Sioux Falls’ Leslie E. Cotton is a senior art director at Lawrence & Schiller (L&S), but you might know him for his skull-inspired works under the name Les Cotton Design Co.
The maker, designer, and illustrator also serves as the vice president and marketing director for the Sioux Falls Skatepark Association (SFSA). 605 caught up with Cotton on his works and busy life.
YOU MIGHT KNOW MY WORK FROM… the marketing work I do or my freelance work for SFSA, Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen, Looks Market, The Breaks Coffee Roasting Co., Total Drag, Soulcrate, Later Babes, and others.
I’M CURRENTLY WORKING ON… a poster series as a way to learn silk screening. I’m also helping out with the SFSA. We always have events going on to raise money for the park. That keeps me pretty busy when I’m not working at L&S.
I WOULD DESCRIBE MY ARTISTIC STYLE AS… a mix between surrealist illustrations and tattoo flash. I have taken classes and learned to draw the world as it is, but I feel it’s better to create something that comes from within. I try and create a visual metaphor almost. Lately I’ve tried to simplify those ideas as if they were tattoo flash, which I can see getting back into.
SIOUX FALLS SKATEPARK ASSOCIATION BLOCK PARTY
WHAT: Skate demos, competitions,
games, prizes, and “rad times.”
WHERE: Total Drag, Sioux Falls.
WHEN: September 28 // 2 p.m.
THE MEDIUM I MOST OFTEN USE TO CREATE IS… pen and paper.
But as of late I’ve been using my iPad Pro and pencil. I’ve been using that more, but I still love pen and ink.
MY CREATIVE PROCESS CONSISTS OF… just thinking of things that are going on in my head and trying to visualize them in a different way. Normally I don’t have a plan. I just start doodling and what comes out comes out. It’s probably not until half of the piece is done that I’ll start penciling to finish it.
THE INSPIRATION FOR MY ILLUSTRATIONS COMES FROM… life’s struggles and my inner thoughts, social and political issues, and traditional tattooing.
SKULLS APPEAR OFTEN IN MY WORK BECAUSE… I see a skull as a good symbol to show humans in a general way, like a metaphor for mankind. We all have them, and we all look like that in the end. And they’re really fun to draw.
SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT
ME IS… that for two years the only music my wife and I listened to was Bob Dylan. Like on repeat.
FOUR WINDS IV ART + MUSIC FEST
WHERE: Icon Event Hall + Lounge
WHEN: September 13 – 6:30 p.m.
+ OK, Parade
+ Salt Creek
+ Lot Lizard
+ WOLF SKIN
+ GREEN ALTAR
+ Stem Cells
605 ART SHOW
+ Em Nguyen
+ Les Cotton
+ Marc Wagner
+ Mike Fleming
+ Morgan Bentley
+ And more!
PROJECTS I WORK ON AT MY FULL-TIME JOB ARE… marketing and
advertising related. I recently got to re-design the L&S logo and help with the new branding as well. I also work with Sanford Health and
the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety on marketing efforts.
ONE MOVIE I WILL NEVER GET TIRED OF WATCHING IS… Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO GRAB A BITE TO EAT IN SIOUX FALLS IS… man, that is tough. I love so much of the food in our city. I’ll give you my top three: Bread and Circus and their burger with fries, Fernson Downtown and their fried chicken, and Shahi Palace and their butter chicken.