We’re back with another artist interview! Today we travel north of the border to meet Phantom City Creative! Rarely do I see artists tackle such 80s awesomeness as Back to the Future, Monster Squad, Goonies, Time Bandits and The Last Starfighter with such creativity and zeal. And to be honest, few people even know what The Last Starfighter is. Come on Disney, this needs a remake! But I digress. The team of Justin Erickson and Paige Reynolds have quickly carved out a Nerdy niche for themselves, often times focusing on the horror/macabre side. I know I love their style and judging by their constant sell outs, so do you! Without further ado, the masterminds behind Phantom City Creative!
Nerdlocker (NL): So the duo of Justin Erickson and Paige Reynolds make up Phantom City Creative, tell us about yourselves.
Justin (JE): Hi my name is Justin Erickson and I’ve been an artist as long as I can remember. As my love for all things nerdy grew, my art reflected that. I studied illustration at Sheridan College and when I graduated I worked as a freelancer before being hired on as Graphic Designer at Rue Morgue Magazine. Now I run Phantom City with Paige and just recently became Art Director at Rue Morgue. My favourite colour is black.
Paige (PR): And I’m Paige Reynolds, also a born artist in every way. I actually studied political science and criminology in University but after graduating I decided to switch paths. I studied fine art at Sheridan College then 3d modeling and visual effects at Humber College. I’ve been working for a few years as a freelance illustrator & visual effects artist. I’m working now as a compositor while running Phantom City Creative with Justin. I love classic horror, vintage hollywood and anything macabre.
NL: Why Phantom City Creative? What does it mean?
JE: When were coming up with names I wanted to create an entity that seemed like a place and that everything created came from this mysterious destination.
NL: I absolutely love Friday the 13th, both the movies and the day itself. How did you guys create the company on such a wonderful day?
JE: It was random, actually. We had long talked about ways to combine our talents but the focused idea into what became PCC didn’t come until a conversation we had on a Friday the 13th a couple years ago.
NL: I truly plead ignorance on this one. How are Nerds treated in Toronto (or larger picture Canada)? It’s almost become popular to be a Nerd here in the States. Do you see that same phenomenon in Canada?
JE: It’s probably remarkably similar to what you’re used to in the States, actually.
NL: Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?
JE: From all over! Classic and new films, artists from all eras, literature, friends and experiences. There’s a danger in taking too much influence from one place.
PR: I’m also influenced by other artists, film , music and literature but I often find I’m influenced by things going on in our world such as injustice, morality and history.
NL: A lot of your prints are of science fiction and horror topics. Is that by design?
JE: Definitely. Left to our own devices we play with what we love and know the best, but I also like to work outside our comfort zone and grow given the chance.
PR: Horror is usually our first choice but as Justin says, we love a challenge and welcome other genres.
NL: Who are some of your favorite artists?
JE: Too many to list! I love Dave McKean, Mike Mignola, James Jean, Reynold Brown, Bob Peak, Tom Chantrell, Ken Taylor, Martin Ansin, Olly Moss, Gary Pullin, Jason Edmiston, Jae Lee, and the list goes on and on.
PR: I love all the artists Justin has already listed but I’ll add a few of my own. Basil Gogos, Gil Elvgren, Salvador Dali, HR Giger, Van Gogh, Michael Hussar, Floria Sigismondi, Mark Ryden and so many more!
NL: What posters/art do you have on display in your house?
JE: We have a couple Mondo posters up in the house, there’s a sweet Krull one sheet behind me in the office, a collection of Universal monster film posters, a Body Snatcher (Karloff), a couple dozen photos, quite a few art prints but my favourite item is a poster for The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus and The Manster. I’d never heard of the films before seeing the poster but had to pick it up when I saw it at Fan Expo here in Toronto.
PR: We own way more art than we have space for so we’re going to have to start changing it up! As you can see we love vintage film posters especially classic horror. Above our desks we have the 3 Vincent Price posters created by Justin, Gary Pullin and Jason Edmiston we released on what would have been Vincent Price’s 100th birthday.
NL: You recently solidified your place in Nerdom by creating the key Captain America piece in the Avengers set released by Mondo. What was it like working on such an iconic comic book character? Was Marvel Entertainment involved in the process?
JE: It was daunting! This was a huge movie event and the other artists in the series were Mondo’s mightiest. There was no slacking off with that one. I’m not sure how much input Marvel had directly, but Chris Evans had final say over his likeness.
NL: Star Wars of Star Trek? Why?
JE: Star Trek. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Star Wars. But something about Star Trek always attracted me more, though It’s been said and deconstructed by many a wiser nerd than I, but I loved the variety stories Star Trek could tell, great and small. A big part of that was being a TV show and having enough time to cover so much ground every week. It asked the questions that needed to be asked and framed the discussion in this fantastically optimistic and visionary future. You might say I admired the humanity of the show. Star Wars happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and is pure space opera but Star Trek existed here in our galaxy and dealt with issues that are important to us now.
PR: They’re both pretty awesome but I’d have to say Star Trek. The original series is my favourite, it was just so fun and kooky.
NL: What do you do in your free time?
JE: Free … time? I’m not sure I understand what you mean there.
PR: Haha Justin would probably sleep in his spare time if he had any. I like to read, travel and paint.
NL: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
JE: I’ve seen Transformers: The Movie (1986) so many times I know the film’s dialogue by heart. I still get chills when I hear, “Arise, Rodimus Prime.”
PR: On a family summer trip when I was young I drew the Star Trek symbol/insignia (TOS) on my arm (in permanent marker). I also had a blue betta fish named Spock.
NL: What is your favorite movie?
JE: I don’t have one favourite, but some of my favourites are: The Haunting (1963), The Evil Dead Trilogy, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Day of the Dead, The Innocents, Reanimator, The Shining, Star Wars (the only trilogy that counts), Lord of the Rings, Psycho, Poltergeist, and the list could on and on and on.
PR: Same here, I can’t pick just one but here are a few of mine: Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), House on Haunted Hill (1959), Halloween series, Pieces, Edward Scissorhands, Trick ‘r Treat, Beetlejuice, Batman, Pet Cemetary, Death at a Funeral (2007), Shaun of the Dead, The Tingler, The Birds, House of Wax (1953), Sleepaway Camp and the list can just keep going and going and going!
NL: What is your favorite video game?
JE: Same with movies, I don’t have just one but some of my favourites are: Mass Effect Trilogy, Mario Kart (SNES), Final Fantasy VII and IX, Skyrim, Altered Beast, Golden Dragon, Halo, Fallout, Masters of Orion II, Lords of the Realm II, and many more I’m forgetting.
PR: I’m also a huge video game nerd. My favourites are ALICE: Madness Returns (SUCH a beautiful artistic game), Skyrim, Left 4 Dead, Guitar Hero, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Super Smash Brothers, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as well as all the old SNES Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and The Addams Family.
NL: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
JE: My two favourites are Spiderman and Hellboy. My reasons for liking Spiderman changed as I grew up. At first it was his costume and I loved spiders so it was natural I started reading Spiderman. But as I grew up I picked up on and admired the flaws of the character and his “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra. Also him being a nerd himself spoke to young nerd Justin. Hellboy because it speaks to everything I like in horror. My favourite kind of horror is the slow burn ghost/supernatural variety which Hellboy has in abundance. But it also has the pulpy violence of splatter horror.
PR: As for comic books I absolutely LOVE the old EC comics like Tales from the Crypt, Tales of Terror, Vault of Horror etc. I also used to read vintage Archie comics as a kid. More recently I’ve been reading graphic novels like 30 Days of Night, The Walking Dead, The Crow & Marvel Zombies. I don’t think I have a favorite comic book character but I’ve always really liked Joker, Batman, Catwoman, Wolverine and Ironman.
And there you have it, Phantom City Creative. Please keep track of all their future projects by joining their mailing list. I highly recommend you visit their website to check out a much larger collection of their past work. As always, please visit their online store to support two great artists.
Stay tuned to Nerdlocker.com for all your Nerdy news and artist interviews!