Saturday, June 6, 2015

Creative Process (or "Stealing Like An Artist")

I'm deep into an illustration gig right now, and unfortunately, I can't show much of it. I'm gonna show this piece, though, because it's got a fun story behind it.

The description for this drawing wanted a Chinese man, dressed simply, kneeling in front of a shrine and cutting away vines that had overgrown it. Behind the shrine was to be a plague demon. The shrine was easy enough to think up. This doesn't have any photo references. I just drew it from my head. The plague demon was another matter. I didn't want to step on the toes of a certain very litigious game company who have a prominent plague demon in their IP, so I asked my client for some guidance. He suggested I look at viruses. So I did. I looked at Ebola. I looked at streptococcus (which is technically a bacterium), I looked at HIV. None of them really fired my imagination. But then I remembered this thing, which I ran across for another project last year.

This is the penis of a bean weevil. The bean weevil, like many insects, reproduced by "traumatic insemination," in which the penis penetrates the carapace and spews reproductive materials all over the insides of its "partner." Basically, they're rapists. Insects are fucked up. Serious nightmare fuel.

In any case, this photo accompanied one of the wikipedia articles and I knew I had to save it for my morgue, because that's a Lovecraftian horror, right there. I wound up flipping it for my drawing. Flipping images is a common practice among artists who want to disguise their source, but for me, for this drawing, I flipped it because I already drew the other main figures and I wanted it facing them. Besides, I'm owning up to the swipe right here, and it's an image in the creative commons of wikipedia anyway, so I don't need to disguise it. I'd feel bad about it if I hadn't run across a blog post about the great French cartoonist, Moebius, and his use of photo references. I'm not in his class, but, hell, if it's good enough for Jean Giraud, it's good enough for me.

Anyway, my drawing is brush and ink on bristol.

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