SKINNER: Devilution


There is no way to sugar coat it…Skinner works his ass off. He has a distinct drawing style, which comes through on all of his work, and you cannot help but be drawn into the gloriously rotten creatures that inhabit his world. At his site: The Art of Skinner, he has tons of work up as well as insight into each piece and often time lapse videos of him working on the artwork. MBA has already featured one his videos and down the line we will be featuring more. Skinner put down a pencil long enough to answer some questions and his responses were both insightful and fun, much like his work.

How did you get your first paying art job?
I think it was doing a lizard design for my moms friend who started an asparagus farm.. Lucky lizard asparagus or something like that… Not very metal. Now that I think of it.. I don’t think I got paid.. It doesn’t matter. The first shirt designs I started doing were simple one color ones for a $100 I think… Local bands and such…
Have you always worked in your current style and if not how did you work before? It’s all an evolutionary process happening all the time. It was more simple and flat. If you go back on my website to look at paintings from 2005 you can see the difference.

Who are your artistic influences?
Oh man… Dore, Virgil Finlay, matt fox, a lot of weird Japanese artists I don’t know their names. All the intricacies of Japanese art design. The colors. All that. Alex Pardee, Jeff Soto…basically when I see art I love I think to myself. Rip that off! Paint like that! But it never works out…

Tell us about your studio space?
It’s open… 24 foot ceiling. There’s a station for me and one for my assistant and friend Hal Rotter. There’s a bathroom and shower… A wizard perch/storage space… And a fully insular jam room where I can get loud with the band and not worry about the neighbors. It has a big ass roll up door.

Take us through a typical for day Skinner?
Wake up to a cat annoying me. Make coffee or matte tea…listen to the radio and drink coffee and read comic books. Check my email go outside to the studio and feed the animals. Water the weed plants. Start working with Hal about what needs to be done that day. Talk about metal or Game of Thrones or some such thing. Listen to Tenacious D. Start painting if I don’t have to go send something out or go to San Francisco to sign prints or talk to the gallery…answer emails during the day as I send files. Tweet about the reptilian agenda and how they’ve shutdown Gary Busey’s career. Try to finish whatever design job I have so I can get to the paintings for whatever solo show I have. Maybe do a custom vinyl toy piece… Return more emails and send files… Text my girlfriend and tell her I love her… Jam with the band at 4 or 5… Maybe go to a show with my girl or go to a movie or dinner and if I don’t do that then I just paint until really late and then get up and do it again.

How do you create your work? Take us through the process from concept to final.
For a painting I loosely pencil it out and come up with an idea and then I build up layers of paint and the full idea reveals itself. Throw in some airbrush… Linework… Paint over that. Blend it up and experiment until the discovery is uncovered.

What materials do you use? How much if any is done on the computer?
For paintings nothing is done on the computer… Cel vinyl, acrylic, airbrush and ink. When I do a shirt design I ink it out and then color it digitally unless someone wants to have it painted and they do the color separations…


Do you use reference materials or does all of it come from your head?
I always plan on doing referenced stuff and I am doing more of it but usually I’m just lazy and I do it from my head. I usually only do reference stuff when I’m rendering animals.

Do the bands give you any direction?
Yeah sometimes they do… Sometimes they tell me exactly what they want and then when I give them what they requested they want something totally different. It’s hilarious… That has only happened on very rare occasions but most of the time bands are just stoked to get some insane shit I came up with.

Do you have an advice for artist’s who wish to do artwork for bands?
Don’t have an ego about it. Just make the changes and get paid. Unless your some Pushead level guy then you gotta be humble. If you feel uncomfortable doing some changes that aren’t you, then pass on it. Ultimately you gotta eat a little shit until you are known for what you do. And just because you think something looks good it doesn’t mean that the people in the band like it. It’s ok just go for it. And be professional for Christ sakes… Also have good boundaries and ask for what you deserve. Be willing to stand up for yourself. These dudes in bands want to get paid for their music and doing shows and shit. They should understand that you should get paid and if they have an attitude about it then fuck em’!

What are you currently working on?
A shirt for Skeleton Witch and Holy Grail… Just finished s massive mural install in SoCal a solo show in august and I’m doing a live painting at the outlands festival next month.

Do you have any dream projects?
Museum stuff… Giant sculptures and stuff like that… I’d like to have enough money so that I could do anything..

What are your favorite bands of all time and what bands are you listening to right now?
Melvins, High on Fire, Queen, Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Tenacious D…Big Business…Weedeater… Krallice. So much weird stuff. Listening to a lot of Red Fang now.

About Vertebrae33

Through hard work and dedication, Vertebrae33 has established himself as one of the most prolific and exciting illustrators on the scene today.  He has received much acclaim as of late for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and wholly unique, raw style.