Born in Philadelphia, Devin Clark grew up in the South Side on streets full of skate shops, arcades, punk shops, and tattoo parlors before making his way to Syracuse for college as a video major, and finally ending up in New York City. Being exposed to and bombarded with so many cool and weird visuals throughout his life as well as New York's many creative and inspirational spaces have shaped the interesting and slightly off point of reference you see in his work.
We sat down with Devin to ask a few questions about what inspires him as an artist, and, more specifically, what inspired the illustrations he created for our Bomber Air campaign.
Linnaea Kershaw: Hi Devin! I guess my first question is who are you? Or, maybe who do you think you are?
Devin Clark: Who do I think I am? That's even better. Ah, I feel like I've pretended or attempted to be a lot of different things over my life. And maybe that's why I have kind of a more unique and strange perspective on, like, how I approach things.
I originally thought I was gonna be a fine artist, but not like not like a fun gallery artist. Like a painter, a sculptor. I had my heart set on being an installation video artist.
Cause I love film but I also almost loved the media of it more and playing and experimenting with it rather than making narrative forms out of it. So that was the first thing I thought I was or attempted to be.
But then, since I had been drawing since I could hold a pencil, kind of quickly out of college, I realized that if I take my love of time-based mediums and narratives, and my love of drawing and illustration and put those together, it's actually animation. And so about four years out of college, I kind of came to that realization and haven't looked back. I've been trying to explore every aspect of animation, creatively, as far as I can take it.
LK: Where do you think you take your inspiration from?
DC: Ah. Lots of different places. My three biggest inspirations, three of my biggest loves in life have been always comic books, horror movies, and comedy. And so I kind of try to combine those 3 elements in different ways as much as possible.
Growing up pre internet, finding cool comics and weird stuff was more of this fun hunt, like an adventure. Digging through these old musty boxes and finding weird obscure comics was just something that I really loved. I never actually got really into the superhero stuff.
I got more into weird old underground and a horror comic stuff and just anything that fell out of the ordinary, I was like, yeah, that's what I want. Strange stuff like by Charles Burns and Dave Cooper. I liked all the weird indie guys.
DC: Then of course, horror movies. I've loved horror movies since I was very young, and you know, the weird Italian horror stuff by like Dario Argento and then Carpenter stuff. And then it's funny, horror is actually kind of like the sibling of comedy because they both set these expectations up and, like, kind of build up a sense of normalcy and set a set a scene that's kind of presenting itself as one thing and then flips it on its head. In comedy, that's the punchline that bucks your expectations and in horror it's a murderer jumping out of a closet. There's something about that, having a normal thing set up in one way and then flipping it on its head that I always enjoyed either through comedy or horror.
LK: Right, jump scares.
LK: So, you're doing TV shows now, you're doing animation, you also obviously do illustrations. What's your favorite medium to work in? Or does it depend on what you're feeling?
DC: Although I spend so much time on the computer, I still really love doing stuff analog and just being able to sketch in a book with a pencil or pen and then ink, or brushes, I still really love that. Now, you can kind of get approximations of those drawing on the computer, but there's nothing that really replaces sitting down and doing it with your with your hands and real paper and pens, you know?
Check out the three illustrations Devin did to represent the three main athletes from our Bomber Air campaign - Brage Vestavik, Jaxson Riddle, and Reed Boggs - as well as their reactions of being captured on paper.
In his words: "My first impression when I saw the illustration was that it was me. It really represent me and my vibe. And the more and closer I looked at it I realized the sick details that represent me and the vibe we got going on in Norway."
"What makes me 'slightly off' is, I think, just me being myself and not caring too much of what everyone else is doing, also that I just want to live in a cabin alone in the woods."
A weird fact about Brage: "Maybe that I have always felt closer to nature than I did to people."
In his words: "My first impression was, 'Wow this incorporates everything about me! Haha. Has big desert feels with the glasses as well!' I think the whole illustration stands out to me because of all the elements it includes."
"What makes me 'slightly off' is the way I look at what’s possible. You can do anything you allow yourself to. The sky's the limit."
A weird fact about Jaxson: "I hate being in the spotlight. haha."
In his words: "When I first saw the artwork, I was so stoked! I think it illustrates my vibe for sure. Anytime I'm riding my bike I feel relaxed so skulls, surfing n palm trees - permanent vacation vibes! I think the palm trees are so unique."
"What makes me 'slightly off' is that I like to have fun and be myself no matter what situation I'm in - I never try to act like someone I'm not. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF!"
A weird fact about Reed: "Travis Pastrana tattooed '199' on my leg in a hotel room in Park City. That was badass!"
LK: Nice. So, tell me about your process for these illustrations.
DC: I really wanted to try to capture as much of the personality, or at least the environment and the things that were inspirational to the riders, as I could within the illustration. It was also a challenge because they couldn't be too specific or, you know, they had to be very abstract.
I wanted it to just feel almost like a flowing stream of consciousness, kind of like wandering through these different elements that represented the different riders. I loved having a little bit of the landscape and the world that they're riding in and then just weird, kind of cool abstract things that kind of evoked some of the stuff that represented the riders.
Like, the one guy who always laid down in the holes that they dug when they were building.
LK: Ha ha, Brage?
DC: Brage, yeah! I mean, you know, him and his whole Viking thing. He had a lot of good touch points for inspiration. And then I also wanted, you know, I feel like what these guys do is so terrifying and just death defying and requires this willingness to just put it out there. I wanted to have things in there that felt like things were on the edge of death. So, I had skulls in there and the pit that was like a grave site. I wanted it to feel like things were a little scary. Like at any moment you could do something wrong and there's gonna be pain. There's gonna be something. So I wanted to capture a little bit of that in there too. I didn't want it to feel soft and fluffy. I wanted it to feel raw and real, like, this could hurt? What these guys do is really ballsy. And you should feel that way when you look at these illustrations.
LK: That's awesome. Okay, last question what's one weird fact about you that you think contributed or contributes to you being "slightly off"? It's something we ask all our riders so it would be cool to know one about you. I know it's kind of a weird on-the-spot ask.
DC: I'm thinking, yeah, yeah. I don't know if I can think of any, like, good weird random one off the top of my head. Might take some thinking. What isn't weird about me? I've done too many weird things to pick one. That's the trick.
About Devin Clark
Devin is currently a creative director at Augenblick Studios and the head of animation development for Irony Point Productions. As a freelance designer and animator he has been involved with a broad range of projects including work for HBO, MTV, Comedy Central, TCM, Netflix, Adult Swim, and The Cartoon Network. His films and animation have been featured in Stash Magazine, Animation Block Party, Rooftop Films, Ottawa FilmFestival, Platform, Atom films, and BDA.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.