With SCREAM WITH ME coming up, we decided to get to know Brian Ewing a bit better…
On your website, you talk about how you worked for Hustler on the the magazines handling scheduling, prep houses and printers. What made you drop the porn industry to full heartedly pursue art?
I originally took the job at Hustler because I didn’t think I could make it as an illustrator. I thought that I needed an art degree to be allowed to get hired to illustrate anything. (I was young I didn’t know how the world worked. Not sure if I do now…) So I took the job in porn with the goal of becoming an art director. After a few years there of being knee deep in nudity I was freelancing for most of the magazines – during my lunch breaks and after work. And I was doing rock posters when I had time. The job started to wear me down because I wasn’t advancing at all. I was still in production and not an assistant art director. It was kinda frustrating having to do photoshop work for the assistant ADs. I was actually making as much money doing gig posters so I ended up quitting the XXX lifestyle to pursue the rock posters full time. I figured if this whole “art thing” doesn’t pan out I can always get my old job back at Kinko’s.“Would you like that collated and stapled, sir?”
So with a few bucks in my pocket, rent due and a very unhappy girlfriend I quit. I emailed every band, label, art director and publisher a link to my portfolio and within a few days I had my first job. I was unemployed for about two days. I promised myself that Hustler was going to be my last day job. Twelve years later…
Based on your previews, each piece you work on has extensive work behind it. How did you decide to take icons and draw them in layers of bones, muscle, and flesh?
To be honest it started out of desperation and ended up being about evolving as an artist. Hahaha…sigh. There are so many people trying to do rock posters now that a lot of bands don’t want to pay for art. Sometimes not even for the printing. (Not every band is like that some are actually awesome to work with.) Same goes for art prints. Some of these people will cut their mother’s throat just to say they got to do a poster for such and such band…for free. I’m stupid. I still put value on what I and other artists do.I also felt like I needed to try something different. I had just moved from New York City to the bustling mecca known as Columbus, OH. I needed a new approach that wouldn’t take me weeks just to finish one piece. Normally when a project has a shitty budget you usually have more creative control. So I figured “fuck it” and tried something different. If it failed I could go back to my regular style. I did some posters for Swans and the Melvins and it took off. Prints were selling out in less than an hour. From there I decided to switch styles when doing poster work. With each piece I got better at drawing anatomy and design. And it took me less time than my previous style did.
How would you personally describe your style?
My style is dependent on other people’s descriptions. I tell most people that I’m a graphic designer so they’ll leave me alone. So far so good.
What are your favorite mediums to work with?
Whatever I can get my hands on.I’ve designed two toys so far with META-CRYPT.com A toy company my buddy Justin Jewett and I started – to fulfill all of our childish Lovecraftian whims. We are going to do a toy release at the gallery on the opening night.I also enjoy designing patches. It sounds so stupid because it is…but they’re fun to do. I’m a member of the Turbojugend and have designed a few patches for my chapter so far. I also have my own patches. Speaking of which – I designed a new one just for the show to give to the fine folks (for free) that plunk down their hard earned cash on prints. It glows in the dark!
For both I have to use a different part of my brain. The toys require that I think in three dimensions. The patches force me to simplify my drawing and design to fit the limitations of an embroidered patch. It’s a nice change of pace.
Obviously I like inking. I feel like I’m finally getting good at it after years and years and more years of practice.
This kinda sounds like an online dating application… I also like long walks through the cemetery and tiki drinks too. No smokers please.
On average, how long would you say you dedicate to each character?
Way too long. Part of the reason why I show sneak peeks of what I’m working on is to remind people that there’s a lot of drawing going into each piece…aaaand that I’m not dead. When I use mixed media and bring photos into the process it’s hard to see all of the drawing when you’re limited to just a jpeg. A lot of the work is dependent on seeing it in person. There are printer tricks I use that when you look at the print – it transforms from the photo to the drawing depending on which angle you’re viewing it. The closest I can get to showing people that effect online is by posting videos on my instagram page (@brianewing) and by the video Galerie F posted showcasing how the Psycho print looks https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=955352024480867
Some of the pieces have collage backgrounds. That alone takes about a day to research and gather up found images and make new ones to throw into the background then I hafta Tetris it all together. The Psycho and Shining pieces have collage backgrounds. Each bit of the collage is a reference to the movie. My goal was to keep the viewer’s interest longer than usual and to take the poster further with all the added Easter Eggs that I nerded out on.
Zissou and Allie at Galerie F asked me to design new pieces for this show. To save time I changed the size at which I work. Normally my original drawings are 11″ x 17″. I’m working at 8.5″ x 11″ so I can work faster and make the originals more affordable to collectors at the show.That’s just the design end of it all. FugScreens Studios (aka Zissou) has to print all of the pieces. He let me go apeshit on adding more colors and trying out new papers.
Your work varies from working with Metallica and the Warped Tour, to The Strokes and Death Cab For Cutie. What musical artist are you into right now?
Whichever musical artist that wants to hire me… To misquote my girls in TLC – “I ain’t too proud to beg…”That is the toughest question people ask me. Because I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many different bands my musical tastes are influenced by all of that. If I’m working for a specific band I will melt my brain by listening to their albums for inspiration until the project is done. Then onto the next one. I grew up in the 80’s with my older sister listening to House/Hip Hop, my older brother listening to Zappa and Zeppelin, my Mom listening to Elvis and Leonard Cohen and I listened to a lot of shitty punk and metal bands. Add all those influences and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Because it’s October and because I’m a nerd I even made a spotify playlist to keep me inspired while I worked on all the pieces for the show called halloween
Do yourself a favor and come in to Galerie F and see this exhibit.
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