K.Anthony Lawler is a fine artist and story teller. His work can been seen equally displayed on comic shelves and galleries alike. He is an avid enthusiast of science communication, atheist advocacy, art exploration and spends the majority of his time enriching his life with those pursuits. He has worked on comic projects such as: 25AZ, Product of Society, Moonlight Macabre, Butterfly: Flutter, Pretty Face, most recently American Grind and displays his paintings in venues around the country. He currently resides in the heart of the mid west, but will be relocating to the upper east coast to pursue a terminal degree (MFA) in studio practice. He is focused, energetic and determined to advance his life and those around him through art, love and travel. He regularly attends comic cons and you can catch him in artists alley at one near you and get him to draw a commission for you. To find out more about K. Anthony The Gr1nd set down with him to see whats up. This is the exclusive interview-
Why did you become an artist?
I grew up using art as a novelty. Kids thought my drawings were funny or “cool”; whatever that meant at the time. But I was never serious about it. It wasn’t until I grew older and had my son that I said to myself, “huh…you might need to develop a purpose for your life or a desirable pursuit”. It’s important to be an example for your children. So because of that I decided to join back with higher education and pursue something I found joy in as a youth. Art came naturally to me, but I wasn’t fully serious about my goals or abilities until I met an amazing professor there, Kaven. He enriched the experience for me and it was under his guidance I discovered my ability and love of paint. It was like an entire window opened up to a universe I thought wasn’t really for me. Everything after that fell into place. I’ve only been painting/comic’ing for about 5-6 years now. My experience proved to me the value a mentor can have on a student(s); I oriented my life in that vein and have since become an educator to fulfill the same role.
How did you learn to draw?
I don’t think I ever really “learned” to draw. Not to sound pompous or obnoxious or anything, it was just something I never really put in a lot of effort into, least in the beginning. Through primary and secondary school, you just took art that’s what you did. So I developed naturally in that vein and I guess had some natural talent there, so it seemed silly to focus so hard. It was never really important to me. Only after coming back to art and developing a purpose for my life had I decided to focus my skills and work my ass off at something. I saw people around me struggling with their lives, jobs, skills, etc and I knew that if I was going to struggle, I was going to struggle with something I could be passionate about, something I could use to enrich my life as well as others, as I saw my instructors doing. So focus, I guess. I learned by focus and the desire to make something of myself. That doesn’t really answer anything does it?
What artists inspire you or have influenced your work?
I’ve never been one to marvel at art history books or research famous artist of the past, although I do have some I admire. I’m actually more interested in scientific discoveries and technological progression. But I’m a unique case. I’m only recently coming back to art after denying it’s qualities for so long. Through my education, as an artist, I have developed a love of movements. I’m drawn to artists from Dada and Futurism. I love either the dissociation they felt from the world or the fervor they held for progress of society. Of course, also surrealism and metaphysical art. I’m inspired by any artist who is carving an interesting niche in an area/medium I’m currently not a part of. I’m fascinated by sculpture.
You have been in the con scene for a minute, what’s it like?
Ha. The con scene is the most ludicrous, absurd, incredible, amazing, bonkers, wack-a-doodle place I’ve ever experienced; I love it. There is nothing quite the same. The best part of comic-con is the full undiluted positivity that exists there. Most everyone is happy and friendly, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be there. Conventions are the development of a family. They are wonderful in so many ways, I cannot begin to express the level of gratitude I have to the people who encouraged me to get involved and to the people I meet who motivate me to stay.
What have you learned in you art career so far?
One of the most important things in an artist’s career is relationships. I think the biggest things I’ve learned, so far, is how positive and impactful it can be to develop and maintain good relationships with other creatives and admirers of you work. Without a core base of individuals supporting your efforts and giving you their strength, the art road can be a long one. I think that’s the most valuable tool I’ve gained. Never waste a moment that you could be talking to and meeting new people. Life is all about relationship, from one to the next. For an artist, its critical. Oh, and you have to be cool. Don’t be a dick.
What comic books have you worked on?
I co-own my own comic label, CME, with two friends and brothers, Donovan Klingel and Donny Hills. We’ve been in collaboration for the last 8 years. We write, illustrate and publish our own trades: 25AZ, Moonlight Macabre and our newest line, Into the Ether. Ether has been a brain child of ours for quite a while and while it has been slow moving, but the trend is swinging in the other direction, so I am eager to present that project soon. I also have worked with Cheese Lord comics and their series: Product of Society. Most recently I have been involved with Ghost Town and Stache Publishing and have worked on several of their amazing books: Pretty Face and Butterfly.
Where else is your work featured?
As a painter, my canvas work can be found in the areas and venues around my home (restaurants, galleries, tattoo shops), however most of my traffic comes from online (www.kanthonyart.com). Woah, look at that plug! But I participate in festivals, conventions and any other opportunities as they present themselves.
What new projects are you working on?
Currently on the comic drawing board are projects with Stache Publishing, including Butterfly: Flutter and a Hunter S. Thompson novel (in the making). Independently, I keep busy with several oil paintings, which I have been feverishly working on, titled: Capio and Captura. Both of which are now complete and I have been humbled by the overwhelming response to them; I’m so very lucky to have the support I have. I’m also extremely excited about a new project currently in development called, American Grind. It centers on the abuse of drug culture and shines a light on the roll of conviction through the eyes of an interviewed convict in a documentary setting. The imagery is incredibly strong and the story is just as vibrant. I’m the most excited about this project at the moment.
What is your favorite piece you have drawn?
That is hard to identify. As someone who is consistently looking forward and always running toward the newest project, I tend not to look back very often. I would say my favorite piece would be the very first piece I created, A Cleansing and my most recent, Captura. A Cleansing is special to me as the figure in the portrait is the love of my life, my fiancé and life partner Ashley, and it was my first glimpse of what I could accomplish with paint. Captura, is on that short list as well only because it is the most recent piece that has captured my attention; Captura is a latin word for “to capture” so that seems to make sense. Essentially, whichever piece I’m working on currently is my favorite piece. I feel if it wasn’t I would never finish it.
What lies in the future for you?
Oh right now, I’m on the cusp of an amazing transition. I’m relocating to the east coast, near NYC to pursue a MFA in studio art. It’s bitter sweet. On the one hand, it is truly an amazing opportunity, one that will allow me to grow both professionally and personally; yet I’m leaving a convention circuit and a market that I have grown to love and care about. On the other hand, it will afford me more time and greater focus to improving my independent art and story-telling projects. In any event, NYC will play a unique part in my life and I’m excited to enter it.
Describe your art style
Disgusting. It’s just gross. Yah, I don’t know. You take a look. You decide. That’s all that really matters. Alright, alright. You want more? Ok, my paintings are figurative dreamscapes coupled with surrealist metaphysical elements, contrasted with vibrant energetic marks of dark wild color. I simply try produce something of internal motivation for myself. I ponder a word or phrase and let that settle into me for a while, then after I sense an interesting image or concept I become motivated and start creating. That’s all you really can do: Produce something that holds value to you. If you desire it, many times others will see your passion and will value it as well. Oh, and I produce comics, sometimes. Ha!