(Editor's note: This weekend is Art-A-Whirl, the yearly art party where hundreds of studios, galleries, and warehouses in northeast Minneapolis open their doors and invite art lovers in for special demonstrations, exhibitions, performances, and sales. This week we'll be taking a look at some of the people and places you may want to check out.)
Angel Bomb is the brainchild of Todd Thyberg. After spending time at the University of Minnesota and the Navy, at a corporation designing cereal boxes, and working independently with clients, he decided to take Angel Bomb to the next level by focusing on learning the art of letterpress. Things have been going pretty well since, with a variety of clients both local and national, plus an award-winning book and pamphlet.
Your name: Todd Thyberg a.k.a. Angel Bomb
Where we can find you this weekend: Northrup King Building, studio 271. Look for the big red wall and the huge Angel Bomb logo.
Years spent in your current space, and in Minnesota: I've been in the Northrup King Building for seven years, and in Minneapolis for most of the past 26 years with brief stints away in the Navy and living in London. I've always returned because this is such a great place to live and it really is my home.
[jump] Briefly, tell us about what you do and why:
I've been a graphic designer for over 20 years; it's more than a job, it's a passion. Seven years ago, I added letterpress capabilities to my studio and that has been a great addition. It's a wonderful feeling to bring creative work to life from the initial design all the way through the production on vintage presses. Being part of Art-A-Whirl encourages me to create art to show in my studio as well, and I've recently progressed from making letterpress prints to art books. I've long shied away from the "artist" title, but I'm growing more comfortable with it and pursuing my art alongside my design.
Name three things that are influencing your work right now:
I'm influenced by the current state of our nation, and how we seem to be regressing, becoming less tolerant and more ignorant of facts, focusing more on ideology. A fair amount of my work has an activist bent and so these feelings influence that. This is complemented by the fact that I own printing presses and some of the founders of this country used printing presses to try to change the course of the fledgling nation. I feel it's a responsibility in owning these machines to use them to promote progress.
I'm also influenced, as corny as it may sound, by being madly in love with someone who really understands me and respects what I do. It's a wonderful feeling, and she's the bright ray of sunshine in a stressful day; she inspires me to try harder and be better at what I do. Thanks Ellie!
I'm also trying to combine digital experiences into my vintage-inspired, analog-created work. A recent large project was a letterpress graphic novel, titled The Airship, that was digitally enhanced with QR codes, taking the viewer to an interactive web experience. This was the first in a trilogy, and I'm working on upping the ante on the second book and pushing the envelope further.
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you early in your career:
I've long been inspired by vintage advertisement and propaganda images from the early to mid 20th century. I love A.M. Cassandre's work and travel posters from that era; the clean, bold simplicity is stunning. These images have really inspired the style I have.
I grew up helping my dad on a farm and though I didn't like it, it gave me a good work ethic and inspired entrepreneurial endeavors. My dad figured out how to do stuff and that's rubbed off on me. When I was unhappy in a corporate environment, I decided I'd make my own way and started Angel Bomb, and it's the best job I've ever had, figuring things out along the way.
I've also had friends who are successful artists that encouraged me to pursue my art and apply for grants and they've been a great inspiration. I've applied for two grants and received them both, which still blows my mind.
What was your last big project?
My last big project was a letterpress pamphlet in the vein of Thomas Paine's Common Sense that I titled American Manifesto. It was inspired by some of the ridiculous rhetoric of the 2012 election cycle. I selected several current topics and extensively researched them, presenting the book in an easy to digest info-graphic format. My goal was to get people to look at the data, not just listen to spin. I tried to present the facts in an unbiased way, and hoped that it would inspire people to look into the subjects more and discuss.
The American Manifesto received a design award at the recent 2014 AIGA Design Show and has been accepted, along with The Airship, into the Minnesota Museum of American Art's 2014 Biennial which opens in June.
What do you have coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
The second volume of The Airship will be next up on my plate, though it's a long process and I'm still tired from creating the pamphlet. I'm hoping it will be even more interactive, and use special printing techniques to be even more impressive and unique.
How has the Minnesota scene changed since you began working here?
I think Minnesota and some of its communities are growing by supporting and encouraging the arts. It has become more competitive, and therefore the quality is improving and we're seeing more and more unique endeavors. I love that the local or craft movement is big here, be it craft beer or farm to table eating. Minnesota is showing that it cares about where what it consumes -- whether it's art, beer, or food -- it comes from.
Do you have a favorite font? Or one you feel a particular affinity for? Why?
Are you doing anything special for Art-A-Whirl that you'd like people to know about?
I'll be doing letterpress demonstrations at Angel Bomb, and also letting people print their own monogrammed notecards. I've also got LK Hanson as a visiting artist on Saturday. He does a weekly commentary feature for the Star Tribune, "You Don't Say," every Monday. Come see us and say hello.
IF YOU GO:
Various locations in northeast Minneapolis
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
For more info, visit nemaa.org/art-a-whirl