We’re back with another installment of our Artist Interview series. This time we go all the way down to the Baton Rouge to talk with Adam Rabalais! I have to admit, I did not find Mr. Rabalais on my own. Matt Montoya (yes the same Matt Montoya who recently redesigned our video graphics) brought him to my attention. And thank goodness he did! Adam has an amazing ability to translate a film into a simple representation that speaks volumes, and it’s usually captured from one scene. Add to this the distressed effect he imparts on his work and you have automatic classics. I absolutely love that his movie topics span the gauntlet of ’70s genre flicks, like A Clockwork Orange, up to modern-day big budget films like Inception. Not to mention Adam has covered several of my favorite films, like The Thing, Tron, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and of course Star Wars! Read on for our hard hitting questions.
Nerdlocker (NL): Tell us a little about yourself.
Adam Rabalais (AR): I’ve had a deep love for film for as long as I can remember. My obsession really kick-started when I was 10 years old and saw Jurassic Park at the theater. Something snapped in me as I saw that T-Rex bite through the cables and roar in the rain. I thought “movies are awesome”. And I was mostly right. So I’ve adored film since childhood, and at least adored good film in my adulthood. Again, mostly. I really dig anything creative and full of life. I basically have an electroswing band at a haunted carnival performing in my head 24/7 so it’s difficult to refrain from shuffling everywhere I go. I’ve lived in Louisiana my whole life and considering my proximity to New Orleans, I’m just fine with that. I absolutely love horror and Disney. So needless to say, I’ve ridden The Haunted Mansion a thousand times.
NL: How did you get your professional start in the art world? And how did you find your niche in nerd art?
AR: Technically, I suppose I got my start with my degree. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University in 2008 and have worked mostly in freelance ever since. I had noticed a surge in fan-made posters over the past couple of years, which I thought was brilliant. Each person gets to express what a certain film means to them through their own art. As I came across different designs for different films, I realized there were lots of things I felt I would have done differently to express what the films meant to me. How I perceived them. The colors and shapes they evoked. The same way you can subconsciously associate a certain color with your favorite food or song. So I started sketching away and found that I had something fairly unique to say about all of my favorite films. I shared some of them online and they got a good amount of attention.
NL: Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?
AR: I find inspiration in the things I love. And the things I don’t love so much. I think it’s good to find inspiration in the extremes. Find things you love and figure out why you love it, then do that. Find the things you don’t love, figure out what went wrong, don’t do that. I think when something just works, you should be able to feel it. I love seeing a film and halfway through realizing I forgot that I was sitting in a theater. I’m inspired by anything that can rip you from reality and submerse you in fantasy.
NL: Who are some of your favorite artists?
AR: I’d be a fool not to not cite Olly Moss as a huge influence and inspiration. The man is a genius. Also, the work of Drew Struzan. As a cinemaddict, I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Alfonso Cuarón, Sam Raimi, Luc Besson, Frank Darabont, John Carpenter, David Fincher, Neill Blomkamp, Duncan Jones and many other magnificant filmmakers. Anyone who can tell a story and tell it well through a given medium has my interest.
NL: What posters/art do you have on display in your house?
AR: I have a couple of posters hanging up. I have The Thing, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and The Incredibles. I also have a few prints made by my brother, Matt, and a J. Scott Campbell calendar around my desk. I also have a remote-controlled ‘Moon in My Room’ with 12 illuminated lunar phases.
NL: What’s the worst non-art related job you’ve ever had?
AR: The worst job I’ve ever had was actually partially art-related. It was my first job as a designer and it was for a “construction measuring instrument provider.” It was pretty much like commuting to Hell from 8-5 every day. The best advice I can give to anyone fresh out of school is to not take the first job you find, but to try to find a job that will at least inspire you to be creative. You’ll be glad you did.
NL: If you could draw any comic book ever created, which book would you choose and why?
AR: Easy. Deadpool. I always thought writing and illustrating for Deadpool almost seemed like cheating. Like they said “Hey, instead of making a straight comic let’s just have some drinks and see what happens.” Seems like a blast.
NL: Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
AR: Due to the pathetic size of my brain, I would have to say Star Wars. Actually, I have to admit that the new film did spark a huge interest in Star Trek for me. So I do plan to go back and watch all of the old series runs. Not to mention, with the state of Star Wars over the past decade or so, I think Star Trek might be a breath of fresh air.
NL: What do you do in your free time?
AR: Mostly the same things I do in my not free time. Watch movies, sketch and illustrate, play video games, eat and cook, sleep some (very little), obsess over newly discovered music, hang out in New Orleans, build things, and just generally try to stay positive and creative.
NL: Give us a nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
AR: I used to own Mortal Kombat: The Album on cassette. Not the soundtrack for the film, mind you. The Album. A collection of songs by The Immortals based around the characters from the original game. This is where the famous “Mortal Kombat Theme” originated. And I wore this album OUT. It was awful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_Kombat:_The_Album
NL: What is your favorite movie and why?
AR: At the moment, I would have to say my favorite film is The Thing. Tied closely with The Shawshank Redemption. I just love everything about The Thing. It pulls you into this bleak, cold atmosphere and takes you for an awesome two-hour horror ride. The score is completely killer and the cast is perfect. Rob Bottin created some of the most amazing creature effects I’ve ever seen. This is easily Carpenter’s best and most successful film. It’s perfect.
I love Shawshank for the same reason. For the type of film it is, it’s perfect. Beginning to end. I watched it for the first time with my dad not knowing what to expect and was just amazed by it. It was a great experience.
NL: What is your favorite video game and why?
AR: The first Portal. Easily. And it’s for the very reason that some criticize it. Its length. I think it’s the perfect length. As someone who loves film, I think it’s unique for a video game to emulate that sort of short immersion into a story that allows you to get sucked in, experience an arc, and spit you out without having to take a restroom break. I see the need for games that take 80 hours to complete, I just feel like that’s a lot of time to dedicate to something and I’m a fairly impatient person. When I sat down to play Portal, I knew it was a puzzle game. That’s all. So I was pulled in by the simplicity of the concept to begin with. I love when things are clean and well-executed. Then I get to what I think is the end of the game and…oh, what’s this? I’m only half-way through? Genius. My eyes widened and I didn’t blink until I beat the game. Again, a fantastic experience that I’ll never forget.
NL: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character and why?
AR: Without thinking too deeply about it and possible changing my mind, I’ll go with my long-standing answer: Batman. Every since I was wee and saw Batman Returns, I’ve loved Batman. And in the past 10 years, there’s been some great developments in that world. I’ve always loved Batman for the reasons that Nolan has so beautifully highlighted. He’s essentially a superhero version of James Bond with a strong emotional influence behind his vigilantism. Badass suit? Check. Badass gadgets? Check. Badass car? Check. What else do you need? Oh. Parents, I guess.
And there you have it, Adam Rabalais! Check out his online store here and support a great artist. He’s also running several deals right now, so it’s the perfect time to snag some of that awesomeness! As an added bonus, Adam organizes Zombie Day every October! Check it out here! Oh and if you have a really keen eye, you may have noticed Brandon was sporting a Rabalais designed shirt from our friends at TeeFury!