Alex Tooth is a self-taught artist of the fantastic. Inspired by Japanese animation and various old and modern masters, his works are a symphony of colour and glamour, incorporating elements of Space Age retrofuturism, Art Deco, and heroic fantasy. His recent pieces are especially striking and depict android-like sylphs wrapped in flowing drapery. Alex Tooth has been featured in the official Star Wars Tumblr blog, and recently exhibited his work at The Brick Lane Gallery in London. In our interview, Alex weighed in on his other aspirations and interests.
The Custodian: Who would you say are your main artistic influences?
Alex Tooth: Wow, the million-dollar question. Seeing as you and your readers probably don’t have several weeks to read my answer I’ll have to cut it a little short!
When I was younger in high school I was really into reading manga and watching anime, I guess this would have been my first influence. Let’s say Akira for one comic, by Katsuhiro Otomo. It’s interesting to look back on now, with a more artistic eye. Every single frame in his comic was perfectly composed; great character designs, industrial design in general, a real genius if ever there was one. And I am glad he is getting more respect in Japan now for his contribution to the industry.
From the “old school” western painter, which I am more into these days – I really enjoy Kandinsky, Matisse, Klimt, Sargent, Van Gogh, Monet – I guess you can say 19th century for the most part, Victorian art as well a la Bougerou, Zorn etc. I also enjoy the great American landscape artists like Frederic Church and Thomas Cole.
More “modern masters” or living artists would include Richard Schmid, Hongnian Zhang, Jeremy Lipking – really these lists can go on forever. I have a real soft spot for bold brush work and immaculate use of colours, verging of the abstract often. I probably discover a new artist on a weekly basis who just blows me away.
C: We see you were featured in the official Star Wars Tumblr blog as an artist of the week. How did that feel? Are you a fan of the movies?
A: Firstly this is the first I’ve heard of this, so thanks! It’s funny however, as most artists will agree – sometimes they’d prefer their early work dead and buried. I believe my Star Wars piece was one of my first, if not first ever commissions – so of course now all I see is the errors and beginner paintings errors. It’s cool that some people enjoy them though, the posts have some ‘likes’ so who am I to say they’re bad. Shame they didn’t feature the Sandcrawler piece, I think that was the best one!
C: Did you start composing music and illustrating at the same time?
A: Actually, music came about five years earlier, you could say it was my first love. The life of a DJ isn’t really what I was after, far too much travelling and my circadian rhythms are way too important to sacrifice! Illustration was more of ‘something to do’. I’ve always enjoyed art, and it was the only subject I passed in high school so I had little other choices. I discovered this thing called “Digital Art” (art painted on a computer with a tablet and pen) about five years ago – I thought I’d give it a bash. I did some of the Schoolism.com tutorials and picked it up quite well. Now I enjoy days of creating art and music, it’s perfect really – I’m very lucky!
C: Have you ever been awestruck by the imagery in a video game or animated film? Ever thought about making your own?
A: Oh yes most certainly! My youngest memory was Akira. I remember staying up late and watching it when I was twelve. Mind was literally blown. I was thinking what are these violent cartoons for adults? Made Transformers look like child’s play anyway. Later on most of the Ghibli stuff really gets me going, Princess Mononoke is a good example! I really loved a little film called Secret of Kells and Ghost in the Shell is an out and out classic, absolutely beautiful!
I have dabbled in animation a little, but really I don’t have the patience to spend months/years for a few minutes of film. I do believe that results are the best experience of art you can have right now, at least for me – but yeah, it takes a certain kind of individual. Perhaps working on a team for this kind of project one day. If your readers have not heard of Andy Thomas, I can recommend watching his music video for Liquid Stranger – the Gargon. Really breathtaking visuals.
C: What are you working on now? Any upcoming exhibitions?
A: At the moment – a couple of commissions, album covers. Art and music are very much a hobby so I don’t have a huge amount of time to invest and take the odd commission. I am doing a lot of music production these days and hope to have an album done by the end of the year. My website often has something new posted every few weeks, so I like to keep things fresh. I just finished up a little exhibition in Brick Lane gallery, London – but for digital illustration this isn’t really a big thing – people want to buy real paintings!
For more of Alex’s art and music, have a look at his website.