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Josh “Briarthorn” is an artist from the United Kingdom who is a predominately self-taught artist who liked art in school, but found that he did not take direction well, so he stuck to teaching himself. He has the ability to put a visual shape to the things in his mind, but since it is quite difficult to do this successfully, he has his fair number of tantrums. Thankfully, his gallery has proven that he makes it through these difficulties and gives his audience pleasurable works to enjoy.
To get further into the mind of Briarthorn, an interview was acquired. ToonariPost will be abbreviated ‘TP’ and Briarthorn as ‘B’ throughout the interview.
TP: What mediums do you use for your art work? Which is your favorite and why?
B: Usually a notebook and a ballpoint pen. All my notebooks are filled with doodles. When I think of something more interesting, I attempt to put it through Photoshop, and try to make it into something good.
I prefer using Photoshop for big and small pieces, mostly because it’s a smoother process, but also because of the minute adjustments you can make to patch over big mistakes (such as drawing out of proportion or rectifying the color palette, so the visual effect is blocked and registers well, as opposed to clashing, disgust, and eye-gouging.)
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
B: My favorites are my collaborations with my friend, Kimmy Baylor. It’s a very neat process, because we seem to have the same eye for the light touches (and shortcuts) in painting, and it always feels like a lesson learned when a new piece of art is complete. Of my own work, my favorite piece is “Sleep” – it’s the only picture I don’t want to re-work, or change in some way.
TP: When you first started, did you ever hit any bumps in your art process? What were they, and how did you overcome them?
B: My first tries with Photoshop were pretty interesting – I was working with a mouse in Photoshop Elements. But I’m still learning, obviously. I’ve noticed that I tend to reach for something I find easy rather than something that will really challenge me and make me a better artist.
I tend to skip backgrounds, and my range in face design and posture is very narrow, which is something I’m working on now. I try to collect tutorials or photographs that will help me broaden my understanding of facial expression and anatomy.
TP: Who, or what, are your inspirations and why?
B: Primarily, books are what makes me want to draw. Films are great, too, but if someone’s already rendered the image, I don’t tend to want to mess around with it. I love all kinds of art though. I really liked Lois Van Baarle’s early work. I love anything with a lady with very long hair – the Pre-Raphaelites for instance or Art Nouveau – Alphonse Mucha, and Klimt. On Deviantart, itself, my favorites are Leela Wagner, Claire Hummel, Matt Rhodes, Phobs, Sanchin Teng, Heather “Makani”, and Katie. Why? Take a look for yourself!
TP: Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone else took credit for your work? If so, what did you do to resolve it? How did this art theft make you feel?
B: I have once or twice had to call someone up on using my work – someone reblogging me on Tumblr without permission or similar. To be fair to those guys – it’s not like they claimed it was theirs; it’s just they didn’t really think about the fact that art demands acknowledgment.
TP: What is your favorite subject to draw and why?
B: From the eve of my ability to draw, it’s been women. You know when they ask you to draw your family at school? I drew both my parents and myself as stick figures in skirts. I couldn’t conceive of anything I’d rather draw. I love the shape of women – in any size or contortion. I also love drawing hair in any shapes I can find, although curly is my favorite, in all likelihood because I have exceptionally tangly-curly hair.
TP: If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
B: Calligraphy and font design I think are utterly beautiful, and I’d love to be able to make art out of words. It’s a really underrated skill. If I had the time, I’d probably study font making more. Other than that, I’d like to be able to manipulate oil paint the way my sister can – her art is amazing.
TP: What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby, or make it a career?
B: My main ambition is to write novels - good novels, if I can. If they’re successful, all the better. The compulsion to write goes deep, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time. Art is a different, more instinctive thing for me, and by that, I mean it’s a different tool I use for the same thing (which is storytelling). I can see it working alongside my writing as easily as I can see myself combining the two.
TP: Do you feel that your culture has influenced you in some way that makes you different than other artists?
B: Good question! Yeah, definitely, and not always positively. I think the internet has made such a wide range of art in so many mediums available to us that often we’re spoiled for choice or else have this strange idea that one type of art is “better” than another. Obviously, you’re going to have your personal taste as an individual, but what’s interesting is that even if you don’t like a certain type of art, you’ll find yourself trying to re-work it to suit you better.
For instance, my irritation at the over-sexualization of female superheroes makes me want to play around with the way they’re presented to an audience.
I want to see Wonder Woman in flat shoes (who in their right mind would try to fight bad guys in high-heels? I mean, I know she can fly, but seriously…) and wearing more than a spandex, one-piece, swimming costume. You might note that Superman, whatever his deal with the red undies is, gets to wear wrist to foot clothing. I don’t see why Wonder Woman should be any different.
Image Courtesy of http://briarthorn.deviantart.com