If you spend time lurking artists on Instagram or Facebook or are an artist yourself, you may have seen #artvshero going around. The hashtag started with students of SVS Learn, which was founded by Jake Parker and Will Terry, and is a way for artists to see how they stack-up when surrounded by their art heroes. An artist places their work in the center of a 3-by-3 square grid and literal surrounds their work with the artwork of their influences.
Watch a Discussion on Art Versus Hero Here
I first found-out about this creative exercise on the fantasy/independent artist podcast One Fantastic Week when hosts Pete Mohrbacher and Samuel Flegal had Will Terry as a guest. And I spent some time thinking about it, I found that I'm as influenced by collaborative arts like stop-motion and film design as I am by individual artists and if you've followed any of these artists, there's a through-line, between many of them.
Watch the One Fantastic Week Interview with Will Terry Here
My Art Versus Hero Grid
Going across each row, the artists (or production companies) are:
Rednose Studio (an independent artist), Brian Froud, Rankin/Bass Productions, Laika, myself, Tony Diterlizzi, Jim Henson Company, Brom, and Dave McKean. I try to take little bits and pieces of inspiration from all of these wonderful artists with myself acting as a filter. This is by no means an exhaustive list of artists that have influenced my work- I also draw inspiration from many, many more fantastic artists.
Brian Froud worked with Jim Henson films to design the characters for Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal and I know these films were hugely influential on Tony Diterlizzi as early in his career he dreamed of working for Jim Henson. Rankin/Bass produced stop-motion films throughout the 1960's and 70's and it would be easy to see their work informing later animation studios like Laika or the work of Rednose Studio. I love the work of both Rednose Studio and Dave McKean because they've both shown themselves to be near limitless in their process to visually story tell. I also owe Rednose Studio a debt of gratitude for raising the bar for dimensional-illustration! There have been traditional photographed three-dimensional picture books in the past, but they had the unfortunate ability to be unintentionally unnerving (a college friend had showed me a "Goldilocks & The Bears" picture book from decades ago that was nightmare inducing).
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