Artist Alex Eckman-Lawn started drawing comic books as a kid, he taught himself to draw from the pages of one of those How to Draw Marvel Superheroes books his old man photocopied at the local library. He was good, he was smart, he had talent. Born in Philadelphia, his parents met at a seminary and were once religious. For a time, Eckman-Lawn attended a Quaker school but “that shit bugged me out because I thought it was so creepy—people all chanting and stuff together is fucking weird—and also powerful in a way.”
So a lot of my work is trying to get that feeling—that weird mysterious feeling, like you’re almost scared and intimidated. It’s something bigger than just sitting there in a room with people, but also sort of fun.
Eckman-Lawn is known for his graphic and comic books (the Eisner Award winning Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, Awakening volumes one and two, and Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard among others); his many designs for album covers by bands like Psyopus, Architect, Yakuza, Maruta, Krieg, Nero Di Marte, Hacride, Nesseria, and many more; and for his strange and disturbing collage artworks. He describes himself as “a scumbag illustrator who lives in the gutters of Philadelphia. He spends his days making comics and album artwork, and his nights stealing blood from local hospitals.”
His collage work reminds me of those maimed and wounded First World War soldiers who returned from the Front their faces scarred revealing the hidden substance beneath. Instead of bone and tissue, Eckman-Lawn’s disfigured faces show cats, flowers, skulls, or unnameable horrors. A graduate of University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Eckman-Lawn says his work is about “ownership and control, organizing the chaos and uncertainty of my life into orderly prisms.” His work tends to deal with the fear of his own body, which he describes as “the feeling of being trapped in a decaying cage.”
His collages are multi-layered, culled from old photographs and the pages of old medical books. He dissects his paper sculptures like opening up a cadaver—sometimes sticking the old blade in “violently.”
I burrow into the body, creating caverns and uncovering new spaces. The result can be harrowing, but at times comforting as well. In cutting through the layers of paper, I am given the opportunity to play both surgeon and architect, for once in complete control over what lies inside.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Head Shots: Surreal collages by John Stezaker
Space Invader: The absurd, surreal, and disturbing artwork of woodcum
The disturbing and creepy portrait collages of Phillip Kremer
Weirdsville: The strange and darkly unsettling collages of Chad Yenney
Power, Beauty & the Feminine: The collage art of Deborah Stevenson
Collage Life: The Surreal and Disturbing Artwork of Ffo