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Alaska's Biggest Export is Ray Troll Art - TAS #8: A t-shirt empire, salmonfest, and the future of Alaska

Alaska's Biggest Export is Ray Troll Art - TAS #8: A t-shirt empire, salmonfest, and the future of Alaska

DeThe Homer Alaska Podcast


Alaska's Biggest Export is Ray Troll Art - TAS #8: A t-shirt empire, salmonfest, and the future of Alaska

DeThe Homer Alaska Podcast

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Longueur:
55 minutes
Sortie:
Apr 29, 2020
Format:
Épisode du podcast

Description

I sit down with Ray Troll, Ketchikan-based artist, to discuss how Alaska's fishing industry inspired him to build a t-shirt empire that would ship millions of shirts worldwide and adorn the chests of rockstars and actors, the business of art, the founding of Salmonfest, the ongoing fight against Pebble Mine, and Alaska's precarious future. Ray Troll Interview (5:15) TrollArt.com SalmonFestAlaska.org TheAKShow.com Interview Ray Troll is an artist, activist, lay scientist, and musician songwriter for the “Ratfish Wranglers.” Ray is most well-known for his shirts and his designs like “Spawn Till You Die” and “Return of the Sockeye.” STYD is the biggest seller over the years. Ray is 56 years old and still cranking out new lines of shirts every year. He doesn’t get tired of seeing his old designs. His shirts end up in the wackiest places - in Superbad, a Ugandan action film, on celebrities, and all around Alaska. Ray’s currently in “hunker down” mode. He hasn’t been doing much in 7 weeks at home. It’s been relaxing and meditative. He’s been walking in the woods and working on a line of new t-shirts. He hasn’t taken on the next big project yet. His band the Ratfish Wranglers recorded an album in Port Townsend, Washington before Covid-19 hit. Ray is thinking about starting a podcast. He has a ventriloquist friend named David Strassman from California. Twenty years ago they met and have been friends since. David used to do shows in Anchorage in the 70s and 80s, but his main career is in Australia. They want to start a show called “Paleo Nerds” and talk to scientists. They want to pick the brains of various scientists. Does Ray do a new line of shirts each year? He needs to be inspired to create new designs, otherwise it’s too much like work. But he’s been inspired regularly for decades now. Over the years he’s done his t-shirts that sustain him financially but in the meantime he has book projects, museum exhibits, a band, and he travels and speaks. The t-shirt business is almost on the side even though it’s his “main gig.” But he has a deep archive of designs. He can go back thirty years ago and rework old designs or hits. “Return of the Sockeye” is a great example. The shirt came out in the early 90s. The sales tapered off, but one year in the 2000s when he didn’t have new designs he dug it out and did a new digital coloring. It came out again in 2007 or 2008 and they flew off the shelf. Ray doesn’t think he will ever run out of ideas. He has a huge archive of idea and sketchbooks. His designs go beyond just fishing into paleontology and the natural world and they aren’t all pun or jokes. So he can be funny or not and cover a wide array of subjects. Most people know Ray from the t-shirts but he’s done bigger pieces as well. Usually he’s doing large paintings and prints and the shirts are on the side. He has done large murals for universities and government things. He’s always wanted to sell his original art for big money, and he’s had good prices for originals, but he’s always liked the egalitarian “art for the masses” attitude. Art on a t-shirt is art that everyone can have - it shouldn’t be for the wealthy alone. He was trained as a printmaker and that trade is all about making multiples. That was the everyman’s art back in the middle ages. They were kind of the first t-shirts. Was having such a big t-shirt business a master plan? No, Ray says, it just took off on him and he was shocked by how popular the shirts were. Back in summer of 1983 Ray was out of graduate school and was teaching at his Alma Mater in Kansas. He wanted to be a college professor, but it’s hard to get that job as a new MFA. He was looking for a day job and his big sister Kate was living in Ketchikan and she and her husband started a little seafood shop on the dock in Ketchikan. They offered him a summer job. Ray comes from a family of 6 kids and three of his siblings were already living in Alaska. 4 of the 6 of them have since made Alaska their home even thoug
Sortie:
Apr 29, 2020
Format:
Épisode du podcast