The New Art School
by Ben Bonadies
Photos Courtesy of Sierra Szuhaj's Twitter
Sierra Szuhaj, better known under her Twitter handle @bandsdrawnbad, has spent the last year honing her fine art—stick figure renditions of her favorite musicians. Her simplistic MS Paint drawings have gained her a sizable following on Twitter and famous fans, including the likes of Mitski. The Buzz caught up with Szuhaj to see how her self-proclaimed “bad” artwork broke through the noise and helped jumpstart her career in the music industry.
The Buzz: What gave you the idea to start drawing bands?
Szuhaj: I was doodling during class one day and my friend thought it was funny and told me to start a blog of badly drawn bands and now here we are.
The Buzz: Are the stick figures you put on your blog the height of your artistic skill or are you, as some modern art critics say, “deskilling” to achieve some aesthetic purpose?
Szuhaj: The stick figures are pretty much the height of my artistic ability. Visual art is not really my thing.
The Buzz: Do you have a “thing?"
Szuhaj: Music. I go to school for music industry, run a tape label, play in various music projects and book shows.
The Buzz: If someone drew a band you’ve played in, would that feel weird, flattering, like someone was stealing your brand? A combination of all three?
Szuhaj: It would be a combination of all three. Mostly flattery though because bands always seem flattered when I draw them. I imagine I’d feel the same way if someone drew a band I was in.
The Buzz: Obviously running the label and booking shows are forays into the music industry, but do you see this blog as being a valuable asset too?
Szuhaj: Because of this blog I’ve been able to become internet friends [with]/meet so many people that do cool things in music [whether] they are a writer at a big publication like Pitchfork or Noisey, a teenager from Florida with a music podcast, or play in a touring band. So it’s a valuable asset for sure.
The Buzz: So many people seem to love your drawings. I’ve noticed that [music critic/blogger] Anthony Fantano is a fan and the bands you draw frequently RT your art. Have there been any posts that just tanked, or people didn’t respond to? What was it like when you were just starting out?
Szuhaj: The Hotelier picture was probably the biggest flop because all the band did was criticize it. Also after I drew Modern Baseball I lost about 50 followers. The general responses have been positive from the beginning, not much has changed.
The Buzz: What were the band’s complaints?
Szuhaj: [Lead singer] Christian’s facial hair was wrong and I drew someone who wasn’t in the band anymore.
The Buzz: What is your advice for people trying to break into the music industry?
Szuhaj: Go to as many local DIY shows as possible and be nice.
The Buzz: Final question: what are you listening to that you’d recommend?
Szuhaj: cllct yrslf, Jank, Japanese Breakfast, Major Lazer, Kississippi.