Arts previews: Brian Ewing’s “Horror Business” combines anatomical illustrations and pop culture photos

By Columbus Alive
From the October 31, 2013 edition

Brian Ewing had a prolific career in New York City and Los Angeles (and a couple other cities) before relocating to Columbus. He’s been one of the most sought-after and talented rock poster designers for the last decade — designing for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Bad Religion and the Vans Warped Tour.

Other recent works have received attention and acclaim, too. He designed posters for “The Walking Dead” 10th Anniversary party at San Diego’s Comic Con this spring by transforming the members of Weezer, who performed at the event, into zombies. Blogs at MTV and Spin wrote about the art and its popularity. Earlier this year Ewing designed a special poster for the Queens of the Stone Age concert at LC Pavilion that sold out by the night’s end. You can now find them on EBay for a $100 or more.

Both projects represent Ewing’s current technique utilizing, a mix of hand-drawn, ink brush anatomical illustrations blended into pop culture photos. He drew the four Weezer band members as zombies, then screened-printed the actual photos of the band, merging the two with the zombie image on top.

“It was like a poor man’s lenticular printing where it looks like it’s animated,” Ewing said. “When the light hits it you see the photo, and when you turn … you see the artwork [and metallics] pop.”

For “Horror Business,” Ewing’s first solo exhibition in Columbus, he turned to photos of pop culture and horror movie icons (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, the Mummy) using the same technique.

Since Ewing is obviously an avid music fan, he had to create a skeletal Glen Danzig circa The Misfits era for the exhibit. Ewing also co-created a toy for the exhibit with his business partner at Metacrypt named Shub Zeroth — a “really strange, goat-headed, six-breasted monstrosity.”

Since moving to Columbus from New York about a year ago, Ewing has found a creative renaissance and utmost content within his career. “Horror Business” is a collection he’s especially proud of and excited for. The art community should be as well.

“Right now I’m just doing stuff for myself that I would actually want,” Ewing said. “Living here I have more time to do things. I have more time to work … and work [on] what makes me happy.”

Columbus has let Ewing “slow down,” but that doesn’t mean less work; he’s constantly taking on new projects, whether it’s freelance jobs or personal missions. It also means his quality of living has improved by not dealing with unfavorable aspects of the New York lifestyle — high cost of living and pretentiousness.

“New York has turned into a playground for rich, spoiled kids going to NYU, which is just sad,” Ewing said. “I think people’s goals are different here. Everyone in New York is very ‘got to make money, got go to parties, got to be famous.’ Here everybody is, ‘I want to be a better artist.’”

Still Ewing is satisfied by his time in New York and feels maybe every artist needs that experience to figure out where is best for them. He’s found that in Columbus.

“That’s not to say all artists in New York are horrible people, but I don’t miss them,” Ewing said.

Even though Ewing is enjoying life away from the big city, he says his latest work has been influenced by contemporary New York artists Faile and Morning Breath. And even a little bit of Andy Warhol. Ewing explained that it’s similar to occasionally getting tired of new music and re-listening to the old stuff.

“I was looking at art I never would have considered an influence, but was definitely an influence on culture,” Ewing said. “Everyone considers [Warhol] an influence, but all they talk about are the fucking Marilyn portrait or the soup cans.”