photo: JJ Sulin
Graphic designer/fine artist Cody Hudson is what many would call a tight-rope walker of the art world. Originally born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and currently residing in Chicago, Cody (aka Struggle Inc.) has taken his vision and applied it to the stratosphere of commercial art without compromising his M.O. as an artist. His resume runs deep as he's a played a lead role in a number of high-profile collaborations with Chocolate Industries, Upper Playground, Burton, Fifty24SF and others.
Cody's work often details the relationship between found objects, simple shapes and robust colors, which opens the door to layered realms of prosperity and unity. In other pieces, his simple, matter-of-fact demeanor is contrasted by landscapes that are in constant motion, pulsating from one shape to another. The vibrations emanating from Cody's work were much too vivid to ignore, so Centerstage made time to correspond with him to gain some insight on everything from his early inspirations to his undying loyalty to Hot Doug's.
Can you tell me a bit about where you grew up and what inspired you to start making art?
I was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, about one hour north of Chicago. I grew up on the same stuff most of my friends were into, starting with Dungeons and Dragons, then skateboarding and BMX, and punk rock and hip-hop. So I was always making stuff, whether it was drawing D&D characters and weapons to later drawing on the grip tape of my board and making skate zines to making mix-tape covers.
Who were some of the artists that kept you motivated along the way?
I've been inspired by a lot of different people and movements. On the design side of things, I've always looked up to people like Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, & Bruno Munari. And on the fine art side it's an ever changing group of influences including everyone from Paul Klee, Ellsworth Kelly, Ben Shahn, Stuart Davis, Eddie Martinez, Chris Johanson, Nick Cave & Tom Sachs.
When you're creating, do you ever get the sense that what you're making is just an interpretation of another piece of art you've seen and been inspired by or is there a certain process you go through to put your thoughts at the forefront?
Even if I am inspired by someone or something I see, I block that out when creating new work. I want the piece I'm working on to come from my mind state at that time and not come from a reference photo or object.
As a working artist, do you ever get heat from idealists who think you're "selling-out" because some of your art is intended to sell a product?
I really don't listen to much of that.
You've traveled around a lot yet you've decided to make Chicago your home-base. What is it about the city that inspires you?
The mid-west state of mind.
What went into the process of creating album covers for Chocolate Industries?
It's always great to listen to the record and try to interpret it, so that is where I would usually start, although sometimes between myself and the label we would have a pre-conceived idea and just go with that.
I know you're a Sox fan, so tell me what was going through your mind as Buehrle pitched that perfect game.
I've got love for the team and for the Bridgeport area and my grandfather briefly pitched for the Sox in 1918, so it was exciting when I saw the news of the perfect game.
Most of the time it seems like you're occupied by your work. Is there anything in particular that keeps you grounded?
Working in the garden, riding my bike, drinking too many beers.
You have an affinity for Hot Doug's, too. Give me the description of your perfect dog.
I love all the specials, but I'm really into the classic char dog with everything - minus the onions.
Bears or Packers?
Growing up in Wisconsin I was raised in a Packer family, but living in Chicago for such a big part of my life, I've been leaning towards the Bears. So I favor the Bears, but I still have a bit of interest in the Pack, even without Favre.