J. Powers Bowman creates intensely intricate landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes. Agave Magazine is thrilled to feature one of his works in the upcoming inaugural issue.
AGAVE: Tell us about your creative process: what is the starting point for your art? Do you search for ideas, or do they find you?
J. POWERS BOWMAN: The process begins with research; I am always coming across buildings and other structures that I think are historically significant, are overlooked or unfairly reviled, or are simply aesthetically pleasing. I eventually started keeping a list of these things, which means I’ve got a bunch of ideas ready when I sit down to draw. I plan the initial illustrations, but the assembly of a final piece depends more on which drawings are similar enough in size and perspective to work together. An office building and a phone booth that are the same height can’t realistically be placed next to each other, for example.
How do you create such detailed images? Would you describe the process as tedious, fascinating, or something in between?
As with any large project, I break my work down into easily manageable pieces; I identify the things that I’d like to draw, sketch them, ink in the lines, use patterns to fill the blank spaces, then photocopy and cut them out, arrange them with other similar pieces, then paste them together. There are certainly times when the pace of one step or another frustrates me, but for the most part I love it.
What experience would you like to give your viewers?
Hopefully, extensive and repeated viewing can always give viewers a new reward, something that they hadn’t seen before, something they didn’t realize was there, or perhaps find their own personal significance in the content of a given piece.
What was your first favourite work of art?
Alfred Hitchcock collaborated with the illustrator Fred Banberry to produce some collections of childrens’ ghost stories during the fifties and sixties. One of these collections, entitled Haunted Houseful, contains some of the most beautiful, richly detailed, and scary illustrations that I have ever seen.
What themes are you most interested in examining through your art?
None. I simply provide the viewer with a hypothetical landscape, comprising things that I find interesting and presented in as much detail as possible, from which they can draw their own meaning. I focus instead on providing the viewers with the highest quality work possible, with the idea that better work will better enable them to find what they want.
The inaugural issue of Agave Magazine comes out in August 2013. Subscribe here to receive Agave delivered directly to your inbox twice yearly.