Jack Howl’s illustrations suggest he’s visited a futuristic world fraught with semi-surrealist demons and characters inspired by Japanese folklore and pop culture. The longer you look at the meticulously hand drawn artworks, the more quirky details you find, adding to the narrative of each eccentric character.
You can take a glimpse into his sci-fi Japonesque world from the 13th of August to the 9th of September at Workshop Bar, where some of Jack’s prints and original drawings are being showcased. I talk to Jack about his creative style and the inspiration for his current exhibition.
Tell me a bit about the background of your drawing style, where did it start?
I really love anime and grew up watching shows like Pokémon and Dragonball. As I got older I became more interested in Japanese culture and art. I love the look of Japanese woodblock prints in the Ukiyo-e style by artists like Hokusai and try to emulate their line work in my own art practice. I look to manga artists like Akira Toriyama (Dragonball) and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) for inspiration. I also love artists like Graeme Base (Anamalia) and Gustavo Doré.
“I’ll have an idea like what if they are eating lunch? Maybe they like ramen? Are they nice or a bit of a jerk? The characters’ personality takes shape as they do.”
Is there a theme for the artworks exhibited at Workshop?
The theme is Japanese folklore. Some of the work is inspired by creatures and themes from Japanese mythology and others are my interpretations of legends and characters from the Yokai myths, which are essentially their ghost stories.
What is your process for coming up with characters? Do they have a story to tell?
Sometimes I like to research various folklore and mythology and then create my own interpretation of it. Sometimes I start with nothing and come up with something based on memories. I like to use motifs and tell a story using the character. It evolves as I make it. I’ll have an idea like what if they are eating lunch? Maybe they like ramen? Are they nice or a bit of a jerk? The characters’ personality takes shape as they do.
Your characters tend to be equipped with weapons, which begs the question, if two of your characters could come to life and battle to the death, which would they be?
That’s an interesting question, I feel like they are all part of the same world so it’s not impossible! I feel like the Tengu would definitely pick a fight, he’s a cocky thug for sure. I imagine him saying something obscene to the Samurai Girl who would then probably give him a haircut like Lucy Liu from Kill Bill.
Enjoy good beer and Jack’s great art at Workshop bar until the 9th of September.
Or check out more of his work at @jack_howl