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Work / Publication

Brian Blomerth illustrates a journey to “surf discovery” even though he’s terrible at surfing

“Surfing is fun but I suck at it,” illustrator Brian Blomerth tells It’s Nice That. “I can stand up but that’s about it, and that took two years of hard work in this wetsuit I got off of Ebay for $15. The wetsuit looked disgusting. A classic surfer kerfuffle. So yes, I’m a poser. A kook. It’s fun to admit it… I kinda wish you didn’t have to actually surf because my favourite part is honestly just sitting out there bobbing up and down like an idiot. Splashing around and turning occasionally. I had a funny incident with a fish that kind of inspired this whole little book.”

The little book Brian is describing is Xak’s Wax, an illustrated publication which follows a day in the life of one of the illustrator’s signature dog characters, Xak, “as he wakes up and greets the surfing day,” he explains. Although it appears that Xak is a far more accomplished surfer than his creator, both amateurs are plagued by the schemes of “critters of different types,” who interrupt the surfing flow planned. Another sweeping distraction alters his day when “a changing vacuous force like the ocean guides Xak in his journey of ‘surf discovery’ but also leads him astray,” Brian describes.

Xak’s Wax is illustrated by Brian and Risograph printed by Circadian Press in red, blue, gold and black on pink stock. Each drawing is full of detailed layers, drawn mainly with a “rapidiograph, but these layers are fleshed out with nib work using Waterman’s ink, and a wide variety of calligraphy nibs,” the illustrator explains. “Each layer also includes a healthy dose of Photoshop ‘spray’ at the end, when appropriate. Peer into the ocean in these pages and you might notice a bit of half-tone smeared ocean reflections distorted through bitmapping popping up occasionally as well,” he says. “There’s something really comforting about gazing out on to two full pages interconnected… maybe it’s a Pavlovian response from [Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s novel] Goodnight Moon. There’s got to be some reason I’m always drawing people as dogs.”

Designed into publication format, each of Brian’s drawings fills the double page spread to the max. This is intentional and a process the illustrator really enjoys, “optimising the two-page full-bleed spread like a children’s book would do,” he describes. Just like a children’s book to be read aloud, Brian also suggests Xak’s Wax would have an “unreliable narrator” of sorts. “Could be a gecko, a skunk riding a boogie board, a stork carrying a baby version of yourself or an orca whale jumping overhead.”

Xak’s Wax is published by Anthology and available here.

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax

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Brian Blomerth: Xak’s Wax