St. Francis Elevator Ride stations himself at the meeting point of art and graphic design. I found his work on the blog he used to co-run (that no longer is updated, but still has a great archive) called The Electric Beef. Illustration and fine art have a sort of contentious relationship — illustrators are often artists, but artists aren’t always illustrators. Where the line is drawn between the two is sometimes uncertain and occasionally arbitrary. Poster design and branding are a whole different ballgame, but St. Francis Elevator Ride sort of bunny-hops from one side to the other, creating fantastic digital collages–and some great gifs–with an intuitive sense of composition and well-honed digital design chops.
I was particularly struck by the series Paradise for the Living (some of which are above) which incorporates anatomical and botanical imagery, and also a series (which you can see here) called Next Level — some images below. Next Level is a narrative of ‘an everyman protagonist’ who reaches different stages of love and life, rites of passage, like reaching new levels of a video game.
Each piece, or level, is named after a coding language and also parallels a different level from TRON, the arcade game. They are meant to be an homage to grid aesthetic and an application of the motif of ‘advancing to the next level’ in video games. The assumption is that with the completion of each level, one comes closer to victory, but the reality is that the completion of each level is really just advancement toward death.
Much more information on Next Level and St. Francis Elevator Ride’s other series and work can be found on his excellent website, stfranciselevatorride.com. He also has a blog at stfranciselevatorride.tumblr.com to keep up with the latest news. All images are via the artist’s website where digital prints are available for purchase in the shop as well (!!!).