Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interview with artist John D-C (continued)

An exhibition monstrously mashing two of the
artists favorite subjects:
The Monsters of Popular Culture &
The Golden Age of Rock and Roll.

19th November - 14th December

How would you describe your artistic style? What are your artistic influences?
If I had to describe my artistic style in a few words I'd say it would be retro-a-go-go. My art is always influenced by my hobbies and interests which change from time to time but they usually include a healthy combination of Brick-A-Brack, Screen Printing, Rock & Roll Dancing, Blues Piano, Velvet Dinner Jackets, Art Deco Theatres, Record Shopping, The Creations Of Jim Henson, Ten Pin Bowling, The Hohner Harmonica, 1979 Bedford Short Wheel Based Vans, Print Gocco, Vintage Comic Books, White Elephant Stalls, Animation, Drive-in Movies and Cuba.
While putting the characters together for my exhibition, Haunted House Rock I was particularly influenced by the look of saturday morning cartoons from the late 1960's, 70's and early 80's in particularly those created by the big 3 american animation powerhouses Hanna- Barbera, Filmation and Rankin and Bass. While these cartoons were originally intended to entertain children I love the fluid and simplistic nature of the way the characters were drawn and animated. Their simplicity gave the viewer such a sense of motion and expression.

I was also influenced by the art of early 1950's rock 'n roll bill and film posters. I feel due to their disposable nature, as well as the view at the time that Rock 'n Roll was just a passing phase in the course or popular music that these were never intended to be viewed as artwork but some of the images, typefaces and layouts used are just beautiful. Just look at the French poster for Elvis' film Jailhouse Rock.

What are the mediums and processes you use to create your creatures?
I approach illustration very graphically and always have a strong concept of what I am going to draw before I commence. For most of my illustrations I Initially I sketch quite a bit to define and refine an illustration, I then pull the sketch all apart again and ink it in sections which I layer together digitally, I feel this helps me to give the illustration a controlled haphazard look and an authentically aged feel.

For this exhibition I have also used to a few other mediums and processes such as painting and toy customisation.

You describe toy customisation as one of art making mediums, can you explain this?
For me toy customisation has very humble beginnings. As a kid growing up I used to love to play with toys in particularly Super Hero Action Figures. As with most kids my age I went through a Superman, Superman, Superman phase. He was my favorite toy I used to fold his legs up behind his head, put him in my top pocket and take him everywhere with me, I liked him so much I lost his cape and wore the “S” right off his chest. For Christmas that year I received a second brand new and (in my opinion) all powerful Superman Action Figure It was great I was so happy, but there is one problem, when your playing Superman and you have two Supermen there is only so much flying around you can do before you need to find a bad guy to beat up. I remember taking to one of my supermen with some plasticine to make him “more muscily” and a coiled up pipe cleaner crown which I placed on top of his head, he now became the mighty-evil leader known as King Spring, and a new hobby was born.

Now days I mainly start my customising with a Generic 8-inch Mego styled body, I sculpt the head or add facial features to a resin cast of and existing head with modeling clay. I then go about creating a costume and accessories for the figure via many different means.

For those of you that don’t know, The Mego Corporation was a toy company that dominated the action figure toy market during most of the 1970s. The Mego Corporation was founded in the early 1950s and was mostly known prior to 1971 as a producer of dime store toys. Starting in 1971, Mego began purchasing license rights to a variety of successful motion pictures, television programs, and comic books, and started producing lines for Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and the Wizard of Oz. Mego used various licensed Marvel and DC superhero characters to create their World’s Greatest Superhero line, which became their most successful toy line. They also produced an original character, Action Jackson, an unsuccessful competitor of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe. The secret of Mego’s success was that their action figures were constructed with interchangeable heads. Generic bodies could be mass produced and different figures created by interposing different heads and costumes on them. Mego also constructed their figures primarily in an 8-inch (200 mm) scale - setting an industry standard in the 1970s.

I prefer to customise using the Mego’s 8-inch figures for a few reasons, firstly I love them as a base because you can really go crazy with the cloth costuming secondly they have a very classic look to them, and thirdly there is a really established community around customizing Mego Action Figures and it is pretty easy to purchase reproduction parts and accessories.

* 'Jail House Rock' French poster artwork via

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