James T. Robb is an illustrator based out of the Los Angeles area. His work typically revolves around the illustration and gaming industries, but he is constantly seeking to expand into new, interesting endeavors. His father was a businessman in the import and export industry, and as a result James moved around a lot when he was young. A good portion of his childhood was spent in Latin America and all over the US. He grew up with access to a wide array of cultures and beautiful sights, but the constant change also carried an element of isolation, since he wasn’t in any one place for long. This led him to immerse himself in endless daydreams—interests like fantasy, science fiction, horror, and drawing occupied most of his days. Though he’s been creative since he was young, he’s only recently endeavored to make a living as an artist. When he realized that someone had to create the art related to his most beloved franchises, he knew he had to drop everything and dedicate himself to being the best artist he could be.
A lot of your work uses a high level of contrast between light and shadow, implying shapes rather than displaying them explicitly. What are you hoping this technique evokes for the viewer?
I am fond of doing this not only for the visual punch and clarity it can provide, but also in the way that one can deeply engage viewers by not spelling everything out for them. Leaving some ambiguity and darkness can add a lot of mystery, depth, and storytelling in an image. You could say I aim for a dialogue between the artist and the audience.
Tell us about the two figures in Midnight Dance, this month’s cover. What brought them together?
At the base level of things, it is a meeting of the grotesque and the elegant. Two different worlds meeting under strange circumstances. The idea for the piece is directly tied to how and why the figures look the way they do.
What inspired you to create Midnight Dance?
At the time of its creation, I had been undergoing a great sense of fear and uncertainty for the future. I wanted to find a way to symbolize the embracing of the unknown and terrifying situations we must all face up against. The female figure symbolizes all we find dear and familiar. The monster, mostly lying within the darkness, symbolizes the unknown. Is it benevolent? Is it truly horrendous? One only has to reach out a hand and find out.
What is your favorite medium to work with and why?
Some time ago, I might have picked something specific based on what I was comfortable with. However, I have come to realize that different mediums can evoke a different feeling in their own particular way. Every situation is different. Even more so if one’s own workflow combines and experiments between a variety of them. That being said, I tend to have an affinity to combine traditional techniques with a digital finish. It allows a great sense of flexibility and experimentation with many different ideas at a time.
What is your local art scene like? What inspires you locally?
I have barely begun scratching the surface of the L.A. art scene. There are countless amazing artists, not only in the illustration and entertainment industry, but also in the fine arts world that make L.A. their home. In my immediate circles, I would say my friends and peers have inspired me to a great degree. They have pushed me to always try my best and to not give up when the going gets tough. That being said, I hope to keep reaching out into my local art scene and engage with the robust local talent.
What do you hope will be the lasting legacy of your work? What would you like people to remember most about your art?
I hope my work can be remembered as ever-evolving, unique, and having a lasting impact on society and future generations of artists. There is still a lot of personal searching to be done, so I have yet to discover what that will ultimately look like. I am also sure this answer will change many times throughout my career. Only time will tell on both fronts.
And, finally, what scares you the most?
I would say that not ever reaching my fullest potential or not trying my absolute best to reach it. That would mean betraying my work ethic, convictions, and giving up on myself. That is truly terrifying to me at the deepest level.
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