I use instagram mainly to stalk fellow artists and creators I love (and post cat pictures, of course). It’s a cool platform for artists of all sorts because it enables you to post highlights of your process, as well. It forms a visual journal of your progress. Artists can also tag their work to organise it, and take part in instragram challenges with tags to encourage creativity and attract new fans.
As a writer, who works mainly in words, I’m still struggling to find a way to really use the platform for promoting my own work. But I’m still having a blast with using it, and love opening my feed in the morning to see it brimming with creativity.
I wasn’t able to do an alternative Christmas gift guide this year (see my 2014 and 2015 gift guides) because of my sites being down, so as some consolation, here’s a collection of my favourite artists right now, and how you can find their work to adorn your home or space. With our castle nearly finished, I’m getting seriously excited about being able to hang all the art I’ve been accumulating over the years. The awesome thing about art is that it keeps on giving. Every time I look at a piece, I see or experience something new, some new feeling, a forgotten memory, the spark of an idea, the threads of a connection tying together.
It’s pretty easy to tell from these images where my tastes swing. If you have any other artists to recommend, shout them out in the comments.
1. Chris Ovdiyenko (Dead on Paper)
I discovered Chris’ work through his 2015 Kickstarter campaign for a beautifully rendered deck of Arcana playing cards. I was so taken with his style that in addition to the card deck itself, I pledged for three stunning hand-pulled prints from the series. This project was heavily influenced by the 1910 Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck — the standard tarot cards used for divination. Long before tarot cards were used for divination, they were used as a deck of cards for a game similar to “Hearts”, and that’s what Chris drew on for this project.
Chris describes his printmaking process. “I take inspiration from all over—art history, found images, my own sketches and photographs. I combine all of it to create something new. I create the final art by combining art from scratchboard and images I draw on my tablet. It’s all hand drawn, and I’m meticulous about making sure the final imagery works at the relatively small scale of playing cards.”
Ever since the Arcana project launched, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see what Chris does next.
2. Abigail Lawson
I discovered Abigail’s work through the ever awesome Haute Macabre blog, and have since purchased her most recent book, which is amazing. Abigail is an artist and illustrator working in pen, ink, watercolour, and photoshop. Her images draw heavily on traditional gothic tales and stories, such as Edgar Allen Poe, The Brother’s Grimm, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She’s created advertisements for John Fluevog and China Glaze, and her fully-illustrated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cats of Ulthar was released in November of 2016. Abigail’s work leaves me spellbound, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
3. John Kenn Mortensen
Fans of Edward Gorey will see some of that artist’s macabre and whimsical styling in John’s work. Danish artist John Kenn (who goes by Don Kenn sometimes, just to be confusing) produces and writes kids TV shows by day, and has been drawing his monsters on to post-it notes for years. Like a lot of other artists on my list here, I love the story-telling aspect of his work. We’re thrust into the middle of a tense, often terrifying scenario, and asked to imagine how the characters got to be there, and how they might escape. John has a book called Monstre out now, which compiles post-it monster drawings as well as larger works.
4. Lora Zombie
I discovered Lora when she did a collaboration with Black Milk Clothing, who as we all know I’m only a smidge obsessed with. (Just a smidge!). Lora describes herself as a “timeforce zombie artfairy ranger,” or a “unicorn punk streetart princess,” and her style as “Grunge Art.” Born in a small Russian town and self-taught as an artist, Lora gained a huge following online because or her unique style. Huge splashes of colour and messy smudges comes together to form her unique style, heavily influenced by grunge and skate culture and environmental causes. Unlike many of the most tightly-controlled illustrative styles I usually like, Lora’s images have a flowing quality to them – they have a sense of movement and force that’s really commanding. She’s always doing interesting collaborations and produces a huge output – definitely someone to follow!
5. Tyler Thrasher Art
I actually discovered Tyler through one of the most horrible events in his life – his house burned down, and he lost years of artwork, not to mentioned all his possessions. The art community has rallied around him, and through posts and shout-outs from his friends and fellow artists, I came to learn about his work. And wow, . His new work has an intensity and remoteness, born of the tragedy he’s currently living through. Tyler’s work focuses on a fascination with nature and forms and cycles. Much of his work is conceived while hiking and exploring in nature, and his connection and curiosity for the natural world is present in his work. He does some particularly interesting work with crystallising insects.
Brutal art from Swedish designer Lisen Holland, Nattskiftet (the night shift) encompasses simple line drawings with sometimes crude, often depressing, always darkly humorous phrases and epithets. I love how the images function as kind of black metal demotivation posters. I can find very little information in English about the artist, but if you want some metal inspiration, head to the Nattskiftet instagram page or purchase a poster, t-shirt or pillowcase.
7. Molly Crabapple
Molly Crabapple remains one of my favourite artists. She was the first artist I seriously followed online, and it’s been interesting to watch her evolution from an illustrator of “tarts and tentacles” to a full on art journalist documenting the Syrian war and the horrors of Guantanamo Bay. She is a contributing editor for VICE and has written for The New York Times, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, CNN and Newsweek. Molly’s most recent exhibit was Annotated Muses, a series of enormous, naked, collage-style, annotated portraits of the friends and fellow rabble-rousers who inspire her, including Stoya, Kim Bookbinder, and the philosopher Fuck Theory. She’s a frequent crowd-funder, which is how I ended up with a print from her Shell Game series in my bathroom. I’m currently reading her illustrated autobiography, Drawing Blood, which is damn awesome.
8. Glyn Smyth
Glyn Smyth is an Irish illustrator, designer and printmaker. His work shows some of the finest, most intricate and subtle linework I’ve ever seen. His name is often associated with underground metal bands, (he’s created album covers, posters and merchandise for Ash Borer, Lynched, SubRosa, Cough, and Wolves in the Throne Room), and all his work is chiefly informed by his deep interest in folklore, myth and magick. Absolutely stunning, and his prints and posters are reasonably priced, if you wanted some darker artwork for your wall.
9. Brian Mashburn
Brian Washburn creates these amazing and fantastical urban and industrial landscapes, juxtaposed against the natural world. There’s a real sense of dystopia in his work, a kind of pictorial story of decaying society that really appeals to me. I look at his paintings and instantly stories come into my head.
Primarily an oil painter, Mashburn uses narrative and meticulous attention to detail to engage the viewer. His landscapes are often both heavy handed and subtle, universally applicable and allegorical. His influences range from everyday observations to his Asian-American heritage. The heavy mists of Appalachia and smog of southeastern China and Hong Kong inform his foggy aesthetic.
On his instagram, Brian posts in-progress images, detail shots, as well as finished paintings. I am determined that one day I will have his art on our walls.
10. Aaron Horkey
I discovered Aaron through his partner Jess’ company, Bloodmilk (if you haven’t heard of Bloodmilk, then whoa are you missing out). Another amazing illustrator working with mostly pen and ink, Aaron has created concert posters for bands like The Melvins, Boris, Isis, and Converge, as well as film posters for Dracula, Lord of the Rings, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood. He’s done some stunning illustrations for the Bloodmilk Exquisite Corpse collaborations, including this Bury Me Beneath Books that I’m gutted I missed out on (the entire run got snapped up within minutes, too fast for me). His illustrations show incredible depth and detail, and I’d love one day to own a piece for my library wall.
All images are copyright by the respective artists.
What art and artists are inspiring you lately?
When I’m rocking out at a metal show and trying to bury my home in artwork, I write dark urban fantasy novels. My latest book, Petrified City, first in the new Chronicles of the Wraith series, is out now. Grab your copy from Amazon, or join my mailing list to stay up-to-date with the series.