Heroes clutching mile-long swords. Smoldered demons with burnt wings. Horns sprouting from villains like tree trunks. Charcoal snowfall. Smoggy smoke shadows. This is the world of author/illustrator/visionary Jeffrey Alan Love. The acclaimed artist (who recently received a World Fantasy Award for Best Artist) is still basking in the hellfire depths of his debut solo book, Notes from the Shadowed City (Flesk, 2016), as well as having handled the illustrations for the recently released Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki. With a graphic novel and a children's book in the works, the multimedia artist took some time to answer a few of my questions, speaking on foothills, sticks, forests, rocks, castles, Mogwai, and plenty of art around the haunted corner.
How has 2017 treated you?
Very well. I recently won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist, which was a great surprise.
You released Notes from the Shadowed City at the end of 2016. How has the feedback been? Was this your first release that was 100% you?
It was the first book that I both wrote and illustrated, but hopefully not the last. I've been blown away by the reception it has received - so many of my heroes have said nice things about it, and it seems to have resonated with a lot of people and found a readership.
Norse Myths came out recently. How long has that been in the works?
It's been on the radar for a few years, but I think I only actively worked on it for about 9 months, with a few months off in the middle for the birth of my son.
Have you always been fascinated with magic and folklore and mythology?
For as long as I can remember I have been. My early childhood was spent in Germany, so my memories of that time are of running around ancient forests and playing in castles, which I'm sure has something to do with it.
Your pieces seem lost in time, void of technology and anything reminiscent of modern day. Is your brain often stuck in the past?
No, I am firmly in the present. My work is my way of dealing with the present, and I'm not a luddite. I just prefer to work with my hands, with physical materials such as paper, ink, paint. As for the subject matter, I don't know what to say really - these things are coming from a place within me that I try not to shine too bright a light upon.
What do you have planned as we step into 2018?
I'm working on a graphic novel that should be released next year, as well as a children's book that is in development - both written/illustrated by me. I'm also writing more pure prose, without accompanying pictures.
Is it difficult to multitask between passion projects and commissioned work?
No, but that is because I've somehow found a way to have my passion projects become my commissioned work. There's very little difference between the two for me. If anything the hardest thing nowadays is having to say no to projects because I don't have the time.
What are some of your studio essentials?
A clean desk, a good cup of coffee, music. Stonehenge paper, Montana paint markers, white and black acrylic paint, sticks and sponges and brayers and rocks and anything else you can coat with paint to make a mark.
Outside of your own work, what are some books/comics that have inspired you lately?
According to your website bio, you've lived all over the place. Do you have a favorite place in the US? Favorite place in the world?
I loved Northern California, but there is a specific road in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains that is my favorite place in the US. Germany is my favorite place in the world.
What have you been listening to recently?
A lot of Max Richter. Loscil. Eluvium. Mogwai. Harold Budd. Antony Partos. Cliff Martinez.
Do you have any advice for authors and/or illustrators working on their craft?
Have faith and have fun. It might take a while to get where you want to go, and if you're not having fun it's going to be a rough ride.
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
Read more books.