January 12, 2019

Q & A with Sean Bernhardt aka Space Bat Killer, artist

Space Bat Studio, NJ

Sean Bernhardt - aka Space Bat Killer - is an artist born and raised in New Jersey. He currently resides in Monmouth County where he creates drawings and collages. He's the mastermind behind Evil Paradise and has done work for Billabong, Reef, Globe, Dark Seas, Loser Machine, and Imperial Motion, among others. Find him online: seanbernhardt.comIG: @space_bat_killer & @evilparadise


GB: Sean, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Can you share a bit about yourself? Any background info that's NOT in the bio? 

SB: I've been freelancing for a while now, since 2012 or so. That's when I really got into the drawings you see, but back then mostly just black and white drawings for shirt graphics. I was living in Nicaragua for a few months during winter around that time and was contacted by Vissla and a surf shop in Japan as well to make some art. Before the art came about I worked retail for a few years, sitting at the register losing my mind. I never wanted to be at a job, at all. Same with school and homework. As a grom, I worked in a pizza joint and also washed dishes for a few years. I am a super clean freak so I don't mind doing that type of stuff at all. Another fun fact is I am a huge animal lover, cats are the best!

GB: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? 

SB: I kind of always just doodled on shit like an average kid. But I realize, and was sort of told around 8th grade or so, that I was always the top artist in my class. I always loved being in the art room. In high school, I stepped up my game and worked super hard being in AP art and trying to get into colleges. I never ended up going away at all or anything, but I experimented so often and made so much art / sold a ton of stuff. The motivation was through the roof back then. People would always be asking me to go to parties and I would always opt out to create. I don't know, winter just sucks here in terms of having the motivation to do much. I always made art. It just comes naturally out of my head and inspiration always flows pretty decently. I went through some dark times and it helped morph me.

GB: As a fellow New Jerseyian, do you find it inspiring your work at all? Care to share any stories that some of our local squad might eNJoy? 

SB: For me, it's hard to say, but as of lately I am trying to relate more to our coast and produce more NJ style works. Winter surf always inspires me because it's always going off with nobody around. I am not a huge people person, so I fucking love it. Pisces over here - I like to keep to myself at all times. I don't think I have any epic stories, but I think I might hold the record for most broken surfboard fins on Squan beach. Every quad set up I put in I snap a fin off. I am that one guy that just sits on the jetty at all times and rides past the rocks and somehow manages to make almost every wave... haha

GB: On top of being a prolific artist, you maintain a growing company, Evil Paradise. How does that inspire your own art? What impacts does that have on your work?  

SB: So, to me, EP was just a doodle and I ended up producing some shirts, putting 'em locally in a few shops when I was working retail. I never wanted it to be anything at all. I just ended up choosing to make more and the demand was higher so I kept pushing. It revolves around just having fun, not giving a shit about true name brands and being a surfer/skater and artist. I love the Dark Beach, creepy vibes, vintage '70s style images in old mags, skulls, nude babes. All that stuff combined, drawings and collage, with a more toned-down playful vibe is what you get from me. It's all about not giving a fuck. It's pretty easy for me to choose graphics to put onto tees or hoodies and stuff. I kind of just have whatever drawn up already (I'm sitting on shit-loads of art at all times) in stacks at my space. Then just jam a rad font/wording combo and figure out placement/sizing, send it to my printer. It's natural and easy. I don't really know where I am heading with it, I still consider it to be just for fun and to get people stoked on some different/limited goods.

GB: What's your creative process like? Do you have any takeaway routines or strategies?  

SB: I don't really have much of a process, other than just crank some tunes and chill for a bit, get my mind right and dive in. I never really think of the outcome, it just happens. I have a good eye for what I do and I guess that's why companies pay me to make stuff for them. I either go super simple or just go wild on stuff. It's fun to get lost when cutting up mags and collaging. All my stuff is handmade paper collages, sharpie drawings, etc. Nothing is really made on my laptop, at all. Gotta pay to play? Well, not really, I buy materials once a year, I'm a cheap bastard...

GB: Which artists have had the most profound influences on your work?  

SB: Sounds corny to me, maybe to you as well, but Shephard Fairey with Obey... and also, Insight clothing, when they existed. That's all I used to want to buy in surf shops. That raw, hand-done goodness. Chopped-up images and spray-paint. I was super into that kind of stuff and used to mess around back during high-school / early community college days. I love street art and stickers. I put stickers on everything I own. I had one of their tank tops as well and wore it from age 18-25 I'm pretty sure. Thing was rad.

GB: What does "success" mean to you? 

SB: Being happy with who you are and what you do!

GB: If you could use one word or phrase to describe your art's message, what would it be and why? 

SB: Weirdo - I have such a random mix of work haha. Maybe: go dance with the skullz in the graveyard, buy a surfboard / kill your surfboard, sk8 forever, freak out from anxiety, hmm endless possibilities.

GB: What's next for Sean Bernhardt? Got any upcoming projects we can keep an eye out for?

SB: Been jamming on a bunch of stuff with Dark Seas and happy to be working with such a rad company (who has pretty much the same dark beach visions as I do). Expect to see more goodness from me next year, I think things are only getting better for sure. I really just want to surf and skate though. Trying to get out more and work less.

December 31, 2018

Q & A with Diamaya Dawn, writer, poet, and editor

Diamaya Dawn is a writer, poet and the editor-in-chief of Lit Up, The Land of Little Tales. A native Athenian, she can usually be found at the shores of warm coasts, dancing under the moonlight and the rain, or otherwise plotting fictional worlds, pouring her heart into poetry, and editing manuscripts of extraordinary writers. Find her online: diamayadawn.com / Twitter: @DiAmaya_Dawn / FB: Diamaya.Dawn / Medium: @DiAmaya_Dawn / IG: @diamaya.dawn


GB: Diamaya, thank you for taking time to talk. My first question is usually: can you share a bit about yourself? 

DD: Hi there, thank you for having me. Sure. I’m Greek, parents from the Peloponnese and Crete but I was born and raised near Athens. I left home quite young to pursue my thing which at the time was figuring out what I really wanted to do. That resulted in a lot of traveling, trying and succeeding, trying and failing. I’ve worked in several fields for several years, I’ve studied different things. Yet, at last, I decided to make my hobby my profession and so I pursued literature which had always been my anchor throughout my life.

I speak Greek, English, French, a tiny bit of Spanish, and I make some laughable efforts in learning Japanese. I live in Lyon, France and I work as an English language instructor and part-time fiction editor.

Life goal? A small house somewhere quiet, near a beach — nonnegotiable — focused on writing and editing and all things literary. That’s it, happy Diamaya.

GB: On top of being an avid reader and writer, you maintain a growing publication on Medium, Lit Up. How does that inspire your writing? What impacts does that have on your work?

DD: Lit Up has been a blessing for the most part. There’s just something so very special about this community that has given me incredible strength since the very beginning. There are days in my writing life when I feel really demotivated. I think that happens to most creatives. I feel down and uninspired but then the submissions keep coming, people tag me in posts, others email me… I can’t deny this is often heartwarming and motivating. I read so many brilliant writers, and sometimes a tiny poem or a single thought provoked by some writer’s words to me and I’m back on my feet.

Of course, Lit Up has also been really time-consuming. There are days I feel like I’m not going to make it even though I have an excellent team around me, and we are pretty well organised. But then I simply look at all the love and support we receive and I just know, the positive emotional outcome of Lit Up could never be replaced for me.

GB: Do you have a preference for style of writing? Like poetry over prose or fiction over nonfiction? What about for the things you read?

DD: I love literary fiction and poetry. That’s my weak spot. But I read anything I find interesting.

Now, as for what I write, I think anyone who’s ever read me knows that I tend to get stuck with romance. I don’t choose to do that, however, and I’d like to try new things. If I’m inspired by something different than I’m used to writing, I’m not scared to give it a try. For example, a while back, JennL wanted a tale for her birthday. So I wrote something for her on the spot because she’s irresistible and her prompt was simply awesome! You can read it here.

Same way I was inspired by another prompt on the awesome 13 Days pub and wrote this: "Shine for Me."

It just happens I most often get intrigued by some philosophical reads that create stories in my head. Philosophy and psychology have been the most interesting subjects for me to read and, since I’m a firm believer that emotions reveal most of our humanity, I can’t help the romance.

GB: What’s your creative process like? Any obstacles you’ve hit recently?

DD: Creative process? Haha. Who has time to follow a creative process? If there’s anyone, I’m officially jealous. Usually, something inspires a thought. I think about it for a while only to understand what exactly I’m thinking. When I have the chance to have a few minutes to myself I grab a pen and a paper and write. That’s it. Usually, both my short prose (my prosetry as my dear friend Stephen M. Tomic calls it) and poetry take me a few hours to complete. My longer reads take, of course, more time but I rarely have time to write longer works these days.

My editing process is when I transcribe them. That means, I edit my prose or check my meter in poetry the moment I type them on the pc. Sometimes I get help from friends and writing partners when I’m not very confident of what I’ve written. Pat Link and Stephen M. Tomic often help me, and I admit, I do not feel comfortable publishing before my most hard-to-satisfy critic flashes the green button. I’m talking, of course, about A Maguire. What a brilliant human being.

My usual obstacle is: being too emotional or too emotionally drained. The first case usually happens when I overthink a tale and the story becomes real, and I get too attached to the characters. The second when I have finished writing one that really got to me. In both cases, I stop and focus on something else for a while, then return when I feel ready.

GB: What does “success” mean to you?

DD: It means getting to do what you love without feeling guilty about it.

GB: Who and what is on your MUST-READ list?

DD: That’s the most difficult question. I tend to have a favourite read from each genre I love, and from each language I read. It is very difficult for me to choose.

Now, if I have no choice… Let’s go safe with my absolute heart-holders: how about Murakami for prose, and Neruda for poetry?

GB: Is there any advice you have for someone looking to launch a publication or journal?

DD: Yes! Please, organise your schedule, surround yourselves with people you love to work with, and remember that maintaining a publication is time-consuming (well, if you do what you’re supposed to do anyway). So make sure to manage your time appropriately to allow some time for your personal needs and enough time to rest BEFORE YOU HURT YOURSELF. I repeat: BEFORE you hurt yourself.


GB: If you could use one word or phrase to describe your message and what you’re trying to give to the world, what would it be and why?

DD: Live, love, create.

Because we forget to live, how stupid is that? It’s literally like we take life for granted. Well, it is not and we better make something out of it. I’m tired of seeing people focusing on things “they should do” and not on things “they’d love to do." Who’s there to please if not your soul?

Love because, well, there’s no other driving force. Love for ourselves, what we do, others…love something or someone and let it define you. What you love is what you are, and how best to live if not with and for love?

Create because that’s what we do. We create things, ideas, relationships. We create to live better, to love better, to make the world a better place for us and our successors.

GB: What’s next for Diamaya Dawn? Got any upcoming projects we can look out for?

DD: Ah, I’m a dreamer, you know. So many things in the making but let’s keep it short: The official Lit Up magazine, our official publishing house, our upcoming anthologies (one of which will be published very soon and I'm SO excited for!), my personal short story and poetry collections, and a lot more that you’ll hear about if you stay tuned.