The word Punk has bothered many. Recently, it has become a cliche, a synonym for something rebellious, marginal, and in fact just a marking of outlandish goods that can easily be pushed into the insatiable mouth of the consumer. The term "Art" is also undergoing change and is the subject of controversy - is it painstaking work? Oil painting? Tag on a police car? A hundred naked people covered in paint or a pile of boxes in the room of contemporary art gallery? Everyone has their own answer.

And punk art. What does this phrase mean at all? The art of living in a garbage bin penniless? Create handwritten record covers and stencils for t-shirts? Art of knowing any notes to create noise masterpieces? Or maybe the art of being yourself, the art of being free? There are too many questions and variations.
But there are people who, by their very existence, are an example of what it means to be a punk artist in every sense.

Alexander Heir (DEATH / TRAITORS) a New Yorker, artist, one-man brand, musician and personality so multifaceted that it is simply pointless to list his merits and achievements on the local and international scene - just read this interview, be inspired, believe in yourself and above raise the banner of what the word "punk" means to you.

Editor: Vlad Fukcula

We get that you start to deep into punk in 90s from your previous interview. But how you started to interesting its visual part?
Being a son of a photographer and artist, both my parents exposed me to art from a really young age, so I was kinda into visual art even before I discovered punk and really got into music on my own. So when I did get into punk it was hand in hand – I was enjoying the visual stuff just as much as the music – including the record covers, the posters, the fashion, all of it.

I think particulary what I liked about it was the DIY aspect of being able to just do it even if you weren't an expert, as someone who was young and interested in making art but didn't feel like I was particulary accomplished or talented. This was a really nice way for me to start engaging in my own work saying "Hey, fuck it! DIY! Punk! I'll make my own t-shirts in my garage or make my own band's record covers!" You can just do it yourself.
What covers and posters from that time was the most craziest and impressive for you?
Obviously Pushead was the biggest influence for me, seeing his Misfits designs and Exploited skull. As well as "Mad" Mark Rude who did the "Earth A.D.": Cover. I really loved all Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren stuff they've done for the Sex Pistols and their punk store Sex's aditionaries. Lots of 90s rock stuff like Coop or White Zombe covers. Early 90s punk stuff like Punk-o-Rama comps, lot of UK82 hand drawn record covers which I still love. Just a whole world in general – from flyers from the 70s up until recent time. The more I dug in punk the more I discovered both musically and visually.
What motivate you to draw now?
What really motivates me now is trying to make the best work that I can make and pushing myself. I've already acchieved more than I ever really could've thought as far as getting to my work out there and getting people aware of my brand. So right now for me I'm so proud of where I've gotten and it's just about pushing as far as it can go, as far as my drawing skills , my ideas, my designs and going past shirts to make clothing and real apparel, wanted to make paintings and art for it's own sake not just things for bands and illustrations or t-shirts.

It's really something that I have been pushing towards and trying to make time for even though I know it's so much long term goal, kind of get outside of world of illustraion and fashion into actual capital A art. At the same time also pushing that other stuff, my skills, trying to learn more about fashion, trying to learn new skills like 3D design, video editing. I've started to learn sign painting couple of months ago, so just constantly improving myself.

And again – obviously there're tons of art and artists that really inspire me but I think a major thing is being able to push myself as far as I've gotten. I was never confident about my drawing skills and just to see how much I've been able to evolve and make pieces that I never thought I be able to do maybe 10 years ago and being excited to see what another 10 years I'll be able to push myself to do.
Do you have particular ambience of workspace when you make art or some rituals that necessary for creativity?
I do all my work in my room which is just the walls are absolutely covered with art and religious objects and 1$ Halloween toys and plastic skulls and all other kinds of stuff that I'm inspired by. So there's definitely a real energy In here for sure, just being surrounded by objects that inspire me and things I think are cool. Smoking weed is a big part of my creative process as well.

I think when you make art you have to pull yourself out of the real world to some degree and everyone has their practice to do it. And for me smoking weed really helps to get my mind out of this conciseness into the creative one where I can try to pull out ideas or focus on painting or what have you.
Is there any ability or craft you wanna replenish in your list of skills?
There's so many things that I Wish I could learn or had the time to. I'd love to learn 3D modeling and jewelry sculpting and casting, I'd love to learn how to cook professionally or at least get a lot better at that. I've been painting a lot more and I'm trying to hone my skills with that but that's also a lifetime of learning. I'd love to learn actual fashion design and how to make patterns, I produce a lot of L.O.T.I.O.N. music but I wish I could learn more about actually the mixing process and learn a little bit more about the ins and outs of producing and music engineering. It's just an endless amounts of things I'm interested in and there's not enough time to master any of them but I try to make time to learn a little bit of all that things that interest me.
Gallery art, street fashion and Industrial design. Do that interact with your art? And what all of these things can give to punk artist?
All those things interract with my art as well as any other kind of visual art be it cigarette packaging or advertisment for piece of gum or whatever. Regardless of the medium there can always be inspirtation in everything and I think the best artists (punk or not) are always opened to that information. If you' only injesting into the kind of art that you're trying to make all you really gonna make is just a still copy of that – you see that in music all the time. But if you let yourself be opened to all different kinds of things then you can really bring in some flare and really make it your own. Especially in this digital age with access to so much information people can easily get obsessed with just one thing and hypergenrify themselves and specialise in one thing. What I like to do is to look at everything and bring in pieces of all different kinds of styles and genres and things to influence what I make. And I think it makes it so much more interesting. A good piece of art or music is good regardless of the style or medium – if it speaks to you that speaks to you. And I like to sometimes decode that: why is this piece stands more than that one? What the thing going on there? And if you can translate the essence of that then you can really apply it in your work in a different way. And the idea of punk artist obviously means different things to different people but regardless if you're actually working in punk music scene or you identify as punk or whatever it may be it's just cruical to still expose yourself to work outside of punk because otherwise you're not gonna be wellrounded artist or a person.
As we can get, you have the experience in tattooing and some art gallery. So, now tattoing is a super-big industry, art too. What do you think, what's the real future for punk art?
I'm heavily tattooed, I have lots of friends that tattoo and super inspired by so much tattoo art from around the world but I'm not actual tattoo artist – I've done some flash but that's all about my experience with it. But in regards to punk art blowing up the same way that tattoo did I think it's already happened to some degree – you see lots rappers are wearing studded hardcore jackets and mainstream brands have been using punk or punk inspired art for years. So, I don't know if it's actually gonna help the people in the underground scene making that stuff. Unfortunately I think more of it being distilled into more sellable thing. I mean the future of punk, real punk art at least, I think of it the same way that me and my peers were reacting to the 90s as far as wanting to make something that was better and more real than cheesy era. And the next generations is hopefully will be responding to what we've set up and continuing to push it and make it even cooler and better and weirder and new stuff. We'll see what actually happens to punk in the next 10 years. We're really entering this point now where we're so far removed from the original movement or whatever, that hopefully we can retain the history and ethics and all of that but also let go of some of the hero and history worship and do some crazy wacky new shit.

I think definitely a big part of the future of punk and punk art is leaving this straight-white-male zone that dominated for so long. There have been so many black and brown and queer and female musicians and artists in the scene since the beginning and people are recognizing that they've been underappreciated for so long and there's a whole new bunch of younger kids that not just straight-white-suburban. We're gonna add new and exciting voices to the scene. And then with myself and other peers that I've also been making art for a while and getting some successes – I think we're all trying to navigate the future where we can get our work out there be able to support ourselves while still maintaining our ideals and our identity and we have to figure it out for ourselves. But it's cool to feel that you have some sort of future where you can balance the way you wanna live with surviving and paying your bills and hopefully be a model for other artists and musicians and people to find that balance where you can be punk and live your life and not have to be a total dropout or fucking sellout. You can live in that healthy creative middle, PUNK IS A TOOL FOR LIBERATION.
1st DEATH/TRAITORS tee was released circa in 2007. So, what has changed in American punk art since then?
It certainly gotten better and more aware I think - the internet has a lot to do with that just people having access to more influence and source material you can hone and mature your tastes better. I've talked a lot about that with my peers from NY punk scene that I think a lot of us were making art, reacting against the terrible bad-pixelated-photoshopped-collage stupid cartoony art of the 90s. So much of that stuff is so bad and dated visually and musically and it felt like a very low point in a culture. I think a lot of us started making art in attempt to bring back some of the cool things we saw about the 80s the cool style the hand drawn covers and flyers. So it's really cool now when art and visual art is being considered in punk just as much as the music and I thinks it's making really cool artist to emerge as well. And of course with anything you see – trends and people kinda ape what's popular but within that there are still a cool new stuff happening and a lot of times these are just starting points for people to engage with their own art and take it to somewhere new.
Your peers of NYC scene are tightly connected to Ground Zero community and Toxic State records. What's your opinion on how this DIY comradory of NYC's locals became such an influentional international phenomenon?
What we have in the scene in New York is something very special - there's just such a group of creative, motivated and supportive friends. Partly because NY is a place of immigrants and transplants so even while I am pretty local and have plenty friends from the area there's also people from all over the country and world coming here to do their thing in every aspect - be it art or cooking and that includes punk as well where you're getting people from everywhere moving here to do their best. And especially cause the city can be so brutal and expensive that people band together very nicely. And it's also interesting because like other cities I've been to where people are more spread out, there's little bit more of a distance between different friend groups or scene, where's here everyone lives on top of each other so it really does feel like a family where you're seeing everyone every day and living with your friends and hanging at people's places.

I have to say that there's isn't the same clashes and drama that can come from having a family but it does feel very familiar.

And I think that there's a healthy competition where you see your peers making great work and that drives you to do the best that you can but no one's trying to take each other down or compete in a negative way. They're just trying to help each other.
You've mentioned the boom of technologies and information overflow. How we can survive and keep sanity in this dictatorship of digital age?
For me the biggest thing is just knowing to turn it the fuck off. It's so important just to live a fucking life and ignore your phone or technology and be out with your friends or doing what your love that isn't digital cause it's so easy to get caught in this world and stare at your phone and read a terrible news or look at what other people are doing. You have to go out and be the thing you wanna be and live your life

outside of that. Cause no true happiness is gonna come from the technology itself. It can be great tool to help you do what you do - I mean Instagram is a huge tool to help promote my business and I don't really know without that how I could've reached so many people. But at the end of the day none of that gives me true happiness - it comes from living my life with the people I love.
What's your thoughts on future of the humanity in general? Are we getting to the point of no return and soon L.O.T.I.O.N.'s lyrics will have literal reflection in days to come?
I really hope that the stuff we're singing about doesn't come to full fruition…but I'm not particularly optimistic about the direction that the world is heading right now. Even if things were better the rise of technology and AI would be a threat to People and now we're also dealing with the rise of global fascism and this weird regression into racism and nationalism and militarized police forces that seems like there's double whammy of both ourselves distracting each other and then the rise of technology.

But I think for the moment it's less an issue of AI or robots killing us as the government using surveillance and military breakthroughs to press us further. And I think if we survive the next twenty years the next generation of younger kids that grew up with Twitter and all this other shit that seem like have a lot better view of the world at least the more compasioned one and if we don't manage to destroy ourselves before they take over then I hope there'll be a radical shift and change of the way the world is being run but we'll see how long we make it.
Any piece of advice for those young insecure kids who enter the world of DIY and punk art and try to speak their mind through their pieces.
Practically I would say the most important thing I can tell people is DON'T BE INFLUENCED BY YOUR PEERS. It's great to get into art and music through the stuff that's happening now but you have to look back and look at what influenced them and what influenced people before that and combine different genres or styles and obviously throw own view in there but that's how make exciting new work, myself included when everyone starts off being creative they're just mimicking their inspirations which is fine and that's how you learn but at some point you need to add your own style or view otherwise you're just a clone or a carbon copy of someone. Researching art and music and whatever inspiration you're taking and really digging in to look at what the people have done before you cause that's how you learn the most.

And I have endless piles of books and images I've saved I'm always collecting visual data to reference and trying to see how someone else would paint something or just kind of stuck and wanna get inspired I've got tons of things I can reference that inspire me again you don't wanna be stealing from anyone but it's important to be knowledgable the same way a doctor needs to know his history so he performs his operations correctly and artist needs to know his history so they can do the same.

And I also say, especially with Instagram and social media, there's a lot of pressure to be constantly producing stuff, which I don't think is healthy for an artist just the growth. Don't worry about how many likes you have or how popular you are - focus on making the best work you can, and if you making something that YOU think is really awesome and exciting then other people will eventually catch on as well.

But there's lot of almost black magic that went into getting where I have now. No one ever heard of my art or brand and I just consisstanly worked an it and treated it like everyone did and eventually people catch on, you know. I did the work I make that is the best and the stuff that I stoked on and I'm excited by and if you can get yourself stoked then other people will be to.

But it's gotta be something that you put blood, sweat and tears into and just love. It can't just be reason to get some cloud or attention cause so there's so many you can see right through that. You gotta put your soul into it.

And other thing is - support your friends and let em support you. I definitely gained a lot of attention through doing art through other bands and that's how people discovered my work. I don't say you always should work for free but if there's given take and say yeah, I'll do your record cover for way cheaper than I should but in return you're gonna get that art work out to bunch of people. I help so many friends of mine with Photoshop and Illustrator work cause they don't know the programs well and I do it almost all the time for a pack of beer or something. But in return you also get their endless support and they're excited to help you back. Lean on your family and friends and let them lean on you.


20 Jan, 2020