Over a year ago, the Beauty and His Beast series began; since then, it has continued to gain praise. Today we got to talk about “Leviathan”, the second in the series. You can view the first set from the series titled Seraphim. The prints are limited edition and each one comes from a hand carved illustration. The style echoes many traditional Japanese woodblock prints.

The Kickstarter has great rewards. For just $5 you can get two bookmarks. One for you and one for a friend! Score! You won’t have to scramble for something unique next time you have to give a gift. The actual prints start at $75 and ship anywhere in the world.  Estimated delivery is December of 2016 so you will have them in time for the new year! Make sure to check out their campaign here!

Where did you get inspiration for the project?

Our inspiration for this limited-edition woodcut print came from the timeless, inspired words of Job 41 describing the might and strength of Leviathan — a terrifying sea monster subdued by God alone who governs all of creation with His exceedingly infinite power.

Stylistically, the Beauty & His Beasts series of prints has been heavily influenced by Asian art and culture. After spending time studying the work of traditional Japanese woodblock artists we knew this was a direction we wanted to explore. But we also drew inspiration from contemporary artists like James Jean and Hayao Miyazaki. Our goal has been to honor this rich artistic heritage without being derivative.

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How did you start off as an artist? When did you begin to identify yourself as a professional?

I’ve been drawing all my life, and I probably started painting sometime around 10-12 years old.  But it wasn’t until I was around 18-19 that I started getting serious about art as a possible profession.

Did you have any formal training? If not, what resources did you use to further develop your skills?

I studied art in college, which is where I was first introduced to printmaking. In school, I learned all the fundamentals of art including the technical skills required to create paintings, woodcuts, and other mixed media installations. But my real training came from working as a graphic designer for over 15 years. To my surprise, making “commercial art” has greatly influenced my “fine art”, especially in terms of layout and composition. So there is definitely a mutually beneficial interplay between the two. And printmaking seems to be the perfect marriage of both worlds.

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What reaction do people usually have to the concept?

When we first started doing woodcut prints featuring the bizarre creatures described in Scripture we didn’t know how people would react. Surprisingly, the overall concept has been well received. It’s interesting because the woodcuts appeal to a very diverse intersection of people from bible scholars to tattoo artists. Some people appreciate the prints for their visual aesthetic, which is very bold, graphic, and mythic. Others appreciate the underlying biblical truths that inform the design. And we like it when those two frameworks get merged into a beautifully bizarre, yet meaningful, piece of art.

Where have you shown the work before?

We’re still building the Beauty & His Beasts series of woodcuts and probably won’t start showing the collection in galleries until we’ve finished a good number of the prints (I’m thinking there will be a total of 10-12 pieces in the series).

A couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to show some of my previous artworks at the Imago Gallery & Cultural Center in Columbia, MO.  And we’ve already had someone ask if we would be interested in showing this series on the Wedgwood Houston Art Crawl. So we are definitely open to showing these prints in the future if/when the time is right.

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How has this differed from your previous work?

Most of my previous works have been mixed media paintings, which all had a very tactile/dimensional quality. The relief prints don’t have that same dimensional quality, but there is definitely a very tactile process of physically carving wood, applying ink, and hand pressing the prints.

Another big difference is the collaborative nature of this project. In the past, I’ve always worked alone to create my art. But after being a creative director in the design industry for several years, I’ve really grown to love working with other artists to achieve a common vision. More and more I see myself as a conductor of virtuoso performers, or in this case virtuoso illustrators far more talented than myself.

I come up with the direction of a new piece then I find the right illustrator to help me realize that vision. With my guidance, they take the design pretty far down the road, and if necessary I put some finishing touches on it to help maintain an overall consistency. Once the illustration is finalized, I hand carve the woodcut myself, and then my wife and I work together to pull each print.

For the Leviathan woodcut, we had the privilege of working with talented illustrator Justin Morales who did a tremendous job creating a visually compelling Leviathan design that also felt consistent with the overall style we were hoping to achieve.

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Why did you decide to crowdfund?

We really like crowdfunding our projects for a couple different reasons. It allows us to share a new concept and see if people are interested before we invest lots of money making lots of stuff that no body wants to buy. Additionally, using a platform like Kickstarter affords us access to a larger, more global community that we wouldn’t be able to reach on our own.  We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of international backers we’ve had with each of our crowdfunded projects.

What were the factors you considered before launching the campaign?

Kickstarter provides a lot of great resources to help you plan/prepare for a running a campaign.  That process was crucial, because it helped us realize that we needed help to make this campaign successful.  So we enlisted the help of our illustrator Justin Morales, who has a much larger social network than we do.  With both of us working to promote the project we have a much better chance of succeeding than we would on our own.

Find more about the project at the Inkwell’s Press website.