Continuing our coverage of the upcoming Austin Nerd Cave Showcase (last week we interviewed ANCS organizers Barry Comp, Shane Campos and Jennifer Cunningham) we’ve got Devin Lawson from Spicy Donut who will be attending the event as a vendor.
Having graduate from the Art Institute of Houston, Lawson has been honing his skills as an independent artist for a variety of gaming companies, design firms and film studios including Showtime’s Dexter. As Spicy Donut, he infuses a wicked mix of rockabilly and lowbrow art in pieces like Undead Jimi Hendrix and Kaneda Racer.
First things first… do you prefer glaze or powder on your donut?*
Glazed for sure! Powdered is too messy and as a guy who often wears too much black, it can be troublesome.
Good point. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, tell us, how did you become interested in illustration and design?
I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember. My parents were amazingly encouraging of my scribbles. They would bring sketchbooks and crayons everywhere we went and I was totally at peace. I think they probably inspired me more than anything else. Not too get too mushy, but it’s all their fault and I’m really lucky.
That’s really awesome, man. So, what have been some career highlights for you?
I loved doing animation work for American McGee’s Alice and the Dexter early cuts. They were both projects I felt invested in more than any others, simply because I liked the source material. Most recently breaking into concept art for Minicore Studios has been the best gig ever. If I could manage to get away with it, I would do that gig for life.
Your illustration work seems to be a unique mix of Ed Roth and Jhonen Vasquez. Do you consider either of these artists as a creative influence?
Yes! Both have huge roles in my creative evolution. I grew up with some Big Daddy Roth model kits but only over the last couple of years did I really begin to understand the brilliance of what he accomplished with his style. So of course I started studying every scrap of his art I could find and its certainly influenced me. Vasquez was also somebody that was totally original and paved such a unique path into comics. I don’t think anybody that read JTHM ever forgets that book. I never realized how dark I could be with my work before that book, while still not taking it too seriously.
Who/what else has influenced you?
Then there’s the rock poster movement spawned by guys like Frank Kozik, Lindsay Kuhn and Jermaine Rogers. Modern poster artists like Hydro 74, Tara McPhereson, and Brian Ewing. Graffiti Artists like Nychos the weird, Buff Monster, and Saber. Classic artists like Alphonse Mucha, Dali, even Michelangelo. I could probably go on forever.
That’s an eclectic mix for sure! What programs/tools do you us to create your work?
I usually start with just a mechanical pencil and paper. Then I scan it and run it through Photoshop. I use that to clean up the pencils and get a more painterly color. Unless I’m doing a screenprint or something with that “clean” look. Then I use Illustrator or Flash to ink it into vector artwork. And sometimes I mix all of it up too.
You’re currently trying to get one of your characters turned into a vinyl figure, right? Can you tell us more about the character and how that project coming along?
I actually have three different figures up for a voting process on shouldbee.com. They’re called Chopshop Frank, Rock-a-betty, and Ace. If they manage to get enough votes the designers at shouldbee will take my turnarounds and produce them in either vinyl or resin. I designed each character with a different history and personality but they could easily fit in the same world.
If they manage to get produced I think they could even feel like part of a matching set. I imagine them in a cartoon reality like cool world but with all my mad creations instead of Brad Pitt and friends. Spicy World? Probably something more clever and deserving deeper thought.
Spicy world – I like it! Maybe there could be a crossover with Cool World. Speaking of cool… which would suck worse, being forced to sit through Cool As Ice without cracking a joke or curb stomped by a Care Bear with your mouth full of onions?
Oh god! I have made the fairly recent mistake of re-watching Cool As Ice on Netflix within the last six months and its more horrifyingly bad than words can describe. Which to me, means its almost as bad as onions. Which i despise with the blackest hatred of a thousand Scandinavian metal bands. In a black hole. Covered in black. So Cool as Ice wins.
Will this be your first year attending Austin Nerd Cave Showcase?
This will be my first time attending. I’m really looking forward to it! It’s amazing how ridiculously nice and talented everyone in the Austin comics scene are. It’s like a family reunion every time I get to see these people. And it’s amazing to see what everybody is working on!
As an independent artist, what’s one of the biggest benefits of events like ANCS?
Easily, the encouragement and support you get from selling your work and meeting other like minded creative people.
Time for the “coup de greasy.” What’s the strangest thing you can remember doing as a kid?
I remember collecting pill bugs for hours in the front yard in a bucket. When I finally collected a massive amount, I would pour them all over my action figures and declare war. Also, I may have poured water in the bucket to see if they would drown. Poor little pill bugs. I don’t know what the hell was wrong with me.
AUSTIN NERD CAVE SHOWCASE is a one-day event on Sunday, April 7th (6pm) at Tribe Comics And Games that features live sketching, rad comic-themed merch, fine art, toys, a photo booth, and more!
*According to Urban Dictionary, a spicy donut is “a chaffed/inflamed anus, normally due to walking too much in a moist environment… in order to cure it you must either glaze or powder it.”