We’ve been obsessed with Momo Gordon’s work for a while now and in particular the satisfying transition from page to garment.
The Portland based, self-taught artist calls their work, sequential fine art, “Which is just a high-brow way of saying comics. It allows me to play the role of gallery artist and comic book author. Growing up I always felt I had to choose between writing and drawing. It wasn’t until my family moved to Seattle my freshman year of high school and I ended up in a book store on Capital Hill. I had never seen experimental comics before but after that day I knew I didn’t have to choose.” We caught up with Momo to find out more.
How do you go about starting a piece of work? Does it start as a pencil drawing? What is your process?
My process starts by meditating on a feeling. I typically start by writing, almost like I’m giving myself a prompt. I find It harder to anthropomorphize objects or spaces without reason. I’ve gotten to the point where I can finally make quick sketches of my ideas. I map everything out before I even start building on my computer. Things I consider ahead of time are the composition, will it have traditional panels, the placement of writing, and the perspective of the viewer. Nothing is set in stone until I use SketchUp, a 3D modeling program typically used for architecture and interior design. I love it for many reasons but mostly because after I’m done building out an idea the camera allows me to walk around find new perspectives and make even more unusual compositions.
It’s important to plan everything accordingly. The final fruit will end up on handmade paper. It’s so delicate that erasing isn’t an option.
Tell us about a typical working day.
At the start of the pandemic, I moved my studio home. I want to take this moment to brag because my partner brings me coffee in bed every morning. After I finish my coffee and finish procrastinating I disappear through a door in my closet where my studio resides. I’d like to meet whoever designed our apartment. By about 2 pm I’ve realized I haven’t eaten anything and treat myself to Mediteranean Deli. I’ve probably eaten too much and instead of napping, I’ll work from bed for the rest of the day. There’s nothing like covering the entire surface of the bed in books.
Can you explain a little about the narrative and storytelling in your art?
I have a deep obsession with the objective forces in our interior lives. Last summer my work was hyper-focused on hostile architecture. The comic I ended up writing on the surface was about an artist having imposter syndrome during an artist residency but in the details, everything had to be about hostile architecture. Not just the buildings but even the text begins to form fences around the panels. forcing the reader to turn the book just to read.
Do you ever just write without the addition of your drawings?
Endlessly; though I never share it without a drawing.
Do you prefer working in colour or black and white?
I prefer the warmth of handmade paper and graphite, yes. I do utilize spot color for certain works. My hope is that when it happens it surprises and overwhelms.
How do you want people to feel when they see your work?
It varies from work to work. The biggest thing for me is that the viewer experiences the spaces I build as characters themselves. I had this moment while working on my last comic Palazzo Specchio for Colorama Print where a colleague described the setting as creepy and looming. It may sound funny but I was incredibly touched by that. Like I had finally conquered the emotional landscape.
Please tell us a little about some of your recent projects working with t-shirts etc. Your drawings look amazing transferred onto clothing.
Thank you! I’ve been saying it for so long and I think it’s really coming to fruition but comics on clothing is the future. When Fisk Gallery wanted to make shirts for “Death is not an easy energy” I was really curious if to would be another simple logo tee. What it turned out to be was this unique composition of my work making the shirt itself look like an installation. I think going forward I want to do more shirts, yes, but I would like to play with creating patterns from my architectural work and sewing the shirts myself. When I collaborate with my partner who operates as Daag the possibilities seem endless. We made a pair of pants together last year that work seamlessly with the Fisk shirts. I wear the ensemble often.
Whose work do you admire and why?
I have an undying love for my friends who make sculpturally expressive art. Namely, ASMA from Mexico City or Alicia Adamerovich from New York. We seem to be influenced by the same movements yet make incredible different work from one another. Every time I see what they’re working on my heart bursts.
Does music influence your work at all?
Always and forever. Just in general Experimental comics tends to wax poetic. The music I listen to greatly influences my work. When it comes to drawing I want to drown in sound. I listen to music that sounds so big I get the space I need to create my own environments. I listen to a lot of instrumental, experimental electronic, compositional, or Italian Library music. Bands like, HTRK, Sarah Davachi, Amnesia Scanner, Boy Harsher. Deeply immersive music with sparse synths and bleak compositions really does it for me.
Who’s your favourite new band?
I would say Eartheater but yesterday I went on a walk and Phoebe Bridgers came on. I started sobbing I love a good cry.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you in the near future?
I have a typeface of my handwriting coming out soon. More textile work which I’m really excited about. I’ll be printing and sewing my own bags. A never-ending collaboration list. I also have two books greenlit this year so I’m going to be pretty busy.
The new issue of So Young is out now. You can order your copy here or read the digital edition below.