Young Monster Fuses Local Art and Music Scenes

By Xan Gwaltney

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — If you have seen event posters around town in the last year, chances are you’ve seen the work of the local art collective known as Young Monster.

Young Monster design

Young Monster design

The group started operating over a year ago thanks to a grant from Chattanooga non-profit organization CreateHere, which identifies itself as “an experiment in harnessing the economic potential of creative individuals” to “build Chattanooga’s cultural economy through arts, economic, and cultural development initiatives.”

UTC graduate Nick Dupey founded Young Monster after writing the grant with Heather Lacey, who now works primarily with Do Ya Hear We records.

Currently, the core group consists of Dupey, Zach Hobbs, Alison Burke, and Scott Campbell, and specializes in screen printing, graphic design, and most recently fashion design.

Dupey says, “There’s a rich history of music-based design” and the goal of Young Monster is to “try to develop a design culture around the music scene” in Chattanooga.

Young Monster pieces can regularly be found touting upcoming events at local venues JJ’s Bohemia and Discoteca, and often add a distinct art aspect to events such as the Bangers Ball and The Chattanooga Roller Girls bouts and shows by the likes of:

Discoteca poster designed by Young Monster

Discoteca poster designed by Young Monster

  • The Distribution
  • King Khan & the Shrines
  • Andrew Bird
  • Those Darlins
  • Lambchop
  • Forest Magic

Dupey says, “The regionality of what we do is really important.  We want to create a voice for our city and the music that comes out of our city.”

A veteran himself of the music scene as a member of Giant Tigers, Dupey has become prolific as a visual artist.

He says, “I personally did about 40 posters last year.”  Add in the output of the other Young Monster contributors and he says the group produced “upwards of 100 posters last year.”

As a group, Young Monster has created a distinctive style, influenced heavily by Polish poster design and film.  Dupey says that film especially is an inspiration because it is a “culmination of film, visuals, music, and graphic design.”

In particular the artists are inspired by horror films, such as the work of Roger Corman, in which they are drawn to the beauty of at times ugly or horrific imagery.

Young Monster has recently branched out further with merchandising, offering posters, prints, cards, and clothing on their website.  Dupey says the worldwide decline in record sales has led the music industry to push gig posters and other merchandise as more products to sell.

As a result, he says the art form of gig posters, while it had never gone away, has found increased public awareness.

Young Monster also recently partnered with Leo Handmade Gallery which officially reopened April 2 and currently features the photography of Robert Parker.

The new store is located at 22 Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga.

Here Nick Dupey demonstrates printing a poster in the Young Monster studio beneath the Leo gallery.