Interview with Jailbird
Published by Domination #14
Performed by Jazzcat
There are a handful of excellent C64 artists in the scene today and here is one of them. Jailbird is a Yugoslavian graphician who is responsible for the recent efforts in Arachnophobia and Vandalism News.
He has recently joined Onslaught, but seeing as this interview was conducted before that time we will only credit his other two groups behind his handle.
Welcome to the magazine Arnold, please introduce yourself to the readers...
Thanks, Jazzcat. My name is Arnold Chistai, a 21 year old guy from the northern part of Yugoslavia. I finished secondary school as a typo-graphist technician (which is something like a designer), studied in several universities since then. Also have worked on some graphics related fields (mainly design on computers), but as machine-craftsman as well. Unfortunately, soon to be an army man for a year, as I'm fulfilled with (not) studying.
In my spare time I'm usually listening to quality music, collecting and watching The Simpsons' episodes on VHS, go to see a movie or to check out what's going on in the theatre.
Not an active anti-communist like I was before, but I never forget to support the Otpor (Resistance) and the Yugoslavian opposition in any way. Besides that, I'M a huge fan of F.C. Spartak, which is our local low-level football team? But 90% of my spare time is reserved for the Commodore, of course?
I guess things are changing in your country now with Milosevic not in power. Could you now tell the readers about you C64 history...
For some of you out there, could be quite strange that I'm constantly active on the C64 since 1993. I count my scene-ages from then, as that was the year I attended at a computer party held by Chromance+Faces for the first time.
Now a scene-commonplace shall follow with some local lamer groups and the first foreign group Megaunit. Due to some post problems I usually lost my connection with my foreign groups, so misunderstandings were common. The same situation with No Name, Lepsi and Hitmen. For a while I was a member of Equinoxe, via Nucleus, but unfortunately those were the days when the legendary group started to fade away. At that time I was already a member of Tempest, and when I was invited to Padua I joined immediately.
As a pixel-graphician and a cover designer, I did over 80 different graphics. Mainly were all those events when my works reached the air in a scene-product, highlights were my 1st place on YALP'97 and '98 (beating off the way all the PC and Amiga entries, the 1st place on North Party 5 (out of two other pictures c, the 2nd on MS2k, the 2nd on North Party 6, and the 2nd on Duce's "Cover of the Millenium" cover-compo... Meeting with these successes made me even more devoted and active.
I have never seen much graphics from you before until now. It is clear to me that you are a very under-rated graphician. When and what will the readers see from you in the future and in what productions?
It isn't my fault. For years I was working with people which kept asking me for graphics, but never used them after all. To be frank, after a while I learned that I must not care about that too much, as I, generally, paint for myself and for MY enjoyment.
Though, seeing that the public like your works, is like a drug, and can really make you drudge with your next piece.
But back to your question. With Ninja we're working on old-skool demos. The main one we'll totally finish after I come back from the army. It will contain many of my graphics which won't be shown to the wider public until the release of the demo.
I believe that the Padua posse finished a project which is spiced up with some multicolor and FLI works of mine. I also did hard-core graphics which you requested for Onslaught releases, and of course my gfx will be present on compos during my military service, so there won't be slowdowns because of that. Some minor projects show up time by time, I do a logo if someone asks me, even if I'm not so sure it will be used or not. The main thing can't be any other than the process of pixelling, and that is more than enough for me.
I like your opinion on graphics. Do what you love to do and keep your number one priority to enjoyment for yourself. What is your idea on demo design and style with the presentation of any project?
I'll maybe sound a bit old-fashioned, but I really adore scrollers, rasterbars, plotters and hires-vectorobjects, I can watch them for ages!
Old-skool design is my favourite for sure... But as design "codifies" were formally beaten into my head in the school, I know that it can't be learned, nor it can be made from nothing. Actually, you must respect some rules, but you don't really need more than a good and healthy taste.
I frequently notice extravagance on this field, both on the C64 and the net, when there are reluctant things on the composition. Those presentations are turning into an even bigger kitsch as "design" is now anyway. Don't get me wrong, I like design, but the "arty" part of it now vanished after the 80's, now it's more like Vallejo: awesome for the eyes, but in the same time it is plain nothing. If there is someone I really respect for his design-skills on the C64, it is Sander. IMHO, his works are typical instances of style.
Like the wonderful design he and Doomed implemented into this outfit. Recently much discussion about graphics at parties has taken place on Padua's C64 mailing list. It is to do with people converting other people's artwork and touching them up on the C64. It also points out that people who do this should be called craftsmen instead of artists. What is your opinion on this topic?
It all depends. If a picture is plain wired and only retouched on the C64, I'd say it's cheating. I am a bit more convinced with Cyclone's way of painting, as he's at least pixelling his own stuff, but still in brilliance, and if you've ever tried to paint in that program, you'll see it is child's play to come out with own design. I don't see why would we call someone a C64 graphician if the person is doing his graphics on the Amiga (or on the PC, whatever)
Personally, I feel very okay with doing remakes. As first as I do really everything on the C64, using only the pixel- and copy-tools, and secondly because the skill is, in most of the cases, much more important on the C64 than the motive.
Doing characters, girls-portraits, landscapes, monsters or balls in base-ball caps won't make you an artist even if you do your own work. On the other hand, I don't care about my reputation as an "artist" at all, which I never was or will ever be anyway.
I wouldn't fool other people with wiring as much as I'd fool myself. I simply can't see the point of wiring as long as I can do pictures in the same quality or even better than a wired one would be, only be hand-pixelling it in the pure C64 way...
Ever had any disagreements with any one on the scene?
No, not really. I try to avoid these kind of things. Some people on IRC can be really boring with constant call-ups for ragging, just because they're on the #c-64 24 hours a day and think that makes them an elite or a C64 scener at all. I always try to be as friendly as I can.
I agree. There is lots of wanna-be idiots on IRC, talk is cheap. Do you have any hints and tips for the learning C64 graphicians out there?
Yes, many! :) I can give specific tips only considering how I've learned pixelling: first I ripped logos and copied the techniques, later I came up with some of my own works, but I guess most of the graphicians did it the same way.
There is a specific way of good dithering and anti-aliasing, which can't be explained by words. Shapes, figures are also very important to do well, or to understand the right way of mixing colours. Personally, I found lights as one of the most important factors of a good logo/picture.
So rip, look, explore, find, copy, try, learn, practice, practice, practice... And of course, never give up!
How would you describe the differences between scene personalities in the DEMO scene and CRACKING scene?
Tough question. I've never been a part of the cracking scene, nor called the boards. Consequently, know only what I've read in different magazines. I'm maybe not the only one who thinks that people from the cracking scene are much more arrogant, while on the demo scene, the sharing of knowledge and the friendship between concurrent groups (and their members) is more usual. Demo scene was, from my point of view, always more about products and innovation instead of speed and competition...
Out of the following, which are your favourites on the C64...
Demo group: Crest, T'pau, Megastyle, Censor, Oxyron, Triad, Focus, Blackmail, Booze Design, Graffity and Panoramic Design.
Demo: Gee, way to many to list here.
Programmer: Ninja, for not giving up doing world records and fantastic old-school code. And Crossbow, Graham, of course.
Musician: Anything that's jazzy, funky or melodic can cheer me up, whoever is the composer. The only thing I don't really like is techno.
Graphician: Deekay for his unbeatable technique. RRR, Cupid for their great logos. Electric for his quality. Then Poison Valsary, Mermaid, Sander, Aomeba... and from the old schoolers Hein Holt, Gotcha, Hobbit and Mirage.
Game: I don't play games too much. Probably Pirates!, Elite and Paradroid.
Cracker: I don't really have a favourite cracker.
Cracker Group: ...nor a favourite cracker group.
How has the internet changed your computer activities? Is it really a positive thing for the scene or does it have a negative side too?
The negative sides are obvious: the snail mail scene and the mail traders decreased, the once so huge cover-scene is also dying. I really loved to swap, but often had post problems, even threatened by the post. So I'm really glad that I found such a force as the internet is. It's an easy matter to stay in constant contact with my friends and group mates. My collection of scene-wares increases 3-5 times, since it's so easy to download stuff from the ftps. Nevertheless you can get the latest releases within hours, if not minutes.
Snail mail wasn't neither so cheap and safe as my server is, but swapping had it's certain "feeling". I remember how excited I was when I've found a pack in my mailbox, already knowing who sent the pack by the handwriting on it, wondering who the sender is if the form of the letters weren't familiar or noticed a country I don't have a contact from. How great it is to open the pack and to slide the disk into the drive, to read the note and check out the wares... Internet changed the scene and my life for the better, that is for sure, but in the same time, knocked out a very important part of it.
I agree. It has made things really good but also killed off many important elements of the C64 scene which made it original. Jailbird, an interesting handle, ever been to jail or committed a crime? or is the handle from somewhere else?
Actually, the Jailbird (or JB) handle started as a joke, but to be honest, as a kid I did a lot of things I regret today. As a football fanatic, had much fun whilst following my fave team, everywhere they used to play the ball, but the constant fights between the two opposite teams leaded me and a bunch of my friends to the hospital and the police. I can't even remember how many times were we imprisoned and beaten up in the police station, but my handle, my crooked broken nose and a neat scar on my forehead keeps reminding me not to do stupid things any more ?... However, about two years ago Mosel King and I had some troubles with the police coz they caught us while doing a graffiti. That was pretty lame, as we had to leave it unfinished and the whole graffiti scene in our town was laughing how ugly piece of shit we did :D
Scene parties in the past sure would have been fun. Which ones did you go to and which is your favourite one?
My first party was the Chromance and Faces '93 in Szolnok, Hungary.
I was only 14 and pretty afraid not to do or say something wrong, as I didn't know too much about the scene. It's really funny now when I think back, but that was really my first bigger scene experience. Later I've attended YALP '97, which was a Yugoslav party and way better than the first one, had much fun there... Since that, I wanted to visit a few parties, but usually my plans were always miscarried due to some reason.
How long would you spend on an average picture? Do you also plan any multi-screen pictures?
For a full screen picture I usually need 5 to 10 hours, it all depends on how motivated I am. Plain multicolour is harder to handle because of the restrictions, while in IFLI there is almost twice as much pixel to set. With Ninja we plan to do an interlace (probably multicolour picture on 2 screens which will scroll horizontally, and once I'll probably do a vertically scrolled 2 or 3 screen IFLI. Actually, I've already did a 2 by 2 screen hires with Hitmen's sign (the Sisters of Mercy thing), but it was never released...
Anything from the past that was quite funny, shocking or impressive that you would share with the readers?
In the first 2-3 years of my scene activities I've had hundreds of great, funny and even shocking experiences, due to the neat thing that 4 members of my first two groups were living in my city, and we were always hanging together, constantly partying and boozing?
As kids we've had even our first kiss in the same time, by giving a drunk bitch hand to hand. Later we turned on the C64, to write a review about it? We've had a spray can, so after a few beers Nuc painted a nice Tempest logo on a wall near to a dark park. Later a friend who was hanging with us sprayed a Myth logo and gave me the can. After that we decided to check out a disco and just when we wanted to get in the car, a fag policeman suddenly jumped out from the darkness and catched me with the spray can in my hand. He forced me and another guy to rub off the graffities with our jackets, nevertheless punished the car-owner dude because he was quite drunk. The best thing was when Nucleus started to argue with the policeman, and later we laughed our asses off?
Or, once when Phantom and Picasso started to fight because of a damn ugly girl who thought she was the eighth wonder of the world. Later she dumped both?
We were constantly organizing great booze-parties at Phantom's place...
Once Picasson fell out from the window on the storey, luckily wasn't too Serious. Zombi, and oldskool YU scener, fucked himself up himself in a pogo, and while Phantom was in constant panic because of the furniture, Flash and I were so drunk and hungry we ate the only thing we found in the fridge. Later it came out to light that it was actually a bowl of dog food ?
Or funny was when were celebrating my birthday in a pub with some girls. Later, when we decided to have a walk, two of the drunk girls climbed up to an electric pole... and while Flash was laying on the ground puking on himself, with Phantom and Picasso we were trying to take down the girls from the pole :D
These are all such stories which can bring back so much memories, connected to the scene by that we've all had a C64, came together a few times a week to watch some demos, to read each other's contact notes, to copy the latest stuff, and to have some REAL fun... things I really miss, but on the other hand I know it's after all, better that we all grew old (we never thought Flash will ever find a girl, far from that he will marry one!?, and went our different roads...
Aaah, great stories indeed! Wait until I chat to Nucleus again, hehe :P
Feel free to say hello to anyone you know out there in the wonderful world of C64...
Well, greetings to all my friends I know, you surely know who you are! I love you all!
Any last words? To leave a final impression on the audience?
The C64 scene is much more than a hobby... It's a lifestyle. Love it, be it, keep it alive. Stay devoted, respect the traditions and believe in yourself. That is the secret.