I first met Eric Horn at the world premiere of Chronicle at the Friends of Industry event early last summer. Think of Jules Verne. Think of futuristic contraptions that might have been conceived 120 years ago. Think steampunk... a world where flight and travel and life is all steam-powered. And now meet a talented artist and illustrator who is bringing this world to life.
Ennyman: When did you first take an interest in artistic expression and who were your early influences?
Eric Horn: I have always been into drawing and being artistic. Ever since I was able to hold a pencil, crayon, or pen I have been drawing and sketching things. My parents encouraged me to keep at it. My father, Ran Horn, is in his own right a very good artist, who has his own Gallery in west Texas and his own website. He taught me a lot of what I know about drawing and painting. Although we have completely different styles I learned the basics from him. My other influences came from art teachers I had over the years. Two of those teachers had a big impact on me, Mr. Englund and Mr. John Salminen. They taught me that there is more than one way to draw, paint, or take a photo. They also taught me that criticism is not a bad thing, but a way to help improve yourself and your art.
EN: How did you become interested in Steampunk?
EH: Steampunk is something that I stumbled across only a couple of years ago. I fell in love with the look and feel of the genre. I also love the fact that it lends itself to interpretation. Although there are some hardcore steampunk enthusiasts out there, overall there are no real rules on how to be steampunk. As to my art it is very loosely steampunk or I should say it is my version of steampunk, which may or may not fall into what other people view as steampunk. I work with what I have available and the funds to do this, so I have limits on how exact to the genre I can be.
EN: Tell us about your current project, which you shared at the Friends of Industry event last spring.
EH: "Chronicle" is a graphic novel that I have been working on for over a year now. We came up with the idea of showing it as a slide show set to live music for the "Friends of Industry" show last June as a way of introducing the idea to people. It took me over 4 months to do all the art and get the layouts on a DVD. Because I was on a time limit I did not get everything that is going into the final graphic novel. I only had about half an hour for the "film" and had to pick and choose the scenes and shorten any narrative and dialog so the viewers would not be bored. But all said, I think I was able to tell most of the story to a point. This project has taken on a life of its own and I am currently working on continuing the story. I have taken my time getting back on the horse, so to speak, because over the 4 months I worked on the first part it took a lot of energy out of me, and once I get going again I know how much work I have to do. Part one is approximately 25 pages of a comic, give or take. And that is only a third of what we have written, and that third is only a third of what is in our basic outline of the story, not counting the 5 side stories I'm currently writing and story boarding or the re-shoot of the scenes I left out or was not happy with originally.
As to what "Chronicle" is about, it is a gothic, steampunk fairy tale that I have come up with. The bulk of the story takes place on an Air-ship in a world that would resemble the late 1800's. The story has all the good stuff, like action, drama, horror, with a dash of comedy. The story is amazing (if I do say so myself) and I am trying to make sure that all the art in the book is just as amazing. I want my future readers to enjoy the ride I give them and want them to engross themselves in just looking at the pictures of the story.
EN: Like many artists you have a regular job. What is your typical art regimen?
EH: Well in my real life I work at the casino as a Black Jack Dealer, and then I also work at the Renaissance Festival every year. Not sure about my typical art regimen. I usually go in spurts of working on different things. But even when I am not working on anything I do think of ideas of things I would like to do and try. Like I have a couple of ideas for coffee table books, more stories to tell, and paintings I should do. The trick is trying to find the time and motivation to do them....
EN: How much time do you spend on your drawings?
EH: Well, that all depends on the piece. Some of my pen and ink drawings have taken me months to do, putting in a couple of hours a day on them. Some I have cranked out in under two hours. As for my self-titled Over Art style (Over Art is when I take a photograph and then ink over it to give it an animated feel and look) I can do a piece in usually a day or three. The longest I have worked on something is years. I have one piece that I still have not finished because of the amount of ink involved, and I also lose focus on finishing it and put it away to work on something else.
EN: I heard someone say they had no idea you were doing all these fantastic pictures. Have you only recently begun showing? And were you surprised at the positive reactions to your work?
EH: I find that funny as I always have some kind of drawing tablet with me. And thought I was known as the artist in my friend circles. I have done a few shows around town in the past. I have done 4 or so at Jitters coffee house, and I am on the short list if an artist is a no show for the month. But because it is not a real art venue I have not had a lot of exposure. Now that I have been involved with "Friends of Industry" and a few other well advertised and attended shows people are seeing and being exposed to me and my art. I'm now taking every chance I can to get a fan base built for my yet to be published work. No, I am not surprised that people like my work. This sounds conceited, but I know my work is good. If I did not think so I would not be doing it. I have 2 sort of mottos 1) I am awesome! 2) Anything is possible. As long as I can believe in those two things I feel I will make it as an artist. Told you I am a very vain person.
EN: Where can people find examples of your art online?
EH: I mostly have examples of my work on Facebook, and a few of my old black and white ink drawings are on my dad's website VangoghTX.com. I have not had the time or money to build my own site yet, but that is a plan in the future.
EdNote: At last weekend's Goin' Postal show Eric should us some experiments he had been doing using coffee as a medium for creating backgrounds for illustrations. When I saw these I knew I was talking with a kindred spirit.