Senior Vincent Higgins has been creating art since he was a kid. He began by drawing but quickly transitioned to digital painting in photoshop. Now at Whittier, he is exploring traditional paintings to improve his digital skills. Higgins’ art focuses on the genre of fantasy and sci-fi, creating characters inspired from Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Higgins explains that his work is an expression of his nerdy qualities and that he is able to translate his fantasies onto the canvas.
Indigo: When did you know that you wanted to do painting, or art?
Vincent: I wanted to start painting when I transferred here because I did a lot of drawing and a lot of digital artwork, but nothing in traditional painting media. I figured painting would help me translate my talent into Photoshop. If I could paint pretty well in life I should be able to paint pretty well digitally. As far as art stuff, it started when I was seven, my mom bought me sketchbooks for every birthday and Christmas. I filled my sketchbooks with drawings of Sonic the Hedgehog, cartoons, comics, and a lot of Sonic.
Indigo: Would you say that comic books and video games influenced the work you do now? Where do you draw your inspiration from for your paintings?
Vincent: Dungeons and Dragons. (Laughs) Nerd-dom. Especially the work I’m doing here. I wanted to do something that was nerdy and could show off my inner nerd. This is the culture I live and breathe. I feel a lot of other people’s artwork here is more abstract, and I wanted to still have my work be abstract but I also wanted to keep it representational of that imaginary, fantasy world.
Indigo: Would you say that the animals you paint are inspired from D&D? Is that how you decided to dress them in interesting costumes?
Vincent: Yeah, where I am now with these series of artworks is different than where I started. Originally I started by trying to fulfill roles that players would have to fight these creatures and I would come up with these creatures. So as players would go throughout these fictions they would have to fight them. Through feedback, it became more about doing portraits of these creatures anthrapormorphized, then the portraiture started becoming more of a regal theme. Where they were more like court paintings of these creatures, more like royalty or something and I responded more to that than I did of these characters of enemies that would fight.
Indigo: Have you studied a bunch of European, Renaissance-type court paintings?
Vincent: Oh yeah, lots of them. Well court paintings, different artists of those times, just studying the old masters. Obviously my stuff is quite different. I draw a lot of inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch. A lot of my work is very similar, it involves these weird creatures in these weird roles.
Indigo: Bosch’s work deals a lot with religious concepts, do you have similar concepts or different things in yours?
Vincent: Um, if you count nerd culture as my religion. (Laughs)
Indigo: Do you have a favorite among your characters so far?
Vincent: This one (points to painting on his lap of the angler fish in chainmail) I like the way it looks, just out of all of them I’m most satisfied with the way I did it. The chainmail, where the chainmail is going, the face, the way I did everything on this one, I am most satisfied with this one.
Indigo: Are all of your characters grouped together? Or are they separate from each other? Do you have names for them?
Vincent: That’s where it gets more complicated for me. Originally they started off with these guys as enemies that the characters are going to be fighting. Then it turned into trying to make my own pantheon of mythological creatures and then it went into the regal court paintings. So now they’re still along the lines of that pantheon of myth, but more of these are different characters in that pantheon and I guess I’m painting them in their court, for them. It still gets a little blurry in my head.
Indigo: Do you have any ideas what your next creature painting will be once you’re done with senior paintings?
Vincent: There are a lot of ideas in my head about what I want to do. Like I want to do something more werewolf-y, I was thinking more like a horror movie, so something zombie-like or werewolf-y, kinda creepy looking and less regal. I wouldn’t mind exploring some sort of horror creatures.
Indigo: Final question, if you could design your own dream job, what would it entail?
Vincent: Video Games, Alcohol and [sitting on the] Couch, you can arrange them in any order you want, they all work.