Our Collaboration with Clay Hickson!

12.07.22 — Le Puzz World

As long time fans of Clay's work we knew we had to collaborate with him on a puzzle. His illustrations transport us back to a time and place before cell phones and the internet and we love how they draw on nostalgia and present day at the same time -- plus they're just so dang pretty! 

Above: A page from Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge - published by Issue Press in 2019

Above: A few of Clay's commissioned works.

I also love biscuits and I don't understand why they're not served all over the country.

Get Groovy!

We spoke with Clay about his work, inspirations and interests. Read more about him below.

LP: Tell us about your background. Where are you coming from?  

CH : I grew up in Northern California in a little town called Sebastopol. Which is about an hour north of the Bay Area. It’s a funny little hippie town close to the coast.

LP: So what inspired you to start drawing? 

CH: I started drawing kind of late. I was really never that interested in it growing up. My dad is an illustrator and my mom is an art therapist. So I grew up around art and we did a lot of crafts at home. I didn't really get into drawing until high school when my older brother was getting into graffiti. I always got into whatever he was doing.

LP: Love that, so sweet. What would you say steered you towards the work that you make now?

CH: I try to let my interests lead the way. When I get into a certain artist or movement I like to learn as much about them as I can. That and spending a lot of time at the library just browsing and stumbling across stuff I’d never heard of. Just a big hodge podge of influences. 

LP: Totally. I could also see a lot of those old Fillmore poster styles influencing your work. 

CH: Yeah growing up in Northern California around that stuff I was kind of repelled by it and just wanted to get away from it all. Then after I did get some physical distance from that culture I started to appreciate it more and got really into that time period, the poster art and underground presses and all that.  

LP: What are you what are you collecting these days?  

CH: Most recently I've been trying to get every issue of this magazine called Push Pin Graphic, which came out of Push Pin Studios. Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, and a bunch of illustrators started it in the 1950s and put one out every few months, for like, 30 years. There are about 85 issues of that magazine. It’s one of the bigger influences on The Smudge because it was really free form  and essentially just a showcase of different illustrators.

LP: Can you describe The Smudge and all your various projects and how they evolved? 

CH: I went to school for printmaking and then fell into doing illustration jobs after I graduated. I always wanted to keep printing so I bought a Riso printer and started putting out zines. That naturally evolved into Tan and Loose Press. After several years of operating under that inside joke of a name, we changed the name to Caboose. After the 2016 election, my wife Liana Jegers and I started The Smudge together. We had been wanting to do some sort of mail order project on a regular basis and it felt like the right time.

LP: Clay. We have to talk about one of your muses, breakfast. 

CH: For some reason, the very concept of breakfast feels really nostalgic to me. It’s hard to describe. Like, the aesthetics of breakfast are just really pleasing to me. When it comes to my breakfast order, I always have big visions of waffles and pancakes and all that decadent stuff, but usually end up doing the classic eggs, potatoes and toast. The simple delight as it was called in my childhood diner. I also love biscuits and I don't understand why they're not served all over the country. You go to the south, and every diner has biscuits. If I have the choice between toast  or biscuit, I’ll go biscuit 9 times out of 10. 

LP: How do you like your eggs? 

CH: Scrambled. Low and slow.

LP: Perfect.

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