For a few months now, consistent readers of this zine may have come upon a story or two of Grant's, but in case you didn’t know, he’s also a talented collage artist that has shared his works many times with studios and galleries around the town. We had the great opportunity to sit with him and talk about art and stories this month, but be sure to check online for the full interview as we had a lot to discuss! Below you will find the full interview, or continue reading for a summary of the interview, links to Grant's stories, and some of his amazing collages!
Actually, my brother is an artist, and my oldest brother is a musician, so when we grew up, that was our three areas, I was the writer. My brother would make me collage covers to music tapes and I would make him some in return. I’ve been writing stories since I was five, and doing the mix tapes was just an introduction of how you can take two different artistic areas and cross them over. Then I started making them in conjunction with stories, just for social media.
All of the above!
It’s hard to choose an image just looking at magazines, and I can print out a picture but that feels like cheating, and it feels best when I discover it by accident. It’s hard to do something intentionally, like that. Normally if I’m going to illustrate a story, [I think] what is some sort of visual to tie in with the story, can I find something in a magazine that fits with that and can I build around that.
I had one, that I was doing about a dead giant. I really wanted to do an illustration for it, but if you think “let me find a dead giant” and that’s really hard to do, to intentionally find something that works. I ended up doing jellyfish, for no really good reason than other on the gut level it seemed to really fit, and I don’t know why, and the more I try to explain it, the less magical it’s going to feel in my gut.
I do plenty collages that have nothing to do with stories, it’s just a daily activity I do with my hands. My mom would make afgan all the times while watching Jeopardy. So I started doing bird head collages, and I just became fascinated about the character within them, so I wrote a story about him. That’s a rarer sort of thing. If there’s a character there that’s really compelling, I’ll follow through with that.
So it’s more of a concept if you create a collage based on a story?
It’s more of a surrealist technique, a dislocation. Meaning that you have two concrete images that don’t fit together. If I go in consciously to find the perfect image that logically fits, that would be a block to accessing the subconscious that are working to give the story or art piece vitality. If I try to find the irrational gut level that inspires interests, then it’s going to be more effective. If it viscerally fits the story, it will have more vitality to it. If something is too logical, it could be a flaw to this particular type of aesthetic.
I identify as a fiction writer, but I’ve always had a great passion for visual arts. Max Ernst is probably my number one, he did a lot of collage, but he did pretty much everything. He’s my favorite collage artist, but also my favorite artist of all other types of art because he so diverse and everything he did was ground-breaking and beautiful. He did collage novels, they didn’t make sense as novels, he just called them novels, and he had a lot of bird-head characters in those too. He was interested in how you can take existing materials and make something out of them. He bridges the gap between the Dadaist and the Surrealist. Surrealist are primarily the ones I’m most interested in, they tend to be my favorite. Surrealism started as a literary movement, but became much more famous as an art movement and so that is a place that bridges the art/literature gap really effectively.
It’s hard for me to write really short stuff, and that’s an obstacle I’ve overcome in the past few years. In the short form, they really basic magical realist stories. I don’t really love genre names, but in the easiest way to describe them, in the short form, they’re magical realist stories. I’m interested in interconnectedness between stories and how you do that in a bigger format. The way I think of them, are vast interconnections between nodes. Especially in the short stories I’m interested in monsters. Sorta like max Ernst, I’ll invent monsters, or I’ll use pre-existing monsters and different ways monsters come into existence.
I like the magical realist contrast between matter-of-fact tone and abnormal circumstance. The everyday treatment of abnormal things. I get that from Kafka, that would be my main literary influence on that level, more so than your traditional magical realists authors.
Like the dead giant story that I mentioned, it’s about a guy who buys a dead giant. It’s a very matter-of-fact treatment of this dead giant. He buys him for his junk store, but he doesn’t know what to do with him, and the bird-head character, he finds a baby and he tries to run away from home with the baby. He’s living in a community with people with flower head, so he doesn’t really know how to deal with people. So he’s treated more monstrous, he’s the outsider.
Yeah, I’m with other people, I have one piece and there’s a lot of other pieces there too. The theme is coffee, so you create art with coffee, or about coffee. What I did I took some of these posters, and I spilled coffee on them or spilled water on them. What happens with the poster, is that on the other side you get these color effects. Really random sort of color effects. The one I did for the coffee art show, it turned out mostly green, but the original poster was mostly blue. I combined most of these color-bled scraps, I combined those all together, and found some nebula pictures and created this nebula shape, because it kind of looks like a nebula. That was just improvised, I had noticed the posters doing this before, so I said “what if I can just do a whole picture, with the color-bled from these posters”. When I started doing it, when I noticed it looked like a nebula, let me find some nebula pictures. In that case, it’s hard to say I need this particular pictures, but I knew I could find nebula pictures. I’ve looked through them [science magazines] enough that I know basically the things I can commonly find.
What can people expect from you next?
I plan on self-publishing a novel in July. It’s partly for my dad, as a gift. I have this detective fiction trilogy, and the way that I share my fiction, I first-draft it on social media. For whatever reason. So this is on I was first-drafting on Facebook, and my dad started to read it. It’s an impossible thing to keep up with a story with a plot on social media. One of the reasons that I started this trilogy, was because I had gone really far into non-linear stories, and I started stripping away plots. I love plots, when I started writing I had this addiction to plots, and I had to force myself to break away from them. Then I found myself going too far in that direction, too non-linear. So I started writing this trilogy, because what’s more linear than a murder mystery, and I love them anyways. I started doing this on social media, the way it shows up as very non-linear on social media. So my dad started reading it, and kept saying “why don’t you put it all together and I’ll read it for you”, and it takes a little work to put it all together. That should be done in July.
“The Upholstery-man”, which sounds like a superhero story, but it is not. It’s about a guy who sells upholstery and he dresses in this costume made of upholstery and his son is the detective. So it has monsters and seeming monsters in the role of a murder mystery. The upholstery-man character is slowly going crazy and starts to embody these characteristics of the costume. The trilogy is called Slaughter Boxes. I have a Facebook page, and if someone wants to like the page I’ll send out updates on this
You can read stories by F. Simon Grant at the following places!
Birdhead Father in Brightness : oR : Where They Had Arisen to Think at the Sun
Globules : oR : The Unidentified
The Living Needle : oR : Stories for Scarecrows
Be sure to follow the "Slaughter Boxes" page to keep hearing more from this exciting artist!