Today, we discuss with an influential community member, Jason Spencer a.k.a. Killer Napkins. Jason started out drawing creepy monsters as a kid and now has an expansive array of artwork throughout the St. Louis area.
As an illustrator, designer, and painter he works with a massive imagination and skillset — depicting epic scenes of illustration combining the cute and the horrific while using St. Louis’ architecture as his canvas.
Jason has been a member of The Screwed Arts Collective since 2010. The collective is a group of thinkers, visual artists, musicians, and storytellers that share a studio space on Cherokee Street. If you’ve been to Nebula, you’ve definitely spotted Jason’s lunar landscape scene mural in the attic and the giant 4 Hands gargoyle cyclops in the atrium. Jason’s work embodies Nebula’s unconventional, unique vibe.
What inspired you to get into your line of work and what keeps you going?
I had always been interested in art and illustration since a kid. I collected a lot of Spawn comics and loved Ren and Stimpy. Video games were a big part too — I played a lot of DOOM at a really young age. I was really interested in getting into concept art design for video games in high school, but I started designing shirts for bands and getting freelance work that way, all while trying to paint on the side.
What other avenues within art have you pursued before getting into what you do now?
I played saxophone in a ska band in high school for a little bit, I was terrible at it. My friend’s mom said I flopped like a whale on stage. I think I always focused on illustration type work, though I loved trying all sorts of mediums. Before working with a lot of ink and acrylic, I loved painting with oils but it always took a long time — I would end up losing interest on pieces. It took a little bit for me to get into digital illustration when I first got a drawing tablet, but that is a good chunk of what I do now.
In working solo, what advantages do you find? Any disadvantages?
I find that there is a lot of freedom working solo. You’re only depending on yourself to get the work and get the job done swiftly and correctly which keeps you on your game. Tackling a large wall with multiple people is great, generally for the sheer amount of hands moving. With multiple individual artists, the challenges come down to a lot of agreement on which direction to move.
What is it like to work in St. Louis as opposed to another city?
I haven’t had much experience working elsewhere yet, but I must say that the cool thing about St. Louis is how tight knit these communities of artists, and musicians are. It seems like everyone knows everyone and it’s beneficial in spreading one’s work around. I can say, even painting on the street for a few days, I would run into a handful of friendly folks that I know.
Do you find that you’re inspiring more of this type of work around the city or that there is a growing need regardless?
I would like to hope so. Murals are popping up more and more it seems, which I think is great. Cities always look awesome with more color in my opinion. I definitely see a lot more sign painters in town lately.
Any advice for people who may be interested in your line of work?
Never stop drawing, painting, or creating whatever. It doesn’t really happen overnight. Just cranking on work constantly and putting yourself out there seems to be the best thing you can do.