influences ~ Simon Subrosa

Simon Subrosa is a Port Elizabeth-based photographer/digital artist whose work, while not directly influencing my own, deals with themes and motifs that I also find attractive or intriguing. Much of his art contains elements of religious imagery, sexual acts, post-apocalyptic environments and an almost painterly eye for digital manipulation.

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His photographs are meticulously accented with an endless layering of textures, creating a mottled, aged effect most often associated with ancient oil paintings – or physical decay. Personally this effect is very thought-provoking for me as it lends to an image which would not look out of place in a two-hundred-year-old book; yet the subject matter would, of course, be decidedly out of place.

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Most often Simon uses himself as a model in his art, which has led to him being accused of narcissism. Being lucky enough to know the guy in person I can assure you that this is untrue. There are many creative people out there that realise the most convenient model is oneself – for example, I would not have asked anyone to strip nude and lie on a cold tile floor in winter while contorting in various positions as if undergoing painful mutation just to take some reference photos (which is what I did — thank you, camera timer). In Simon’s case his inspiration often strikes on a whim, causing him to take a few pictures on the spur of the moment and begin manipulating them at some forsaken hour of the morning.

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Despite this, female models and bodies appear frequently in his work; horned or tentacled or stained or crowned in thorns. I enjoy his use of halos and animal parts; both favourite tropes of mine to abuse, as well as his creative use of the female body.

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All in all, Simon unfailingly creates work that I find extremely pleasing to my occipital lobe and continues to be a many-faceted source of inspiration. Find him at his blog, on Facebook or Shadowness.

influences ~ “Black Hole”

I read Charles Burns’s comic-book series Black Hole almost a year ago and it is one of the few series that reread many times over in its entirety. Don’t get me wrong; there are a great many comic books I feel much admiration and awe towards. But I have a seemingly-insurmountable amount of comics to get through and just do not feel it is fair to favour them unequally. Black Hole is the exception due to its pertinent themes that resonate with my own creative inclinations.

 

The story is set in a world that appears to be stuck in the seventies perhaps (?) which also happens to be inflicted with a kind of plague that apparently only affects teenagers. When reading up on this series I found an article that claimed the plague could only be transmitted sexually, but the comic itself suggests otherwise when an infected teen apparently communicates the disease by spitting into another boy’s mouth. In any case, the disease leads to gradual physical mutation that instantly marks its victims as ‘outsider,’ ‘other,’ and ‘unclean.’ Shame and revile are soon to follow.

 

[the image on the left is by Max Oppenheim/Bill Turpin and is based off Burns’s art on the right]

Some kids strike it lucky with mutations that can be easily hidden under clothing; others develop hideous facial disfigurements that impede their speech. This leads to the pariahs being forced into exile (or retreating voluntarily) into nearby woods. Before everyone gets excited, there are no cool superpowers involved; only disfigurement that might come with many virulent forms of sexual disease.

 

Aside from storyline, it is a crazy ride peppered with incredible suggestive imagery that is varied and allusive and completely wild. The art is pure ink in its best form; the linework simple enough to be understood and almost harking back to the iconic beginnings of comic art; yet layered with incredible detail and subtlety.  Throughout the series there is an unmistakeable thread of images which take various incarnations in the formation of leitmotifs that visually unite the different experiences of the kids. The mutations are nasty, the environments retro; the tone grey and oppressive. Find it, read it, be inspired.

influences ~ Acrosanti

[The work that has shaped what I do today]

It must start with a girl who goes by Acrosanti. I discovered her when I was about fifteen and she was the first artist to make a real impression on me. At the moment she focuses primarily on original characters based off Shane Acker’s 9 film, but when I first found her on dA she was a creature-creator. She invented the most abstract yet functional-looking animals that roamed around in her various worlds.

Mandibular

Anatomy of a Coathanger

I loved the way that her style was so minimal; her lines so sleek and elegant that they managed to convey a kind of fluidity to all her creations. Even the simplest pencil sketch had a neat and contained sense of movement to it.

Robotics

Another big influence to me, at that time, was the way in which she saw the world and incorporated into her work. My favourite images were the ordinary objects that had turned into creatures.

Backhoe Creature

Ready The Pen

Although the work is fantastical and seemingly incongruous, the simplicity that she used (especially in the rougher, sketchbook-ey posts) really helped past-me see how anatomy worked. A subtle line to show where the ribcage ended. A slight dip to hint at the curves of collar-bones. Her creativity and dedication to her OC’s (their worlds, their histories) assisted in shaping the way I think/draw now.

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