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Smells like team spirit

Methane Studios gives good print

If a town as sprawling and haphazard as Atlanta could be said to have a design, then the guys at Methane Studios might be held partly responsible.

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The two-man design team created, among other things, the logos for Front Page News restaurants, City Issue furniture store and the late Echo Lounge. They also have produced some of the most iconic, smartly designed posters on the indie-rock scene.

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Founders Mark McDevitt and Robert Lee have been recognized in poster tomes like Chronicle Books' Art of Modern Rock for their clean, retro-influenced, limited-edition silk-screen posters that draw from old jazz records, Saul Bass' movie title sequences, and the usual '70s childhood bouillabaisse of Mad magazine, Planet of the Apes, action figures, KISS and cereal boxes.

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The indie-rock fans first bonded over bands such as Throwing Muses, the Replacements and Husker Du while attending art school in Ohio. Since then, they've gone on to create original designs for bands such as Traffic, the Dave Matthews Band and Kings of Leon, as well as produce touring posters for a variety of acts that passed through the Echo Lounge, including the Shins and Patti Smith.

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A number of Methane Studios designs will be included in the Graphic Noise poster art exhibition at Museum of Design Atlanta, opening July 28. Other well-known representatives of the poster movement will participate, including Print Mafia and Patent Pending.

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Considering their eerily parallel childhoods and design sensibilities, Lee is more than qualified to speak for both partners.

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Age? 39.

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Neighborhood? Woodland Hills.

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Education? BFA in illustration, minor in advertising. Columbus College of Art in Columbus, Ohio.

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Born? Aberdeen, Md. Grew up in Marion, Ohio.

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First painting? Rambo. My parents hung it up in their living room.

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Where did you and Mark meet? Columbus College of Art. We were in art school and we loved music, so what we're doing now is kind of the perfect mixture of both.

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Day job? NASCAR illustrator.

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Tools of the trade? Black Sharpie, legal pads. One legal pad for each poster design.

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Concept stage of poster design? Painful.

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Methane name origin? Basically a fart joke. The ink we use in our posters smells bad.

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Illustrators or artists? We're illustrators first, designers second.

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Biggest body part? Forehead. My brother calls it "Fivehead." It's too big for a "four."

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How many posters? Three a month since 1998.

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Favorite color combination? I was really into chocolate browns and blues. Then pinks and browns for a while.

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Favorite drink? Beer.

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Last CD purchase? The Doves. I love it.

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Movies? Bad movies, good movies. I watched Meatballs the other day. The original Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Scorsese stuff. Caddyshack, Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

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How do you account for your eclectic taste? Maybe it's an Ohio thing. People say Ohio people are laid-back. We're both from small towns.

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House style? There are two schools: the heavy illustrators and the heavy designers. And I think we bridge that gap, between design and illustration.

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So do you ... No, not often. Tonight I may.

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Childhood hero? Clint Eastwood.

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Designers? David Stone Martin. Jeff Kleinsmith. Todd Slater.

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What would make you have a panic attack? I have panic attacks all the time. It runs in my family. Not being able to come up with an idea.

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What goes through your head? Are the bars closed?

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Essence of Methane? We're just small-town country bumpkins who live in the big city. We like to have a good time. The essence of Methane is a sense of humor.

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What else in common? We love to camp.

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Trail name? Robert: Pop Tart. Mark: Egg.

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Last trip? The Smokies.

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Driven more by nostalgia or anticipation of the future? I'm a very nostalgic, sentimental person.

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Shared sensibility in poster art community? It's like a schoolyard. There's dicks and there's bullies and there's nice kids and easygoing kids. We're not the dicks.

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Most influential person in your life? My parents.

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What would you do with $100,000? Ideally, I want Mark and I to have a studio to go to and work in. A little reception area, a printing room, a beer refrigerator and a juke box.



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