Sometimes I see an artist’s work and I want to see so much more it almost hurts. So it is with Des Taylor.
Whenever I see the Brit’s animation-influenced, pop-art-inflected superhero work, especially his Batman material, I want to see those cartoons. I want them to exist. Badly.
But I have to make do with my imagination whenever Des’ illustrations show up on the web or social media or what have you. I’ll take that, I suppose, because it’s better than not seeing it at all.
Anyway, Des was cool enough to take the time to take the plunge with a cross-Atlantic MIGHTY Q&A, in which I got to ask him all sorts of questions about all his pretty pictures:
Your art pops up all the time on social media and in blogs. But I’m sure a lot of readers, especially outside the UK, would like to know more about who you are and what you do. Please tell us.
Well, mate! I’m originally from a town called Tottenham in North London but now dwell in Watford, Hertfordshire. I work as a freelance artist, designer and illustrator and have done professionally since 1992.I’ve worked for clients such as Michael Jackson, Theo Fennell (celebrity jeweler), Chameleon Visual, Hamleys, La Perla, Cosmopolitan, ITV Studios and many more.
What projects are you working on right now?
I am currently ploughing away at the last issue of my digital motion book, “The Trouble With Katie Rogers” (available on Madefire) and my next release “Scarlett Couture Investigations” with Titan Comics. Scarlett is looking absolutely fabulous at the moment and I’m really excited about what’s in store for its release in Spetember 2014.
I’m also planning my next art exhibition at Orbital Comics in London, which is penned in for a month starting in March 2014. There will be an art class on the third week for all the artists that like drawing hot chicks. It was very popular last time, as you can imagine.
Your art is clearly meant to evoke old-school, hand-drawn animation. What’s is your approach to your work?
I am a complete RETROPHILE!! I love old shows, comics, movies, magazines and cartoons. I like to think of my art as animated cells from a cartoon I wish was in production.
I am a traditional penciller who scans in my artwork in Photoshop for coloring. Each character is individually created so I can move them around the page where I desire and add effects, backgrounds etc. The backgrounds consist of photographs I’ve taken and painted over in Photoshop and mixed with 3D models using Studio Max and Autodesk.
Who and what are your greatest influences?
My great influences on my work have been Bruce Timm (for economy of line work), Johnny Romita Sr., Garcia-Lopez, Neal Adams, Romero, for their consistent marketable pop-art style of art. Kyle Baker, Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, Darwyn Cooke also spring up.
Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee were huge influences for me as they took the principles of other styles of art (MJ being James Brown, Sammy Davis, Fred Astaire and Jackie Wilson – Bruce Lee being Chinese boxing, Wing Chun, Tai Chi Ch’uan) and fused them into an artform of their own.
I have called my style DESPOP. Which stands for DESign and POP art.
List your five favorite comics of all time
“Selina’s Big Score” and “Parker: The Hunter” (by Darwyn Cooke). Spider-Man issues 269-270, fight with Firelord. (The best tear-up since the fight I saw behind the back of the Rose & Crown pub in Watford LOL), “Batman: The Killing Joke” (by Moore and Bolland).
List your five favorite cartoonists of all time.
Herge (Tintin), Bruce Timm, Uderzo (Asterix), Will Eisner and Fleischer!
Do you have certain actors or actresses in mind when you design your characters?
I reference Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Raquel Welch, Julie Newmar a lot. They had amazing body shapes. I also use my friends Nina Hearne, Emmy Clapp, Stephanie Castro and Jordan Gwynn Colton. They are models who are not only stunning but have a lot of character. Katie Rogers was originally based on two of my friends. She then became an amalgamation of Susan George, Britt Ekland and Laura Whitmore (an MTV Europe personality).
You sell your original art. Tell us more about that part of your career.
Yes! On my site DESPOP, I am primarily an artist who always thinks about creating comic/animation art anyone can put on their wall. I am lucky to have two print companies that create and dispatch my work. I create limited-edition and one-off commissioned prints. I love the feeling that my customers are owning something that is not replicated anywhere else. I also have a fantastic relationship with the gallery Art You Grew Up With, www.artyougrewupwith.com. Its owner, Russell Singler, takes pride in printing , framing and exhibiting my pieces of art.
Do you read comics now?
Great question. I have fallen out of love with mainstream comics, even though I love the characters I grew up on. I feel there is a lack of research done in the writing, Superheroes are always getting killed every year, no progression in the lives of certain heroes and the fact that most of them are now 22 pages of two super-humans smacking the hell out of one another with no real cliffhanger.
My favorite storylines of all time were “Spider-Man: The Death of Gwen Stacy,” “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?”, “Batman: Knightfall,” “Batman: No Man’s Land,” “The Death of Superman,” “Daredevil: Born Again,” “The Punisher: Circle of Blood,” “Superman: Man of Steel” and the totally awesome “X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga.”
These stories gripped me like no others created today. I feel that some of the awesomeness is lost in recent mainstream comic stories … .except the Court of Owls saga in Batman (by Snyder and Capullo)!! That was totally awesome.
I now prefer to buy books and comics from independent creators and read back issues of Golden Age comics.