Buffalo Game Changers: Julian Montague
Julian Montague is one of Buffalo Spree's 2012 Game Changers
The press release tagline for Julian Montague might read something like this: Buffalo artist makes home here, shows artwork there. It might also head in a different direction: Local artist combines graphic design career with passion for the modernist-organic-eclectic. And that press release might come to you on a bike, in a shopping cart, on a fake book cover—or even via a Pinterest board.
Montague is a graphic designer and artist, whose early-2000s Stray Shopping Carts project—in which he photographed and classified over 200 shopping carts found abandoned in various urban settings—resulted in a published book and an entry into the international world of contemporary art. His mounting success offered an opportunity to relocate to a larger city with a more developed and supportive artistic community, but despite the acclaim and the temptation, he decided to remain a Buffalo resident.
“I like the scale of Buffalo and the potential of Buffalo,” Montague says. “Thankfully the internet makes it possible to live outside of the major centers and still pursue an art career.” An upcoming installation in Fredonia, following recent shows in Moscow and Brooklyn, support the artist’s confidence. Montague maintains an extensive website that precisely catalogues his artistic and professional work. His blog (updated daily) on modernist book covers, his latest project/installation on faux book and album covers, and his various Pinterest boards (for a start) all link from montagueprojects.com.
Montague’s blog project on mid-twentieth century book covers, called Daily Book Graphics, demonstrates his fascination with modernist design. The artist explains, “Unlike a lot of graphic design blogs that curate images from the Internet, I physically find these books at thrift stores and book sales. I have posted over 1,300 covers so far, most of which I haven’t seen anywhere else on the web. I like the idea of sharing the work of long forgotten designers with the rest of the world.”
Montague’s current project of creating faux books, posters, and covers includes titles like The Pigeon Fancier’s Gambit, The Drake, and Where The Worm Dies Not. Another recent endeavor, Secondary Occupants, examines the wide variety of animals and insects sharing residences with their primary occupants. Beyond his art, Montague sufficiently makes ends meet in the world of graphic design, collaborating with Betsy Frazer, a Buffalo graphic designer, in Frazer/Montague Design (frazermontague.com), which has clients throughout Western New York and beyond. Montague’s success in the wide worlds of both cutting-edge art and design is a model for any ambitious Western New York artist who aims at an active international career while retaining the advantages of living local.
An avid cyclist and member of the loosely organized biking group Lazy Randonneurs, Montague would love to live in an even bike-friendlier Buffalo, observing that “things have been going in the right direction with this for the last few years thanks to the efforts of GoBike and others. Because of Buffalo’s compact size there is a lot of potential to greatly increase the level of cycling.”
When asked where and what else he might be if not an artist in Buffalo, topping Montague’s list is curator of invertebrates at the Stockholm Zoo.