Paul Rentler is an artist and musician from Columbus, Ohio. I love his work so much I shouted across the Atlantic if he’d do an interview and luckily he heard and shouted back in agreement.
Hey Paul, how’s it going? What are you up to?
Things are going really well. I’m working on finishing up a couple of comic book covers, and then maybe getting some lunch.
How did you get into the world of collage, printmaking, screen printing and fine art painting techniques?
Not all at once, but it all kind of links together. I think it started in early High School (mid ’90s) when a friend and I found a small six-page photocopied art zine. It was full of weird collages, patterns, and trippy imagery. At the time I hadn’t seen anything like it; a strange artefact with no explanation for its existence, seemingly weird for weird sake, and I loved everything about it. I liked that it was easy to understand the method of its construction and reproduction. So I had to make one as soon as possible. I was obsessed. I’d spend hours putting together weird zines, spent all my money printing them and then gave them all away for free to my friends. Not long after that, I started playing in a band and would use my collages for show fliers and posters (still only using photocopiers). At some point we wanted to make shirts, and that lead to me getting the opportunity to learn how to screen print. Much later, I ended up working as a professional screen printer and picked up much better techniques. When I left that job, I built a DIY printing setup in my basement and started really digging into making artwork.
Do you have a vast library of iconic pop culture images that you dip into?
I do. I’ve been collecting images for years and have boxes, drawers, and filing cabinets full of stuff. I dig for old comics, colouring books and advertisement the same way that DJ’s dig for old records. The hunt is a big part of my process.
How do your collage pieces come together – do you have a set plan or do they have a life of their own when you start? Some of them are exceptionally detailed.
When I’m making artwork for myself I try not to have a plan. I might have a starting point but I like seeing it unfold as I start to build up a piece. The unknown keeps it fresh and adds a problem solving element that I enjoy. I love it when I’ve had some image I’ve been trying to use but can’t quite fit into a piece, and suddenly it fits perfectly with something I just picked up like they were meant for each other.
Have you ever got stuck in YouTube vortex watching episodes of He-Man for a few hours and someone’s walked in on you and you’ve totally got away with saying you were doing research?
Do you have cameras in my house?
You’re also in a couple of bands – does that mean you get total creative control of the visuals and record covers?
I’ve got it if I want it. I usually do the artwork for the bands I’m in, although a few times I’ve had someone else do the artwork and it was nice not to have to worry about coming up with something cool.
Where can we see more of your work?
Instagram and my website are where to go to see what I’m working on, as I’m working on it. I’ll do a gallery show time to time, but getting shown hasn’t been a focus lately. I’ve had a design gig working on DC Comics new imprint, DC’s Young Animal, that’s been keeping me busy lately. I’m working on four covers for them right now, and they should be out in early November.