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Exclusive Interview with Mondo artist Alex Pardee, plus awesome gallery!

10.21.2016by: Eric Walkuski

This weekend Austin, Texas - that mecca of all things nerdy and cool - will once again be home to MondoCon, a celebration of movies, art, comics, music, toys and food. Plenty of awesome artists will be in attendance with their latest works on display; one of them will be Alex Pardee, an accomplished artist, designer and all around kickass guy. Horror fans might recognize his creature design work on Adam Green's DIGGING UP THE MARROW, while poster nuts will surely recognize his killer Mondo contributions. Alex has worked with such notable clients as Warner Bros., Lucasfilm, The Weinstein Company and Nike - just to name a few.

To help prepare everybody for MondoCon, and to get to know Alex and his wares a little better, I had the opportunity to talk to him about his creative process, his collaboration with Green on DIGGING UP THE MARROW, what the future holds for him and much more!

The following artwork was generously provided by Alex.

You've been at this a while; at what point did you know you had made it? In the sense that you have fans and contemporaries who recognize your name and style?

Thatís hard to tell, since Iíve basically been begging anyone within earshot to look at my artwork since the mid 90s, which was years before likes and shares and even the ability to communicate with patrons and fans like we have access to now. So hopefully itís been at least since like, 2014, haha! No, I think thatís actually something that might hopefully happen on my death bed, or close to it. The term made it seems like a past tense phrase to me, like Iíd no longer be making it. And then after I realized that Iíd probably want to die because that seems like a downward effortless hill from there. I think thatís key to moving forward and advancing in any profession. The moment you accept that you are cool or that youíve made it, I feel like maybe you would stop trying and stop learning and just kind of be a simmering creative blob. There was an old graffiti article written by Upski in an old issue of On The Go that i still reference to this day because it was a letter to new emerging artists and in the article it said ďyou suck until further noticeĒ. And I think that line has always been floating around in my head as a way to just keep pushing and keep working. So I just do that!

Do you approach work that you've been commissioned to create in a way different than your original projects?

The creative approach is definitely different with any commissioned work or client job simply because thereís already a glimmer of what they may want the finished product to be, whereas with my personal work, thereís rarely a solid outcome before I start. With my personal paintings, at least individual paintings, I often times just scribble blobby shapes and lines until thereís a silhouette that I feel like looks cool, then I fill that shape in with even weirder shapes, or make a character out of it, or something. Itís a fun process thatís often weird to share because I never really know what Iím doing until itís almost finished.

Commissions take a lot more prep for me. A lot more research. Almost every commission I take on is a series of problem solving with a desired end result. Since I never went to art school, commissions and client work is how I learn. So itís harder for sure, but almost every job I take I pick up a little something that I can apply to my personal work.

Which clients are your favorite to collaborate with?

Iím not extremely passionate about recreating things that already exist, I like new worlds, new shapes, and new characters, so my favorite jobs are the ones that are new and fresh and donít have a lot of guidelines. I love doing character designs for movies that are just an idea or a script, and we can shape these ideas together to form something that didnít exist a week earlier. I love making up random monsters and bizarre imagery, too, or taking a job where someone goes ďI just want a weird thing to hang in my officeĒ. Those are the jobs that I really can explore the techniques that I love and draw inspiration from the things that I absorb. On the other hand, I will always love doing alternate movie posters for companies like Mondo because thereís a HUGE radius for creativity within this world/movie that Iíve grown up with and would probably draw something inspired by it at one time in my life eventually anyway!

What has been the single most challenging project you've ever had to work on and why?

I recently made a feature film with my friend, director Adam Green, called Digging Up The Marrow and it was simultaneously the most rewarding and the most challenging. Itís an unapologetic indie monster movie and we did almost all of it practically so all of a sudden I was designing and helping create all of these big creatures. The main reason why it was so challenging for me is because I donít typically draw anatomically correct, or proportionately correct, but in order to create designs that would translate into 3-dimensions, and work with mechanisms and be able to be puppetted, I had to approach the art work a lot differently, almost backwards from how I normally would. Luckily we had Greg Aronowitz on our team. Heís a master sculptor and he was often able to take my incorrect drawings and somehow translate them almost perfectly into the 3-Dimensional clay realm. In the end, it was the best and most educational project I have worked on from start to finish.

I really dug Digging Up the Marrow, pardon the pun. It seemed to me there's a gigantic universe to continue discovering there. Any plans to return to it, in terms of perhaps a prequel, sequel or maybe something else entirely?

I absolutely love the world that we created for that project. And yes, we definitely created it with the intention of further exploring it, knowing that WE wanted to see all the weird stuff down in the Marrow, too. Thereís no immediate plans, but the best part about projects like this nowadays is the amount of outlets we have to explore worlds like this. Anything from movies, tv, web-content and even a creepy podcast could be cool. So hopefully we will keep digging.

What do you think your future holds in terms of your growth as an artist? Are there other mediums you really want to explore?

Iím working on some stop-motion stuff at the moment, which itís still very early on but itís REALLY exciting for me. And as consistently as I am anxious to want to create a traditional 2-d cartoon, or even a live-action silly demented kids show, Iím extremely excited by any form of new media that pops up. I got into designing mobile apps a little a couple years ago and it opened up all of these creative paths in my brain about new ways to translate my art and new worlds to build in that form. Now that VR is out I keep getting excited about that, too. I just want to keep creating and expanding my little world in whatever form I can get my hands on.

You will be exhibiting this weekend at MondoCon in Austin. Any new projects that will debut there?

Creating art is my job, and my career, and my life, and I love it. But itís stressful sometimes, and I require a certain amount of laughter and satisfaction in my life, so a lot of times I create small personal art projects that I work on solely to make myself smile and escape. Thatís the case with an entire new collection of over 100 new drawings that I will be showcasing at MondoCon. The collection is called ďDICK TRACINGĒ and like almost any of my other personal projects, it started as a joke and just kept making me laugh for months. The idea was simple. I would take an old drawing of Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, put some tracing paper over it, and trace it, but change it a little. Thatís where the ďDick TracingĒ pun spurred from. I thought it would be a funny instagram post. But after I did one, I got another idea for a different one. So i put another piece of tracing paper over it, and drew another ďDickĒ. And I laughed again. That cycle has happened over 250 times in the last year alone. So Iím bringing a whole new collection of ďDicksĒ with me to MondoCon. Iím excited.

For more on Alex, visit his official site HERE. Mondo Con runs from Oct 22 - 23; head over HERE for more details. See some of Alex's "Dicks" below!

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