Is your work traditional or digital?

I work almost exclusively digital now. True, there is no original, no canvas, but the benefits of digital outweigh the drawbacks. Creating a painting is the evolution of an idea. I’ve always struggled to retain that initial idea, that initial sketch. Revisions and redrawing have always lost some part of the initial idea and it becomes diluted. Working digitally allows me to retain more of that initial idea. And it is a lot easier to fix mistakes.

Who are your influences?

I like expressive and realist artists and illustrators. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to those with a strong line quality. I remember that at a very young age I preferred the Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoons over those of other directors. I didn’t know why, but I knew I had a preference.

I enjoy comics, again those artists with a great linear style. Bernie Wrightson, Frank Miller, and Mike Mignola are a few. Then there’s the great illustrators Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman. H.R. Giger, Jerome & Joel-Peter Witkin, Klimt, Schiele and Odd Nerdrum are all high on the long list as well.

Your work is so… dark? What’s the deal?

Whether the end result is realistic or surreal, I try to capture real emotions. A majority of it does lie on the darker side of things. I think that (and this is borrowing to an extent from the thoughts of Jerome Witkin, a painter I admire and an instructor I had at Syracuse) given the present state of the world, artists have a duty to portray real world issues and emotions. I’m a firm believer in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” So I consider myself a longterm optimist but a short term pessimist. Things are going to be really rocky before they improve significantly for everyone. Educators and those who work to improve the lives of others around the world are the ones doing the real work and fighting the good fight. Artists document. Art can teach about the past or suggest a possible future. If one is going through a bad time in their life and they see something or hear something that is also down or melancholy, at the very least, they won’t feel alone. All emotions and experiences are, for the most part, shared across humanity. There’s some togetherness in that. So I guess I don’t see it as simply dark. There’s something deeper there.

My work is often either surreal and dark or goofy and playful, the work for children’s books and the like. There’s not much in between. I think it’s fun to create wild worlds for children, but for the grownups, there’s the harsh reality. You’re grown up. You can handle it. There are plenty of artists who create beautiful and joyful artwork. It’s not my thing.

Can’t you paint a pretty picture?

I can. I have. For years I worked as a character artist at various studios creating artwork for products featuring Disney and Warner Bros. characters. Maybe I got it out of my system.