John is a Senior studying illustration at RISD. He’s also known as an obsessive-compulsive caffeine-tweaking blue pencil bandit and one of the newest members of the Poster Posse. We took some time with John to try and get to know him a little better. Below is the reward for this endeavor. We hope you enjoy it and NO, he did NOT direct or script some of the 80’s and 90’s most classic films. WRONG GUY!
BLURPPY – How long have you been creating art in the pop culture scene? How did you get started?
JH – I might have to address the latter end of this question first, considering that I’m still a student and currently find myself in the daunting ‘getting started’ segment of my professional career. That being said, I’ve always been hugely inspired by the creative pop culture scene, and since a young age, I’ve felt compelled to make my own versions of my favorite movies and games through illustration. Just check out my sketchbooks from middle school—you’ll find that Star Wars Episodes 7 through 25 are already well into development (And yes, they do feature antagonists with quintuple-bladed lightsabers.)
BLURPPY – PLEASE tell me that there are no Gungan’s in there whose name rhymes with ‘Tar Tar Stinks’. You really need to show me that lightsaber sketch sometime though! Is art your full time job? If not, what else do you do?
JH – At the moment, graduating from RISD this May has become my full-time job. Disregarding all of the blood, sweat, and espresso shots that entails, I’ve enjoyed developing a few independent projects of my own. I’m currently working on a short comic in addition to strengthening my skills in story-boarding and character design in hopes that I can work my way into the animation/ game industry. Aside from all of that craziness, I will soon be freelancing and taking orders for commissions!
BLURPPY – Ya know, you could follow in the footsteps of another artist who just started his very own game company. I don’t want to drop any names but I’m pretty sure you know who I mean. Whose work do you admire or collect?
JH – Holy vast range of influences, Batman! Where to begin? I’ve never been able to categorize my influences into a single genre, but I’ve started to narrow my focus onto a few awesome comic artists. Phil Noto, Annie Wu, Francesco Francavilla, Faith Erin Hicks, Adam Hughes, and Greg Capullo come to mind. I’ve also had an unhealthy obsession with the work of Greg Baldwin and Dave Guertin of Creaturebox fame. Their work transcends any singular form of media, and they’re impossible to categorize. They are golden gods of illustration.
BLURPPY – I’ve written about the amazing book that Creaturebox put out through Kickstarter. Don’t even get me started on how insane Francavilla, Noto and Capullo are. Truly fantastic work by each artist. What one print, by another artist, blows your mind?
JH – I have to say, Kevin Tong’s prints never cease to amaze me. If I had to pick one, I’d have to go with his take on “Beyond Good and Evil.” His execution for this one shows a mastery of dynamic composition, gorgeous pen & ink rendering, and immaculate design sensibility. Bravo.
BLURPPY – Yeah, Tong knows what he is doing, THAT’s for sure. His portfolio is brimming with “awesome.” With so much art being produced these days, how do you keep things fresh?
JH – As a student, I’ve had the privilege of trying a variety of different approaches in the many facets of the illustration/design field. Within an academic context, it has been invaluable for me to have encouragement and feedback from professors, mentors and friends to help strengthen my work and keep it moving forward. Other than that, I like to keep it fresh by exposing myself to as much media as possible—comics, games, movies, TV, Tumblr, Twitter—the list goes on. It’s easy to be intimidated by the extreme saturation of creative work in the world today, but think about it—this means that there’s also an extreme demand for new and exciting creative talent! I like to think of it as a resource and open myself up to as much of it as possible. From there, I can take aspects of art I admire and use them to refresh my own work.
BLURPPY – Just be careful when you are “exposing” yourself. I had a run in with the law a few years back that I’m not going to get into but apparently others take offense when I “expose myself.” Besides working on BLURPPY’s Poster Posse Project, what is your dream project?
JH – Poster Posse was definitely a big item on the bucket list, but there are still a few modest dreams and aspirations waiting to be crossed off. I’m practically blushing as I’m typing this, but I would love to contribute in some way to the new Star Wars trilogy. Whether it’s concept art for the movies, development for any of the games that will inevitably come along the line, or spin-off TV or comics, I feel like this trilogy is coming along just in time for me to actively pursue my childhood dreams. It is…my destiny.
BLURPPY – Given the fact that Disney has opened the floodgates with the franchise I’d say there will be PLENTY of opportunities to get involved in some capacity. There is SO much stuff in the Star Wars pipeline that it boggles the mind. If you weren’t creating highly desirable works of art for adoring fans, what else would you do?
JH – Oh man. Is there anything better than ‘creating highly desirable works of art for adoring fans?’ Aside from that, I’ve always wanted to learn how to develop games/apps and understand the actual nitty-gritty of coding which is equivalent to black magic under my feeble comprehension. That one comes after becoming an exceedingly famous rockstar, of course.
BLURPPY – The music industry isn’t what it use to be. Stick with the games/ app angle. What movies are you excited to see this year/ next year?
JH – I’m sure most people are already aware, but holy hell—2014 and 2015 are are both going to be titans in film history. I’m probably most excited for X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out this summer, but I can’t help but peek ahead to 2015 when I’ll be getting The Fantastic Four reboot, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Star Wars: Episode VII all in the same year! (Did I mention that I like Star Wars?) And as a Playstation fanboy, I’ll go ahead and throw this out there– Ratchet & Clank will be having animated adventures on the big screen in 2015 too. Best year ever? Methinks that’s a resounding ‘yes.’
BLURPPY – It’s going to be a bloodbath at the theaters over the next few years. Studios are already jockeying release dates and pushing stuff out, moving stuff up. There is just going to be SO many “must-see” movies that I may need to get a job hocking popcorn at a theater just so I can see everything. What is your favorite print from your portfolio and why?
JH – In spite of some critical reception to the film, I’m still pretty satisfied with the piece I designed for 47 Ronin. I was successful with compositing pen & ink drawings together and coloring them digitally in a nice montage composition. I’m excited to keep pushing this process forward and see what else I can make with it!
BLURPPY – Hmmmm…if I’m correct, wasn’t that a POSTER POSSE PROJECT? You DID a great job with that one and I really can’t wait to see what you come up with on our next few projects. What’s your biggest pet peeve about the pop culture art scene?
JH – GoodBadFlicks has a video making the rounds on the youtubes entitled “WTF Happened to Movie Posters?” that really made me realize the stale state of this art form. They point out that mainstream movie posters have become nauseatingly uniform in their designs and compositions over the past couple decades, and half of the movie posters we see all look the same.
Mainstream posters weren’t always this way, of course! They were genuine pieces of art that fans wanted to collect and hang up on their walls, not simplistic retouched photos with easy-to-digest taglines. I believe that film audiences are much, much smarter than these posters would reflect, and they both deserve better treatment. It also goes without saying that terrific movies deserve terrific artwork. Hollywood should make a concerted effort to present their best work in a manner that reflects the quality and creative talent that so much of their budget is dedicated to during production. Aren’t we all tired of seeing Vince Vaughn and Seth Rogan’s shrug-faces every time we walk by the movie theater? The answer is yes… yes, we are.
BLURPPY – I absolutely loved that video. Valid points throughout. For the record, I don’t mind Seth Rogan’s face plastered everywhere. The guy makes me laugh out loud and I can’t get enough of him. What has been your best experience to date, in the pop culture art scene?
JH – Does it count if it hasn’t happened yet, but will undoubtedly be the greatest experience in the history of ever? I’m going to go ahead and say that I am extremely excited to check out the San Diego Comic Con for the first time ever this summer. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but this year feels like the right time to finally meet some of the creatives I admire most in my field. Just pretend that I already went and that I’ve traveled back in time to confirm that it was indeed my greatest experience to date (and that the exclusive premier trailer for Ant-Man was absolutely incredible.)
BLURPPY – I will see you down there and just know that you have an invitation to the Blurppy BBQ Invitational. We started it last year and it was such a success that it’s absolutely happening again. What was your most embarrassing moment as an artist?
JH – Freshman year.
BLURPPY – Hahahahahaha…THAT was perfect, nuff said! What is the best interview question you’ve ever been asked and what was your answer?
JH – Interviewer (who must remain anonymous):
“Are you proficient in Autodesk Maya, 3DS Max, and Mudbox?”
(‘Fake-it-until-you-make-it’ did not work in my favor in this particular circumstance. We’re still learning over here.)
BLURPPY – Hey you took a shot and it didn’t work out. I’d tell you to KEEP doing that until you land the one gig you can’t live without. What do you have on tap for 2014 and don’t give us that line, “Lots of stuff , just can’t talk about it yet”
JH – The most pressing item at the moment is definitely the big one—getting a job. I’m going to be sending out applications like war propaganda to a number of animation and game studios and also try my hand at some comics publishers. Throughout this process, I am going to keep generating portfolio work and stay open to omissions. All in all, this will be an exciting year!
They say that “if you knock on 100 doors, one is bound to open.” They also say that “be careful what you wish for.” That job you seek MAY suck out your very soul. But that’s neither here nor there so best of luck. Ok, this next batch of questions is a rapid fire offering where you say the first thing that comes to mind.
DC or Marvel?
Spiderman raised me. Marvel.
Most Desired Super Power?
Easy. The ability to generate psychic projections of work elves bred for the sole purpose of masking out my photoshop layers for me.
Who is your favorite Star Wars Character and why?
Dengar. Just look at him—he’s got so much going on in that toilet-paper-wrapped head of his, but no one gives him the time of day. I can relate.
Best movie snack?
Whatever items carried in from the food court can fit discreetly in the pockets of my jeans and sweatshirt. Experience has shown that Chinese take-out is a no, but fried chicken is a surprising and exciting yes.
What is your favorite gadget?
Y’know, I’ve thought of this question more than I probably should, and the answer is always immediately “lightsaber!!” Upon some well-placed critical thinking, however, I can never think of the practical application a lightsaber would have in my daily life—I have no need to cut people in half! But c’mon, they are extremely cool and they can slice and toast bread in one easy step. Lightsabers, you win again.
Growing up, what was your favorite TV show?
I didn’t watch too much TV growing up, but I got into Firefly a little late in the game. I can also quote most episodes of South Park, so that’s just an embarrassing hidden talent that you now know about me.
What’s the best way for fans to keep up with all you have going on?
You can check out the most comprehensive display of my work on my Tumblr which features everything from little doodles and exclusive personal projects to some professional portfolio pieces. Of course, if you wish to just enjoy the cream of the crop, follow me on Behance or check out my personal portfolio site! If the illustrations are too much and you just want to follow the continuing story of a young man partially succumbing to insanity as he follows, favorites, and re-tweets, follow my Twitter!
What’s your favorite pop culture event?
I love following the action over at the San Diego Comic Con from the safety of my computer every year, but I also enjoy closely following the events at The Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 always brings me a sensation equivalent to what most closely resembles a child’s joy on Christmas morning, so you may want to unfollow me on Twitter from June 12 to June 14, as I will be bombarding the social media platform with comments on pretty much everything.
Who is your favorite fictional character of all time and why? (Can be comic books, movies, literature, etc)
That’s going to have to be a tie between Darth Vader and Batman. Darth Vader gets the credit of being one of the greatest villains to ever breath heavily on the silver screen, but some of Batman’s stories are considered to be the best in the history of graphic novels. Or maybe it’s just the fact that they both have awesome swooshing black capes. It’s probably the capes.
Would you rather design the poster for an upcoming Star Wars movie or the upcoming Blade Runner prequel?
If half of my answers in this interview have proved anything, the design is going to have to go to the one with lightsabers in it.
Well, there you have it. A young John Hughes is about to graduate Magna Cum Laude, launch his very own video game company, develop the next must-have app and work with Greg Capullo on a Batman comic. Pretty good schedule for a kid who was raised by Spiderman. Huge thanks to Hughes for taking the time to deal with me and I’m really looking forward to his next offering in the next Poster Posse Project. Stay tuned…..