Posted Mar 20th 2005 by

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An interview with
SCOTT HANSENwords by , March 2005

Fresh out of California, Scott Hansen has been getting a lot of coverage in publications such as Computer Arts and his mixture of colour and texture looks set to take the design world by storm. We caught up with him for an insight into his world.

Howdy, welcome to the world of Thunder Chunky. How are things in California today?

Pretty rainy out lately, so it’s been a lazy weekend.

How would you describe your style to those amongst our reader who aren’t familiar with your work?

I’ve heard it described as ‘Fillmore West meets Post-Modern’¬ù. I think that’s a pretty good way to put it, it’s kind of psychedelic but owes a lot to constructivist and early European styles.

I’ve read in a previous interview you’ve done that a lot of your visual influences derive from your childhood memories of the 70s and 80s. The spectrum-style rainbow stripe is a good example of this. Are there any specific graphics from that period which you’re particularly fond of?

I couldn’t really make any specific references, it’s all kind of a blur of burgundy and earth tones! But I do have some very fond memories of the wallpaper patterns and cloth murals or my childhood.

iso50 Computer Arts illustration

Illustration for Computer Arts Magazine

You’ve done artwork for Computer Arts Magazine, including a front cover piece. How did that come about?

They contacted me about doing a spot illustration for the magazine and I’ve been doing monthly spots ever since. The cover piece was part of a tutorial / illustration article I did for them. They’re very open when it comes to interpreting the brief so it’s a very fun gig, I’m pretty much free to do what I want for the illustrations.

Your design work and your music seem intrinsically linked. What does you music add to your design work and vice versa?

With the music and the design I am trying to convey a common feeling, kind of a descriptive ambience. I think music can be much more powerful than images when it comes to instilling a feeling or emotion in another person, so the design is secondary in that respect. But I think they both serve to reinforce each others message.

How do you approach CD sleeve design? Does the music have to be on loop as you work?

I usually just give the album a good listen through and try to get an idea of what the artist is about. By that time I’ve usually had a chance to speak with them and find out what they’re expecting or what they want to design to speak to. While I design I usually just listen to something laid back from my collection, I don’t feel like it’s necessary to listen to the specific album I’m working on the whole time I’m designing it.

iso50 Computer Arts illustration

Illustration for Computer Arts Magazine

If you could re-design any existing album sleeve what would it be and why?

Miles Davis, ‘Bitches Brew’¬ù. It’s such a beautiful cover, wonderful illustrations. I just feel like it would be fun to approach it from a designer’s perspective and work with the source art, play with the layout, add some elements.

As well as being a showcase of your work, ISO50 is also a place for you to sell t-shirts and prints of your work. Do you prefer to do projects off your own back or do you prefer to work to a brief?

I definitely prefer working on my own projects. Removing the client removes all preferences and expectations besides your own. The result for me is a more pure expression, a design that was never second guessed or tampered with by anyone but me. It’s also much more satisfying to create something on your own and retain all ownership over the artwork. If you work for a client, you may get a nice paycheck right away, but that’s all you’ll ever get, they own the work.

What direction do you think you’ll be taking your work in 2005?

I see my working moving into a more complex and textured style. I have been experimenting a lot with using more real world textures and materials, paint and textiles. I’ve been very satisfied with the results.

iso50 Computer Arts illustration

Illustration for Computer Arts Magazine

For those who aren’t aware, you also have a musical alter-ego known as Tycho. How would you describe the music you create?

It’s Ambient down-tempo electronic, basically just mellow listening music.

Is it ever a problem juggling your musical ambitions with your design ambitions?

I suppose they conflict now and again, mostly just time constraints. But when it comes to creative energy they compliment each other perfectly. When I’m feeling burnt out on one medium, taking a bit of time out for the other never fails to get me back on track.

Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?

Play Frisbee or run for a while – neither of which I’ve done in ages.

More of iso50’s work can be found by visiting and Scott’s musical alter-ego can be found at


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