Glenn ‘Glenno’ Smith is a Convict Town / Australian legend. The man looks, smells and indeed IS a ball of trash-rock-n-roll-art-fury.
Long hair, band t, flanno, cap and sneakers are his usual attire when rocking out as a musician or working as an in demand and highly respected artist.
Readers may already know Glenno thanks to his work for a large number of bands, or due to the major mainstream press he received with his series of ‘TinTin In…’ tribute posters. A series of pop art images by Glenno spoofing the worst aspects of Australian culture in an oddly endearing manner.
(Picture below of the ‘TinTin in the Shire’ poster by Glenno)
With his latest band ‘Chinese Burns Unit’ gigging hard, and his art a constant, now is the perfect time to get to know Glenno Smith – artist and musician, by reading the Art Talk below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Glenn glenno smith – 42 years old
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Glenno’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, crime… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – beginnings:
tried to crucify my wrist with a tack in the backyard after seeing an easter jesus special …age 4
* age 15 – getting serious:
started to travel every fortnight to Sydney to buy records on the train
* age 20 – adult mode:
played in a band called lawnsmell and met my future wife at art college
(Below – Early ‘Lawnsmell’ press photo)
just let me sleep
hard-ons, ramones, entombed, hickey…..
Favorite TV show(s)?
HBO and English humor
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
sport is the foreplay to war – it’s bullshit – bread and circuses
nightbreed, harry potter (really!)
…fantasy movies are great. Probably because I watch so many history documentaries
Favorite books and comics?
‘Unbelievably Bad‘ and ‘Bizarrism‘ are the best magazines in this country
(Picture below of ‘Unbelievably Bad’ No. 5 – with art by Glenno)
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
too many to speak of and too scared to not mention some
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
People that do not consider what you do as important as any trade or service
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Being self-employed has its freedoms
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
All of the above sometimes. When you do custom art, you are at the mercy of the mind of the client
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
As early as I can remember
What did you draw as a pre-teen child?
War and religious stuff
What did you draw as a teen?
Skulls and heavy metal stuff…parodies…same as now
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
Probably the low-brow scene out of the juxtapoz magazine traditions
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
I couldn’t do one more day at the job club I was forced to attend
(Pictures below of some early Glenno work from his 1996 zine ‘Cope’)
Describe the method of making a ‘Glenno’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)
pencil – draw – ink – scan – color mainly
What are the best and worst parts of living and being an artist in Sydney, Australia AKA ConvictTown?
It’s too expensive here to save any money. Hand to mouth
Worst + Best Commissions and why?
Worst are the ones I start knowing the brief they send is half-baked, unoriginal, stupid or boring and prone to many future changes.
The best is when I am allowed to do what I want. They are always the ones that turn out best and will be timeless.
(Picture below of some art Glenno recently did for ‘Napalm Death‘)
What has it been like having your ‘Tin Tin In….’ prints become internet famous and oft bootlegged?
It paid a lot of rent
(Picture below of Glenno standing next to a stall selling bootlegs of his TinTin in Penrith art)
Why the decision to create a whole zine – ‘Conspiritus Muppetus’ – devoted to ‘The Muppets’?
I used to parody this stuff in high school.
I wanted to do something based around conspiracies and it all started with me drawing ‘bohemian grover’ which led to snufflupagus ganesh…and the ball was rolling…
What do you get out of playing music that you don’t get from your art?
Art is less physical and calls for less co-ordinated real-time concentration.
It gets me away from my desk.
Both are important personally but only one pays the rent.
Why did you decide to form the Australian-Circle-Jerk-Super-Group that is ‘Chinese Burns Unit’?
we are certainly no super group. Its just 4 guys that like to play music.
Jay basically wanted to be in a band with me and have me write the songs.
I couldn’t say no and I’m very glad it’s worked out so well both musically and as friends.
(Below – press pic for ‘Chinese Burns Unit’)
Best gig ever?
The last hard-ons gig is up there. Very emotional.
Worst gig ever?
I tend to forget those quickly.
I went to a recent big day out and I wanted to taser everyone.
What do the ‘Hard Ons’ mean to you?
One of my favorite bands and blokes of all time.
Great songs and tenacious attitudes.
What was it like being part of the 1990’s Sydney music scene with your band ‘Lawnsmell’ – Evan Dando dodging, ‘Hard Ons’ gigs, Newtown, ‘Waterfront Records’, heroin, ‘Half a Cow Records’ etc?
It’s not much different to being in a band now.
Anything you do as a teenager is going to seem amazing because that is how your brain chemistry is designed. It can also work against you with the same intensity.
I realize my naivety was a positive thing.
Odds n Ends
What role did toys play in your childhood?
Lack of toys led to desire for toys in early adulthood.
I was lucky not to depend too much on corporate products when I was growing up… to have childish kicks without too much stress on my folks.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
(Picture below of a Glenno poster for ConvictTown band ‘The Splatterheads‘)
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I couldn’t leave a swimming pool because gravity was too harsh on my body.
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
Sure, it was trippy.
Not to be attempted if you are having a hard time with yourself.
In your ‘Metal Band Art’ interview from 2012 you mention your interest in esoteric subjects… Care to expand more on your love of all things “esoteric” for those at home?
Esoteric knowledge is so expansive – secret societies, obscure thought and ancient mysteries.
There is too much to elaborate on.
I suggest googling “alchemy”, “Gnosticism” or “francis bacon” (not the artist francis bacon, but he is also an interesting type)
What was it like as a child growing up in Orange – a country town in NSW, Australia?
A good place to be a kid but a hard place to be an unusual thinking adolescent.
I had great friends and still do from that time
What does ‘Star Wars’ mean to you? It swings from mildly entertaining to frustratingly shallow.
(Picture below of a ‘Star Wars’ tribute illustration, by Glenno)
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Not that I know of.
Lots more screenprinted posters.
I am working on a graphic novel but it’s just off the ground so I won’t talk of it yet.
Any major projects you want to hype ma’am?
Just the book – conspiritus muppetus
(Picture below of the launch event poster for ‘Conspiritus Muppetus’ by Glenno)