Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Ash Thorp is a concept artist and illustrator who has come to prominence in recent years, working on blockbusters such as TOTAL RECALL, THOR, IRON-MAN 3, PROMETHEUS, and many others.

He is regarded by some in the industry as an 'uber-artist', which means he has a skill-set that allows him to pretty much do anything in terms of concept & design. What's all the more mind-boggling, is that this is a man who says he only started to take his career more seriously 'four years ago' - that's pretty good progress! 

MONOBLOG is proud to present ASH THORP.

Above: Concept art for Styleframes NYC.

MONOBLOG: Ash, what's your art background, and where are you now based?

ASH THORP: I attended a local community college and then a Cal State college. I obtained an AA and a BA in art and design. I currently reside in the northern outskirts suburb of San Diego County, in California. 

You obviously think in 3 dimensions. Can you describe how you get from thumbnails all the way to the bewilderingly complex images we see on screen..? I'm thinking in particular of the TOTAL RECALL GRAPHIC USER INTERFACE ( GUI ) content. Describe the process and how you collaborate with your colleagues on the project.

Above: GUI design and still from TOTAL RECALL ( 2012 ).

Ahhhh, this is a hard one. I think I always just kind of see them in my head, the rough sketches are reminder notes like a note on the fridge not to forget to buy milk. I use them as a bookmark of thoughts to come back to. ( See below ).

It’s a language I probably understand only to myself. I then begin to build the idea in Photoshop or Illustrator. I like to try and keep that flow of energy from my original idea. It’s hard to maintain the soul of a creation when you confine it to the rules and regulations that must fit within story-telling formats like film, but I try nonetheless. It is a big back-and-forth journey, as I add and subtract and add more and pull away until it feels right. Often times I am rushed to push things through and have to release ideas and work that are still very undeveloped, but that is the nature of film and this industry. Everything is extremely fast-paced.

What are your influences? You seem to be able to adopt any style - I see Kirby, Sienkiewicz, Mignola, Clive Barker etc, in your painted work.

Above: Three proposed figures for the Styleframes NYC movie short.

I have SOOOO many influences. I find it key to pull inspiration from all different walks of life, as it gives my work and personality its own voice. That being said, I love being inspired by other creatives. I grew up on comics and cartoons, which later turned to anime and film. I love such a wide array of things that it’s hard to pin down. Some things that hit hard for me are the art by Frazetta, Moebius, Otomo, Kubrick, Lucas, Kawajiri's films, Shirow… all the great stuff, too many to list.

Talking of Otomo, give us the scoop on your AKIRA art.

I am doing it out of passion and fun - I am trying to rediscover myself as an illustrator and using things I love to take me there. They are opening some great doors of opportunity, and we will see what comes of them as time progresses.

Below: Ash Thorp's interpretation of KANEDA, a character from Katsuhiro Otomo's graphic novel series, AKIRA.

In your portfolio, you also have some digital 3D pieces. Tell us about those.

I have very basic 3D skills, nothing too far beyond what a newer user in such programs might be. It's just a tool for me to expose ideas. I think some great programs to use are C4D, Zbrush, Modo, Maya, all those. Depends on what your going for. They all offer interesting results.

How did you get to work in the film industry? I'm sure many aspiring artists would love to know.

I decided to take myself and my work seriously about 4 years ago. I worked very hard after hours of a full time job and being a family man for 3 months, to build a portfolio in the hope I would get hired at a studio that I could go and grow at. That opportunity came when I was hired by the studio Prologue ( makers of opening titles for The Walking Dead, X-Men: First Class, etc ). I spent a year there working as hard as I could, and did my best to progress and learn. The big catch with this story is that Prologue's office is 2-3 hours away by car, one way. So I would spend about 5-7 hours of my day commuting from my home to the office up in LA. It was an extremely taxing year, on both me and my family, but it paid off. 
From that experience, I took everything I learned and am now able to work from home and love what I do. 

It’s a true blessing to comfortably say I love what I do for a living.

Below: Sketchbook

Below: Ash Thorp's compilation of Graphic User Content from TOTAL RECALL ( 2012 ).