PATIENT: BYRON WINTON
When did you start creating?
Oh geez... a long time ago, in a trailer far, far, away. I drew as a kid; monsters, hot rods, band logos, etc. It wasn't until I exhausted all of what my school had to offer for drafting/architecture that I took my first 'real' art class. 9th grade, I believe.
Why did you pick the genre/style you work in?
It's the physical manifestation of my Id. My head is filled with nonsense... a crock-pot of all the shit I immerse myself and expose myself to. It's a weird perpetual taffy making device. Fantasy and horror is such an escapism from the mundane life I live; it's very routine and safe. So when I paint, I get to freak out in way... get scary!
Yeah, sort of. I shouldn't be able to count going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with its reputable... um, infamous reputation. Thankfully, I graduated years ago... back in '93. It all started when one of their reps came to my high school senior year. I was a precocious youth; I was in the art room 6 periods of the day. I was often used by the teacher as an example to the other students... mostly of what not to do...it was my love of the 6 hair brush and horror subject matter. I was exposed to many mediums, but painting was what I settled on. I had aspirations of going to Pratt or Parsons in NYC, but those were scary and very expensive options. AIP swooped in at just the right time; my vulnerable and naïve self was putty in their hands. During my days at AIP, I learned how to apply my budding painting abilities, how to do typography, and how the new technology was going to negate my education at this trade school. Enter the age of computers!
In the end, I'm really a self taught painter. Every now and then though, I do take advice and pick-up tips from fellow painters who, I think, are far more skilled than I am.
Where do you get your ideas from?
My mom tells me what to paint. Hahahahaha. I used that line recently at a convention. I get my ideas from where most creators get theirs, out of thin air, right? Sure, there's some from dreams, or seeing something striking, or word association. I'm always thinking of stuff, percolating, and evolving ideas. At any given moment I can give you ten ideas that are on my mind. It makes me a bit scatter brained at times.
Do you journal, sketch, photograph at all to start?
Absolutely! I got a stack of sketchbooks filled full of failed (mostly) drawings and thoughts. Some ideas warrant more drawings than others. And if the idea needs photo reference to help aid in a stronger painting, I'll take one... or a hundred.
An unhealthy dose of procrastination. Then, a period of contemplation and scrutiny. After all that, it's time to work! Some days, one phase takes more precedence over the other. Currently, I reluctantly share my day with a demanding day job. That means if that doesn't wipe me out completely, I just might be able to attempt my 3-step process.
Do you tend to get more done at one time versus another?
Nights and weekends. Especially when I should be sleeping. Oh, and also when I'm in a healthy relationship. I like a good muse. Not necessary for their angelic beauty, but mostly for their support and a peace of mind they give me; soothing the savage beast.
Favorite artist or designer?
Many, many, many! I love talent... style, flare, attitude! Drew Struzan, Michael Whelan, Alphonse Mucha, Simon Bisley, Travis Charest, Gustave Doré, Jae Lee, Dave Dorman, Tyler Stout, Tim Vigil, Geoff Darrow, Jason Edmiston, Pushead, Brom, Mike Mignola.
Who are you currently following?
Other than the artists listed above, I love movies! All types. Mostly films by; John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam, David Fincher, Tim Burton, and Ridley Scott.
Books! Reading books are another compelling media I enjoy; Max Brooks, William Gibson, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Bradbury, Vonnegut, Lovecraft, and Neil Gaiman.
Do you prefer working in one medium over another?
Indeed! Acrylics! It's been my medium of choice ever since I received a $50 scholarship from the Golden Acrylics Co. for HS graduation. Funny enough, this prestigious brand of acrylics has its factory in the next town over from where I lived. A $50 scholarship was doubled when you shop in the factory. I was set for a few years! Back then, you couldn't find their paint except for a select few retailers and mail order. Nowadays, you can find their paint in just about every art and craft store.
Noise, for sure! My music library is set on random play... I don't let the music dictate my mood when I create like most artists do. There's a hefty amount of Industrial, Hair band Metal, Alternative, New Wave, Soundtracks, and Instrumental. I'll skip a track or two if it severely derails my mojo. That power is in my control!!!
Do you have any weird habits when it comes to working on your art?
Pantless! Don't look at me like that. Nobody's home. I'll dress... undress how I see fit!
What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?
For me... quality. I have a few friends that I have to get their input from. Sometimes, great ideas and executions don't play out as I planed. I spend a lot of time on a painting, so it's nice to have a few extra set of eyes have a look-see... course correct me, in a sense. Can't see the forest for the trees, the saying goes. My friends can't be all, "yeah, looks good" either. They need to be critical... positive or negative.
I've spent the first 6 months of this year on commissions. 3 book covers and 2 album covers. All to be soon released sometime later this year, I hope. I've had no time to work on personal projects. I have a list that are demanding my time as soon as my last gig is up. Prior to this year, I've had only a couple commissions a year. It was last year's Creature Feature painting that attracted some new clients. I guess I can't complain too much about paying projects and the exposure they'll offer.
How do you balance work with art?
First of all, art shouldn't feel like work. Do it because it's fun. Zen, almost. It really is! It's when you start to apply structure and reward that it turns into work.
Secondly, it's work (the day job) that fuels me to be a better and successful artist... shoot for the stars. I'd love to do my art full-time, but I often wonder if I'll have the motivation to continue to escape orbit. That drive won't be there. Perhaps my humble aspirations will be replaced by a growing ego. I don't know, I hope not. We'll see. I'm sure some other catalyst will present itself.
For clients... meeting deadlines and a satisfaction of knowing they hired the right guy for their project. For my personal projects, I do them for myself. Some pieces speak more clearly to people than others. I experience this at conventions all the time. Some of my earlier painting were completely ignored. It happens. Not every painting is going to be a masterpiece.
Advice for aspiring artists or designers?
Take off the blinders. Allow the world to influence you. Be your own person. Question everything. Draw like there's no tomorrow. Don't take my job or make it obsolete!
Steel City Con (Pittsburgh) July 26-28
Horror Hound (Indianapolis) September 6-8
Illuxcon (Allentown) September 14
BIO: Byron, a Pittsburgh PA native, is a dedicated freelance fantasy and horror illustrator who has worked alongside the comic book industry over the years. His amazingly detail-rich paintings offer a little something for everyone. He paints popular culture imagery from memorable movies like; Star Wars, Resident Evil, and Beetlejuice to name a few, as well as mind-blowing original concepts. He has worked for CALIBER COMICS, the industrial band REIN[FORCED], and authors HEIDI RUBY MILLER and SUSAN K. DRONEY. In 2013, Byron will have works released by MOONSTONE BOOKS and POST MORTEM PRESS.