I often hear the same comments about my work from people: "You must have a lot of nightmares", "You must have had an interesting childhood", "What happen to you during your childhood?", "That looks like my brother / sister / mother-in-law / ex husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend / etc".
After all these years of hearing these things over and over again, the answers are, "Nope, I never have them", "Yes, yes I did, but not for the reasons you would imagine", "Nothing, what are you implying?", and finally, "NO, I does not and never will".
My monsters come from my interaction with the world around me and are my response to what I see, hear, do, and experience in my waking life. Some of my ideas come from when I am resting or allowing my mind to be idle, but the vast majority come from me actively looking at the real world around us. I do not look to comic books, movies, video games, or other art works for my inspiration as many have suggested on the internet out of ignorance. I may be influenced subconsciously by the artwork I grew up on or the work being done by my friends and peers in the industry, but this has more to do with craft and not subject matter.
Here is a specific example that I can talk about. This is the Smokestack monster that I created in 2014. It is in direct response to an image I saw on Facebook. Here is the finished drawing...
9 x 12 - Pencil on paper
Original - SOLD
© 2014 Christopher Burdett
And here is the image that inspired me to create the Smokestack monster...
Image from of the Razmafzar: Historical Persian Martial Arts Facebook Page.
This image was found in a photo gallery containing this image and many others.
These are screen shots from a video.
Seems really obvious, right? When you saw the warrior you immediately thought of a hulking bio-mechanical abomination, right? This is how I think, this is how each and every artist, musician, writer, and other creative person is unique with their own voice and their power to interpret what is in their head and create something into this world. I saw the warrior and I was compelled to make Smokestack. The why, now that is the big mystery and what I am hoping to be addressing in this post.
What was it specifically about the warrior image that fascinated me? That would be the pointy helmet. It was the helmet that caught my attention and led me to produce my monster. For me, when I saw the helmet I had only two options when it came to making art in response to the image. The first being a straight up study of the figure and to draw it as practice as it is. The second was to take in the idea of that helmet, think about it, and manifest something new that had the feeling or shape of the helmet.
I see the direct line from inspiration to product but is it only clear for me?
For me, the shape of the helmet does not necessarily scream organic, so how will that effect the overall monster? Is the shape of the helmet the head, or is it part of the head? If it is the head how would the monster eat, breath, see, etc? Is this shape unique on the monster's head or will it appear elsewhere on it? Is the helmet originally part of the monster or was it added? All of these questions and more filled my head and I had to answer them as Smokestack took shape in my mind and on paper. Some of these questioned we answered before I started, some where answered as I worked out the thumbnail sketch, and some where not answered until I was working on the final drawing. Here is a look at the thumbnail sketch I did for Smokestack...
Smokestack thumbnail sketch
Smokestack thumbnail sketch with inspiration overlaid.
The inspiration is kind of still in there, right?
At some point my own tastes, preferences, style, etc take hold and push and pull the design and course of the monster, but the germ that started it all manifested outside of me in the real word. I take that new thing from somewhere else and process it through me to make something new... well, hopefully new. I try my best, to manifest new ideas that are inline with how I see my craft and my art in the creation of monsters and creatures that live in the universe that I am creating. Some of these monsters may be for a client for a specific project, but those monsters still need to live and breath in MY monster universe. The longer I have been working the more this becomes true.
Some of this process is magic and ethereal while some of it is really concrete, such as I like tentacles and scales, I want to make thing with tentacles and scales. It can be a lengthy process and exploration to get to the end of a finished monster and often they end up not being what I set out to create, and if I am lucky they turn out to be something very much unlike the initial inspiration. I am sure every other artist has their own process and methods for creating. Hopefully this will shine a little like on mine.
I welcome questions on this topic if you would like clarification or further explanation!
That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...
For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com