Long Beach artist Alan Villanueva is both a costume illustrator for film and a tattoo artist. His designs and illustrations are meticulously detailed and have a visceral quality about them. Recently, one of his works was included in the Long Beach Zombie Art Show, which is why I asked him to answer a few questions about his work and art.
Carma Spence: How did you get involved with the Zombie Art Show in Long Beach?
Alan Villanueva: Garry Booth (co-curator of the show) and I went through the BFA Illustration program at Cal State Long Beach. I’ve been so grateful to be included in his group shows and livepaint events at his venue, Phone Booth Gallery. We stay connected. He told me about the show, and well, who can say no to Zombies right?
CS: How would you describe your artistic style?
AV: I would say very illustrative, whimsical, with a hint of photo-realism and a definitive attention to detail
CS: Are there any well-known artists that you have been influenced or inspired by? In what way?
AV: Absolutely. There are so many to list but to name a few, N.C. Wyeth, Rockwell, Leyendecker, Patrick Tierney, Christian Alzmann, and Alex Ross.
CS: What kinds of media do you prefer to work with?
AV: I prefer working with digital media like photoshop and corel painter, it’s so forgiving. Traditionally, I love mixing watercolor and acrylic
CS: Where do you get your inspiration?
AV: I get inspired by nature, science and biology. Lots of super fascinating stuff out there.
CS: How did you get involved in costume illustration?
AV: Robin Richesson, head of the illustration department at Long Beach State, is a dedicated member of the Costume Designers Guild. She is a Costume Illustrator. I enrolled in her costume figure drawing course during my undergrad and had a lot of fun. She shared artwork and stories of costume illustration work she did on major feature films and from there my interest skyrocketed.
CS: How did you get started with film?
AV: I’ve always loved movies and only dreamed of being able to work on them when I grew up. I got an internship working with screenplay writer Zak Penn doing character and creature design. It was so much fun. I got a taste of Hollywood and loved it. I then went on to work on student and indie films with talented filmmakers at Chapman University. I was asked to go from concept and costume artist to Art Director on my first film, “Stones” and early 2011 it was accepted into Sundance in the indigenous shorts category.
CS: What have you worked on since you got into the Costume Designers Guild?
AV: GoDaddy.com and DirecTV commercials and then two features, OZ: The Great and Powerful, and Ender’s Game.
CS: I see you are a tattoo artist, as well. How did you get into that?
AV: After graduating from Long Beach State while I was looking around for illustration work, I had a lot of free time. Many of my friends have tattoos and they always suggested it was something I could get good at. They got me a starter kit, and what started out as a hobby turned into a new way to “illustrate.”
Luckily, college helped me learn how to draw in different styles so I have the ability to tattoo with a nice variety (traditional, Japanese woodblock style, photorealistic, fonts, etc). I love it because every piece is a challenge in some way so it keeps you on your toes, the adrenaline kicks in and my heart pounds every time I start a piece. It’s such a rad feeling.
CS: How did you discover your artistic talents?
AV: I discovered them when I was very young. I was taking summer drawing classes by my house in Torrance, and my extremely talented teacher, Patrick Tierney, gave us fun characters to draw. I learned so much from him and he helped me discover my talent.
For more information about Alan Villanueva, visit his website at www.AlanVillanueva.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.
This interview is the 10th in a series of interviews with the artists featured in the Zombie Art Show that have a connection to Long Beach. See below for links to the last five interviews in this series.
Do you see the world through genre-coloured glasses? For more science fiction, fantasy and horror news and information — with a travel twist — check out The Genre Traveler, the travel resource for science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, at www.thegenretraveler.com.