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Wild Thing

The spirited art of Stacey Rozich.

On a jagged hillside, an animal with the curvaceous horns of an antelope, small ears of an elk and sad doe eyes embarks on an odyssey. It catches a rabbit, locks eyes with an owl and ultimately winds up in the jaws of a two-headed sea snake. These scenes could be in a children’s book or fairy tale. Instead, they’re in a Fleet Foxes video, the first of Stacey Rozich’s illustrations brought to animated life.

Last year, the young designer’s work was noticed by Fleet Foxes singer Robin Pecknold and his brother Sean, a video producer and animator. They asked Rozich to collaborate on a video for the single “The Shrine/An Argument,” which was released last November.

“Sean had ideas of what he wanted for the protagonist and some of the background characters,” Rozich says, at Capitol Hill’s Bar Ferd’nand in
early February. “He and Robin asked, ‘Can you imagine this through your own lens and help us produce this?’”

Rozich painted the creatures in the video on watercolor paper and cut them out with an X-acto knife. Sean and co-animator Britta Johnson added joints to make them moveable, posable puppets. At eight minutes long, the resulting stop-motion epic is haunting. Its imagery—like all of Rozich’s art—is influenced by her Yugoslav and Croatian heritage and her love of fine linework. Rozich has created art for other musicians on record labels K and Southern Lord. For the latter, Rozich designed a pair of covers for veteran Seattle metal band Earth’s recent releases, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I and its forthcoming sequel. On II, Rozich assembled a group of caravanning creatures. Sentries wearing cow skulls lead the way for two warriors riding atop elk-like animals. Their garments are patterned in zigzags, geometric shapes and totemic symbols.

Rozich’s work has appeared on T-shirts (notably for Cairo boutique) and will soon debut on a snowboard for GNU. She had an Etsy shop but couldn’t make prints fast enough to meet the demand. Her next exhibit takes place at Pioneer Square’s Flatcolor Gallery this April. Striving to create a brand, the show will feature product-design collaborations with Free Time Industries along with prints and a mural.

“It’s about exploring my heritage through folkloric means,” she says. “But this time concentrating more on subtlety, balanced out by my trademark bright colors and beastly figures.”

An awareness of mythological archetypes is growing in our culture, as evidenced by the work of artists like Rozich, whose designs are massively popular online. But Rozich’s work dodges the sloppy spirituality of some things you find on the average Tumblr blog. A close look reveals human details peeking through her animals’ clothing.

“I like the idea, in folklore, that people can transform themselves into something more mysterious, more powerful, more dangerous,” she says.

Photo by Kyle Johnson.

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