Influenced by ‘a large web of lowbrow pop culture offerings’, pete Hillstrom has developed his own style of drawing over the years, here he shares his final MA piece, Dubstep.
WHERE DID YOUR FASCINATION WITH ART BEGIN?
I don’t know if I was particularly gifted at drawing as a child or rather was simply more inclined to do it, and things grew from there with practice. I know that I was much more brazen in communicating things through my drawings that I lacked the gumption to communicate otherwise. I was a bit too bashful of a kid to rebel using the usual avenues but I certainly did it through drawing, and that thrill, garnered with the reactions from my peers, was the fuel that kept me developing my work to the slightly more refined state it finds itself in today.
WHY ILLUSTRATION OVER ANY OTHER MEDIUM?
I don’t consider illustration a medium but more-so a discipline. It’s a particular inclination within a piece of work and the ways in which that piece is appropriated that would bring it under that category. But the traditional aim of illustration is most concerned with narration through imagery, which has always been at the backbone of my work. So when considering a postgraduate course I was drawn to the ones offered in Illustration. The project I had in mind, which later became my final MA piece Dubstep, I felt best fit within that Illustration domain rather than in the realms of a fine art program. I think illustration is very welcoming, and work made under its banner is often very tangible and inclusive. It’s a warm imagery blanket.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
If I try to trace my influences it becomes primarily a large web of lowbrow pop culture offerings. I spent more than enough time as a kid watching cartoons and playing video games in the 90s and I’d imagine those had as big an impact on my drawing style as anything. So a lot of Nintendo and Nickelodeon. And while my style is very much attuned with comic books I never read many as a child beyond a smattering of Archie, MAD and Sonic the Hedgehog spin-offs I’d get as stocking-stuffers from my grandma. Nor did I really embrace much from the historical art movements we’d learn about in school beyond favouring certain pieces across a broad range of time. But through all these avenues I’ve come to a style that is most akin with the underground comix movement, of which I had next to no exposure to until my style was well established. So I’d imagine the large overarching influence the comix movement created, and everything prior that influenced those creators, subtly trickled down to me in the form of my chosen pop culture proclivities.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE?
I’ve really been admiring the work of S. Clay Wilson lately. Most especially his amazingly skillful line work and wild use of texturing but also the apparent objectives of much of his subject matter. I got into him while in the middle of completing my final piece for my MA course which depicted a large crowd-scene of a particular group of people, and I saw many parallels between that piece and a lot of his complex crowd-scene drawings by way of us both seeking to expose particular unflattering facets of humanity in a certain way. Of course, he takes it to another level completely, but I was really inspired by his wanton methods.
WHAT’S YOUR STUDENT SURVIVAL TIP?
Towards the end of your course, after 12-hour long drawing days, always leave an hour for beer, cheese and listening to Budgie.