Maidstone John is a 24-year-old freelance illustrator from Canterbury who creates black pen and ink drawings depicting nightmarish ghouls, he has created a fanged female monster, especially for Things&Ink. We chatted to him about what inspires him, his hopes to become a tattoo artist and the tattoos on his body…
The Fang Girl John created for Things&Ink
Do you have a background in art? Yes, when I left school I studied fine art and design at Canterbury college, specialising in illustration and print making.
When did you start drawing? I’ve always drawn from a young age, it all started after school one summer when I broke my leg skateboarding. I was stuck indoors for a good three months with nothing to do, watching my friends going skating and getting frustrated. My good friend Craig Questions would come and visit all the time and I just remember him telling me that I had to focus my mind to something positive or I’d eat myself up. Craig would always visit with these incredible fanzines that he’d been working on, which fuelled and inspired me to draw my own. When the summer came to an end, I was sat in front of a body of work that later on secured my place on the art and design course and the drawing never stopped from there…
How would you describe your style? Black work inspired by old woodcut etchings. I think my work is a real diverse variety from elements of dark satanic reference to bold traditional 1920s tattoo flash.
What inspires you? I would say I’m particularly inspired by old horror films specifically hammer horrors, the devil rides out being my all time favourite. 80s skateboarding, natural history and third world culture. Those who are close to me know I’m an avid collector of antiques, oddities and ephemera, I love 80s toys. Madballs, Boglins, Ghostbusters and any monsters.
How do you choose your subject matter? I normally find a fragment of a idea from a film or a good book and then run with it until I am happy. I’ve recently had quite a few people email me with some really cool ideas for commissions, mostly album covers for bands, clothing and skateboard graphics which is awesome. I am always happy to run with any idea, it doesn’t always have to be a dark and gnarly design.
Are there any artists you admire? Do they influence your work? Most certainly, there is a never ending list of people who I look up to, many of which I am lucky enough to call my friends. Without them, I’m not sure if I would even be doing the things I love right now like drawing and skateboarding. French (Richard Sayer), Craig Questions and Dan Singer gave me the original inspiration and the kick start I needed with their insanely detailed illustrations.
I look up to many different tattoo artists (past and present) from Daniel Higgs and Stoney St Clair to the amazing blackwork by DuncanX and Philip Yarnell. All of these guys have their own quirks and calling cards that to me makes them unique not just as artists, but as individuals. I spend every Thursday at Classic Ink in Herne Bay, owned by my pal John Slack, drawing along side Scott Banks and John has really helped me creatively and they are always filling me with advice and confidence, which I am so grateful for. Some day I hope to learn to tattoo and me and John are doing a little trade soon, which I am really excited about.
What medium do you use? I normally prefer to work with pen and ink, uni pin fine liners are real good, but I’m trying to push myself with my painting.
How long does it take to create a piece? It all depends on the size and intricacy of the piece, but I am getting much quicker these days, I’ll spend around six hours on an A3 sheet at the longest.
Do you have any tattoos? Can you tell us about them. Of course, I’m nearly complete from the waste down and I have some cover up work on my arms but, as of now, I’m in the process of filling my front. I have been tattooed by some really incredible artists and I still have a long list of artists who I long to get some work off. I can appreciate all genres of tattooing but I am particularly fond of traditional black work.
John’s bat by tattooist Philip Yarnell
I have a lot of rad and exciting things coming my way towards the end of this year, if you’re interested in being a part of my journey, find me on Instagram @maidstonejohn…