Birds with Shoes : Simon Greiner

Simon Greiner is an illustrator, animator and designer, with a huge smile and immeasurable talent ! Lucky for us he recently finished a four year stint in NYC covering the New Yorker and illustrating several books. Now, he is back in his hometown Sydney, ready to lay down all kinds of exciting creative, collaborative work. One project that we absolutely went birdserk for was 'Birds with Shoes', created for the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair at BMA, 2015.

Q. Where did this idea come from, Birds in shoes? S. It’s something I doodled for a long time – which eventually became a comic book I published at university. There’s something perverse about putting a bird in shoes – their feet just aren’t built that way – so something about it is weird in a very pleasing way. Because I was back home in Australia after four years in New York, I decided to make all the birds Australian native species.

Q. Where did this idea come from, Birds in shoes?

S. It’s something I doodled for a long time – which eventually became a comic book I published at university. There’s something perverse about putting a bird in shoes – their feet just aren’t built that way – so something about it is weird in a very pleasing way. Because I was back home in Australia after four years in New York, I decided to make all the birds Australian native species.

Q. Who is your favourite bird and why? S: The budgie in volleys. The way the colour scheme of he budgerigar matches the classic green striped volley makes me happy. There’s also something quintessentially Australian about that shoe – so it’s a real double whammy in terms of Australiana. Q. Do the shoes speak to the personality of the birds... if yes, what are these personalities?  S: I hope so! Certainly with the showier more colourful birds, high heeled shoes seemed apropos. The way we ascribe anthropomorphic qualities to animals is generally pretty random and superficial. That said, the Kookaburra is classic old-fashioned (brogues); the Budgie is an unassuming Aussie legend (volleys); the Ibis is kind of a gross garbage bird, hence the crocs (garbage shoes…)

Q. Who is your favourite bird and why?

S: The budgie in volleys. The way the colour scheme of he budgerigar matches the classic green striped volley makes me happy. There’s also something quintessentially Australian about that shoe – so it’s a real double whammy in terms of Australiana.

Q. Do the shoes speak to the personality of the birds... if yes, what are these personalities? 

S: I hope so! Certainly with the showier more colourful birds, high heeled shoes seemed apropos. The way we ascribe anthropomorphic qualities to animals is generally pretty random and superficial. That said, the Kookaburra is classic old-fashioned (brogues); the Budgie is an unassuming Aussie legend (volleys); the Ibis is kind of a gross garbage bird, hence the crocs (garbage shoes…)

Q. If you were a bird, what kind would you be? S. I just did a Buzzfeed quiz to find out, and it said I was a cockatiel. That doesn’t seem right. Probably a sparrow. Q. Walking in someone elses shoes can really help people see different perspectives, how does your art allow people to do this? S. I think all art is about perspective, literally and conceptually you’re getting someone else’s viewpoint. Often as an illustrator you’re working to convey your client’s viewpoint, but it’s your unique perspective that gets the job done. My art is about discovering images that capture something, a story or a moment. I guess that’s my personal perspective there, that people can access - in the world created in the picture.

Q. If you were a bird, what kind would you be?

S. I just did a Buzzfeed quiz to find out, and it said I was a cockatiel. That doesn’t seem right. Probably a sparrow.

Q. Walking in someone elses shoes can really help people see different perspectives, how does your art allow people to do this?

S. I think all art is about perspective, literally and conceptually you’re getting someone else’s viewpoint. Often as an illustrator you’re working to convey your client’s viewpoint, but it’s your unique perspective that gets the job done. My art is about discovering images that capture something, a story or a moment. I guess that’s my personal perspective there, that people can access - in the world created in the picture.

Q. You've travelled the world creating art and illustrations for people, how did this all start? S. I’m lucky to have done a lot of travelling, even as a child, so the desire to explore comes naturally, and couples nicely with drawing. I’m always trying to discover new things, whether that’s in my art practice through experimentation, or getting out into the world. When I moved to New York four years ago with my wife, it was simply as an adventure. The best art making is stumbled upon accidentally. I believe you have to just do what you do and make yourself open to opportunity. Q. Who have been some of your favourite clients to work with and why?  S. Working for the New Yorker was a highlight – chiefly for their time-honoured commitment to illustration. It still feels like a dream.  Blue State Digital is a great client, who allowed me to work with Google and Freedom to Marry. I really respect their commitment to storytelling and their strong focus on clients in the arena of advocacy and social justice. I also love doing peoples wedding invitations. It’s always a very personal brief, and a big responsibility/honour to be part of people’s big day.  

Q. You've travelled the world creating art and illustrations for people, how did this all start?

S. I’m lucky to have done a lot of travelling, even as a child, so the desire to explore comes naturally, and couples nicely with drawing. I’m always trying to discover new things, whether that’s in my art practice through experimentation, or getting out into the world. When I moved to New York four years ago with my wife, it was simply as an adventure. The best art making is stumbled upon accidentally. I believe you have to just do what you do and make yourself open to opportunity.

Q. Who have been some of your favourite clients to work with and why? 

S. Working for the New Yorker was a highlight – chiefly for their time-honoured commitment to illustration. It still feels like a dream. 

Blue State Digital is a great client, who allowed me to work with Google and Freedom to Marry. I really respect their commitment to storytelling and their strong focus on clients in the arena of advocacy and social justice.

I also love doing peoples wedding invitations. It’s always a very personal brief, and a big responsibility/honour to be part of people’s big day.

 

  Q. What has been your favourite project as an artist? S. I did a series of drawings with kids, where we would mail a piece of illustration board back and forth to each other and gradually populate the scene based off each other’s drawings. That was ace. I also did an entire exhibition a few years ago on Bunyips, with a series of “scientific” drawings, as well as some faux taxidermy.  Q. What's next on the cards? S. Right now I’m working with my friend Lee Naimo from the comedy band The Axis of Awesome, writing a song for an animated band, which I’m designing and animating. It’s a bit of a long-term project - hopefully we’ll be done by the end of the year.

 

Q. What has been your favourite project as an artist?

S. I did a series of drawings with kids, where we would mail a piece of illustration board back and forth to each other and gradually populate the scene based off each other’s drawings. That was ace. I also did an entire exhibition a few years ago on Bunyips, with a series of “scientific” drawings, as well as some faux taxidermy. 

Q. What's next on the cards?

S. Right now I’m working with my friend Lee Naimo from the comedy band The Axis of Awesome, writing a song for an animated band, which I’m designing and animating. It’s a bit of a long-term project - hopefully we’ll be done by the end of the year.