The last time we wrote about illustrator and animator Dylan Jones, we were fascinated by the mysterious figure calling himself Hologram Ceiling and producing fantastically absurd, squiggly drawings on coloured paper in bright pastels and pencil. Since then, Dylan has produced three mini publications with Gridlords, as well as continuing to create his signature bizarre, hallucinatory illustrations, which take our weirdest fantasies and reflect them back at us in a funhouse mirror.
We managed, finally, to track Dylan down and discuss his latest project, a limited edition, 20-page artist’s book with a title that reflects the surreal nature of his work: Pig Looks At Cube. Published by Nieves, the book takes the form of a comic, with scenes playing out over four frames across each double-page spread. Unlike Dylan’s single drawings, this longer visual story is rendered solely in black ink on white paper. He tells us: “The drawings tend to reflect whatever paper I get from the thrift store. In the case with this series of drawings, I found a bunch of 8×11 inch computer paper folded in half. For some reason, I find it easier to draw when I don’t choose what I have to draw on, and there is a bunch of random paper at the thrift store that I like to go to.”
Speaking of his transition into black and white, Dylan says: “This style developed out of economics, and I work better when I have to figure out a new way to draw on a different texture. I use one type of pen – a Precise V5 (extra fine) – I don’t know what that is. I’m easily confused.” So don’t be fooled into thinking that the monochrome aesthetic of Pig Looks At Cube is Hologram Ceiling all grown up. Dylan’s cover image is a good indicator of what to expect; in the top picture, the plucked rear end of a butchered fowl, standing on the shadow of a face with a downturned mouth, and poses near what appears to be an anthropomorphic teacup pierced through the head by an arrow. The image below displays similarly carved-up legs standing upright in a line, presided over by a reclining toothless figure with clown-like eyebrows, wearing spotted braces.
And that’s about as normal as it gets. Dylan states that “the book was drawn in a week and was entirely a stream of consciousness. If I work on a series of drawings I’ll sort of centre myself on a feeling that I can’t describe and work from there.” To attempt to summarise the narrative of Pig Looks At Cube would be like trying to recount a convoluted dream that you had after watching The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Fantasia and the full series of Looney Tunes, all at the same time, on rewind. An unfortunate man with chicken legs meets a reptilian goose wearing a bowler hat, then there’s a noseless character with a severed hand for a tail whose legs are eaten by a clown-dog but replaced with long hollow tubes, then a goblin man wearing a polka-dot party hat turns his own genitals into three goose heads on winding necks, then there’s some sort of teddy-bear sphinx with breasts, being sat on by a tortoise smoking a pipe, then an enormous horse with three hat-wearing birds perched inside its stomach, then a pig looking at a cube (we knew it’d crop up eventually), and some evil eggs carrying guns and then the chicken legs guy is back being tortured by a knitting snake and… OK, we give up. Let it suffice to say that you’ll be entertained.
Dylan plans to continue translating his distorted dream worlds into short narrative videos for his YouTube page: “I’d like to finish an abandoned animation project from a few months ago.” Apart from that, he seems pretty content to carry on conjuring up outlandish characters and worlds from the seemingly boundless depths of his imagination: “I suppose I am lucky now to be finally stuck in a style that I can float along with, to channel my thoughts, which is good enough for me.” Well, Dylan, it’s certainly good enough for us.