A more focussed effort to this end will be around illustrator Daniel Alexander (subway-cat) whose playful cartoonist depictions meditates hugely on kids and critters...
These critters consider curly toes of boys a particularly toothsome delicacy (without the nails, of course). They find other preferences in finely chopped pigtails seasoned in stomach acid. The burden on kids to avoid these foes is great – meaning talking to strangers is off-limits and night time means home time.
Monsters and how to fight them... With art!
So what does any of this mean? It means monsters want to eat your curly toes, of course. Well, at least in the minds of suggestible children. But more than that, it explains why almost all kids will at some point in their years benefit from monster spray - or its equivalent in using art to cope without. It offers clues that help us to understand a very prominent origin of the monster-related interests of illustrators since before their adolescence. It’s an area of significance because while all of the works featured in this issue are delicious, it’s often a stimulating muse to penetrate beyond gorgeous aesthetic to uncover meaning and purpose.
From rabbit gladiators to oversized cats and everything in-between, the work of Daniel Alexander is eye-candy that will leave you in puddles of your own saliva. Fair warning, wouldn’t you say? Before we gobble him up in his interview – let’s take a preliminary look outlining who Subway Cat is. It should be noted that “Subway Cat” is in fact a collective of Daniel and his companion, so to view his work more exclusively, head over to an older account: RyuDan.
Daniel collaborates with great frequency alongside such artists as pacman23 and FabianMonk and is hugely involved in art related forums like SatelliteSoda. Storytelling and combined fantasies look like other crucial components to Daniel’s work which we’ll explore in more detail after learning why good monsters are instrumental to this...
These critters mostly wander the dim, cold city streets during the early hours, finding toes to return them to rightful owners. Lots of foes drop them when they feed... Additional to this, they may emerge from your closet during sleepy time but only to fill up their Scare gauge. They're prompt and never take more than a few minutes - so you're all good.
From haunted to haunter...
Imaginary Friends are often monster meditations of artists who delight in the control they have over these otherwise devious critters. As artists, we’re in the driving seats – or under monsters’ beds – in a role reversal that’s spiritually satisfying. Imaginary Friends are a product of our grown-up monster-friendly way of taking back control and depicting them devoid of guts and toes.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if monsters aren’t tangible, real things like puppies of the corgi kind. It’s the artistic expression resultant from believing otherwise that almost acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, it’s often the case that creatives themselves become the characters they invent. We live as many heroes - and villains too; our abstractions of reality through art is the motivator in this process of creation.
- John le Carre, detailing the prevalence of monsters in all life, both young and old!
Below are works by kick-ass artists who embrace the concept of monsters, followed by an interview that probes this fascination in detail. Both imaginary friends and foes will be present, so you might want to think about topping up on your monster spray…
Pivotal Moments by DanielAraya
Daniel Araya is an artist whose preoccupation with that which isn’t true to life by means of artistic expression makes use of realistic form that brings his ideas that much closer to reality. We will illuminate about the ‘pivotal moment’ that we all experience in art before bringing this issue to a close - just after the interview. Following this, be sure to indulge yourself in the immersion that comes with the work of DanielAraya. What’s more is that both DanielAraya and subway-cat make appearances in a recent publication called “The Master of Anatomy”. Just sayin'!
Interview with subway-cat
Why do you draw kids and critters? And does your cartoon style enhance the unreality of your fantastic worlds and situations in which you place them?
Ha! I do draw kids and critters, but overall I like playing with contrast and exaggeration to increase the ‘sensitivity’ and impression of the piece; sort of like theatre when it comes to exaggeration in acting. As for style, I always try to be evolving it into something that gives me enough freedom to play with and be able to express what I want - even if I’m not showing the face and I’m letting the viewer imagine it.
Something more specific to ‘realistic’ cartoons: you've started to paint your cartoons with more form than before. Do you find this semi-realistic aesthetic eclipses the premise of fantasy in your work or does it enforce it?
Whoa! Hmm. I don’t think it eclipses it – actually, anything well-managed can achieve the artistic intention, even if the painting is not semi-realistic and cartoon: for me it’s just about the clarity and ‘lucid’ thinking. But I don’t think I’m the right person to auto-judge my own work!
So, with it being a very conscious effort by you to develop your style according to the intended piece; would you say that fantasy becomes more or less true to life in mostly realistic styles? Maybe you could mention an example where you used it to facilitate a purpose before.
Probably with a realistic style people can imagine them better in the real world; hence the style is “realistic”! But that doesn't allow much room for viewers to imagine things and to be stretching their minds.
Personally, I'm not too fond of realistic styles. While I respect artists that do it - ‘cause it requires tons of hard work and mad skills - I like to go with more freedom and fun styles.
Imagination seems important to you! We’ve mentioned how the media transforms young minds to be stimulated around monster themes. Does your commercial work inform your interests around kids and critters or does it distract from it?
Well, I would love to be doing more commercial work, so I think right now it distracts from “kids and critters” but every artist should work hard in letting their work inform their interests. To control and achieve what you want to do with your pieces is key to creating the emotions you want for your viewers.
When monsters are alright...
The process of art is an escapist trait we use to detach ourselves from reality or simply life. In communicating this escapism to people outside of our worlds is an intimate gesture and wonderful gift. It’s an unspoken arrangement between artists and appreciators – or anyone else engaging mutually with the experiences of creative expressions being shared. It’s a quest of introspection for us to reflect on ourselves in response to art.
After all, we search for answers as kids that nobody has a clue for. Anything outside of our own self is uncontrollable and unpredictable; the pivotal moment is when we master our anxieties and adapt in accordance to change. Monsters are alright, you know. Once you’re in control of your own monsters it’s easy to appreciate them and show them to the world...
Of course, when you fight monsters you become one in the process. We're all monsters in our own little ways - we aren't so different from imaginary friends or unfriendly foes. On that note, here are some things to think about...
2. How do you overcome your monsters? We’d be interested to know your means of intervening when things get out of hand!
2. Why do you get a kick from hiding under our beds? Got rent for that?