Artist Lucas Elliott on Creativity, Comics, and the Alaskan Wilderness
If you were lucky enough to attend Emerald City or Rose City Comic Con this year, then it’s likely you were stopped in your tracks when you saw the art of Lucas Elliott.A pillar in the burgeoning creative scene in Anchorage, Alaska, Elliott currently travels to conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Lucas Elliott exemplifies the perseverance and spirit of the independent artist, striving to tell personal stories via his art and graphic novels. Elliott’s art draws from a myriad of inspiration, clearly tapping into his love for science-fiction and the geek world at large. His recent shift to digital illustration helps further develop the worlds he so masterfully builds. With this newfound expansion comes different mediums, such as his recent graphic novel adaptation MOOSE. Set in an unknown town in Alaska, MOOSE sees the terror of an ancient evil half-moose, half-man creature wreak havoc across the landscape. In addition to MOOSE, Elliot has also started work on his first creator-owned webcomic, BATTLESTAR, “the story of a starfish, the most fearsome warrior in all the seven seas, on a quest to protect the world”..Outside of his work for character design and graphic novels, Elliott has made quite an impression with his fine art and digital illustrations. Subjects range from interpretations of the beautiful landscape of Alaska, wildlife, or plain old fun things like a tyrannosaurus rex playing asteroids. After seeing his amazing work at the 2017 Rose City Comic Con, I was l fortunate to get to meet Lucas and get his thoughts on art, Alaska, and staying motivated in today’s cultural landscape.
GWW: Please tell me a little about yourself and your work and how your got your start in art.
Lucas Elliott: My name is Lucas Elliott and I’m a freelance illustrator based in a great state of Alaska. I’ve lived up here for about 21 years and have loved every minute of it. I went to school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. I used to work on canvases that were bigger than most people haha. Nowadays I primarily work in comic and kid literature illustration, with my largest project to date being a 148-page graphic novel called MOOSE, which accompanies a feature-length film by the same name. When I’m not locked away in my studio, I’m off exploring the tundra with my wife and pup.
GWW: What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career and at what point in your life did you realize that you have creative talent?
LE: I’ve always been really into comics and a wide variety of cartoons growing up, with everything from Ninja Turtles to Ghostbusters influencing my creative direction. My grandmother was always a big supporter and bought me my first comics and plenty of art supplies. From there I took every course, class, and session imaginable to become the slacker I am today.
I never really thought about it as talent as a kid until those around me really started pointing it out. I just really enjoyed drawing everything I saw and wanted to tell stories. I was fortunate back in High School to have teachers in my life, though, that really pushed me to broaden my horizons and not just focus on one particular subject of art, but to immerse myself in any and all art, from the comics that I love to Italian Renaissance and Even more modern day abstract styles.
GWW: Were you ever discouraged? If so, how did it affect your creativity?
LE: There have been so many times, and I think that it will always come and go.
A time that really did affect me hard, though, was my very first time tabling at Emerald City Comic Con. My only other experience was showcasing my artwork at small local craft shows and First Friday events. And to go from that to an event where there were 60,000 people attending was both exciting and daunting. Being my first comic event, especially outside of Alaska, no one knew who I was… and I hardly sold a darn thing. I was a piece of hay among a giant mound of hay…. And I felt overwhelmed. I enjoyed the event and trying to meet new people, but it was definitely one of those make or break moments. On top of that, the night after the last day of the show, I was involved in a car accident that left me having to pay a hefty amount in damages towards the rental car company. With all this happening, I came home feeling like a failure, feeling like I hadn’t accomplished what I set out to do and that I was less than half the artist I was.
I was ready to call it quits.
I stopped drawing for about a month after that, tending to my hurt self-esteem and contemplating where I wanted to go next. But the one thing that I’m very fortunate to have in my life is a support base for other artists and friends who believe in what I do. Coming to find out I wasn’t alone in how I felt, in the experiences that I went through. And that one can’t let something like this keep them from doing something that they really love.
A few months later after Emerald City Comic Con, I was approached by a company that I talked to briefly at the show, Blind Ferret Entertainment. They were looking for some work for a webcomic that they were producing and I fit the style they were looking for.
Things happen, you will feel like you’ve lost the fight, but in reality, you’re just gearing up for round 2.
GWW: What do you do to get into your creative zone?
LE: Coffee… All the coffee. I can’t think of a better way to get into the creative zone.
I kid. Depending on when I get started in the day, I try and do warm up sketches first thing, just to kind of loosen up. Just like you would before you go for a run, you gotta relax.
I also try and keep a sketchbook with me at all times. Whether it’s my iPad Pro or a small sketchbook in my back pocket, I wanna jot down ideas, take notes or a quick doodle. Creativity happens when you least expect to be inspired.
Long-term, doing comic conventions, interacting with both creators and fans, definitely helps keep me creatively inspired to push forward. To see how people react to my work and other creators that I find interesting keep pushing me to do more.
GWW: How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?
LE: That’s always a hard question to answer because most of the time its a feeling, that you just know that its good. Sometimes it’s also just forcing yourself to stop because you don’t feel I like adding anything else will make it better or worse.
Depending on the timeframe, though, sometimes its just good to leave a piece for a few days/weeks/months and then coming back to it. Looking at something fresh after time away makes for great new ideas!
GWW: What sort of lasting impression do you hope your work will have on other people?
LE: At the end of the day, I want to make those who view my work smile. There is so much negativity in the world, so much in this world that just brings you down. If I can create a piece of art or a story that inspires hope and positivity, then maybe they will share that with those they know and so on.
GWW: How has your convention experience been? Do you travel for your art often?
LE: This is my second year doing Rose City Comic Con and I can honestly say this year’s show has been fantastic. The crowd, the venue, it’s been truly amazing. It’s probably the most relaxed event I’ve ever been to in terms of how people are at this show. Nobody is really in a hurry and everyone loves a good conversation. Being in Alaska, I have to be selective about which shows I do outside the state. Currently, I do Rose City and Emerald City comic cons on a regular basis and occasionally I will throw in another show. Otherwise, if I do any additional events, I tend to travel around Alaska throughout the year.
GWW: Do you consider yourself fairly isolated in Alaska? How has geography and personal experience influenced your creativity?
LE: Yes and No. The Alaska Comics and Arts community is far different than anything that you’d find anywhere else and I’m truly happy to be a part of it. We’re a small group of creators but were a welcoming bunch.
I’ve been fortunate to know and have many people I call friends who work as artists all over the country and are part of much larger communities. Within those communities, they are able to host more events and more types of events, and gatherings because there are so many. As well as they are able to travel and attend more conventions. It gets hard sometimes not having all of these opportunities on a regular basis, but honestly, I think it makes us appreciate the ones we do have in Alaska. It also forces us to put ourselves out there in the world more. We may be far away, but the Alaskan Comics Community is strong.
I am so inspired by my surroundings…The wildlife, the landscape, and how we as people interact with that which is around us has not only challenged and motivated me to create something similar, but it also helped me grow in ways I am still learning. I love folklore, tall tales, mythical stories and the like, and Alaska is… Alaska is the place of adventure and the land of the unknown. I can walk out my door and I am instantly inspired by everything around me…. I’ve never felt that anywhere else.
GWW: Do you ever find yourself unable to express your creativity to the fullest? What kinds of things inhibit you?
LE: Occasionally. Mostly I find its time that inhibits me. These days I find I am wearing many different hats, many different personas that keep me busy 24/7 and it’s hard to find time to get everything I want created….created. It’s all about trying to find the right balance and I get older I sometimes find that hard and all I want to do is run off into the woods… don’t think I haven’t thought about it haha.
GWW: What is your dream project?
LE: That is a great question… I think being able to fully work on my own series and create a collection of books that everyone can enjoy. As I’ve gotten older, the dream project has shifted a lot. I did a small dream project last year where did a cover for a Ninja Turtles Comic. One of these days I’d love to do interiors for a Ninja Turtles Book. But who knows… my answer could be different next year haha.
GWW: Where can we find your art now?
LE: I can be found pretty much everywhere. My online name is @lucaselliottart so if you use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or any social media account, that’s where you’ll find me.
If you’re looking for a collection of my new work, that can be found at lucaselliottart.weebly.com.
And I actually have two shops you can find my work at. For prints, books and other things, head to lucaselliottart.storenvy.com. Or head to society6.com/lucaselliottart for all of my manly mermen pieces on various merchandise.
GWW: Any exciting projects on the horizon?
LE: My newest venture that I’ve been working on is my first creator-owned web-comic called… BATTLE STAR. It’s the story of a starfish, the most fearsome warrior in all the seven seas, on a quest to protect the world. You’ll be able to find that at www.battlestarcomic.com.
For more information on Lucas Elliott and his art, be sure to check out his website and follow him all on of the social media platforms you can find.