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Morning Breath Talk About Design, Album Art, and Where Their Weird Name Comes From

Juxtapoz // Sunday, 26 Sep 2010

Doug Cunningham and Jason Noto are better known as Morning Breath, the name of their Brooklyn based graphic design company. The duo has accumulated an impressive resume of clientele ranging from Zoo York Skateboards to Album design for bands such as Slayer, Foo Fighters and TV on the Radio.


Their work often depicts boldly colored, mixed-up layers of old skool advertisement slogans, pin-up girls and comic book style characters. Morning Breath will be coming to London for the first ever time as part of London Miles’ group exhibition alongside Ekundayo and Fernando Chamarelli.



Tanya Guryel for London Miles: Why the name Morning Breath?


Morning Breath: The name Morning Breath comes from the title of a song a friend of ours wrote. One night when Jason and I were thinking of names for our new found venture, we were listening to music drinking some beers, and put on a 7” from a friend of ours band named Sweet Diesel. We thought what a great/fucked up name for our new company. We looked no further.



Could you give a brief summary of your line of work?


Morning Breath does a broad range of work ranging from straight up graphic design/illustration to commercial projects that take on a look and feel from our more personal work. We paint and experiment with personal work along side of commercial projects. Sometimes it becomes a juggling act to maintain both worlds.




What mediums do you guys use?


Most of our paintings are done with a combination of acrylic paint and silkscreen. We paint primarily on wood board.



How and why did you both start doing art?


We both have been creating art since childhood. I don’t know if there is an answer to why, we just do, and in a way always have been creating art. I guess if there is an answer it’s been different throughout stages of our lives. If you ask why we do it now, I guess it’s just a need to escape the confounds of commercial work. Although one might think even our commercial work is creative, it still has more compromise than we’d like.



Did you know each other before the formation of Morning Breath? Where and how did you both meet?


We both worked at Think skateboards in San Francisco in the mid nineties. That is where we began to collaborate, and eventually developed our method of creating art.




Was building a work dynamic difficult for you at all? If you hadn’t begun working together, how do you think your artistic styles would be different today?


The building of our work dynamic came about very naturally, we each offered something that the other didn’t have. Jason was trained as a graphic designer, and I was an illustrator. Had we not joined forces I guess we both would have evolved, but only in our respective areas of art.



Have you ever been to London?


Jason went to London about a decade ago, I have never been.




Will your work for the upcoming show consist of any British influences for this show?


I don’t think there will be much in the way of British influence on our art. Most of the influence on our art comes from 1950s to 1970s Advertising and typography. We take the ideas from that era and remix with a fucked up broken aesthetic.



Did you guys make any kind of alterations to your work for the upcoming exhibition at London Miles because you will be showing to a different audience or, is audience a non-factor for you?


The audience is really a non-factor for us. When it comes to our painting we’re doing it for Morning Breath. Our commercial work forces us to keep the client in mind, so when it comes to our personal work, we need the freedom.




You guys have been doing a lot of incredible design work for albums recently, who has been your favorite musician/band to work with?


The Band we had the most fun on the Project was with Queens of the Stone Age. That was one of the few music projects that very clearly let the Morning Breath aesthetic come through.



You recently teamed up the merchandise monster, Upper Playground, to what extent do you feel that this helped you gain recognition?


Upper Playground was pivotal in getting us exposure. In 2006 they published a book of our art, along with a shown their Portland gallery space. There is also a bit of a connection with Juxtapoz that also brought us to their reader’s attention.




What is your creative process; how do you amalgamate your ideas?


When we are working on our personnel work there is very much a free flow of ideas, and the process is experimental within the confines of our familiarity. Our paintings are a reflection of the tag team approach that we take. We don’t force the evolution of our paintings, but just let our feelings toward them add, or subtract over time.



What is your creative process when working with clients?


When working with clients, we often take an opposite approach than we take with our paintings. There is a lot of pre-planning and presenting of ideas. I guess you could say it’s much more structured.




Who has been your biggest client to date?


Our biggest client to date has been Universal Music Group. With its many sub-labels, and a huge list of big and small artists, they have kept us fairly busy with work for roughly the past decade.



If you could only choose one, would you rather produce for galleries or continue doing commercial work for clients?


If we could make a comfortable living doing nothing but gallery art, we would much rather go that route. We both have families and live in New York. It is very expensive here, and the reality for us is that we need to bring in a solid income if we want to maintain life the way we’ve been living. If we we were single and younger we probably wouldn’t give too much a shit about it.





Morning Breath will be showing their work at London Miles Gallery in London alongside works by Ekundayo, and Fernando Chamarelli, which will open with a reception slated for Friday, October 8th 2010.  Details here.


Exhibition on show: October 9th to November 5th 2010.



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