MAGAZINE

February 20th, 2020

Jesse Gussow


The artwork of David Newton skirts of line of surreal and insanity. His work is dark haunting imagery that reaches into you psyche and makes you think. David’s illustrations have a beautiful balance of death and decay and cute and happy. The work hits you hard, depending on your mood it seems to vary what you notice first in his works. That’s a great skill as the same piece on many viewings evokes a different response each time.

 


Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the US, originally from Annapolis, Maryland.

 

 


How did you get started in art?

I've been drawing as long as I can remember, from around four or five years old. I was really into Marvel comics in the 80's, recreating the improbable superhero anatomy. Then gradually transitioned over into graphic novels, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Sandman. I was blown away by a variety of anime in the 80's and 90's like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll and the like.

 

 


What is the first thing you do when sitting down to start at new piece?

The technical side of rendering images seems to come pretty easy at this point in my career. The difficult part is finding ideas I really like, building up an idea, or story. It's not satisfying to just draw a portrait, landscape, robot or comic book character anymore. I want my illustrations to tell a bit of a story, slowly unfolding as the viewer works their way through a piece. I'll often get hung up adding and simplifying bits and pieces of that story for days or even weeks. If I'm going to spend 30-40 hours detailing a piece, the narrative has to be right.

 

 


If you weren't an Artist what job would you have and why?

I'd want to be a barista at some super-foofy cafe. Somewhere I could be a complete hipster snob about coffee. Expressing a constant sense of disdain for my clientele's orders, maybe with like, a vest and bow tie.

 

 


What do you see in your work?

I often see events from my life reflected back at me, usually with some odd twist. It's generally only years later that I can look back at old work and realize what specific events, victories and traumas I was slowly working out of my brain onto paper.

 

 


What is your spirit animal?

Oh, I have no idea. Spirit animals occupy the same slice of my brain as astrology, healing crystals and tarot cards. I just sort of glaze over when people start talking about them.

 

 


How long does it take to complete a piece? Do you work on one piece at a time or several?

One piece at a time. I'll generally spend an inordinately long time thinking about the story, narrative and subject matter before I come up with something I'm happy with and haven't seen before. Then I'll spend a few days gather reference materials to make sure I can craft what I'm thinking of from a perspective point of view.  For the technical side, usually about 4-5 hours for linework, 4-5 hours to play around with color palettes, then a good 10-20 hours of shading.

 

 


What does your work say about you?

Oof, that's a tough one. I hope my work surfaces some of the best things about art: vibrant color, intricate lines, form, detailing and using composition to carefully unfold a little narrative.

 

 


What do you dream about when you sleep?

Oddly enough I'm usually still in high school or college, relaxing, partying and joking around with friends. Then, the occasional giant insect nightmare.

 

 


How would you describe your style?

It's a pretty straightforward old-school comic book style, with a little more emphasis on realism when possible. Heavy black inked lines and flat, cel-shaded colors. Usually only 3-4 tones of color at most, a base layer, highlight layer and shadow layer usually.

 

 


What's the best response to your work you've heard?

"I see part of your work and it's spectacular, different, creative and original. A beautiful and variety gallery, awesome details, textures and colors. Composition to travel with the imagination. Love your style, nice and interesting."
    - from @megan.mpa on Instagram

 

 


Seeing how some of your work contains nudity, how do you show it without upsetting Facebook and Instagram? Even though their rules do not prohibit nudity in art.

I've found people have a stronger reaction to sexuality than nudity per-se. A piece that is explicitly sexual without any interesting take or message going on seems to ruffle more feathers than a piece that contains a bit of (tasteful?) nudity but has a plausible reason for being there. That said, companies need to relax a bit - nothing terrible happens when you accidentally see a breast, yes, even if you're a kid.

 

 


What advice would you give to an emerging artist?

It's super boring, and I hated hearing this advice in college: study and practice the fundamentals. Composition, white space, contrast, perspective, anatomy, color theory, movement, how to lead the eye around a piece. When those building blocks are really perfectly in place, the subject matter and even media chosen is irrelevant, it will captivate and resonate with the viewer.  

 

 


Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

I'm on this strict Keto diet now, so cookies are forbidden.

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