Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sunday 6th March 2011 – Artist in Focus – Alex Pardee

Yet again, it has taken me far too long to get round to updating this thing. Honest, I will do it more often... At some point...

Tonight I’ll look at Alex Pardee, an American illustrator whose notoriety is increasing by leaps and bounds, and whom I’ve just bought a limited (to 100) print from, so it seems prudent to analyse his design principles and working processes now. 

'Cynaphobia' - a 17x22 print, available for a limited time at ZeroFriends
Pardee himself has admitted to being influenced by his own susceptibility to depressive and anxious tendencies, which is almost self evident through his choice of subject; horrifying monsters, and further enforced through his most recent exhibition; Vertigo – A Decade of Hunting Nightmares. 

Pardee's most recent exhibition, deemed a huge success.
The resulting work also enforces his artistic inspirations; that of graffiti, and comic books. The vibrant, saturated colour passes and the way in which he applies them are reminiscent of throw-ups and full colour graffiti pieces, a controversial art form which was really coming to the forefront of the street scene throughout the 70s and 80s, when Pardee was growing up. Coupled with this is a thick, black ink outline, much like in the comics which are cited as integral to Pardee’s art.

A lot of Pardee’s works are completed leaving much of the canvas white, allowing for his vivid colours to contrast harshly with the surrounding clayboard, adding even more emphasis to his creatures. One thing which drew me to Pardee’s work, which I’m sure is applicable to many others is the rhythm instantiated through his ink washes. Applied loosely, often with a rag or cloth onto a resistant surface, this leads to the ink dripping, and running down the canvas. Dried with a hairdryer when needed; this leads to his illustrations containing quite chaotic base layer, which is then worked over with layers of ink or watercolour. This is further refined with brushwork, lining the piece with black ink. The whole process fits the subject matter, and the artist, entirely. The entropic base is evident through the whole work, and keeps the work feeling lively and fluid; one of the reasons why his work is so bloody good! 

A piece which demonstrates Pardee's chaotic colouring style.

And a more refined piece of concept art, made for Sucker Punch.
 Personally, I really enjoy Pardee’s work, and his inspirations have lead to a revitalizing style, which, he has applied with great skill to designing t-shirts, album covers and skateboards, as well as publishing an art book, a few magazines and creating fine art pieces for exhibition. This level of artistic skill, as well as his sense of marketing ingenuity is hard not to appreciate!

Links: - Alex Pardee’s  website, with links to his art, blog and online store. - An in depth look at Pardee’s working process: An excellent source of information.

Finally: My favourite piece of his from his recent exhibition.


  1. Intriguing stuff, thanks for informing me of this fantastic artist!