My beautiful girlfriend bought me a beautiful coffee machine for Christmas this year, and ever since I’ve been brewing up fresh pot after fresh pot. The whole thing is really good. I’m so happy with it (I hope she reads this). Until very recently, only the shiniest and most handsome beans from Suspension went in there. Until very recently, I lived my life that way.
This week has been different. This week I have been busy. Married at First Sight has been on TV and I simply haven’t had the time to go for my normal bean run. I’ve settled for the economy version – Café Aurora Blend 34 from Coles, known to most as the servo slop mudwater dirt. I now brew up a big steaming sack of it each morning instead, sling it over my shoulder and crawl into my day job. Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but I actually don’t really mind it. It’s not that bad.
Now, that whole lead-up was to remind me to write this intro for this article. The other thing I don’t really mind is Monster Children magazine. There aren’t many others out there who know about it – Andy Holmes would be angry if I didn’t mention him here. One eve before Christmas I had a long-winded conversation with Angus Bowen (a.k.a. Aangus Khan) about Monster Children, and we both have that thing with it. We don’t really mind it. There it is.
It’s now nearly Valentine’s Day and I’m meeting up with Angus to talk about Monster Children, graphic design, his new Mirage collab tee artwork and other stuff we don’t really mind.
So tomorrow is Valentine's Day...
Yeah – I did notice that after I suggested meeting up on Wednesday. Whoops [laughs].
That's cute that you wanted to hang out with me.
I know! I realised after.
Ah. Anyway, I got some questions for you.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished up the Vacations world tour stuff. The other project is happening as the No-Fi art team with Hannah Dunn, Liz Pike and Krystyan Nowak – we're doing an exhibition as part of a festival called Darby Street Live, going down in Darby Street on the 24th of March. We're all doing about four pieces, each of which will be around Abicus during No-Fi's part of the festival. I'm really excited for it.
Are you going to do big A2 prints or something?
I think they’re all big sheets of Arches paper cut in half, so we're doing four of those each. It'll be really cool as we all have such different styles, but it's all been connected by our experiences and memories of growing up in Newcastle.
So Khan is the creative name you go under – why?
Well, it started when I was 11. My friend called me Wangus Khan, as in Genghis, but then also wang at the same time. It was heaps funny. I used it as my PlayStation login, my email all throughout high school and everything, but it became just Khan when I was running an art Tumblr. Wangus Khan isn't very arty, but Khan kind of is – so it became a thing.
So you hung out on Tumblr a lot. Is that where your design interest started?
I did art all through high school and I’ve always had this graphic drawing style. In Year 12 when I was thinking about what to do at uni, I wanted to become a fine arts teacher or go to study painting. My sister told me pretty bluntly that I wasn’t really made up to be a teacher, but a friend of hers did this graphic design thing. I was pretty bad at it at first because I just wanted to do art, but yeah. You learn pretty quickly that it's not art.
Totally. I think I like it. It's good when you can mesh art and design together though.
Yeah. I feel like using text makes it pretty different to art.
Was Monster Children big for you?
I think Monster Children is what every 18–19-year-old designer wants to be.
Definitely! The paper is really nice.
Everything is very polished. I think being print is really important to me as well.
What is it about print?
The tactile nature of it – you can actually hold it. It costs money and somebody has made it.
Is that what you wanted to do with Absolutely Hideous?
Absolutely. At the same time, I'm not really interested in websites and online-only things; I'd rather hold something.
That's the thing about doing design for a music release – it usually only ends up being on a screen. It always gets me – when I go to design a tour poster or something, I always start off with a canvas that's A3 for print, but then down the line it doesn't work with the squares on Instagram.
Yeah. I’ve done that a few times too. I think Instagram is where it all ends up.
And do you have another zine in the works?
Yeah – it’s all in the pipeline.
Is it more of a passion for you?
Definitely. I lose money every time.
That's the negative thing – it's expensive to print.
Especially because I love full colour.
And nice paper.
Yep. I feel like if I'm doing an art zine with beautiful works in it, it would look kind of silly if it was all just black and white.
How would you describe your design process when you're working with a band? Do you usually have a bit of an idea about content for a poster?
I'm one of those people who waits for the idea to come to me. I kind of have to bounce ideas around to spark that and ignite the process. Patience is really important in getting the work done. Talking to artists or musicians about what's exactly in their head and trying to get that onto paper can be difficult. If you try to do what they’re describing, I’ve found it doesn’t stick. If you give them something that's a bit different, you can surprise them. I think you want them to say, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t think of that’.
Do you normally start out on screen?
I should start on paper, but yeah, it is usually started on screen. I like the digital colouring – I've used it for a few bands.
Do you know what you're going to do for the Newcastle Mirage collab shirt?
I do! I've already drawn it. I do a lot of plants in my drawings, so I thought I'd do a native. I did a banksia. I was looking at the leaves – I really like them, but it was a challenge drawing the cones. They're a bitch.
You can check out Angus’ mad skills at aanguskhan.com or on Insta @aanguskhan.