315 - The Art of Emily the Strange

Artist Rob Reger is the creator of Emily the Strange, a teenage girl with “a dark side.” Emily the Strange began life on stickers and t-shirts, but she later inspired a line of clothing and a series of novels. She has also inspired art and here Rob Reger explains one of his “Emily the Strange” paintings:

Rob Reger (Standard American accent):

So this piece is called “Swamp Dreams.” Like many of my works of art that have multiple characters that are interlocking, it’s based on kind of an imagination or a fantasy or a, you know, a dream of Emily. So here she’s kind of like hanging with her beastly friends in the jungle and in the swamps. As you see, these cats are rising out of the muck and the lily pads are turning into beasts and monsters of their own; very strange plants are growing. And this one’s kind of based on a  loose symmetry, sort of her left and right brain thinking about stuff.  She’s got her chorus of… I  guess, Greek chorus chiming in here, telling her different things, so they’re all different characters representing different parts of her mind, which are elaborating like what’s going on in her head. So this is very… very much a painting about stuff that’s happening in her mind. As you see, she’s got one eye closed, which would represent her sleep state, and the other eye suspiciously looking over at something going on down in this area, maybe about one of these cats who’s decided to nibble on a friend of hers, but cats do this: so, you know, it’s part of the life cycle, part of a good nightmare as well! This, like many more in the series, the whole idea of the black and white characters, you know, the white maybe being more green and grey here, but the whole thought is that a… a black character will be completely surrounded by a light-coloured character, and then a light-coloured character would be completely surrounded by the black characters. So, for example, you’ve got this guy and he’s puzzle-pieced in between… so it’s kind of perfectly symmetrical where, really,  no same-coloured character specifically touch other characters.  They’re, for the most part, completely isolated and separated by characters of its opposing colour. Something that… that was something… I was very early on influenced by M.C. Escher, something that he did and it took quite a while for me to kind of figure it out and definitely lots of pencil work before a lot of sketching beforehand to come to how things work out that way, but definitely can make a nod to the reference of M.C. Escher.

(Rob Reger was talking to Mark Worden)