Dark Art & Craft had a chance to talk this month with U.K.-based artist and illustrator Adrian Baxter. Baxter's ink creations are methodically-detailed works based on the occult, nature, and death. This intriguing interview focuses on Baxter's influences and process; please enjoy.
What are you working on at the moment? Any specific pieces or bodies of work?
Adrian Baxter: Hello! I’m currently putting the final details on an illustration to be used as a logo for an upcoming record label, and will soon be starting to arrange the sketch work for a private commission. As well as putting ideas onto paper for personal work.
You are well known for using ink in your artwork. Is this something that is intertwined with your process?
AB: Ink on paper has always been the primary medium for my work, and I feel it always will be. I do often add textured backgrounds and text digitally, but the illustration work is always hand drawn, even the occasional touches of colour is ink.
What specific tools or materials for creation do you employ?
AB: For the sketch stage, I use 3B pencils on standard printer paper. For the ink work, I use Sakura Microns on A3/A4 Canson 180gsm paper. I’ve experimented with various combinations over the years, and eventually found the 180gsm to be a perfect amount of texture without ruining the pen nibs. I use Photoshop for the digital additions.
References to organic growth and decay can be found in many of your pieces; what role does the natural world play in your art?
AB: The natural world as an influence plays various roles. Not only is it often pleasing to the eye (floral patterns, leaves, fruits, etc.), but it’s also something we all see everyday in one form or another, yet may often take for granted. I’ve been drawn to the life cycle of birth-decay-rebirth for many years, and the organic influences in nature are one of the ways I connect with that and enjoy using in my work.
Does your location have bearing on your work and perspective?
AB: Most definitely. I’m fortunate enough to live away from the big cities and have stunning countryside on my doorstep. I’ve been walking many of the same walks for some years, yet never tire of seeing how the change in seasons alters the landscape.
Your work employs concepts of death, life, the occult, and the human condition. Are these dark themes central to your work?
AB: They’re definitely a main source of inspiration for the majority of what I do, but it’s not something I’ve consciously chosen to base my work on. I’ve always been very selfish with my own work, and never worried about others’ opinions so my influences and themes have always come naturally to me.
You created album art for Underling and many other groups; how do you feel dark art relates to these music releases?
AB: They go hand in hand, in my opinion. A lot of metal bands and dark ‘artists’ have a common understanding about the importance of releasing those ideas and feelings, in whatever form. So to put the two art forms together is a seamless partnership.
What role does the artist, or specifically a dark- themed artist, have in modern society?
AB: I’m not sure we have a role, as such, but I do feel we help remind people that dark arts aren’t something to be hidden away or be embarrassed about enjoying. It doesn’t always have to be negative either, which I feel many on the ‘outside’ assume it to be. There are countless positive messages within dark art that for those who are aware of it, can be beneficial too. At least that’s how I see it. But if nothing else, skulls are great to see however they’re presented.
Do you consider art’s purpose a reflection of the world or a force for change? Or is it something else entirely?
AB: A little of both, I think. It’s a reflection of the world in a deeper, more mindful sense than your average way of thinking that we seem to be shepherded into growing up.
For me, dark art, the occult, and being aware of our human instincts has helped me create changes within my personal life for the better. I believe the more people become aware of the same possibilities, it has the potential to create change in it’s own way. We just have to keep appreciating the arts, and let the influences occur naturally.
Beetles, image via the artist
What are you doing when you’re not creating or working on art?
AB: If I’m not drawing, I’m walking my dogs or sleeping. It’s both a blessing and a curse that I constantly feel the need to be sketching, doodling, drawing. Anything creative.
What other interests beyond art do you have?
AB: As mentioned, walking my dogs, the fresh air is always welcomed after being at my desk for hours. I enjoy running, reading, gaming occasionally. I also play guitar in a local original band, so I have that as another creative outlet.
Printworks by Adrian on Dark Art & Craft can be found here