When did you first begin creating art?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t an artist. According to my mother, When I was a toddler my parents were shopping at a department store and when we passed a display of crayons I began to throw a huge tantrum. My father saw that I was reaching for the crayons and decided it was a perfectly good idea to give them to me. My mother feared that I would choke to death on the crayons but my Father bought them for me anyway. To my mother’s surprise, I never tried to eat the crayons. She said I would quietly draw for hours and it was the only time she had any peace and quiet. I don’t remember any of this but the story supports my theory that I’ve always been an artist.
Can you please describe your creative process?
My illustration technique is heavily influenced by comic book illustration techniques. All of the illustrations for MONSTER MANIA were digitally created using a combination of Clip Studio Paint (formally known as Manga Studio) and Adobe Photoshop CC. Sometimes I might also use Adobe Illustrator CC to create typographic elements or geometric shapes or patterns. I use Clip Studio Paint to draw my “ink” drawings and I use Adobe Photoshop CC to color them. I usually start by doing a really crude sketch to establish the proportions and composition. This sketch usually takes a couple minutes to draw. There is very little detail. I’m just establishing the basic shapes and placement of the forms. Then I begin to draw the ink drawing. Once the ink drawing is finished, I switch over to Adobe Photoshop and color the illustration. I approach coloring the illustrations the same way I would approach painting a traditional painting. I work from Dark to Light. I keep adding more and more layers of brushstrokes, splatters, scribbles and textures until I’ve reached a satisfying conclusion. I just follow my gut. At some point you have to stop and say this is “done.”
What inspired you to start creating digital art?
Wade Hampton once had a solo exhibit at the Lee Shiney Gallery and he had several digital paintings in the exhibit. It was the first time I ever saw digital art hanging in an art gallery next to real paintings. I was already using a computer to design posters but I never considered using a computer to create “art.” Seeing Wade’s digital art legitimized the medium and planted the idea that using computers to create art was something I could do.
Who or what has been inspiriting you lately?
The work for MONSTER MANIA was heavily inspired by those vintage Ben Cooper Halloween masks. The color palette in my illustrations were heavily influenced by the color of those masks. Those masks had really garish colors. I like the idea of these creepy images that are colored with bright happy colors. I was also really inspired by the work of illustrators like Alex Pardee, Jared Moraitis (AKA BeastWreck), Craig Gleason, Tony Papesh, Geof Darrow, Rob Israel, Tara McPherson and many others. And I was also heavily inspired by comic books and 80s horror films.
What albums are you currently listening to in the studio?
While I was working on Monster Mania I was listening to all of my favorite horror movie soundtracks including “It Follows,” “Suspiria,” “The Exorcist,” “Halloween,” “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” “Under The Skin,” “Only Lovers Left Alive” and many others. I often worked for 10 or 12 hours straight and sometimes the music would drive me a little crazy. Sometimes I had to take a break from the spookiness and watch an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” or listen to some Stand-up comedy to lighten the mood a bit.
You can listen to my MONSTER MANIA Spotify playlist at https://open.spotify.com/user/dustinparkerarts/playlist/3bBhkzQi2HmXdAuEQUHanB.
What is your favorite place to go in Wichita when you need to get your creative juices flowing?
When I need to recharge my batteries I go see a film at one of the Warren Theatres. Instead of going to church or therapy, I go to the movie theatre and watch a film or two or three. I also really enjoy going to the Wichita Art Museum or CityArts on a Saturday afternoon. Another happy place is Prairie Dog Comics.
What is next?
I hope to expand the MONSTER MANIA series and publish a book collecting all of the monster illustrations. This will be an ongoing project. It might take a couple years to accumulate enough monsters to justify publishing a book because I want the book to be really thick. I want it to be a substantial body of work. I also plan on collaborating with Brad Ruder of Tilt Union to create a series of screen-printed zines and/or prints that would showcase a series of simple 1 or 2 color illustrations. And I want to get serious about drawing and self-publishing some comic books. I also plan to do tons of painting. I have ideas for more abstract work and more “Crazy Face” style paintings. I have an idea for a series of graphite drawings. I plan to stay very busy. I’m going into hermit mode and I’m locking myself away for a year to focus on making as much art as possible. I have a solo exhibition in the main gallery at CityArts in October 2018 and that will be my sole focus for 2018. I’m not doing any other shows. I’m not teaching classes. I want to focus as much time as possible on creating work for the exhibit. And all of these random projects I have planned are part of that exhibit. The exhibit will be a “Mishmash” of everything I create over the next year. I work in a variety of styles and mediums and I want the show to reflect the full spectrum of my creative output and interests.
Thanks for reading!