Intro by Shanon Weltman / Interview by Ray Jones
Happy Halloween, ghosts and ghouls. On this day dedicated to all that is scary, we bring you a master of cult horror illustration, Jimmy Giegrich. The mixed bag of (candy) 1990’s childhood influences ooze through his style, everything from punk rock to anime. Jimmy’s illustrations perfectly blend humor, horror, and hella impressive line quality and color palettes. Before you put yourself into a sugar and/or booze induced Halloween coma, take a few minutes and see what Ray Jones had to ask Jimmy.
RJ: To start, fill us in on your inspirations. They don’t have to be art related.
JG: I’d say that a lot of my inspiration for my illustration comes mostly from what I was into when I was younger. When I was a kid I was way into the usual kid stuff, like video games, comics and cartoons. All that kind of stuff.
Ugs, Fugs, and Grossos: Joe
JG: [Laughs] Yeah, and that definitely had a hand in me wanting to become a Creative and do illustration. Probably the most of all, comics had a huge influence on me. I was into Marvel, particularly 90’s X-Men, all that. I was obsessed with it, same thing with Ninja Turtles. As I got older, I got into artists like Ed Roth, Basil Wolverton, gross out underground artists like that. Then I got into punk music and metal, all those things kind of created this perfect storm of influence on me. [Laughs]
RJ: It’s true, your work is… very metal. [Laughs] I love that about it. I’m like, Oh man! Punk! I can see it!
JG: [Laughs] Thanks!
Executioner and Friend
RJ: There also seems to be a very distinct 80’s vibe. How long have you worked this way?
JG: I feel like the way that I draw now is closer to the way that I drew when I was a little kid, than it was when I was in high school and stuff. It’s kinda like I draw the same things… like monsters and screaming dudes punching each other, veins and sweat, all that. I guess I’m a bit more skilled at it now? [Laughs] If that makes any sense. I’ve been drawing this kind of stuff forever, and when I got into college I wanted to be way more classical. I wanted to be way more detailed and realistic and realized I couldn’t do it. [Laughs] I was like, ‘Alright. Veins and sweat and screaming’. [Laughs]
RJ: [Laughs] That’s perfect though. You really came into this style, it’s really awesome man, I really enjoy it. Walk us through a usual day in the studio, what’s your day like?
JG: It all depends on what I’m doing and If I have client work. I’ll get up and work on whatever I have for the day, whether it’s sketches or finals, emailing back and forth between clients. Otherwise, If I’m just working on personal work or a comic or something, I’ll get up and work on that instead. Doing like preliminaries on characters, sketches for comic panel layouts, all that.
RJ: Would you say your time is evenly split between commissioned work and personal work? How is it divided for you?
JG: I probably spend a little bit more time on professional work than personal work these days. It kind of comes and goes. Sometimes it alternates, sometimes I’ll be really, really busy for like two months at a time. I’ll have no time to do anything and then I’ll have like a month where I can just do my own thing, work on comics, that kind of thing.
RJ: Okay. How long have you been teaching?
JG: This is going to be my third year, I started in 2011-2012, something like that. This is my fifth semester, two and change years now.
RJ: How do you feel about it, comparing when you first started up to now?
JG: I feel way more comfortable now than I did when I first started. I started off always wanting to teach. I had been a teaching assistant for a couple teachers at MICA. Particularly Daniel Krall, who was my teacher when I was there. It was something I always wanted to do. I got hooked up with the teaching gig basically through my connections at MICA and from knowing people in the Illustration department. Going in I thought I was going to be doing really, really well and I had it all figured out. There really is a big difference between teaching a class on your own as opposed to being a teaching assistant where you’re just helping out around the class, interjecting and stuff. I feel I’ve gotten way better at it and I feel like it’s something that I’m much more comfortable doing now, as opposed to when I first started.
Pizza Party Printing: Akira
RJ: Do you feel that being a young illustrator helps in terms of relating to the students? Like being contemporary enough to share your experiences.
JG: Definitely, I definitely do. I notice that there’s a really kind of positive response that I have from my own career and decisions, things I’ve done in my career. It seems like they respond very well to it. I’m kind of at this weird age where I teach sophomores and I guess they’re eight years younger than I am? So it’s a pretty sizable gap but I’m within the ballpark of being a peer of theirs. It seems like they can take what I’m saying to heart, which I think is really, really good. The other thing too I’ve noticed, just from my own experience at MICA, is that when a teacher is closer to the age of the students, I think that it makes it feel like the knowledge that they’re passing on to you is much more relatable and understandable. It’s also good to get the experiences of someone that is currently working in the field as opposed to somebody who was really big at a past point in time when the landscape of illustration was way different than it is now. That’s something that I wanted a little bit more of when I was in school, more present day illustration advice. Not to say I didn’t get that. I feel that this happens in any creative/academic situation… The more in touch the teacher with the landscape of whatever field it is, the better. Just because, again, the information is a little bit more relatable.
RJ: So much technology has changed in the last five years, if you were focused on just one thing, you probably missed a lot, so [Laughs]…
JG: Yeah! I mean, shit, I tell my students, when I graduated from school, Twitter was not the beast that it is today.
JG: Things like Tumblr and Facebook, social media, it has changed so many thing for so many illustrators.
RJ: Going back just a little bit, who are your clients lately?
JG: I’ve been doing a lot for Boom Studios. They do comics for Cartoon Network. Have you heard of a show called Uncle Grandpa before?
RJ: [Laughs] Yeah.
JG: Yeah, I’ve been doing comics for that. I think the first one just came out last week or something, but they started a new series of those comics and I’m one of their regular artists on it, which is pretty cool. I’ve been just doing kind of like whatever comes my way. I used to do a lot of editorial stuff, and I haven’t been doing as much as I’ve been doing more comics. I’ve done a handful of movie posters, that kind of thing and then just working on getting my own personal projects off the ground. That’s what’s been occupying my time lately.
Pizza Party Printing: Creepshow
RJ: Can you tell me about Pizza Party Printing?
JG: Totally, that’s my screen printing business that I started with a friend of mine. We do client work, screen printing with other people, but that’s more of my business partner’s end of the business because he’s a screen printer. I’m like the designer for the company, we do original t-shirts, posters for movies and patches.
RJ: Are they all horror themed?
JG: They’re not all horror themed, but generally if it’s a cult movie we’ll do something for it. We also hire out other illustrators. We had Andrea [Kalfas] do one for the Neverending Story. We tend to gravitate more towards cult movies, things that you wouldn’t usually see. We stay away from stuff like, Halloween or Friday the 13th, it’s all more offbeat stuff that we do.
RJ: Like the old, Old Boy, or something like that?
JG: Yeah, totally. We did a poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing. We did a Conan the Barbarian t-shirt for the Conan movies. We did one for Suspiria. We just did a showing of Wild Zero, which is like a Japanese rock and roll zombie movie. We did a t-shirt for that.
RJ: [Laughs] I really love all of them. The Creepshow one is one my favorites and the Ninja Turtles.
JG: That Creepshow one is crazy. I designed that for our very first movie showing. We showed Creepshow like two and a half years ago and that shirt has consistently sold better than any shirt we’ve ever done. [Laughs] It’s crazy, anytime we do that, we sell a million copies of it for some reason.
RJ: All the good ones are here, Hellraiser… are you going to do a Candy Man poster?
JG: We might, we kind of base the stuff that we do on the movies that we show. That’s definitely one we talked about showing.
Executioner and Friend, Page 1
RJ: Awesome! Okay, well we’re on to the last question, and it’s usually kind of off topic, but might just be totally appropriate for you. In an Ultimate Monster Battle, who would you like to see go head to head?
JG: I feel like the little kid in me is racing to pick the two coolest monsters. [Laughs] Two monsters fighting each other? Man, I think two of my favorite ever movie monsters are the Rancor from Star Wars, the big thing in Jabba’s palace, and I mentioned John Carpenter’s The Thing earlier, I love that so much. I love that The Thing doesn’t have a set look. It looks different every time you see it, but it’s still identifiable as the monster. I feel like that movie, as well as Star Wars, had such a big influence on me. [Laughs] I guess those two guys.
RJ: I still need to see The Thing, I just know the ‘dog’ is involved… [Laughs]
JG: Oh man, that movie is one of my top three favorite movies ever. I would definitely recommend it. [Laughs]