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Alex Graham, a senior studying painting and drawing, created an Athens-inspired pulp art called "Town of Terror." (Provided via Alexis Graham)

Q&A: Cartoon artist discusses Athens-inspired pulp-horror spoof, breaks down his artistic style

Alex Graham, an Ohio University senior studying painting and drawing, has developed his own quirky style of drawing that he tries to implement in both his school work and everyday life as often as he can.

Graham sat down with The Post to chat about his cartoon-like drawings, where he gets his artistic vision and why he recently created an Athens-inspired pulp-horror spoof called “Town of Terror.”

The Post: How did you get into the comic-like drawing a lot of your works portray?

Graham: I think for a long time, I was always interested in digital art, because a lot of people online that I was following and admiring were doing a lot of digital stuff.

I was really into it and finally got a drawing tablet, so I guess that’s where I got my start. The tablet is very forgiving — you can erase things easily, change whatever you want.

P: Who are your art icons who have influenced the type of style you’ve developed for yourself?

Graham: I definitely draw from a lot of modern artists today on Instagram. There’s an artist called Nate Galbraith that I’m a really big fan of. I like his style and his humor a lot. As far as classical artists go, I’m not a historian, but I like René Magritte, who was a surrealist. I think I’m sort of steering myself toward pop surrealism as a genre. If you can define anything I do within a certain genre, that might be it.

P: Aside from your art icons, where else do you get inspiration to draw the kinds of illustrations that you do?

Graham: Where I live I guess is a pretty big thing. I’ve lived in Athens my whole life, and I’m really into the whole spooky Halloween kind of stuff. Humor shows that I watch also inspire my drawings — just all the big ones like The Office, or just about anything on Netflix.

P: How would you describe your artistic style?

Graham: My style is changing with practically every project that I work on because my influences are always changing. I’m always thinking of something that could be improved or simplified. Recently, I’ve been doing some really, really awful drawings, but it also sort of contributes to the humor of the subject to sort of have poorly drawn lines everywhere going this way and that. I think most people would describe my style as cartoony. I’m kind of eclectic when it comes to styles I think. I like to sort of learn as much as I can and apply it. Usually, I also enjoy adding color, but I haven’t been doing that as much. It might be a lazy sort of thing, or it might be a stylistic sort of thing. I haven’t decided yet what to tell my professors, but I’ll just say it’s a stylistic choice right now to not use colors.

P: Does it take a long time to think up and illustrate your ideas?

Graham: It depends if I’m interested in it or not. If it’s homework, I’ll take about 20 times longer to do it, but if it’s a fun project like the “Town of Terror” one, I think I did that one in three nights in probably three to four-hour sessions. It all depends on whether it’s fun or not, and if it’s a style that demands a lot of time, like a lot of line work and that kind of thing. (The “Town of Terror”) project had a hundred layers to work with because there was a lot of texturing that had to be done.

P: So where did you come up with the idea to do a pulp-horror about Athens?

Graham: I think mostly browsing Pinterest — I do a lot of that. Also probably on Instagram. I’m always on Instagram, like 24/7. I think that’s probably where I picked up on the idea. The poster itself was sort of like a spoof, so I don’t think it’s going to be an actual full work. If I could pick that up, though, and find some other weird stories around Athens, which there are plenty of, it could become a full issue, which I think would be interesting.

P: The style for “Town of Terror” seemed a little different compared to your other works of art. How did you figure out how you wanted it to look?

Graham: For the “Town of Terror” project, I was looking at a lot of pulp fiction covers on Pinterest, which are, like, older comic books, something like the ‘60s and ‘70s. I really wanted to go with that style for that illustration specifically because of The Ridges, which I’m pretty sure were still operating at that point. Also, pulp art is always kind of kooky and zany. There’s always some weird stuff, so I think the story of the stain really fit that narrative. I’ve been wanting to get into doing more spoof-like stuff and do more poster work and that kind of thing. I would love if a local band hit me up; that’d be awesome to do.

P: What does your family make out of your illustrations? 

Graham: I was gonna be a music major for the longest time because my mom wanted me to do that, but my family supports what I want to do now. They see that I’m serious about it. Once in a while, I’ll bring work home for them to see. Usually I try to hide it from them because they’re very judgmental, but my sisters are pretty supportive. I think for my sister, one of her wedding gifts that I got for her, I drew her dogs that she and her husband have. That was a lot of fun.

P: Do you try and take a lot of classes that integrate the kind of illustrating that you enjoy?

Graham: I try to take a lot of classes that integrate this stuff. For my first few years in the fine arts program, I didn’t because I felt like it was sort of too low-brow and not fine-artsy enough. I think recently, my professors have started to realize that fine art doesn’t always encompass things that are interpreted as classical-related work, or something that has some deep psychological meaning, although they usually try and pull that out of me. I try to resist it a little bit, but it’s definitely getting better.

P: Do you hope to make a career out of your drawings one day?

Graham: Yeah. Right now I’m looking for internships that have anything to do with art and illustration. I don’t know what my end goal is, but I think if I could work for myself and do projects like this for people, I think that’d be a lot of fun.


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