I refer to my art work as contemporary illustration. This new art movement raises the bar in visual representation as a reflection of current trends in popular culture. I specialize in creating portraits of people I am inspired by whether they be musicians, actors, comedians or characters from books, television, movies, comics or video games. I find the impact that pop culture figures can have on society to be fascinating. In some circumstances, the people I choose to illustrate have become more than just themselves but a source of inspiration for masses of people. After the death of the actress Carrie Fisher, I drew the Star Wars character, Princess Leia Organa, as a tribute to her memory along with many artists. This is an example of how an actor has been immortalized through the power of this beloved character. Her image was seen through the crowds all over Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day this year at the Women’s March. She became a symbol for women’s voices acting as a beacon of strength. This echoed the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter made by the illustrator, J. Howard Miller in 1942. The famous drawing of her depicts the need for women to enter the work force during World War II and serves as a feminist symbol. Another artist, Shepard Fairey, a master of printmaking, screen printed portraits of women and children resounding with the female community and exemplifying the enduring power of the portrait.
I seek to blur the lines between illustration and fine arts going beyond capturing the likeness, and calling into question what motivates us to honor pop culture icons. Like the comic book artist Alex Ross, I use a variety of traditional mediums like oil, watercolor and acrylic paints along with ink and color pencil. Influenced by Japanese anime and manga and American comics, I create detailed and stylized portraits, using my background in figure drawing to naturalize the subjects. I wish to spark interest and invite conversations regarding the connection that is made over the shared enthusiasm of a favorite character or entertainer.
As the actor Simon Pegg said, “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something”. The sheer crowds at New York Comic Con are a testament to the dedication of fans. Over 180,000 people bought tickets to last year’s pop culture celebration. The main event being the artist alley and art gallery where original art and prints are sold. Manhattan’s Spoke Art Gallery and Bottle Neck Gallery and San Francisco’s Hashimoto Contemporary are just a few examples of art galleries seeking to propel the way illustration is viewed in the fine art world.
Contemporary art and illustration is a reflection of contemporary society and I strive to elevate fan art to fine art by exploring different mediums to make striking portraits, manipulating design elements and playing with color interactions. I hope to work towards what unites us and gives us strength and reassurance in an exciting and positive way.