The look of these DIY publications and vinyl were universally lo-fi, even though the design style ranged wildly. Most were b&w, sometimes with a spot color or two thrown in, and relied on handmade and tactile print reproduction methods for their charm. Many had something of a mod look to them, which I loved—clearly influenced by the design of revolutionary pamphlets of the 1960s, I now know. I had to hide and/or destroy most of them (I was really quite young to be reading most of this stuff), But the memories of this contraband has become further and further romanticized in my mind as I’ve grown older, and found myself in NYC, where I’ve learned that my love for this type of just-pre-internet ephemera and culture is not unique.
The reason I’m telling you all of this is because I think that my fondness for these zines that rescued my adolescent mind may partially explain why I am so head over heels for Raymond Biesinger’s illustrations. Aside from the fact that he is clearly an insanely talented illustrator, he preserves the charm of lo-fi culture in his work: conjuring up this aesthetic realm of photocopier toner, speckled imperfections and shapes clearly made with scissors. But he brings that feeling into a whole new realm of sophistication. Looking at his illustrations on the computer makes me feel incredibly happy and nostalgic, like some cool thing I had forgotten about just arrived in the mail.
With all of these references mixed in, borrowing from pre-internet ephemera and outsider art and punk-rock album covers*, he ends up with these pieces that are elegant and simple, but so damn full of cultural dimension. Even when he is illustrating obscure concepts from the realm of quantum physics, the work reflects loads of style and a keen awareness of print history and subcultures. I recently picked up an edition of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat (buy it!), which is filled with delightfully tacky-ink print-y illustrations of things like “Eight slithy toves gyre and gimble in the oxygen wabe; seven in nitrogen.” See for yourself below and enjoy the marvelous illustrations and mystical-but-legitimately-scientific captioning.