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Interview: Walker DuBois

Fencing by day, drawing until the early hours of the morning; sleep is merely a hobby when you have an eight-panel to work on.

Currently studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, Walker DuBois, illustrator and animator, has been interested in art ever since picking up Mouse, a Holocaust-themed anthropomorphic graphic novel, in the first grade.

His exposure to the graphic novel, illustrated by Art Spiegelman, was a formative moment in his path to becoming an artist.

“I just remember reading it and just loving it. That feeling of subverting someone by looking at this comic that I wasn’t supposed to [be looking at],” DuBois recounts. “But at the same time it was very powerful.” DuBois has come a long way from this wide-eyed six year old, flipping through graphic novels in his elementary school library. He recently completed his first, original 22 page comic, which is centered around a post-apocalyptic punk band.

“I have to say it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” DuBois says. “It’s a big milestone for me.”
He draws inspiration from artists like Jamie Hewlett, who is responsible for the creation of Tank Girl and the co-creation of the virtual eletronica band Gorillaz. Hewlett’s work is categorized by anarchism, absurdist, surrealistic imagery, and punk visual art.

“The entire aesthetic of punk is a huge influence to me, and just subversiveness. I hate to use the term “shock value,” but shocking imagery is something that I think is relevant in my work. It’s not to get a reaction, but to evoke something,” DuBois says.

Despite completing his recent project, DuBois isn’t disillusioned from the struggles he will likely face with a career as an illustrator.

“Illustration is really a dying art. Back in the ‘60s there was a huge demand for magazine illustration, which just doesn’t exist anymore,” DuBois explains

Though he would love to maneuver his way into a career in illustration, he’s focusing on his work for the moment. Attending RISD has given him the opportunity to grasp an understanding of art, especially in terms of color and composition.

“Before art school, I just had no idea what color was,” DuBois says. “At the start of my art education I was really overwhelmed with all you can do.”

One of his biggest struggles is discovering how to simplify his work in a sea of mediums, composition styles, and color tones. The process of finding his niche can be daunting, but he has dedicated his time at RISD to figuring it out.

“Photoshop and working digitally is an interesting point because it’s good and bad. You can change [colors] really easily, but you also have access to every color in the human spectrum,” DuBois says. “People tend to keep adding on, because it’s limitless. You can have as much color as you want.”

With this in mind, DuBois has set limitations for himself. Intending to simplify his work and hone in on his technique, his newest illustrations only include primary colors, if any color at all. Though it feels as if he is toiling through the process, he feels lucky to be able to pursue his passion.

“I think it’s going to be worth it. I would definitely not want to do anything else. It’s just satisfying for me to make comics, make art, see other people make art, be inspired,” DuBois says.

The bulk of DuBois’s pieces focus on narrative storytelling, though he has trouble bridging the dichotomy of being both an animator and comic artist.

“Comics and animation are the same idea, a selection of sequential images to show you a story, but they way they operate is incredibly different,” DuBois says. “[In comics] it’s two drawing that show a length of time, and you decide how long that length of time was… But animation is the opposite. In animation, I’m showing you exactly how long something takes. I’m showing you exactly what something looks like.”

It’s this kind of variety, and challenge, that intrigues DuBois when it comes to creation.

“I love the idea the idea of multimedia art, having your art exist in multiple different forms, may it bemusic, animation, drawing,” DuBois says. “It’s really cool that you can have and experience art through the different mediums. It’s really interesting to see.”

Despite the obvious evolution of an artist through university, DuBois attributes much of his growth to his experiences within the city of Los Angeles.

“You go outside in LA and you walk down the street and you can see 50 things that no one else would see anywhere else, because it’s such a conglomeration of different things coming together,” DuBois says.

This conglomeration has given perspective to DuBois’s work. Being surrounded by a thriving art community, paired with a city with a distinctly diverse population, has helped his art mature.  Though he’s an active member of the Providence art scene, and admires the feeling of a local, contained environment for art, he looks forward to his return to the Los Angeles scene.

Though he sees the benefit of thriving in a smaller arena, he looks forward to the interconnectedness of the Los Angeles art scene, and how it relates to other creative endeavors burgeoning in Los Angeles.

“I think that even outside of the art scene, I couldn’t live anywhere else than Los Angeles,” DuBois says. “While I think it applies to art, it transcends. Everything here is so diverse. I think it has a huge affect on your outlook on life and the way you experience things. There’s no going back for me now, I’m invested in this city.”

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