THEN & NOW: The Shaun Kardinal Interview + Mixtape
Tender Validations (TV): We hear you used to breed hamsters when you were younger. Did you find the business of hamster breeding to be lucrative?
Shaun Kardinal (SK): I did! When I was 10, my mom brought home two Russian Dwarf Hamsters, which we very soon found out were a male and a female. Those two produced 5-7 baby hamsters every three weeks–LITTERally. Within a few months, I had a room full of cages and a regular business of $5/RDH at the nearby pet store. I bought SO MANY BASEBALL CARDS.
TV: What was the adoption process like for your hamster business? Was there a screening process? Did you name the hamsters before you adopted them out?
SK: That pet shop was great–they handed over cold hard cash to this chubby kid with a mullet every time, no questions asked. The rule of thumb, as they taught me, was that the hamsters had to be raised for two-three weeks by their mother. (Couple this with the three-week mating/birth cycle, and things got hairy in those cages fast. It got dark sometimes. Incest. Murder. Stillbirth. Cannibalism. I learned a lot about life, say true.) Still, it was mostly fun, playing with them and occasionally finding that they had gotten loose. I named every single batch–always after a group of characters from favorite shows… Ninja Turtles, Simpsons, a bunch of Nickelodeon toons. One hamster was very special to me–aside from the first two, who I kept in separate cages, retired after their fifth litter, he was the only little buddy I took to. He was a runt, who I very lovingly named Runt-Like Substance (a still-hilarious-to-me Double Dare reference) and he was my pal. With him, I eventually learned about rigor mortis. RIP RLS
TV: There’s a rumor we heard floating around that you were famous in the internet community before the internet was really big for making experimental websites and that the Smashing Pumpkins were one of your clients. How old were you?
SK: This is part true. I started making websites in 1996 and the first few were SP fan-sites, the last one hilariously (and so very teenly) titled The Lonely Towers of Long Regrets. By 1997 however, I was part of an experimental web design team called Lockjaw. We had a big following, creating quarterly issues of content and dirty/weird design for the sake of it, as well as running our own individual personal projects. /shaun, my own bizarre and ever-changing creation, was a pretty well-respected and -visited personal site. I was also a news editor at Surfstation, a big pre-blog web zine that featured cutting edge web sites and their creators. I got to collaborate with some of the heavy hitters of the day and had my work featured all over the world in some amazing projects, all before I was 18.
TV: Do you feel like your background in web design and all things internet related inspires your artwork?
SK: Most definitely. Directly, in the collection of patterns I have accrued from my many years digging for them, and more abstractly, in the myriad compositions I’ve created in browsers for 16 years.
TV: How do you come up with the patterns you embroider the vintage postcards with? What inspires your color palettes?
SK: All that time seeking out patterns and drawings online has left me with a great collection for inspiration. I can only work with straight lines, which is a great restriction for me. For color, I love to bring out an accent found in the imagery. Nearly every design is made on the back of the card, without knowing where the points and shapes will land on the front. I am often surprised and delighted by the strange connections made by the thread and imagery in this arbitrary design process.
TV: Do you listen to music while you work on your art projects?
SK: I’d say it’s a 50/50 split between music and shows. I like to have music on at nearly all times.
TV: We hear you just recently landed a job as Digital Media Manager of Frye Art Museum. CONGRATULATIONS! You deserve it.
SK: That is a true story. Thanks!
TV: How many websites have you designed, re-designed, tweaked, twerked, or fixed up for artists in Seattle?
SK: Over 50.
TV: What are some of your favorite things happening in the Seattle art community these days?
SK: I’m really excited to see the embrace of more one-night shows. There’s an energy in them that can’t be matched by any opening night. I also like seeing more open engagement in critical dialogue. Seattle artists are weaklings who must be put through fires and made stronger. Myself included.
TV: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and thanks for the upgrade to our website!
SK: My sincere pleasure. Thank you for dreaming up and running this awesome project!
You can check out Shaun’s artwork here.
Here’s a mix of Shaun’s favorite jams from 2013 thus far:
Baths - Ironworks
Majical Cloudz - Childhood ‘s End
Kurt Vile - Girl Called Alex
The Besnard Lakes - The Spectre
Devendra Banhart - Daniel
Wampire - Spirit Forest
Soft Metals - Tell Me
Thee Oh Sees - Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster
Deerhunter - Punk (La Vie Antérieure)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - The Opposite Of Afternoon