called Seattle home? Did your art or creative process change at all between the Bay Area and the PNW?
I've lived in here in Seattle for about 5-6 years. Moving here from Oakland was a..fairly big change? Big in someways and not really at all in others. As far as my process, I would say just the act of moving made me trim the fat in terms what was in my studio. Seattle also has such a strong small press community that it has definitely made me shift my focus to books, comics, and print.
A lot of your stuff, not to mince words, is creepy as fuck. Where is it coming from? Are there any other artists who heavily influenced you or does it all spring from your nightmares?
Plenty of of other artists - almost too many to mention! As far as contemporaries, Dewey Guyen, Brendan B. Larson, Brain Uhl, ( I almost feel like I should call them by their Instagram handles lol). Additional influences include comic artists O. Schrauwen, John TotLeben, Suehiro Maruo, and one of all time favs, Go Nagi. I would also include the films of Brian De Palma and Satoshi Kon...I could go on and on!
Right now some of my biggest influences are Jodorowsky's Incal universe, particularly the 'Meta Barron' stories, Nagi's 'DevilMan' manga, and Grant Morrison's 'The Filth'. As far as where a lot of my stuff comes from... I don't know if I'd say nightmares. I mean, every waking moment is a nightmare these days, huh? We live in a really confused, very pointlessly cruel period of time right now and It's easy to channel that sort of reckless, ugly spite into surreal horror. Living in a real life Philip K. Dick novel makes for good stuff.
You work in several different mediums, as I understand, and you've got a lot of different formats out there to showcase your work - pins, t-shirts, cards, zines, and my most favorite tarot deck to read on. What's your favorite thing you've done so far?
Aside from all my old lithographs and monotypes from collage, honestly the Gauean Tarot (Gauean means at night or tonight in Basque) deck has been really good to me. It took almost two years to get it done and I don't think I've done a project of that size, ever. I have another project in the works, that I'm almost mentally ready to dive into as a follow up to the deck, and that will likely take the the number one spot... if I ever complete it, ha!
Speaking of tarot and timeframes, I've heard from several other artists as well that full decks take an INCREDIBLE amount of time to gestate and produce. What did that look like for you? Were you a tarot reader before, or did you have to research all the cards?
Well, part of that two years was research. I am not actually a reader, it really started as a way for me to keep sane while working on graphic design day job stuff. Making sure it was an accessible deck that could actually function, and function well regardless of experience was really important to me. Shortly after starting in on the Major Arcana, I realized that sticking close to the Rider - Waite deck was the easiest way to do that, and also offered a base for the images. The second thing I realized was that the content of the images themselves is so important to the feeling of the cards and what we can divine from them. It's hard to even remember drawing them all at this point, though!
What sort of future projects/pieces are you planning that we can get excited about?
Well.... I'm working on stuff (hopefully) for a solo show, centered around conspiracy theories, as well as a comic about them. I just finished part one of a silent comic, and I have another little book of illustrations. That big project I mentioned earlier is a Goeita, so hopefully that sees the light of day soon in the future.
Your airbrushed work reminds me of H.R.Giger, and your Tarot characters look a bit like the Cenobites from Hellraiser. For fun, walk me through a cage match between Pinhead and Giger's Alien.
Man, oh man! Well, Pinhead has a whole squad, and that spinning wooden beam thing.... the magic chains... I gotta lean toward Pinhead winning in that match up! However, the Xenomorph has acid blood, and we all know how much the Cenobites love blood, so it could spell trouble for them. Overall, I think between the fishhook chains, the burning blood, double mouth, and both parties love of sadistic sexual violence would make it a pretty fun date night in Hell. But wouldn't the Xenomoprh have to solve the Lament Configuration for them to even meet??!! (Ed. note - the Xenomorph would definitely need to solve the Lament Configuration to meet the Cenobites, but considering that in 'Aliens' it was able to figure out the technical workings of an elevator, I feel this scenario is completely feasible and a very responsible, journalistic question.)
You can find a variety of Enchanting Stranger wares - including shirts, cards, and tarot - at Ritual year round. But if you wander in some evening to find us drinking wine with Jon for no good reason while discussing German sex clubs, well, you've been warned.