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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Visceral Visionaries: Austin James

It's been a while, but I'm finally bringing Visceral Visionaries back with someone who really does fit the bill, the amazing illustrator Austin James. I recently came across his Tumblog, the appropriately titled The Work of Austin James, and was particularly struck by a horror film-themed collage illustration he recently completely. I subsequently got him to sit down and answer some questions. Behold the results...

What were some of your inspirations, both horror related and otherwise?

I draw most of my inspiration from things I see every day. When you're drawing consistently, you just seem to get in this grind where you're constantly over-analyzing how everything moves and looks around you (at least in my case). It gets to be a bit much, but it's important when you're drawing things that represent real life. Even when drawing strange fictional creatures, it is essential to have some knowledge of how real-life animals move and look.
Modern artists that consistently inspire me are the likes of Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, Daniel Clowes, Ross Campbell and Charles Burns. All of these wonderful artists have such amazing attention to detail and an amazing eye for weight and movement in their work.
Horror always inspires me, especially the truly bizarre, like movies by Frank Henenlotter, David Cronenberg, Larry Cohen and Stuart Gordon. I love movies like Brain Damage, Re-Animator, Society and The Thing. Whenever I see such creative creatures and practical effects, it drives me to create something of my own. And while not really as much horror-related, the wonderful Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen have always motivated me.

You're using Tumblr to promote your work. Do you find this to be effective in getting it out there?
Everyone and their grandmother seems to have a blog now. It's such a great way for any nobody to be noticed. It's so easy for someone to do one thing that gets them out there and have that re-blogged over and over again till they receive their fifteen minutes or so. It's a fantastic way to network. I just recently jumped on the bandwagon, but it seems to be working out pretty swell so far.

For me, of course, the highlight is the
horror movie poster. What led you to do that work?
I normally don't do much fan art, but I have a near unhealthy passion for film (particularly horror films). So much of my time is spent watching and reading about movies. I think horror is such an impressively diverse genre with such a devoted fan base. It's great that someone can see the same slasher film done over and over, and really appreciate the little differences that make one so much more special than most of them. It is the most distinctive, polarizing genre, and I think that makes it absolutely special. It was only a matter of time before I put my passion for horror on paper. It was the definitive "labor of love" for me. I enjoyed it very much and it probably will spawn a number of pieces related to movies, particularly cult films.

I notice that most of the flicks referenced in the poster are from the '70s and '80s. Is this a favorite period?
In my opinion, the '70s is the most important era for film, and not just horror. Of course that's debatable, but you can really see this huge creative surge happening at that time. As for the '80s, it is filled with examples of fantastically bizarre cult film-making. The characters I chose to draw were the most prominent in horror culture, as well as some of my favorites. I didn't want to have three werewolves on the poster, so I stuck with my favorite of the lycanthropy movies, An American Werewolf in London (sorry, Lon Chaney).
Some of my choices came down to simply what would look more interesting. I thought the Bride would be a more interesting choice than simply drawing Frankenstein's monster, but also because Bride of Frankenstein is my personal favorite among the Frankenstein films. There were plenty of movies/characters that I wanted to involve, but there just really wasn't space. I'm actually thinking about either expanding it or doing a companion piece.

Some of your imagery is quite bizarre. From where does the impetus come?
Ever since I have had a pencil I've loved to put it to paper and let my mind wander. It's a lot of fun to just see what can come out of you when you push yourself.

Some of your recent posts have depicted animals. Is this from a love of living creatures, or more like they just come easy for you, artistically speaking?
As I mentioned before, I love drawing things around me and I think it's very important to have an understanding of how these things move and look. Besides that, I do genuinely love animals. I've grown up with pets, I've been around them my whole life. I talk to my animals like a crazy cat lady. Put me in the group that loves seeing people getting brutally murdered on film but dreads when an animal is put in danger.

You also have a knack for striking portraiture. Is this something you've pursued professionally? Is art more an amateur pursuit for you, and if not, explain.
Thank you. I haven't done much portraiture professionally beyond a few freelance projects. I am a graphic designer/illustrator trying to make money doing what I love. Most of my work for money is dry promotional material, but I always try to put some sort of my own energy into it. I do very much enjoy drawing portraits, though.

Is there anywhere else my readers might be able to look to find some of your work?
The best place to keep up with me is on my Tumblr, but I do have a new website coming soon that will have prints and such purchasable on there. My art can be found floating around a few coffee shops and galleries in Orlando, Florida occasionally. I'm always available to be contacted by email if anyone wants to know where/how to see or obtain any of my work.

Any projects coming up that you'd like to mention?
I'm working on quite a few new pieces that should be up soon. I'm doing two graphic novels at the moment, but it's a slow process as I'm trying to find time in between my random pictures and work. I'll be sure to have any updates on my blog as they come.


Anonymous said...

Wow, incredible work. His art would make for some fantastic T-shirts and poster art.

K! said...

I love me some Austin James!

Goooo beckman!

Youre insanely talented and insane!

Love u!

B-Sol said...

Planet, I agree, I would love to see some of those designs on T-Shirts.
And Austin, is that your mom, fess up man!

Pandam said...

Nice illustration!

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