Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Artist of the Week

Teetering Bulb

What a difficult and rewarding art form, illustration. An illustrator must have the ability to take a story or script or idea, that most often someone else has created, and filter it through their own creativity to create an image. Not just any image, but an image that fulfills their personal standards, meets the customers needs, and attracts the audience. An illustrator must work to meet the needs and maintain the brand and concepts of the customer while pushing them forward and into their style.

Brooklyn's Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon have come together to form the illustration team known as Teetering Bulb. Together they create what they call "little fictions", which is a term that really caught my eye. I will let them explain, but my initial thought was that every image tells a story or has a story or is born from a story. Either way, to call your pieces little fictions is very interesting. They recently signed to Morgan Gaynin Inc. for representation, and deserve all the attention that that will bring.

Recently, Kurt Huggins of Teetering Bulb was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Is there a certain trait or look that would trigger the viewer to know an illustration is a Teetering Bulb illustration?
Kurt Huggins (KH): A mature and dark storybook style in glorious ZeldaColor® (patent

OA: There is a segment of your work that you call "Little Fictions". I like the idea that your images tell stories. Do you view your drawings as stories? Do you ever write stories to go along with you images? What comes first the story or the image?
KH: We definitely view our images as stories. It's exciting when a viewer sees this window into a world and imagines what's just outside of that picture frame. In our personal work, an image often comes first and then a little bit of flash fiction is formulated around that. For client work, it's the opposite, we're responding to the text we're given.

OA: Do you draw from a reference point or is it all in your head?
KH: Initially it's all in the mind, but that doesn't mean it was produced ex nihilo.The images bubble up from a kind of subconscious soup, where all these old ideas have been cooking together, breaking down, mixing, forming something that's hopefully new and unexpected. I think all creative people have this soup, for some it's just potatoes while others have Minestrone. Tom Waits' soup is made of whiskey and motor oil. Regardless, this soup is where the initial sketches come from. And from there, we gather references to help refine the image and give it some real world details.

OA: You recently announced a partnership with Morgan Gaynin. What will this move do for Teetering Bulb?
KH: It means money, drugs, and partying with Lindsay Lohan. Actually we're really lucky to be represented by them. It adds a definite legitimacy to what we're doing, and will mean higher profile work for clients we either would never have, or it would take years to get. The money, drugs, and partying with Lindsay Lohan we already had.

OA: I found your work through Little Chimp Society. In what way do you feel blogs like LCS and other help you and the art form of illustration in general?
KH: Less than a decade ago, you could only discover illustrators through already published work, illustration annuals, or directories like Workbook. The internet, to use a phrase run ragged with clichè, has made the world flatter. The gateway into the professional world, while still locked and patrolled, seems shorter and easier to leap. On the other hand, it also looks like there's hundreds more illustrators out there, with a dozen new ones springing up every day. With all this proliferation, the quality of work is rising too. Oddly, as important as the internet is, I think the desire is still to be printed. There's a certain legitimacy, imagined or real, still associated with being in print. In a way, it's how you know you've made it. How this plays out in the future is anyone's guess.

OA: What's next for teetering bulb?
KH: There's a lot of work coming up, most we don't want to discuss due to a superstition that talking about milk makes it go sour. The only thing I will say is we're doing an illustrated novella with our friend and compatriot of the weird, Adam Lowe. It's called Troglodyte Rose, due out next summer, we're hoping it busts some blocks.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
KH: Some would say Spoonbill and Sugartown in Williamsburg, which has some really cool stuff located between the living shelves of hipsters. I'd say the real king though is the oldest, and that would be The Strand, located just south of Union Square. It's as big as a Barnes and Noble, only with better prices and a more motley appearance.

OA: What type of music do you listen to?
KH: From Johnny Cash to (when Zelda isn't around) Slayer. We're really on a kick with a bunch of old eighties New Wave, as well as an amazing new group called IAMX.

For more information on Teetering Bulb please visit their website.

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