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LIFT OFF - Alec Smith: using horror to confront your own fears

All humans feel fear. It’s a natural emotion and one that is discussed in just about every piece of media. Film, comics, novels, music, painting. Fear, more specifically horror, have a special place in people’s hearts. It forces us to confront darker, nastier things not only about society but also within ourselves. And for some people that’s harder than others. Especially now, when our world seems uncertain and in a lot of ways scary, confronting those fears within us seems like a daunting task.

Welcome back to the second installment of our Lift Off series. This series is dedicated to shining a light on up-and-coming artists in whatever field they may hail from, whether it be comics, video games, traditional illustration, or concept design. In this series, you’ll get to know an artist you might not have heard of before and learn a bit about them as a person as well as their artistic process.

Our artist for this month is Alec Smith. Alec is an artist with a diverse art background and a love of different media. He credits some of his biggest influences to the work of legends like Mike Mignola and Junji Ito. In his own words, Alec’s art has undergone many different stages. Growth and evolution are key themes in his artistic journey so far. He’s played with different styles, color palates, and techniques. But if there is one word to describe his art, that word is unique, which is something he credits to embracing inks and detail in his work, as well as embracing horror.

The piece below is exceptional with its detail. More lines than one person could count, especially in the limbs. Every line seems to be done with a purpose, there’s a very highly technical element to it all. If you saw this image on someone’s back as a tattoo, you’d hunt down the artist right away. Even the smaller pieces in the image, like the knives, look sharp to the touch as they float ominously above and below this figure’s hands.

What is the figure? The beauty of art is that not everything needs to be defined or even explained. However, Alec does a good job of telling us a story with this piece. Readers and writers alike could craft a story about this figure, but it was birthed from Alec’s mind and skill.

If you look through any of Alec’s work on his Instagram page, you’ll find his love of inks. The contrast in his work is one of the first things that’s bound to stick out. Here with this piece, we see Alec’s usage of black and white in the best way, mainly in the faces and their attire. That heavy black surrounding the faces gives a regal but almost ancestral look. That middle face is the perfect amount of terrifying. As if that one, the smiling face in the middle, is the one controlling everything else, wielding the knives as part of some ritual from another world. It isn’t just a contrast of black and white in Alec’s work that shines, but also this contrast between beauty and horror, making it hard to distinguish between the two. On one hand, this figure is radiant, with the clothing and style usually reserved for royalty. On the other, it looks as if it consumes entire civilizations for fun.

Enough of us talking about this piece though. Enjoy it below, and read, in his own words, Alec’s inspiration for the piece as well as the evolution of his style.

“This piece was mostly thought from general forms and shapes I wanted to draw in a figure, such as 3 faces or multiple arms, and I tied it together with a general vibe or theme near the end. I’ve recently been inspired by Junji ito to draw more horror and touch a part of my roots that I used to be scared of.

I grew up pretty scared of horror but I've decided to embrace the things that scare me more and I've found that the reason why I was scared was because I would make the subject scarier in my head, so I decided to use that creatively to make horror stories and pieces, and my fear turned into curiosity and creativity.

I've been through all kinds of stages of my art, from wanting to start highly realistic but still in the comic realm, like Alex Ross has. To more mixed media but still emphasizing realism. My current style was born from putting more love and attention to the things I drew in the margins of my college assignments at CCS and so on. They always had a cooler more unique vibe to them, and I actually enjoyed things like inking and being intricate. My Kratos Art piece was the embodiment of my new style of ink and digital color work, after that I was determined to add more and more detail as I went and challenge myself to add more intricacy as I went on.

Now, I've become comfortable with my current mediums of ink, and focusing on honing my linework as well as my figures and forms. Character art is my favorite to do. As well as character design/redesign. Some of my favorite commissions are someone asking me to draw them as a character based on a few characteristics, or even their OC's. I should push harder to get better at coloring, but I'm more interested in my inks and being detailed and complicated.”

Follow Alec’s artistic journey and reach out to him for work as well as commissions. You can find him on Instagram @alecsmithillustrations

And that completes this month's Lift Off. A huge thanks to Alec for delivering such a stunning piece and reminding us that confronting our fears is sometimes the best thing to do. We'll be back next month with another artist and more sensational art.


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