There’s nothing like the feel and smell of an old book. The paper is pulpier and the well-worn pages have a slight musty scent. As I rummage around thrift stores and antique shops I keep an eye out for tattered, old books. Ones that have been read hundreds of times, the binding is coming undone and pages are falling out. Surely headed for the trash, I rescue these tomes and the pages become surfaces to bring creatures and monsters to life. One such series of monsters I titled “Out of the Ashes”, as the books I used were likely saved from a fiery demise.
Whether it be discarded vintage photos or a recent selfie, adding “Imaginary Friends” breathes strange new life into these every day images. I enjoy rummaging through thrift stores and antique shops, and often come across stacks of old family photos, and feel a bit sad about them ending up in landfill. By adding creatures and turning them into a piece of art, they’re given new purpose on a collector’s wall to be appreciated. Calling these pieces “Imaginary Friends” plays on a few levels: The nostalgia of childhood companions that only you can see and the worlds you created together. And when you’re an adult, how we often have different imagined companions that may haunt us as we go about our mundane lives. Past traumas, lost loves and mental health struggles all can play a part.
My illustration work has evolved immensely over the last several years. I honed my skills initially with fan art, but my need to explore my own artistic path pushed me towards imagery that was often balancing whimsy and darkness, and almost always weird. I’ve never been content with boxing myself into the same subject matter for long periods, but every new series allowed me to discover my personal style. A lot of artists draw monsters. I want my monsters to represent a facet of my personality, my struggles with mental health, and my concerns about the world around me. My hope is that the audience can recognize a part of themselves in my creations as well.
An ancient race of nature guardians, these beings roamed the Earth before man, as protectors and nurturers of the natural world. They have awakened from their long slumber, confused and angry about the state of the world and how we treat it on a daily basis. They want to reclaim the land that was once theirs.
These creatures are my favourite of all the ones I've created for the inked photography series. There's a melancholy power to them, and I can relate to them through my own anxiety and sadness about how humans are destroying the planet.
The bedroom in most houses is our sanctuary. It’s where we relax, renew our energy and are at our most vulnerable. Bedrooms can also harbour sadness, fear and isolation, and these emotions can leave imprints on the spaces themselves. When I photograph these abandoned spaces, I sometimes imagine emotional spirits watching from the shadows. They’re not necessarily harmful, but perhaps they do feed on our emotions as well? Who knows what lives were lived within these walls?
Every house, every building has a history. As we all know history contains good and sometimes very bad moments. When it comes to ghosts and spirits, it is my belief that a haunting is merely the imprint of a deeply emotional, traumatic event on the fabric of time. This imprint plays over and over again within that location, which we perceive as a ghost or apparition. Most are harmless. Some...maybe not so much...
Folktales and urban legends from around the world have always fascinated me. Stories of mysterious creatures like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and the Wendigo inspire much of my work, and fuel my imagination to create my own strange creatures that defy explanation. Who’s to say that the Jersey Devil doesn’t exist? Centuries ago tales of huge sea monsters terrified sailors, and now the giant squid is scientific fact. Perhaps the stories of cryptids are not as farfetched as they seem.
Creepy Crawlies is a more playful way to describe what is really just mischievous spirits, poltergeists and other strange entities. Depending on how bold they’re feeling, they can appear or disappear at will, playing tricks on unwary travelers or explorers in abandoned places. Most creepy crawlies definitely fit the cute and creepy label; their inky black appearances softened by their wide, expressive white eyes. But don’t be fooled...they can be naughty little creatures.
One of the most basic, primal fears among humans is the feeling of being watched. It’s likely a sensory defense mechanism formed over thousands of years of evolution in order to survive. Is it paranoia? Perhaps...but what IF something was watching you from the shadows? All manner of spirits and entities could be observing us at any time, while hiking through the woods or exploring an abandoned house. That hair standing up on the back of your neck? It could be a creature breathing down your neck...