Originators: Jon Vermilyea

We chat with Jon Vermilyea who's illustrated for "Adventure Time" and "Robot Chicken."

Pick up Issue 52 or 53, flip it around and understand that we have a deep appreciation for art here. It’s why we let artists design our back cover. We began as a graffiti zine, and as our scope widened to other art forms, so did our interest in art itself. In line with that sentiment, we introduce Originators, an ongoing series that profiles visual artists working behind the scenes to produce the art, television, and work we can only describe as dope.

The works of Jon Vermilyea could be literally described as vomit. Seriously, everything this dude makes oozes with puke, dripping from every orifice down between the edges of his candy-colored nightmares. Inanimate objects have faces that ripple with leakage, while his made-up characters are seemingly lost in make-believe worlds where trees are painted with vivid neon colors and melted bubble gum flavors. He’s a damn great illustrator that loves creating bizarre pieces featuring monsters and beasts.

Verilyea currently resides in LA and holds a degree from New York’s School of Visual Arts. He mostly does freelancing work, making screen prints and creating pieces of apparel for companies like MISHKA and Better Days. His work has been featured in multiple zines and comic books (including a sweet Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” comic), and he’s even got some animation credit for creating Animal Collective’s trippy and beautiful “My Girls,” music video. His debut comic book, Fata Morgana (a complex form of a mirage), was published in Noveber 2013 by small pub, Koyama Press.

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Mass Appeal: Why’d you move from Brooklyn to LA?

Jon Vermilyea: I moved to LA to work at Cartoon Network. Ben Jones from Paper Rad had just started production on his show “The Problem Solverz” and needed a background artist. I knew Ben from working at PictureBox Inc. and was familiar with his style. It was a chance to work with one of my favorite artists in an industry that was new to me so I took the opportunity. Since then, I’ve worked on a bunch of shows including “Adventure Time,” “Robot Chicken,” “Rick and Morty,” and currently “Uncle Grandpa.” I wasn’t expecting to like LA as much as NYC but it’s really grown on me. The desert is unexpectedly my favorite place to visit.

MA: Who and what are some of your inspirations?

JV: I really like artists that evolve how they draw and what kind of work they do. Developing one way to draw and sticking with it forever doesn’t sound very exciting to me. Gary Panter is a good example of someone who’s constantly doing new work and experimenting with how to do it. I also really like artists like Richard Corben, Gustave Dore, Peter Max, Mobius, Philip Guston, and FriendsWithYou.

MA: Favorite record from 2013?

JV: Mike Krol, Trust Fund

MA: Do you have a fantasy collaboration or project you’d like to be a part of?

JV: I’m always looking to collaborate on new things and see where it leads. I want to work on projects I never expected to get the chance to do. I’d love to work in video games, design vinyl toys, and do illustrations for board games or pen/paper RPGs.


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