FAQ

Simple Questions

WILL YOU PRINT MY POSTER?
Perhaps! If the stars align and your print needs line up with our abilities we might just be able to make that happen.

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU SHIP YOUR POSTERS?
We typically ship within 2 days of receiving any order. All orders are sent via USPS Priority and generally arrive domestically in 3-4 days, although we do know that those in closer geographic proximity to Minneapolis can receive their orders in 1-2 days. Print orders are rolled in craft paper and shipped in a sturdy 3″ diameter cardboard tube to keep the poster protected and not rolled too tightly.

HOW DO I DO A “LOCAL PICK-UP”?
If you have ordered a print online and set shipping as ‘local pick-up’, you can pick-up your poster from our Snelling Avenue studio. Our standard studio hours are listed below in the next answer.

CAN I BUY PRINTS AT YOUR STUDIO?
Yes! The storefront section of our studio is generally open Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 5pm. Because we are not a traditional storefront it is a good idea to email us or give us a call us at 612.339.3345 to confirm we’re around before traveling 3000 miles to purchase a poster.

CAN I TOUR YOUR STUDIO?
Yes, we do offer tours at the studio, but please contact us and make an appointment to do so. An offer of beer also greases the skids as well.

ARE YOU HIRING?
Sadly, no. We like to keep it small.

DO YOU OFFER INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS?
No. They are silly. There is no need for you to dress up and play pretend with us just to find out how the industry works. We can tell you, our industry doesn’t work like that. If you have specific questions for us, just set up a time for a phone call or a quick stop by the studio. If you would like a portfolio review, please request that specifically.

DO YOU OFFER INTERNSHIPS?
Yes! We do from time to time offer internships, typically in bite-size, semester-length commitments. They primarily involve print assistance and order fulfillment, but the responsibility is intentionally open-ended enough that a proactive intern can really get anything they want out of their time. Anyway, drop us a line with a link or attached portfolio and a letter of intent.

WHAT KIND OF PAPER AND INK DO YOU USE?
We love to support Michigan’s best family-owned (and last independently owner American) paper company, French Paper. They are awesome, and their paper is awesome. 100 LB cover of anything they make typically does the trick. In regard to ink, we primarily print with Speedball water-based acrylic screenprinting inks, although their black dries kind of “scuffy.” We might recommend Union or Jacquard for your black ink. Or maybe just go print with some house paint.

WHICH SONG BEST REPRESENTS AESTHETIC APPARATUS?
“We Built This City” By Starship

Complex Questions

HOW DID AESTHETIC APPARATUS BEGIN?
Aesthetic Apparatus is a direct result of our shared interests and friendship. Having met as new designers at the Madison, Wisconsin-based studio Planet Design Company (now Planet Propaganda), we immediately forged a relationship based upon a shared love of music, design, art, and off-color jokes about Ghostbusters (long story, ask us another time.) Our previous educational experience came at a time when digital design was in its infancy, so we both shared an educational background that, along with all the new digital technologies, included a fair share of hand-production such as marker comps, specifying type, and how to operate a stat camera. We didn’t necessarily yearn to work a stat camera again, but we did miss how contemporary graphic design depended less and less on the role of hand-craft and hand-production. So, in the late ’90s, as most other designers struggled to figure out how to code a hotlink, we turned the other direction to see how we could include more hand-craft in our design discipline. Combining our shared love of music and design it was only logical to forge some kind of side project that involved the two. Making screenprinted posters was the logical result.

HOW DID YOU GET FROM HOBBY TO SUCCESSFUL STUDIO?
We never necessarily made a decision to “start” Aesthetic Apparatus as a full-time studio, it simply was. We never had any expectations of Aesthetic Apparatus to bring us fame or fortune but to simply facilitate the creative freedom we desired. At a certain point, we either had to cut back on our hobby of doing Aesthetic Apparatus or take a bigger leap and go for it full time. This lack of projection on the studio allowed Aesthetic Apparatus to become whatever it willed itself to be, which we think is as honest a role someone can play with their creative discipline.

WHY THE NAME AESTHETIC APPARATUS?
Prior to the birth of Aesthetic Apparatus, Michael had begun to produce a zine called ReadySet… Aesthetic! It actually contained some pretty notable content; numerous early writing by Chuck Klosterman, an interview with Spoon plus interviews and cover designs from Felix Sockwell and Jeff Kleinsmith. When we first discussed collaborating together we imagined a quasi-creative-corporation called Aesthetic Industries, under which Readyset… Aesthetic! would serve as the publishing arm and an “Aesthetic Apparatus” would be the printmaking arm. But as the poster making flourished, the larger concept of Aesthetic Industries, including Michael’s free-time to edit and produce Readyset… Aesthetic!, began to be overshadowed by the “Apparatus” side of the project.

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS FOR THE REALIZATION OF A ROCK POSTER?
No different than any other design process really. We make sure we know as much as we can about the music; what defines it, what defines the artists, what the artists see in their own music, etc., and then struggle through the most inventive and appropriate way to communicate that musical identity. The struggle with making poster art is that you have a responsibility to create a work that speaks directly to the fan base, audience, and the performer. For example, if one was to make a Black Keys poster that is a beautiful illustration of a couple of black-colored keys, it may be beautiful or appeal to a larger audience, but it bears no relationship to the music or the experience of that music. It reflects only a surface understanding of the music, which means that any fan who procures that poster is also saying “I am happy to only have a surface understanding of the music.” Additionally (as far as ideas of design are concerned), on the opposite end of the spectrum, a poster so oblique and personal that is bears no relation to the music is of course just as ineffective as a poster that is too literal. Neither options work for us. So there is an intangible and magical middle-ground there, and it is our challenge as poster designers to find that middle ground.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE TO YOUNG ARTISTS?

First, because we let the studio grow organically without any preconceived notions of popular or financial success, we are constantly reminding budding artists and designers to “create like nobody is watching.” If you can be happy working creatively without ever needing the social or financial validation, you are set for life. The honest commitment to your discipline will imbibe everything that you do. The notice and income will follow. And even when it does, it still won’t really be that big a deal to you.

Second, build a community, not a network. The best way to succeed in your goals is to do it with your friends. As our friend Jay Ryan’s famous poster reads; “Don’t Go Alone, Go With a Friend.” Community is how creative work is done. What most schools and studios and business owners may not tell you is that 90% of the business of design and art is through “someone who knows someone who is someone’s best friend since high school.” We’re not talking about networking though. Networking is simply pursuing someone for the reason that you feel you may benefit from their proximity to you. Community is about pursuing someone you respect, because you would love to have a beer or a taco with them and hear about their ideas. You don’t know anyone? Write an email tomorrow to your greatest local hero.

WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION DO I NEED?
Formal education matters for one valuable asset, community. That isn’t to simply disregard it. Community is pretty essential. (See previous question.) The rest of it you can (and will) teach yourself if you’re really committed to your craft. It is much easier, and a lot of fun, to go to school to learn graphic design or printmaking but it is also insanely expensive. We’ve seen fantastic portfolios come out of tech schools, and we’ve seen horrible portfolios come out of art schools, so obviously the school does not necessarily make the artist. Where did we go to school? We both had really varied design backgrounds, Michael at Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Dan at Madison Area Technical College, but our best creative education came in the form of lifelong and late night self-education and experimentation. The best education you can receive is spending all your nights and weekends doing what you love for no money and no glory. If you’re not already doing that, you’re already one step behind.