Episode 20: Clay Hickson

On Staying Busy and Enjoying the Process


In this episode, I chat with Clay Hickson, an illustrator and the founder of Tan & Loose Press and The Smudge. We talk about Clay's path to illustration, why he keeps busy with many personal and side projects and how he works and gets inspired.

Clay Hickson is an LA based illustrator and founder of the independent risograph press Tan & Loose Press as well as a monthly newspaper called The Smudge. Clay is not only a hugely talented illustrator with a distinctive 70s vibe who has worked with clients like Netflix, American Express and Apartemento, but also a very generous and active member of the illustration community. Shortly after graduating from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Clay stumbled across a craigslist ad for a risograph printer. He took a chance and bought that machine and learned about risograph printing to start his own independent publishing house and press called Tan & Loose. Since then, Tan & Loose has published books from artists like Lan Truong, Gabriel Alcala, Peter Gamlen and many more. Clay’s other side project, and a hugely influential one that has earned him tons of acclaim within the creative community and beyond is the Smudge, a monthly newspaper inspired by political journals of the 70s underground scene that Clay publishes with his wife the illustrator Liana Jeggers.

In this conversation we talk about:

  • how Clay became an illustrator

  • how the harsh Canadian winter encouraged Clay to start drawing more

  • how and why Clay fell in love with risography

  • why Clay does so many side and personal projects

  • Clay's daily routine

  • how, where and with what tools Clay likes to work

  • resources to learn more about risograph printers

  • what it's like to run and print an independent newspaper

  • Clay's art book and vintage magazine collection


Support Clay and his amazing work by subscribing to The Smudge or purchasing a few Tan & Loose Press goodies.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission from purchases made through them (at no additional cost to you). This helps to support the show.