Who are your biggest artistic influences? Are there any specific artists whose work inspires you?
Growing up my favourite artist was Edward Gorey (and I still love him!) I get a lot of inspiration from Old Hollywood movies, vampire movies (especially directed by Jean Rollin), Eastern European horror and fantasy movies, and silent film. I love the idea of creating super artificial sets and decor that references another time but is totally inaccurate. I love Excalibur, Lair of the White Worm, The Scarlet Empress, Shiver of the Vampires, The Man Who Laughed, Faust, The Ninth Heart: Anything with a lot of atmosphere and visual drama.
How do you come up with new ideas and inspiration for your artwork?
I'm always writing down funny things I hear- it could be something from Real Housewives or something my nosey-ass overhears when I'm out and about. I look at a ton of mediaeval art online and recreate specific creatures in my style and stretch my muscles by trying out shapes I wouldn't gravitate toward. I love going to the Art Institute of Chicago and seeing all the stuff in the mediaeval section (tho my favourite room is the Symbolists).
Tell us a bit about your approach to Final Famtasy and how you came up with your designs for the collection.
One of my favourite things to draw is two creatures fighting where one thinks they've won the fight but the other one lands one final, fatal blow. I feel like in life anything good or anything bad can happen suddenly. Who would have thought years of our lives could be disrupted by a pandemic? You can lose your job bc of a computer glitch or you can meet the love of your life on a dating app- it's hard to feel serious about anything. I think there's been a lot of art and media recently in this kind of mediaeval fantasia setting (I especially think about the book Lapvona, but the movies The Green Knight and The Northman are kind of in this vein too) because I think we're kind of working through 'maybe we don't have much more control over everything now than we ever did.'
What is your favourite medium and why?
I made my first riso print last winter and absolutely fell in love. I love the texture and the brightness of the colours. I've only ever submitted my designs for studios to print, so I'd love to print some on my own. (or maybe not bc I would probably never stop lol)
What does your typical work day look like?
I've finally succumbed to the fact I'm not a morning person, so I wake up when I wake up, check my emails, walk over to the gym and run around while watching Real Housewives or if I'm lucky a new episode of the podcast You Must Remember This. When I come back home I do all the stuff the people in the emails told me to and try to get all my design freelance work done and eat some breakfast I've premade on a less busy day. I'm a super list-oriented person so I'll try to get all my sketches done at once, all my paintings done at once, etc. My office is in the 'dining room' which is attached to the kitchen so I can make dinner very speedily and I eat with my fiance when he gets off work. After dinner, I won't lie, I take a little night nap which is probably terrible for me and paint or read until midnight or 2am. I try to go to the movies as much as I can- Chicago has amazing theatres which play a lot of stuff on film and I even get to see a lot of rare silent movies with live scores. Sunday night I always end my week with an episode of Columbo.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting out as an artist?
Draw every single day. I used to draw so much for fun as a kid but as a teen I got super anxious about it. Weirdly I could only draw in the context of animation (where there was not so much pressure for each frame to be perfect.) I'd also say 'you're critical enough of yourself- surround yourself with yes men!' I didn't go to art school- I studied film, but I definitely sought out people who were hard on me and I think also didn't get what I was trying to do. My school at the time was very man-centric and there was kind of a 'house style' that they pushed and everything was very serious. It could be very paralysing. Now I feel no pressure to be serious- I'm the one who sells pictures of ghosts and monsters for a job which is too silly to believe.