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Artist Spotlight: Ames Bros

For more than two decades. the Ames Bros (Barry Ament and Coby Schultz) have masterfully put to print the cities, the shows, and the music of Pearl Jam. Their poster are coveted by fans worldwide. Now the artistic duo has ventured into new territory: vampires.

The Ames Bros helped MoPOP bring this monster to life through the creation of stained glass windows that depict the vampire's most iconic traits.

What were your inspirations for this project? 

When Jacob (Senior Curator, MoPOP) approached us about working on the stained glass he referenced a couple of different posters we had designed over the years for Pearl Jam and more recently for Metallica.  Posters where we had used a stylized stained glass approach to the artwork. Early on, Jacob and Corey (Exhibit Graphic Designer) gave us a list of tropes for each section of the chapel, which was the spark to start creating a simple and iconic visual language. The funny thing is, that all of those referenced posters were illustrated by Coby. When it came time to start work on these, Coby was caught up on another project, and, because we are just a two-man design team, I had to step up and figure things out. I went back and studied Coby’s designs for inspiration and to get the first several pieces off the ground. I made it about half way through when Coby was able to dive in and we both wrapped up the project pretty quickly, working together.  Coby ended up illustrating some of my favorite pieces.

What was the most memorable part of this design process? 

More so than any project I can remember us working on, there was a lot of studying, concepting and contemplation before we ever took pen to paper. The challenges were two-fold. Because of the simplistic and rigid nature of stained glass, things needed to be boiled down into iconic and elementary imagery. Now, when it came to execution, it was extremely necessary to study stained glass technique, deconstruct the process and figure out how to recreate the look with paper and pen. I took a trip to Montreal and made sure to visit several churches and study technique. When I was back home, I spent some more time sketching outside of some churches in West Seattle. After we knocked out the first few window designs, we got into a groove and things started to really flow. The final illustration took one-tenth of the time of the first.

“Because of the simplistic and rigid nature of stained glass, things needed to be boiled down into iconic and elementary imagery.”

Which window was your favorite to create? 

That’s a tough one, like being asked to pick a favorite child. Some of the imagery was so iconic and almost automatic. Wooden Stake, Bloodsucking, Sunlight, etc… all evoke an immediate visual. Some of the tropes like Reflection, Native Soil, and Contagion were all pretty abstract concepts that didn’t have an immediate solution. We had to really mull those over, let them stick in our craw for a good month or so, before we were able to come up with a design solution. Those handful of challenging ideas are my personal favorites, because they took a bit more thought and I’m happy with where things ended up visually.

How was this project or process different from your other work? 

The thing that got us really excited about working on these illustrations was the final application. Giant stained glass windows in an unholy chapel complete with dripping blood? Are you kidding me! Most of the work we do ends up on a t-shirt or a piece of paper, so working on something large format, that was transparent and backlit, and in such a unique environment, was really appealing to us.

“Giant stained glass windows in an unholy chapel complete with dripping blood? Are you kidding me!”

Which aspect of vampire lore are you most drawn to? 

It’s easy to be drawn to the book. I read it as a kid and have re-read it with both of my kids. We also get excited about all of the different modern adaptations of the vampire. Coby and I are big fans of The Strain and movies like Let The Right One In. But, being honest, we’re products of the 80’s… growing up on movies like Fright Night, Salem’s Lot, and Vampire’s Kiss, we gravitate towards the campier side of things. 

Check out their work below, or see it up close and personal in Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film.

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About the author

Adrienne is a writer and editor from Seattle and is MoPOP's Content Wizard (patent pending).

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