Monday, March 31, 2008

Dylan Sisson's Creepy-Cute Creatures

I find Dylan Sisson's corpulent, creepy-cute creatures quite compelling. Mr. Sisson lives in San Francisco and works in animation when he is not doodling on coasters.

This is my Sisson original, entitled "Plunge." What I like best about it is that there's an air of danger as this puffy three-eyed explorer drifts downward into the uncharted depths... but it's not quite clear if he is the menaced – or the menacer. This piece is fairly unique among Sisson's paintings in that it places its subject in a narrative and in a natural environment. Most of Sisson's work is fairly conventional portraiture – albeit lovingly lit portraits of soft, toothy, strange-eyed monsters.



(Some have noted an echo of Nirvana's "Nevermind" album cover.)

I'll let the artist speak for himself a bit, with excerpts from an interview he did earlier this year.

"For years, I doodled little creatures in pen and ink, but never considered it art or important. The creepy cute doodles were a sort of documentation, the residue of gray areas. I preferred to have those guys drawn into the outside world, where I found them much more friendly."

"Over the years I’ve explored lots of subjects and I’ve noticed my favorite subjects are those that mix contrasting themes, like a character that’s on the verge of being cute or being frightening at the same time... I like creating that tension. For example, what’s the difference between a pet and a monster? A pet licks you. A monster eats you."

"Something which is both attractive and repelling at the same time, I find compelling... As an artist, if I can create ambiguity, perhaps with a creature where it’s unclear whether it will eat you or follow you home, then it creates an interesting tension – who’s the predator and who’s prey? Is it safe?"

Some children have imaginary friends. When I was a child, I had a pack of imaginary wolves that lived under my bed. They were nice little boy wolves who wore shorts with suspenders and little girl wolves in red dresses, but they were wolves and they lived under my bed. In my mind's eye, I can still see them bustling around down there with their little wheelbarrows and pickaxes. So perhaps I can appreciate the intersection of creepy and cute more than most. At any rate, I think we will be seeing more of Mr. Sisson – he is entering the world of toys this year at the NY Tokyo Toy Fair.

Here are a few more of Dylan Sisson's creations.

"Uncle Rhubarb"


"Greener Pastures"


"Blah Blah Blah"


"Likewise"


"Baker's Dozen"


"Mr. Burble"

1 comment:

Andrew Smith said...

they sure are creapy but some of them are cute. :)