As an illustrator, it’s not often I come across another artist’s work that perfectly mirrors my own thoughts and feelings, and whose images allow both an intellectual, creative and emotional response. This work did exactly that, through the bold characters and discerning colour palette, a feeling of nostalgia drifted off my screen and warmed the pit of my stomach like the smell of freshly cut grass on a warm summer evening.
There is such familiarity in the work, that despite the dark nature of the style, a feeling of optimism echoes throughout, and the catalyst for this is an obvious passion. It’s passion on a plate and I love every mouthful. As the viewer I was taken to a visual banquet, sitting in a lonely American diner, on the fringes of popular culture, forgotten, dim, but with flashes of neon colour and a view to die for. When I saw his poster version of the 1959 Vincent Price horror film classic ‘House on Haunted Hill’ he had me at hello.
Hello Jason Edmiston.
Words: The Void
As an artist, whose work influenced you whilst you growing up and who inspires you now?
I grew up on comic books, heavy metal album art, movie posters, horror movies and Mad magazine. Because of that, I loved bright colors, fantastic scenes, and a good dose of humour. My favourite artists growing up are still some big influences: Frazetta, Basil Gogos, Mort Drucker, the Hildebrandt Brothers, Ken Kelly, and Drew Struzan. My new inspiration comes from digital artists like Serge Birault, and David Rapozza, and screen print artists like Ken Taylor and Phantom City Creative (to name a few). I just started doing screen prints, so these artists push me into new territory.
When you were a young boy did you prefer to play with other kids, by yourself or with dead animals?
I had a lot of friends, but I probably enjoyed being by myself the best. I would sit for hours drawing at the living room table, and playing Star Wars or G.I Joe.
I get the feeling you’re an avid toy collector and still get them out occasionally for an epic battle on the loungeroom floor?
I don’t play with them so much anymore. They do take up a big area on shelves in my studio though! I live next door to toy dealers, and they put my collection to shame, but they keep my interest up because they are so enthusiastic.
As an example, please explain how you approached your ‘House on Haunted Hill’ piece from an artist/design aesthetic, the mediums used and how you executed it so perfectly?
Thank you. I wanted to give the piece a surreal vibe, and play up the main tension between Price’s character and his wife in the movie (who are trying to kill each other). I also thought that colors of the fifties (pink and aqua) would be vibrant, and also atypical of similar posters of the time. Instead of a regular montage, I imagined the woman AS the mountain, with the mansion’s guests represented as coffins, implying their potential demise. To add to the weirdness, I included drips and graphic blobs of paint in the sky. I hand painted the piece in acrylic on paper, and used a toothbrush and potato stamps to add texture.
Are you a big fan of Vincent Price and his films? What are your thoughts on the man and his impact on movie/popular culture?
I am a big Price fan. He emoted in such a big way, but you always believed he was feeling what he was going through. I also heard that he was a very genuine soul, and after meeting his daughter (who is incredibly nice), I believe it. Great expressions and characters throughout his long career. All actors should be so lucky. He inspired legions of horror fans to embrace gothic, romantic stories, and is the epitome of macabre elegance.
Your work has some big influences from old Hollywood horror movie culture, what is it about the characters of Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy that warms the cockles of your heart?
They are just so iconic. Everyone knows who they are, to the point that they are almost like religious figures. You can use them as shorthand to express a mood or concept. Plus, they are designed so well, and so different from each other. Kind of a scary version of Mickey Mouse, Donald duck, and Goofy. Oooh. That’s an interesting mash-up.
What are the best and worst things about being a commercial artist?
The best thing is doing what you love for money. Playing for a living. The worst thing is the deadline pressure, and the struggle to solidify concepts. Sometimes it’s heart wrenching.
What music do you listen to when you work?
Usually talk radio, or 80′s metal.
Best three Horror movies ever made?
A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, and Frankenstein.
Words of advice for aspiring artists?
Never give up. Be realistic about your abilities, but if you think you can make a living as an artist, don’t stop practicing. Don’t stop promoting. Social networks, cold calls, website, comic conventions, art shows, charity art, online store….the list goes on.
If you had to pick only two colours (not black) to see in for the rest of your days what would they be and why?
Red and cobalt blue. Warm and cool. Ying and yang. Vader and Skywalker. Old school 3D. You can do everything with these two!