Interview conducted by Jamie Bezozo
While at the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival we noticed Ahlen's eye-catching artwork. We caught up with him later and found out a little bit more about him and his work...
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Philly but I live in Delaware now. I was raised Catholic (K-12) but lived in Hunting Park, a tough section of North Philly. I like to cook, especially recipes that my Grandmother cooked for me. I've traveled around the U.S. and also visited Spain and Puerto Rico.Image: Crockett
How would you describe your style in art?
Science fiction greatly inspires my art. I have a bent towards "Hard" Science Fiction- I like to research my subjects and depict futuristic elements that can be backed up with current science. I do two kinds of painting. I do works on paper using ink and watercolor. I also do acrylic and ink on board.
Did your family encourage you to be an artist?
My grandmother encouraged my art big time. (Everyone else...not so much.) My grandmother was the first to recognize my talent. She watched me draw cartoon characters at an age when other children were still scribbling.
Do you have something lucky/a ritual you do when working or before an art show?Yeah. It's called "last minute crunch time." A week or so before a show, I become a hard person to live with, until I'm finished everything.
Do you have any additional interests aside from art and painting?
I created a theme called 8008. All of my work fits into a narrative. I intend to tell this story with images, words and sounds. So far, the images (my paintings, etc.) are coming along well. I am currently working on a short story that's a prequel to my paintings. I've begun work on a graphic novel. Everyone keeps telling me I "have to do the graphic novel." I appreciate the enthusiasm but It's just going to take a lot of time and effort. I need everyone to be patient.
Who (artists and non) are some of your role models and why?
When I was in high school I was really impressed by Gauguin and Magritte. Post-Impressionism became my favorite artistic period. I drew from those artists in my earlier work. While in college, I went to see the Francesco Clemente retrospective at the Guggenheim. His watercolors floored me. I bought a watercolor set on my way home that night.Also, comic books are a big influence. I've always been a big fan of Daredevil. I couldn't take my eyes off of the covers David Mack did for DD in 1999. In 2001 Alex Maleev started his amazing run on DD. I met both artists at The Wizard World Philly Convention soon after. I told Alex that his art challenged me to be a real artist. I spoke with Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada at that convention, too. Quesada said that the team of Bendis and Maleev were "the best team ever to work on DD." Quesada also said I had good taste in role models.
How do you decide what subjects you choose to portray in your painting?
It was really hard to make a decision on subject matter. I read a lot for about ten years- on all kinds of subjects that interested me. I kept up on current events. Finally, I noticed something. Every book I read and every subject I kept up on, caused me to speculate on humanity's future. So, I decided to depict the future I see growing from what concerns me today.
What is your absolute favorite thing to eat?
Breakfast. Any time, any place. I love breakfast food.
What color best describes you/fits your personality and why?
Orange. I love Autumn. When I look out and see orange in the trees i feel good.
Do you have a website where fans can check out your work?