In our ever growing stable of Standard collaborators, we can thank our lucky stars to include Jeff Canham into the family. The San Francisco based artist works across the street from the waves he surfs, which makes us happy since it’s kept him inspired enough to create an entire collection of pennants and flags for The Standard Shop (a limited amount are available to purchase here). His skilled use of color and typography birthed a special limited edition we’re all proud of. His history includes being a sign painter at the world-renowned New Bohemian Signs as well as serving as art director at Surfer Magazine from 2000 until 2005.
Jeff flew to New York to launch the body of work with an event last night at The Standard Shop. Cocktails, drinks, and good friends surrounded the artist with a toast. We grabbed Jeff a few moments during the celebration to discuss the collection and what inspires him…
The Standard: When did you first fall in love with letters? Is there any early memory?
Jeff My parents are both English teachers so I was surrounded by books and letters as a kid. I toyed around with drawing letters a bit in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I really became interested in them. I went to the University of Oregon where I took typography classes and worked extensively on the letterpress. Typography wasn’t really a focus in the school’s curriculum so a lot of what I learned there was self initiated, but I had some great teachers to steer me in the right direction. I also worked at a sign shop in San Francisco called New Bohemia Signs where they only do handpainted signs. I was there from 2005 to 2010 and that experience really taught me a lot about drawing and painting letters.
How did this collaboration with The Standard begin?
Claire Darrow Mosier approached me about the possibility of doing a collaborative project and it was her idea to make flags or pennants. I proposed creating a stylized nautical alphabet and we took it from there.
Tell us about the quality of these flags and your decision to source this material?
The flags are a heavy duty natural cotton same as what you would stretch to make painting canvases. The grommets are brass. Each one is hand painted and double sided.
When you’re not in your studio tinkering in the lab, what do you spend the most amount of time doing outside of work?
I’m an avid surfer so that occupies a lot of my time and energy. My house and studio are right next to the beach in San Francisco, so if the waves are good it’s easy for me to get distracted from work. Fall is the best time of year for surf in San Francisco so I’m excited to get home.
Do you create your art to specific music, or are you all over the place with genres? What music (if any) was surrounding you when these flags were created? **
I love this question. I listen to all kinds of music while I’m working and these flags took me a long time so the music I listened to really varied. For this project a few things I was listening to were Girls, White Fence, Brian Eno and old podcasts of This American Life.
Is there a text based movie poster that is your favorite of all time?
Probably something by Saul Bass or John Severson.
What else do you have on your plate now in terms of future projects?
In November I’m heading to Sydney for an exhibition and lecture. I think I’m also going to paint a mural while I’m there and I’m looking forward to that.
What is the one thing you can’t wait to do when you arrive to New York?
I feel like it’s mandatory for me to eat pizza and bagels while I’m here. It’s a quick trip for me, but I’m sure I can squeeze both in.