Montreal artist Jack Dylan went to extreme lengths for the perfect camera shots for his superhero-themed illustrations.
“I had to climb Mount Royal and find a good vantage point where I could take a cityscape, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. I had to try and sneak around an office building to get a photo of the milk bottle that Spiderman’s on. I felt a little bit like Spiderman actually, with the kind of mission he had to go on, and he’s a photographer too so ... that was kind of difficult.”
Using blue animation pencils and different-sized markers, then colouring his illustrations on the computer — a 10 hour process — Dylan creates eye-catching comic book-inspired posters for the Pop Montreal Festival and shows like The Islands, Sunset Rubdown and The Lovely Feathers. At 23, Dylan has transformed concert poster ads into works of art.
He sets himself apart from other visual artists through his involvement in the Montreal indie music community.
“I tried to play it almost like I’m a musician moreso than a visual artist, because I’m not afraid to do shows outside of galleries, the kind of stuff we’d just put on ourselves the same way you’d put on a concert.”
While Dylan’s work is an advertisement, he never treats it as such; instead, he illustrates each poster to his own personal satisfaction and when it’s “99 per cent done,” he finds space to squeeze in the band’s name. The poster is more a collaboration with art than with a company or business.
“This retains its artistic soul plus I actually get to own it, too, which is rare because if I did an ad for some other company like a dishwasher, I wouldn’t own that illustration afterwards.”
For Dylan, the concept is a huge part of the art. At one time, he mulled over an illustration for an Ohbijou poster until he remembered the song, “St. Francis.”
“I came up with this image of a stained-glass window with St. Francis — he was always living among the birds — and I really like cats so I got the idea of having a cat stealing one of his birds and the cat goes to hell in the end. So it’s kind of a word game sometimes.”
After graduating from Bealart School in London, ON, Dylan moved to Montreal at age 19. He lived in a studio warehouse known as “The Electric Tractor” with nine other artists, which Dylan admits both helped and hindered creativity.
“That was kind of the launch pad for doing show posters because we started hosting rock shows at our own place, which kind of took off … Sometimes we had 200 people in the place and we were never worried about the police showing up — we were selling beers for three bucks in the back to put towards electricity — but it was a pretty fun time in retrospect.”
“[Moving to Montreal] really altered my thinking … I felt dwarfed as an artist in the music community but then I found ways to integrate myself.”
Dylan is opening at The Alex. P. Keaton on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.