The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries invite you to join us on Monday, October 3, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Scheler Family Humanities Forum (Linderman 200) for Paper Trail: A Conversation with Artist, Illustrator, and Writer Rob Sato.

The free public talk, which is supported by the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries, coincides with a solo exhibition of Sato’s art works in the Fairchild-Martindale Study Gallery. The Paper Trail exhibit runs through Oct. 31.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session led by Boaz Nadav-Manes, Lehigh’s University Librarian.

Sato will also host an interactive creativity workshop on Tuesday, October 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Fairchild-Martindale Library, Room 625. Register here.

In Paper Trail, installed throughout study spaces in the Fairchild-Martindale Library, Sato explores hyper-personal and emotional observations, often working with ideas related to memory and transformation. He argues that art is the only place where one can healthily play with unhealthy thoughts and “explore undefined corners of consciousness.”

"Throughout my life I’ve been driven to craft narrative imagery and pursue storytelling. Some of my work takes more obvious narrative forms while much of it is abstract and not necessarily what one might consider traditionally story-driven,” he says. Additionally, hints of inspiration taken from the graphic Japanese style of Manga and other Japanese influences are interwoven into his unparalleled artistic technique.

“Most of my body of work has been made through a free-form process that layers autobiography, fiction, thoughts on history, and observations about life in the present into a foundation where I can jump off into more fantastical, absurd or surreal imagery which plays with both personal and traditional symbology,” he said.

Glimpses of Sato’s Japanese American background are often a fixture found within his work. Implications of the history surrounding his ancestral heritage, such as the horrors of the Japanese internment camps during World War II, can be found throughout his portfolio.

Based in Los Angeles, Sato's creative pursues include cultivating his personal art practice, exhibiting work and making drawings, paintings, sculpture, prints and books, while also freelancing for numerous illustration projects and animation. Of the creative process, he says “I prefer to not know quite what I’m aiming for either thematically, visually, or materially. It’s hard to get there, hard to be there, and hard to come back, but it makes the work more vivid, alive and resistant to being pinned down, all which encompasses my main objective–to make things that come from and continue to live in the wild.”

About the talk

In his talk, Sato will touch on some personal history, talk about his roots and family, which he describes as a “cultural mess,” what shaped and continues to shape what he does, and discuss his journey making art from his youth to the present. Hear about his experience working in various corners of the art, illustration, animation worlds and beyond, and get a deep dive into specific art pieces and the conceptual, emotional, and material processes that inform his work.

Sato is currently working as a character designer on the movie Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, a follow up to 1996’s Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, as well as two seasons of the television series.

He previously worked as a background designer on the Netflix animated series The Midnight Gospel, created illustrations for the New Yorker and The New York Times, and designed the mural for the facade of Titmouse Animation Studios in Burbank, CA. He’s also been working with the Los Angeles Metro on a number of public art projects and occasionally collaborates with Tiny Splendor, a collective publishing press based in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Come early to Linderman Library and explore a pop-up exhibition outside Scheler Family Humanities Forum before the talk, with a selection of zines from the recently acquired Frank Lunney Fanzine Collection. The exhibit opens at 4:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served at the evening’s events.

Creativity Workshop, Tues., Oct 4

Fairchild-Martindale Library, Rm 625 | 1:30-3:00 PM

Explore personal history and memory in this hands-on art-making workshop with the artist! We will start off with drawing games to warm up your creativity and visualization before turning to your own memory mapping and storytelling project. The workshop will conclude with time to share your stories and projects.

Please complete this brief Google form if you are interested in joining us!

Sponsored by The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries.