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George Wylesol: Ghosts

Work / Illustration

George Wylesol on his latest evocative, intuition-led illustrations

George Wylesol is an illustrator, designer and writer who follows his intuition. Originally from Philadelphia but based in Baltimore, the American creative’s portfolio is a real mixture of styles and subject matters and is one we’ve long been a fan of. The project that caught our eye this time is a series of three visual stories, Ghosts, The Rabbit, and Worthless, which have been compiled into a collection of short comics named — unsurprisingly, perhaps — Ghosts, etc.

Ghosts is a minimal and conventionally structured comic strip that reflects on the feelings of isolation and paranoid loneliness that George experienced when he spent nights working in an eerie hospital basement alone. The Rabbit is similarly conventional in its formatting and reflects on the devastating impact of grief and responsibility. Worthless, by contrast, is “an abstract, stream-of-consciousness narrative in which a kid hears a voice coming from a pipe. When he goes to investigate, he’s transported on a psychedelic journey through heaven and hell, which lasts both an eternity and one second,” George tells us.

Emotional states are the driving force behind George’s design and he uses bold line-work and a vibrant colour palette to visualise such abstract thoughts. “I try to hit the viewer with something that has a strong emotional impact. I like to use bright colours and clean lines to help reinforce that impact. I want my panels to be able to stand alone as art pieces, while also functioning as part of a whole and helping to drive the narrative forward,” the artist says. George’s work is a series of studies rather than narratives. By creating a number of miniature masterpieces, George is more concerned with distilling feelings in his images and evoking emotions in the reader, than he is interested in a teleological tale.

“Whatever emotion I’m going for at the time — whether it’s unsettling loneliness or nostalgia — I try to pick colours that might help to subconsciously inspire those emotions in the viewer,” George reveals. “I want the viewer to feel a little overwhelmed when reading Worthless, for example, so I picked three pretty intense colours that compete with each other.” The Rabbit is, for example, visually rich with loud colours and busy compositions to evoke the agonising effects of grief. Worthless similarly combines strong colours with clean, more controlled line-work to survey mundane imagery. Ghosts is populated by enigmatic, minimal and often empty scenes to evoke the creeping and haunting effects of alienation.

The three visual stories helped George explore various means of story-telling while refining his practical skills. “It helped to push my future work closer to where I want it to go,” George reflects. “Each of the three stories in this book was done at a different time, they all are pretty personal and helped me make a lot of technical improvements to my work.”

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George Wylesol: Ghosts

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George Wylesol: Ghosts

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George Wylesol: Ghosts

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George Wylesol: The Rabbit

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George Wylesol: The Rabbit

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George Wylesol: Worthless

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George Wylesol: Worthless

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George Wylesol: Worthless

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George Wylesol: Worthless

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George Wylesol: Worthless