Artist and illustrator Esther Green works tirelessly at her highly detailed ink drawings. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Esther about her personal ethos surrounding life, death, music and some of the artists from her huge list of noir and surrealist influences.
Be sure to check out products featuring Esther’s work over at her shop.
On art and death:
I really believe that all art is about death - even optimistic, upbeat art is still a rejection of death, but great surrealists deal with it head on. I think you have to at least meet death halfway and art is a very positive way of trying to work it out.
On her tools:
I feel a step removed from the work if I use a brush, so I always use pencil, pen, and only tiny bits of paint if necessary. I love pens - the skinnier the nib, the happier I am. I prefer to layer the ink, so I start with a super fine nib (ideally 0.03mm but no bigger than 0.05mm) and build up the shade or line by scratching away at the paper. Several pens can be completely ruined in a single drawing, I'm afraid. I've wanted to develop a style that would give a similar effect to Victorian book illustrations, but without the printing process.
Music is everything to me. Sound is miraculous & music is akin to magic. Even music with dissonance has form & a place to go. Lots of my ideas come from song words or are named after song titles. I learned a lot about artists such as Egon Schiele, Stanley Spencer, and Allen Jones from Adam Ant, himself an artist of course. At 14, I was a big fan of The Jam. On the inner sleeve of their "This Is the Modern World" album, there were these amazing figure line drawings by Connie Jude - they were sort of distorted and ugly but I was profoundly attracted to them. This was the first notion I had that something unsettling or unpleasant could still have beauty or be attractive.
On her biggest influence:
Harry Clarke, the Irish artist has been my biggest influence. He was initially a stained glass artist, apprenticing at and eventually taking over his father's business in Dublin, but he went on to illustrate Poe, Goethe, and fairy tales, amongst other works. Not only was he an incredible artist and designer, but he was a true craftsman, making many windows himself for commissions all over the world. He taught me that a piece of art isn't finished until it's finished, regardless of how time-consuming and fiddly it is or how tired your eyes are or how much your hand aches.
I have a deep interest in religious and ancient symbolism and iconography. I love the idea of the spiral for instance as a representation of the sun, the moon, the wind, or a whirlpool -- the natural world. People like Klimt gave me a gateway to pattern and Egyptian symbols and turning figures into icons of a sort.