Illustrator Lance Inkwell mixes punk rock, nostalgic cartoons and something witchy
Inside the witchy world of Lance Inkwell
You can tell Lance Inkwell grew up watching a lot of Donald Duck and Popeye. Except, his cartoons are notably more punk rock than any of those vintage animations. He throws old-timey cartoon imagery into a cauldron, seething with digital hocus pocus, five pointed stars and phantasmal blues. The result is something deeply nostalgic, edgy, and absolutely classic.
Age/Sex/Location: 36, Male, Denver CO
Nickname: Digital and Lizard
Best type of bear: BEAR-HUGS!
Sushi or burrito: Burrito
Coffee or tea: Iced Coffee
Last book you read: “The Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene
Favorite lock-down activity: Drawing
What's this thing we read about you, a van and a punk rock band?
I sang in a punk band called “Hour of the Wolf.” We toured a lot in a van named Helen. You can still find our music on iTunes and other places online if you want to listen. Touring with my friends and playing music is probably the funnest thing I’ve ever done, but unfortunately our last show was in 2014, so its been a while.
Every kid wants to draw cartoons. When did you know you had a knack for drawing cartoons?
Probably around the time all the other kids stopped drawing cartoons, and I just kept on doing it. I’d say maybe around 3rd grade.
Was there ever a moment where it just clicked that you'd found your style?
As for my style in cartoons, a lot of people see pie eyes and white gloves and automatically sum it all up to one style, like 1930’s cartoons/Rubber-hose. Or they only think of Disney, but like all art genres and styles, there are subtle differences in how individual animators and cartoonists draw in this style and it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve started to find my own style within the style, if that makes sense.
Is there a theme throughout your work either consciously or subconsciously that you're aware of?
I always just draw what I feel like at the time. I don’t really think about it, but I do repeat themes I guess. I mostly like to draw unrealistic, surrealistic cartoon stuff. Stuff that betrays the laws of physics or common understanding. The whacky cartoon logic found in most cartoons is probably why I have such a strong attraction to the style. Anything can happen and that excites me! I especially like spooky stuff, magical stuff and Halloween - which is spooky and magical stuff combined. I also had an art teacher in elementary school who told me not to draw five pointed stars in the sky, because they are “unrealistic,” so now I draw them all the time.
What/who was your favorite cartoon growing up?
Popeye and Donald Duck.
What is your favorite part about "paper marking"?
I’m still trying to figure that out with every drawing I do. I don’t fully know why I like it. In fact, sometimes I hate it. I appreciate the challenge of trying to put the things I see in my head onto paper. I’m constantly observing, applying, reviewing, rendering, adapting, repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s a conditioning/transcendence kind of thing that I enjoy I guess. Like, I’m sure boxers don’t like being punched in the face, but they train hard, take the hits and evolve to better themselves in the ring, because they love the fight.
What time of day do you do your best work?
4 am to 8 am. I like the quiet of the early morning.
Any major influences or mentors that helped you in the journey?
I stand on the shoulders of cartoon/animator giants; early animation and newspaper cartoonists like the Fleischer brothers, Windsor McCay, Floyd Gottfredson, Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks, E.C. Segar, Grim Natwick, Otto Messmer, the list goes on and on. I also take a lot of influence from Harry Houdini, Andy Warhol Moldenhauer family (Creators of Studio MDHR and Cuphead), and my wife. They are all, unknowingly, mentors to me.
Best piece of advice someone gave to you:
“You can’t make a living drawing cartoons.”
If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
If I could go back to my younger self, before my kid brother died, I’d tell myself the date, time, and location of his death. I’d try to get myself to be there and stop it from happening, or at least say goodbye if I couldn’t. That’s probably a selfish thing for me to do, with so many other problems in the past, but it is truthfully what I would do.
When you're not drawing, what are you doing in your free time?
Hanging out with my wife, feeding and playing with my cats, packaging and shipping prints, eating and always thinking about drawing and living/dying.
Social media for artists can be a blessing and a headache (people stealing your work), how do you believe social media has influenced the art world?
It’s up to the artists using these platforms to decide how they want to go about interacting with them. Do they want to over-post and turn their art into a brand, bending to the demands of their “fans/friends/followers” for more “sick” t-shirt designs, doing whatever it takes for more ‘likes’, comments, follows, etc.? Or, do they make art for themselves, creating things they like and posting what they want, despite what the metrics might say would work best for more “interactions”? For a lot of artists using these platforms, I’m sure they fall someplace in between making the art they truly want to make and then posting what they know will get likes and sell so they can pay some bills.
Upcoming shows or projects?
By the time this comes out it will probably be over, but I have a painting in Ila Gallery’s group show “Creepshow”, running Oct. 9th - Nov. 9. There are lot’s of great Denver artists in the show, so go check it out if it’s not too late. Also, I’ve been working hard with my friends at Studio MDHR on more Cuphead stuff (a 1930’s cartoon run and gun video game), so keep your eyes open for updates on that. Aside from that, I am doing a lot more painting now, and have some art toys in the works, as well as working on my comic, “Nite Land”.