I’ve included both full images and close-up details, without discretion, so that you can all understand in one sitting why Dan Hillier is a wonderful artist. Without seeing these works in context of their full detail, it can be disappointing to view his full pieces with no real ‘pay-off’, though I am sure this is just a effect from small internet images and a risk associated with an online presence.
But these are amazing. (I know I’ve said this before.) I could sit here and talk about his line work and masterful use of old ink techniques (though he primarily works in print) all day, though I’ll limit it to just a few paragraphs here. I studied old ink masters for a few years, ones that relied on stark black and white images to tell whole stories. But there weren’t really ink washes that could reproduce well on a printer, so you had to work all the value differences out with line only – with values changing depending on how thick, close, or both lines were compared to one another. Check out your dollar bills – they were done in the same way.
Most of the time these were done larger than necessary and scaled down, as its pretty obvious how hard this can be when you are working with complicated images, especially with faces, hands or details in them. That’s my first reaction to Hillier’s pieces is the wonderful patience in his works, with rewards as awe inspiring as the detailed close ups below.
A lot of people may find his subjects to be something close to a ‘Master Wizard Hipster’, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. I personally love them, but taking away the negative connotation of the words and you are left with someone who relished in antiquity, respects old techniques and imagery and adds their own personal flare, and I don’t see many things wrong with that. His pieces are a wonderful juxtaposition of eras so that they appear mystical, fantastical, dreadful and dark.