A passion for art and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for work have led to an extensive body of work for a young upstart. His unique drawing style, honed every day in his sketchbook, separates his work from that of his peers. His sense of design and typography cannot be denied, and on occasion, those skills alone can carry a piece. But the posters all seem to have his hands on them, and the more evident that is, the more engaging the result. He uses doodles, primitive drawings, and ripped and pasted images, and then scribbles over the top of them. There is a sense of dirty work involved in his design, yet the final product is true and complete.
The best possible medium for the work of Thinkmule has always been the poster, a canvas he is unable to resist. Pruitt is shy, however, about hearing his name connected to a "movement." He says, "I am just doing what I like, and it happens to be popular at the moment, but I am by no means on the front edge of any 'new movement'." Whether he likes it or not, he will find his name in those conversations with increasing frequency.
Primitive and Honest
Thinkmule's appreciation for art history and the art of primitive cultures gives his drawings a particular focus. He also has a deep regard for patterns and their intricacies. The viewer can see that attention to detail combined with his intuitive line work. Pruitt adds, "Outsider art has had a big impact on my work the last few years. It seems very pure and honest to me." He combines this with his love of many other art movements. An appreciation of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombley mixes with folk art and the art of the insane. The influence of his design heroes, Lester Beall, Stenberg Brothers, Lucian Bernhard, Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Saul Bass, Herbert Matter, and H. R. Erdt, seeps into his work.
Pruitt brings along all of this visual baggage, plus a keen observation of his environment, when working on a poster. Noting his love for the freedom of such assignments, he still feels a sense of responsibility to promote the band, event, or cause and make an "honest representation" of the message or music. Pruitt knows the jobs arrive on his desktop not so he can do a "random visual exercise for my own benefit" but rather so he can build excitement and fill venues.
Sometimes Pruitt is too successful. His Iron and Wine poster had a very difficult time staying posted around town promoting the show; the prints were stolen by appreciative onlookers almost immediately after they were hung.
Thinkmule's posters are about "making a connection," says Pruitt, whether between a music fan and Thinkmule's interpretation of the band's music or the greater connection with the poster community at large. He loves the online communities (such as gigposters.com) that have sprung up where "poster lovers have a place to see what was or is going on at the moment, talk about posters, and have a resource on making posters." He knows it is not just the single poster artist that is carrying this torch. "The design shops have helped by doing award-winning work, and as more and more people have seen it, the interest has grown." A growing community of creatives, from the world's largest agencies down to the lone designer and his stunning work and clever moniker—all are connected by their love of one thing: the poster.