William Stout is a famously diverse artist of international renown in many fields: themed entertainment and motion picture design (specializing in science fiction/fantasy/horror films), comic book art, book illustration, poster design, CD covers, public murals, and dynamic yet accurate reconstructions of prehistoric life. His endeavors in the fields of movies and comics have gained him a loyal following, making him a popular guest at comic book, science fiction and horror movie conventions around the world.
FLESK: What experience do you hope viewers have while looking at your art?
STOUT: I think that having an emotional impact is far better than appealing solely to one’s intellect. I want the viewers of my work to feel awe, or experience beauty, or share empathy, or feel sad because of a depiction of gross societal unfairness, or laugh at the subversive humor that runs through most of my work.
FLESK: Much of your art features an array of more-than-human imagery. What is it about human reality combined with metaphysical elements that speaks to you?
STOUT: For me, the art that I strive for needs to excel in three combined areas: the physical, the spiritual and the intellectual. If I capture all three in one picture, I’m a happy guy.
FLESK: What emotion tends to guide your creativity the most?
STOUT: Fear! Like a lot of artists I know, deadlines are a great source of inspiration. Waking up to a feeling of deadline terror really motivates me. I am also terrified that my next piece won’t be good enough to bear my signature. I never want to let myself or my followers down.
In my work I often like to capture a sense of breathtaking awe. I feel elation when a picture is going well but some panic and dread when it’s not. Since my goal is to always do the best that I can, I know that through due diligence I will probably end up with a decent piece at the very least.
FLESK: What is your favorite fantasy subject to illustrate?
STOUT: That would be anything organic in nature. I hate using a ruler. I’d much rather draw ancient ruins and old Victorian homes than skyscrapers. I love illustrating animals as well as humans. During non-COVID times I host a figure drawing workshop on Sundays at my studio. Right now, though, I’m missing all of my lovely naked gals…
FLESK: How has your artistic style changed over the years and where do you see it heading?
STOUT: My artistic styles have always been all over the place; I call it “the slow path to fame”. If you desperately desire to be famous, then do the same thing (or draw the same character) over and over and over. I treasure my ability to duplicate a wide range of styles. I don’t want my pictorial problem-solving capabilities to be limited by just one or two or a small handful of styles. I always let the problem dictate the visual solution.
FLESK: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share some information about?
STOUT: You bet! Somehow, I’ve been busier than ever during the COVID-19 quarantine. I guess it’s because I mostly work at home anyway. I have been primarily focusing on the completion of three of the books that will be part of my multi-volume autobiography (William Stout – Prehistoric Life Murals was the first volume): one on all of my comics work, one on all of my music-related work and one on all of my underground comix work. Later, I’ll be putting together a book (or books) on all of my designs for film (I’ve worked on over 60 movies).
I’ve also finished translating and illustrating Pablo Neruda’s book Stones of the Sky, and have completed the second book in my blues series. That one is entitled Legends of British Blues and contains 111 full color portraits and bios.
William Stout art and answers © 2020 William Stout. John Fleskes text and photos copyright © 2020 John Fleskes. Videos © 2020 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2020 its respective artists. All rights reserved.