TCT: What is the most unusual request you’ve had as an illustrator and designer?
Not that unusual – but I get asked quite often to design Tattoos for people! I always say no though. I just don’t feel comfortable doing it. I love Tattoo’s though! So it’s more to do with my complicated relationship to my work. If someone likes an illustration I did, they are more than welcome to use it as the basis for a Tattoo. I’ve seen a few tattoos out there based on the Miriam Black series (Blackbirds, Mockingbird & The Cormorant) by Chuck Wendig, which I’m always so excited to see!
TCT: What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the business?
Since most of my work is book cover illustration and design, I’ll offer advice in that field.
Firstly, get your work out there. Show it to publishers, editors and especially authors. I’ve got some of my best projects because the author liked my work and pushed to use me. And I got the ICEBAR project because Tom Hunter had seen one of my book covers (Blackbirds). It’s a weird knock-on effect.
Secondly, choose the kind of work you love to do. If you love doing it, it will show in your artwork.
And finally, don’t be afraid to fail. Be bold. Try new things. Take risks.
TCT: The ICEBAR designs were remarkable! What’s next for you?
Thank you! I had such fun doing that ICEBAR illustration! As usual, I have a few book covers lined up. I’m starting work on the cover for the sequel to 13 Days Of Midnight by Leo Hunt soon and I’m also co-writing an original ongoing comic book series for Vertigo comics with Lauren Beukes. It’s called Survivors’ Club. The basic premise being ‘What if the 80s horror movies were real… and where are those survivors now’. It follows 6 people, who as kids survived various horrific experiences in 1987. But are they the survivors – or really the chosen ones? The first arc follows Chenzira’s story. She is a black South African woman, who as a kid in 1987 played a video game that opened the ‘Gates to Hell’ above Soweto. She is now convinced the game is back and brings together the survivors of other weird events in 1987.
There are so few South African characters in comics so we’re very excited by this. Plus we get to explore video game horror for this story arc! Lauren and I just got back from New York & L.A, where we were launching and promoting the series. The series was launched at New York Comic Con. The 1st issue is out. The 2nd is being released soon.
TCT: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
That is question Kryptonite (falls weakly to his knees clutching his heart).
Uhm. Writer & Illustrator – Edward Gorey! Although I hope ‘Zombie Edward Gorey’ doesn’t try eat my brains.
TCT: If you could only bring three things to a desert island, what would they be?
My iMac (with Wacom Tablet/Pen) filled with music & films. Power source for said iMac… and something that would enable an internet connection. Being marooned on a desert island is going to stop me working. As you can no doubt tell, I’d be dead within a month – or sooner. Probably mauled to death by the polar bear from Lost.
TCT: How would you describe your illustrations and designs in 80 characters?
A black & white Frankenstein Monster with black ink for blood and author’s words as its beating heart.
Tim Burton or Steven Spielberg? Tim Burton (you’re making my childhood weep with this Sophie’s choice)
Mona Lisa or The Scream? The Scream
Busy city or remote island? Busy City (For the inspiration it provides)
Chocolate or Ice-cream? Chocolate. Dark. (Said like Captain Janeway orders her Coffee. ‘Coffee. Black’)
Theatre or Film? Film
iOS or Android? iOS
For more on Joey Hi-Fi, follow him on Twitter.
Interview conducted by Ellie Griffiths