5 Phoenix Musicians Who Also Make Visual Art

Robbie Pfeffer of Playboy Manbaby does more than just sing.
Robbie Pfeffer of Playboy Manbaby does more than just sing.
Melissa Fossum

There's a lot of talent floating around the Phoenix music scene both musically and otherwise. Some people are creative promoters and others tremendous performers. And every once in a while, you bump into a devastatingly talented musician. Another talent that a few members of Phoenix's musical world have shown is visual art.

Naturally a group of creatives showing a flair and zeal for creating is not a revelation, but the level of talent going into some of the physical art being made by some of Phoenix's best music makers is quite astounding.

Frankly as the hack photographer that I am, and as a person who can't draw, paint, sculpt, sing, or play any instruments I find their talent to be a personal insult from God. But as a fan of local people making art and musicians who leave deeper clues as to the meanings behind their music the fact that so many Phoenician musicians make art is pretty exciting.

So by all means let this list be a jumping off point for any wanting to look into the artwork by their favorite local musicians. It would take way more than one story to highlight all the talented visual artists in the Phoenix area, but these five represent a strong cross section artists.

5 Phoenix Musicians Who Also Make Visual Art

Youceff Kabal
digital / video

New Times: Where is the best place for people to see your visual art work?

Youceff Kabal: http://vimeo.com/youceffkabal

Do you feel like your art is a part of the music you make, or an escape to a completely different medium?

It's definitely both, I feel like music and visual art speak to each other, but lead their own lives independently of each other. When I was making the music for say "20 Million", I didn't know the video was going to be animated, and using that medium sort of redefined the song, gave it more meaning. At the same time, when I was drawing, I was in a very different state of mind, it was two to three years after I initially poured out the song, and so both sets of feelings, the song's and the drawing's, stand on their own, but collaborate to the same end.

Is your process of creating visual art similar to your process of creating music?

Sure, it usually starts very small, and everything is performance based. I see or hear something, and if I'm in an environment I can work in, then the initial push happens very quickly, and then I sleep, scale it out the next day, and try to edit as little as possible. Ideas tend to lose their real meaning the more I edit them, and if that happens then I lose interest, or get frustrated, and so order and discipline play a huge part.

Do you gain more satisfaction from creating a great song or creating a great piece of visual art?

Hmm, I think there's more rawness with music. I don't create visual art out of a need to survive, at least not in an emotional survival sense. There's a very special feeling with creating music successfully, it's like: 'yeah, that's what I wanted to say' and really there's nothing like it.

How are creating visual art and music similar, and how are they different?

They're both labors of love, in that I'm always pouring out my insides, and finishing is an exercise in dedication and discipline. You really have to want to do it, but not forced either, just in the mix, in the moment, fighting for it.

The main difference lies in what comes first really, some musicians paint, and draw inspiration from that to create music, which is fine. I go the other way, and draw to the music. I do get really inspired by visual pieces created by others though, I think both ways are fine, it's just that this way works for me.

5 Phoenix Musicians Who Also Make Visual Art

Jessica Dzielinski
Solo artist, formerly of Red Tank!

Where is the best place for people to see your visual art work?

Jessica Dzielinski: I have some artwork up here.

Do you feel like your art is a part of the music you make, or an escape to a completely different medium?

They are pretty interconnected, but switching from music to visual art, or vice versa is a bit of an "escape" because they're completely different mediums. I'll often find myself getting worn out on drawing or something and I'll just pick up my guitar without realizing it.

Is your process of creating visual art similar to your process of creating music?

My music making processes are similar to my processes when making visual art in that I'll either just go at it without thinking until it turns into something, or I'll see or hear something that sticks with me and inspires me to do a specific thing. Nothing ever really never turns out exactly as what I initially imagined.

Do you gain more satisfaction from creating a great song or creating a great piece of visual art?

That's a hard one because I honestly can't say I look at any of my personal art and think it's "good" per se, which I guess is good because that keeps me from ever getting too cozy. That point in music making where everything sort of comes together is probably the best feeling ever, though.

How are creating visual art and music similar, and how are they different?

I think, like a good book, a song should paint a visual in the viewer's mind, or at least enhance whatever visuals they're already experiencing. So in that sense visual art and music are very much the same- they both communicate feelings, ideas, and they both tell a story in some way. I think in the end it just comes down to which medium allows you to do that better.

5 Phoenix Musicians Who Also Make Visual Art

Emily Harrington/DJ My Funeral

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Where is the best place for people to see your visual art work?

Honestly, that's a little tricky. I don't show my work publicly too much, and I don't have a website, so that pretty much leaves my Instagram account or the occasional flyer posted around town for a show.

Do you feel like your art is a part of the music you make, or an escape to a completely different medium?

The two are completely separate for me.

Is your process of creating visual art similar to your process of creating music?

I think it might answer differently if I actually wrote the songs I play, or played an instrument...but since I don't, no, the processes are very different. Generally I spend a lot of time daydreaming or brainstorming songs that I think will sound good together in the same set, especially if it's a song that I've got stuck on repeat. I am always in the mood for music, pretty much. With drawing, I can't access that part of my brain as easily — I sort of tend to wait for the right image to come to mind or a sudden impulse to draw, otherwise it'll come out poorly.

"He Said He Didn't Understand," by DJ My Funeral
"He Said He Didn't Understand," by DJ My Funeral

Do you gain more satisfaction from getting a whole room of people dancing or creating a great piece of visual art?

I don't feel like getting people to dance is the point or the goal, and often I get really frustrated with the expectation that that is what a DJ does. I like to explore all sorts of music and a lot of the time people want to dance to what they know, and I can't always play that stuff. I am enamored with a plethora of genres and get pretty down over the idea of music solely as "fun" or as "entertainment...it's sort of a limiting idea, to me. So, I guess I get more satisfaction from creating a piece of visual art that I'm proud of, especially because the idea of an audience has absolutely nothing to do with it.

How are creating visual art and music similar and how are they different?

Again, because I play music created by other people and not my own work, I don't think I can really compare the two. They're night and day for me.

Robbie Pfeffer of Playboy Manbaby

Where is the best place for people to see your visual art work?

Probably on Playboy Manbaby's album art and animated music videos. I Don't have any sort of canvas or tangible versions of my original art because I pretty much do everything half by hand and half in Adobe Photoshop.

Do you feel like your art is a part of the music you make, or an escape to a completely different medium?

I think they started as very different mediums, but the more I've been writing and drawing and the more confident I've become in my writing style and subject matter, the more they intersect, which makes me feel like I'm getting as close as I can to being honest with myself, which is always the goal.

Is your process of creating visual art similar to your process of creating music?

This is definitely where the separation is felt. Everything I make musically is made in a group environment and everything I make with visual art is made in isolation. It's really great to have both options.

5 Phoenix Musicians Who Also Make Visual Art

Do you gain more satisfaction from creating a great song or creating a great piece of visual art?

I'm not sure if I've ever done either of those things, but I have to say that performing live and having the instant gratification of seeing a crowd of people respond to an idea is definitely amazing. But there's also an incredible amount of satisfaction in finishing a visual art project that went from my mind to a finished project all thanks to only one person.

How are creating visual art and music similar, and how are they different?

I could see myself doing visual art for the rest of my life. It's slower and more tedious but has always been my primary artistic outlet. I love performing but I, unlike the rest of my band-mates, am not a very solid musician. Once my knees give out I'll be back to drawing ugly people full time.

Mo Neuharth stands next to a table of her visual art creations.
Mo Neuharth stands next to a table of her visual art creations.
Courtesy of Mo Neuharth

Mo Neuharth of Numb Bats

Where is the best place for people to see your visual art work?

Right now, I have photographs on long term display at Crepe Bar in Tempe, and a few zines on display at the Trunk Space in Phoenix for a limited time. My photography can be viewed atwww.MoNeuharth.com and my publishing press can be found at www.ArtProblems.com.

Do you feel like your art is a part of the music you make, or an escape to a completely different medium?

I believe everything I do to be connected. The way I think about art and music connects the two for me. I don't like to overcomplicate or convolute the overall message. I like things to have a balance of delicacy with grunge. And I want the two to be easily enjoyable but remain tasteful. I think this is present in both the art and music I produce. However, I am only 1/3 of the production of Numb Bats' music. But we all contribute our own aesthetics, and the music has to go through all of our filters before it becomes the way it is.

Is your process of creating visual art similar to your process of creating music?

The processes of music and art don't feel similar to me, mainly because one is done with a group and one is done alone. Writing music, though tough at times, feels more carefree and visual art is more cerebral.

Do you gain more satisfaction from creating a great song or creating a great piece of visual art?

Creating a new song is a feeling of great, instantaneous satisfaction. Whereas visual art is a much longer process and never feels completely finished. The feeling a making a song with my bandmates is rewarding because there is a sense of camaraderie that I don't get when making art alone. But in my art I am completely in control and responsible. Both are valuable.

How are creating visual art and music similar and how are they different?

To me, these two mediums are connected aesthetically and require absurd amounts of attention to details. Music is my extrovert and visual art is my introvert.

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