A few weeks back, I sat down with Marie Elena of ‘A Modest Start’ (you can find and follow them on Facebook here) who wanted to ask me a few questions about my work, my inspirations and future vision for where my work is headed. You can read the full article below.
Hope you enjoy!
A Modest Start: When did you become interested in art, in general?
JH: From very early on in life. Children’s author and illustrator, Tommy de Paola’s work had a big impact on me. As did The Secret of Nimh and Dark Crystal. Its only been recently that I have been able to deduce that much of why I became entranced in art wasn’t ‘wanting to be an artist,’ that came much later, it was more the wanting to reproduce the feeling again and again that i got from viewing great work.
AMS: When did you you develop an interest in creating art in the form that you do?
JH: At 9 years old I began collecting comic books. I was completely fascinated by the art and stories and spent many hours leafing through their pages. It was only natural that i would start drawing the characters. Batman and Spider Man were my favorites. And not too soon afterwards, I began creating my own stories. The first comic strip i made up was “Clark Vent” – a normal vent by day, yet when trouble arose, he’d duck into a nearby phone booth, chuck the glasses, and done a cape. I was a huge DC comic fan back then.
Over the years, as my skills developed, I was never quite able to shake the comic book illustration style I had picked up way back then. I fought it for many years and then finally succumbed, to the absolute thrill of my hand and mind.
AMS: What classes did you take in school for it? Were there any courses you took for art growing up?
JH: No, I didn’t take too many classes growing up. Maybe 3 or so? It was more the paint the inside of a shell or draw Donald Duck type of classes too. I wanted to draw comics but I don’t think i ever seriously believed people did that – the artists in Spider Man were mythical to me.
It wasn’t until I became a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 that I began studying both the history and formal training of art.
AMS: What genre of art would you file your work under?
JH: I tend to not do well with labeling my work or that of others. My work seems to suggest that of a dreamscape I escape to in my imagination. But, the purposeful narrative and realist nature likely lends itself to the pop surrealist movement.
AMS: Who(what) has been your influences?
JH: There are many – Don Southard, Todd McFarlane, Maxfield Parrish, Wes Wilson, Frank Miller, James Jean, Van Gogh, Picasso & Mucha to name a few; women’s fashion design has played a tremendous part in cultivating my current style and interests; I love music and filmed spurned from a melancholic mindset; traveling has always affected my artworks; then, lastly, my muse and fiancée, Ginny.
AMS: Where are you from?
JH: Atlanta, Georgia. But at times I’ve called Colorado, Montana, Chicago, and, now, San Diego, my home.
AMS: Do you work under your own name and/or have a company name? How long have you been creating art for a living?
JH: Both. My personal work is under my own name while the majority of my commercial work is through a brand development company that I own. I need both – it allows me the opportunity to switch between ‘director’ and ‘actor’ responsibilities.
AMS: Who(what) is your constant inspiration?
JH: Definitely my fiancée, Ginny. She’s the perfect representation of beauty and femininity and keeps me grounded and focused on the true purpose of what I want my life to stand for. My home of San Diego is a great resource and one I have been lucky enough to explore and find inspiration at every turn. The homeless community here is a big inspiration to me – my time spent visiting and watching them has helped me answer questions pertaining to the true purpose of my art as well as cultivating new ideas of what it means to truly value and appreciate something. It has greatly informed my work as well as the way I have lived my life over the past couple of years.
AMS: Where do you see yourself & your art headed in the future?
JH: Playing a larger part in shifting popular culture. There are too many people, communities, and ideas without a voice and I’ve always been drawn to the power that art can play in connecting two disparate sides together. I recently ran a contest for someone to win an original piece of my artwork that they helped create. I wanted to hear what ideas others had and then I selected one and painted it. This is something I will continue to explore – helping others realize their visions, for their craft, for their companies, for themselves, and for larger communities. I also think my work will continue to grow in scale and composition. I’ve begun painting outdoor murals in public spaces and the challenge of the environment as well as actualizing an idea large scale will continue to taunt me for its possibilities.
Cheers and Thanks, Marie Elena!