âQuitting my day job in porn to freelance as an artist full time,â says artist Brian Ewing of the decision that sparked his career watershed. â[I was] working for Hustler on the magazines handling scheduling, prep houses and printers. I also freelanced for them by doing illustrations for their publications. I swore thatâd be my last day job.â Although Ewing has transformed into one of rock music and pop artâs most prolific, iconic image-makers, remaining down-to-earth and staying inspired are key elements to the growth of his rebellious art empire.
While heâs become a sought-after household name for record labels and agencies, Ewing has stayed true to the independent spirit of his art, and his style has developed over time. âAt first I was just happy to get a chance to draw and work with my favorite bands,â he says of his early punk-rock posters. But with his growth from poster artist to full-blown fine artist, heâs followed in the footsteps of his heroes and mentors--Frank Kozik, Coop, Tara McPherson and many others--building an instantly recognizable stylistic empire.
Informed by everything from art nouveau to ukiyo-e woodblock printing, from the full-throttle art of SoCalâs âkustomâ car culture to the dynamism and self-assured lines of comics, Ewingâs work fuses his own creative explorations of perspective, color and space with classic, beloved imagery from rebellious American youth culture: hot punk girls, totally rad skulls, and fields of color aflame. In this way, his work embraces a particular playful naÄvetÃ©, which he then continues to champion even as his style refines itself and as his technique develops. Ewing reminds us we never have to give up the imagery that fired our imaginations as teenagers; his own success is a signifier for how dearly we hold our own trappings of rebellion, and how they can become a vehicle through which one can mature. With a roster of clients ranging from Metallica and the Warped Tour, to The Strokes and Death Cab For Cutie, and even The New Yorker and a number of advertising agencies, Ewingâs resume is a testament to what we love most about music, art, the allure of drama, lust, danger and darkness.
With his first monograph, âDonât Hold Your Breath: The Art Of Brian Ewing,â which publisher Dark Horse allowed him to design himself, the reader can see the progression and maturation of his imagery, from power-packed and densely composed rock posters to the nuanced, deceptively simple and subversive works of more recent vintage. Whatâs next? Only Ewing knows, but no matter what, it will be unmistakably his.